Sandy knocked out power in lower Manhattan this week and kept me from publishing weekly national picks until today. Consequently, it also wiped out this week's National Game of Disinterest, which gives a couple of crappy contests a break from our scorn.
We posted a 5-3 record in last week's picks, bringing our season-long ledger up to 25-44. We might do better this week with less preparation and analysis, but Don't Bet On It!
No. 24 Oklahoma State (+9.5) at No. 2 Kansas State
Within the Big XII, Oklahoma State and Kansas State are ranked within one spot of each other in every major offensive and defensive statistical category. 9.5 points seems like an awful lot under those circumstances, and the Wildcats are bound to have a rough game at some point. Let's take the Cowboys to keep it close.
No. 4 Oregon (-7.5) at No. 17 USC
The Trojans should be able to score some points, but their defense won't be able to keep up with the Ducks, who might actually keep their foot on the gas for 60 full minutes. Take the over and Oregon to cover.
Arizona State at No. 11 Oregon State (-5.5)
On paper, Arizona State looks like they can hang with everyone else in their conference, but they've lost every big game they've played (Mizzou, Oregon, UCLA). The Beavers have outperformed expectations every week, so, since I expect them to win, let's take them to cover too.
No. 12 Oklahoma at Iowa State (+10.5)
The Cyclones have given teams tougher than Oklahoma hell in Ames, so we'll take Iowa State plus the points in their tussle with the Sooners.
No. 23 Texas at No. 18 Texas Tech (-7)
The Texans' defense has been a huge liability this season, and they rank at or near the bottom of their conference in every major statistical category. On the other hand, the Red Raiders' defense is the class of the conference. Plus, they're playing in Lubbock. That's worth a TD right there, so we're taking Texas Tech and the points.
TCU at No. 21 West Virginia (-7)
It's tempting to take the Horned Frogs and the points in what should be a shoot-out, but, at some point, WVU is going to remind everyone that they were scoring 50 points per game early on. I think it's going to be this week against TCU's flimsy defense. The 'Eers win by a couple of TDs at home.
Virginia Tech (-2.5) at Miami
Miami's defense is absolutely atrocious, so even the Hokies' lackluster attack ought to be able to put up some points. VPI covers on the road in a game that would've been a candidate for the National Game of Disinterest if we were posting one this week.
Nebraska (+1.5) at Michigan State
This is the other National Game of Disinterest candidate which gets a reprieve due to Sandy. Nebraska's offense has been explosive this year, and Michigan State can't even figure out how to use stud RB LeVeon Bell. That's good for Nebraska, whose defense has been stout except against the run. Since I have no faith in Sparty's ability to exploit that flaw, I'm taking the Cornhuskers plus the points.
No. 22 Arizona at UCLA (-3)
Arizona gives up 4.44 yards per rush. UCLA's Johnathan Franklin is averaging 6.7 yards per rush. Neither of these things are a good sign for Arizona, so we'll take UCLA to cover.