Invented Haterade - Malcolm Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Dawg Sports is rooting for Notre Dame in this week's national picks. No! Wait! Let us explain! Where are you going?
It's in-state rivalry week, whether we're particularly excited about it or not. Beating Georgia Tech is really just a formality at this point, so the entire Bulldog nation is just hoping that no one gets hurts. Believe it or not, there are some in-state games worth watching this weekend, though, and we're going to pick them. Unfortunately, we went 3-5 against the spread last week, bringing our season-long ledger to 34-58. Thus, please view each of these picks with the same suspicion you would any story a Tech grad tells you about a girl: Don't Bet On It!
TCU (+7) at Texas
I'm happy to have Texas A&M in the SEC, but it's a shame that they won't be playing the Longhorns for in-state bragging rights this year. Instead, Texas has a chance to wrap up the Lone Star State championship by beating the Horned Frogs on Thursday, and, after a suffering surprising loss to West Virginia and an even more surprising drubbing by Oklahoma, they appear poised to do just that. Although TCU's defense is one of the best in their conference, their offense languishes at the bottom with Iowa State and Kansas (lol decided schematic advantage). After giving up more than 30 points per game in five straight contests, Texas's defense finally managed to corral... Kansas, Texas Tech, and Iowa State. Wait, that's not impressive at all. Since the narrative of Texas's improving defense appears to be a mirage, let's predict a shoot-out and take TCU plus the points.
No. 1 Notre Dame at USC (+6.5)
USC is not great this year, and Lane Kiffin is a terrible person. I don't particularly care for Notre Dame either -- and Brian Kelly looks like some sort of eggplant wizard when he's angry -- but predicting a Notre Dame victory is the only way we get a rematch of the 1981 Sugar Bowl. I like USC to keep it close, but Go Irish!
Arizona State at No. 24 Arizona (-3)
Based on the next couple of picks, I think I somehow caught a West Cost bias last time I was in San Francisco. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Anyway, the Wildcats have won four of the last five Territorial Cups, and I don't expect that to change this year. Rich Rodriguez is just a better coach than Todd Graham. Arizona State has underperformed their statistics, so we're going to throw those out the window and take Arizona to cover at home.
No. 5 Oregon at No. 15 Oregon State (+9.5)
Oregon is going to be hungover and disappointed after last week's loss to Stanford likely cost them a shot at either a conference or national championship. Moreover, Oregon State has been lights-out against the run, placing second only to Stanford in PAC-12 rushing defense on both a per play and per game basis. AND Oregon State beat the last spread-and-shred team they faced (Arizona) on the road. The Beavers might not win, but they should cover in Corvallis.
No. 8 Stanford (-2) at No. 17 UCLA
UCLA has already locked up a spot in the PAC-12 championship game, but Stanford needs to win to punch their ticket. Plus, Stanford's rush defense is well-equipped to stop Bruin stud RB Johnathan Franklin, and their pass defense ought to be able to slow down first-year starting QB Brett Hundley. The Cardinal win this week and line up a rematch for next weekend. (Coda: Is Jim "L." Mora Jr. wily enough to let Stanford win this one to avoid playing Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game? Just a thought...)
No. 21 Oklahoma State (+7) at No. 13 Oklahoma
Oklahoma State's offense is better than Oklahoma's by any measure. Oklahoma's defense appears to be better overall, but that's just because they got a bump in passing defense by firing Willie Two Thumbs. The Sooners' rush defense is suprisingly weak, and Oklahoma State boasts the most efficient rushing attack in the Big XII. The Cowboys cover on the road.
No. 19 Michigan at Ohio State (-3.5)
Whether you call it The Game or The Rivalry, Michigan-Ohio State is probably overhyped. Heck, HBO even made a documentary about it. Having said that, there are some great moments in hatred here. Ohio State legend Woody Hayes should probably go down in Hater History for refusing to stop for gas in Michigan and for replying, "Because I couldn't go for three," when asked why he called for a two-point conversion when already up by 36 on Michigan. Anyway, I have to pick the Buckeyes to cover here just because the universe appears aligned to create an undefeated B1G team that is ineligible for post-season play, and who am I to argue with the universe?