I warned you last week that my national picks were going to be based on internet research and pure conjecture. Unsurprisingly, I posted a 2-3 record against the spread. This brings my overall ledger for both conference and national picks to 5-5-1. Yikes. This week, work has intervened, and I don't even have time for much last-minute internet research. Will gut instinct combined with nascent knowledge outperform informed opinions? Don't Bet On It!
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Michigan Wolverines (-3.5) - Nebraska's inaugural run through the Big Integer hasn't gone as planned. Some pundits predicted that the Huskers would challege for the conference title in their first year. Instead they're fighting for second place in the Legends division with... Michigan. (OK, I did do some internet research to look that up.) Michigan's season has gone better than planned. They're 8-2, ranked, and actually playing pretty good defense. They bear a superficial statistical resemblence to Wisconsin, who hammered Nebraska earlier this year. But while Denard Robinson is an exciting player to watch, he's nowhere near the passer that Russell Wilson is. Nebraska rudely knocks off Michigan in the Big House.
Wisconsin Badgers (-14) at Illinois Fightin' Zooks - Despite starting off 6-0, Ron Zook is moodily walking out of press conferences in response to questions about his job after an 0-4 slide. This game is interesting solely because the Illini might not make it through a half without losing their coach. Brett Bielema is not known for showing mercy, and the Badgers will demoralize Illinois and cover the 2 TD spread comfortably.
USC Trojans at Oregon Ducks (-14.5) - The week after Stanford struggled to beat USC in overtime, the Ducks embarassed the Cardinal. By the transitive property of football, Oregon should have no problems topping the Trojans, right? Well, yeah, actually. Oregon pounded USC 53-32 on the road last year, and they shouldn't have any problems covering the spread at home this year.
Oklahoma Sooners (-15) at Baylor Bears - Oklahoma is a very good team, but the Sooners' defensive backs are coached by Willie "Two Thumbs" Martinez. He cost them the game against Texas Tech when his squad gave up 452 yards and 4 TDs through the air. I'm sure Seth Doege is a good QB, but he's no match for Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Through 3 games, RG3 had thrown more touchdowns than incompletions. He couldn't possibly maintain that pace, but he's still completing more than 74% of his passes with the third highest efficiency rating in the country. Baylor may not win, but the Bears will cover by putting up big numbers through the air.
Kansas State Wildcats at Texas Longhorns (-9) - This line just seems off. The Wildcats started off 7-0 and looked like contenders to win the increasingly inappropriately named Big XII. Then they lost to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and people started to write them off. Texas has outperformed expectations, going 6-3 after a wholesale housecleaning in the offseason. Texas hasn't beaten anyone good, though, and they lost to Missouri, whom the Wildcats beat comfortably. Kansas State looks undervalued here against an opponent with a better name and a worse team. I'll take them plus the points on the road.