"Save us, Tawmy! You're our only hope!"
Having (poorly) picked this week's SEC games against the spread, it's time to move on to this week's national games of interest. Unfortunately, I did even worse nationally than I did locally last week. My 2-5 record in last week's prognostications brings my national record to a pathetic 5-9 against the spread. And now you know why we call this column Don't Bet On It!.
Wake Forest (+27.5) at No. 5 Florida State
Last Week: The Demon Deacons (2-0) snuck by the Tar Heals in last week's National Game of Disinterest on, well, QB Tanner Price's 4th quarter sneak across the goal line. The Seminoles (2-0) continued their annual return to glory by going up 55-0 on win-for-hire Savannah State before the game was suspended due to rain.
The Lean: Wake Forest has won four of the last six meetings between these two teams, including a 35-30 upset last year in Winston-Salem. The 'Noles are healthier than they were last year, but Jim Grobe has Jimbo Fisher's number. Take Wake Forest plus the points.
Cal at No. 12 Ohio State (-17)
Last Week: The Golden Bears (1-1) scored 20 second-quarter and 30 fourth-quarter points in a 50-31 victory over Southern Utah. Buckeyes' (2-0) QB Braxton Miller proved that he's a perfect fit for Urban Meyer's system by rushing for 3 TDs and passing for another in a comfortable 31-16 victory over UCF.
The Lean: I don't much care for Urban Meyer, but he knows how to coach. His Buckeyes beat the Knights by 15, and UCF is a better overall team than Cal, who is also traveling through 3 time zones to get to this game. Take tOSU and the points.
Virginia (+10.5) at Georgia Tech
Last Week: The Cavaliers (2-0) slipped by Penn State 17-16 due to four missed Nittany Lion field goals. Little Brother (1-1) ran roughshod over Presbyterian with 469 yards on the ground and 243 yards through the air in a 59-3 victory.
The Lean: Think back to mid-October last year. The Ramblin' Wreck were 6-0 and sitting atop the ACC, having demolished everyone in their path with an average score of 47-24. Then they headed up to Charlottesville, where the Cavs brought the Jackets' illusory rampage to a halt in a 24-21 upset. Once you've figured out the option, you've figured out the option, and Mike London has figured out the option. I'm taking the Cavs plus 10.5.
Boston College (+3.5) at Northwestern
Last Week: The Eagles (1-1) scored 17 points on each side of the half in a 34-3 rout of Maine. The Big Ten Wildcats (2-0) capitalized on a +2 turnover margin to upset Vandy at home.
The Lean: I'm not buying Northwestern. Something about Vanderbilt's fourth quarter loss feels like a hangover from a close loss to South Carolina in the opener. Boston College's offense may be on its third coordinator in as many years, but their experienced group of starters ought to be able to put up points on a weak Northwestern defense.
Navy (+5.5) at Penn State
Last Week: The Middies (0-1) took a week off to recover from their beating at the hands of the Fightin Irish. The Nittany Lions' loss to Virginia wondering what happened.
The Lean: Penn State is free falling, and so is the line on this game. The Nittany Lions opened as 8.5 favorites, but now they're favored by only 5.5. Let's take the Midshipmen to cover.
No. 2 USC (-8) at No. 21 Stanford
Last Week: Even dreary New Jersey weather couldn't dampen Matt Barkley's efficient march to the Heisman Trophy; the Trojans' (2-0) senior signal caller threw for 187 yards, 6 TDs, and only 1 pick against a feisty Syracuse squad. The Cardinal (2-0) eased some concerns about their close week-1 win over San Jose State (20-17) with a 50-13 drubbing of Duke.
The Lean: Last year, Stanford won a thriller 56-48 in overtime, but now the Cardinal are two years removed from program-reviver Jim Harbaugh's exit to the NFL and will be without all-everything QB Andrew Luck who also left for the pros. The Trojans have been reasonably impressive so far, and even if their starting center can't play due to an ankle injury from last week's match -- although he's still listed as the starter -- they'll be hungry for a signature victory.
No. 20 Notre Dame at No. 10 Michigan State (-5.5)
Last Week: Notre Dame's (2-0) backup QB Tommy Rees tagged-in in the 4th quarter to lead the Irish to a narrow 20-17 win over Purdue. The Spartans (2-0) dominated in-state rival Central Michigan in every phase of a 41-7 victory.
The Lean: Chip Kelly trusts Tommy Rees to run the 2-minute drill more than he trusts starting QB Everett Golson. Let that sink in for a minute. The dude who threw fourteen picks last year -- seemingly all in the red zone -- was a better option in the clutch than the Irish's starter. That can't be good, especially against one of the best defenses in the country. The Spartans' defense is going to shut down the Irish, and Le'Veon Bell is going to run wild against a defense that is 50th in the country against the rush.