Sorry that we're late getting things up today. My work life does not respect my football life, and, frankly, based on our record up until last week (2-4), that was justified. But we hit the trifecta in last week's PAC-12 edition of the National Games of Interest, correctly calling for big wins by Stanford, Washington, and Arizona State. That brings us up to a respectable 5-4. Unfortunately for our purposes -- but obviously extremely fortunately for everyone in cardinal and gold -- that last pick resulted in the firing of Lane Kiffin. While we no longer have a weekly gimme, we'll at least get to enjoy Da Coach O (interim) era. Only YouTube videos can adequately demonstrate why we should all be so excited about this:
Anyway, this week's National Games of Interest are UCLA (-4) at Utah, Maryland at Florida State (-15), and Washington at Stanford (-6.5).
The picks: Utah +4, Maryland +15, Stanford -6.5
Why you should care: Five of these teams are ranked, and all six of them are legitimately good. These are going to be fun games.
Rationale: Since I'm in a real rush this week, I'm going to let y'all in on a little secret. I pick almost all of these games based on the eyeball test. If a line looks a little bit out of whack based on what I've seen so far in the season, I'll pencil in a bet against the line. Then I'll go back and do a little bit of statistical research and see if it jibes with my gut. If it does, there's the pick.
So this week I think that UCLA and Utah are pretty evenly matched, so it's strange to me that UCLA would be a 4-point favorite on the road. I also think that Maryland is a legitimate top-25 team this year, so I'm not buying the blow-out that a 15-point line suggests. (Plus the Seminoles haven't faced anyone tougher than Pitt and might already be looking ahead to Clemson.) Washington-Stanford is the closest call of all, but my gut tells me that the Cardinal will be looking for revenge at home after being upset on the road last year.
As luck would have it, the 2013 F/+ rankings just popped up over at Football Study Hall, and they say that we're not totally crazy. So there it is. What do you think?
Bonus pick: We considered making Arizona State (-5.5) v Notre Dame, the National Game of Disinterest, but I really like easy picks. The Sun Devils (-5.5) win big.