If you thought I was bad at picking SEC games, you clearly haven't been following my national picks. Last week I went 4-and-6. Sadly, this represents an improvement. In my defense, ULM's back-door cover was maddening to prognosticators everywhere, Florida State did torch Clemson (but only in the second half after giving up 21 in the first), and watching Georgia Tech lose in overtime to a questionable Miami squad was far more satisfying that being correct. At any rate, my 9-22 record in picking national games against the spread so far this season should underscore the seriousness with which we always offer the following advice: Don't Bet On It!
No. 8 Stanford (-10) at Washington (Thursday)
I know what you're thinking: Stanford's (3-0) last game was a big, emotional win over USC, and now they have to travel all the way up to Seattle to play a Huskie (2-1) team who has had an extra week to prepare. This is a trap game, right? Nope. Stanford also had a week off to savor their victory and get back to business, so let's not overthink this. Washington got creamed 41-3 by a bigger, more physical LSU squad who limped to a 12-10 victory over Auburn last week. Stanford is just as big and physical, and their offense isn't as dysfunctional as LSU's. The Cardinal cover on the road.
No. 2 Oregon (-29) at Washington State
It is always tempting to take underdogs at home, but Oregon (4-0) is averaging 52.75 points a game against Washington State's (2-2) 24.75. Plus, Oregon utterly demolished a superior Arizona squad last week, while Washington State lost to Colorado. Colorado. Remember how bad we were when we lost to the Buffs? Yeah, I'm taking Oregon as a big road favorite.
No. 25 Baylor at No. 9 West Virginia (-12.5)
West Virginia (3-0) has a top 5 passing offense and will be matching up against a Bear (3-0) defense that is giving up 315 yards per game against the likes of SMU, Sam Houston State, and ULM. (OK, the Warhawks are pretty good, but you get my point.) Plus, Baylor gave up 55 points to Oklahoma State when Dana Holgorsen was their OC in 2010 and another 59 against the same style of offense last year. Let's take the 'Eers at home.
No. 12 Texas (-2.5) at Oklahoma State (+2.5)
The Longhorns (3-0) are averaging just over 47 points per game in Bryan Harsin's second year as offensive coordinator, but Manny Diaz's usually stout offense seemed susceptible to the big play against Ole Miss, against whom they gave up 31 points. The Cowboys (2-1) lead the nation in points and yards per game, but their defense has also looked shaky, especially in a 59-38 loss to Arizona. Taking the over at 66 seems like the safest bet, but I have to take Oklahoma State at home plus the points given how even these two teams appear to be.
No. 18 Oregon State at Arizona (-3)
The Beavers (2-0) crept into the top 25 by shutting down rushing attacks led by Wisconsin's Montee Ball and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin. Arizona (3-1) doesn't have that type of star power, but they have installed a vintage Rich Rodriguez spread-and-shred attack that looked good until last week's shutout at Autzen. Oregon State is a fine team, but they're nowhere near as good as their in-state rivals. Let's take Arizona to rebound with a big win at home, where the Wildcats are still 3-0.
Wisconsin at No. 22 Nebraska (-12.5)
Wisconsin (3-1) hasn't impressed so far this season, their star running back is still recovering from his second concussion this year year, and Nebraska (3-1) is going to be looking for revenge after losing to the Badgers 17-48 in Madison last year. Both teams have struggled on the road, so taking the Cornhuskers to win by two TDs at home seems fair.