National Game of Interest (Week 2)

See ya later. - Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Last year we learned that picking games against the spread is really, really hard. This year we're going to change course a bit. Even though we're changing the name of the piece, please Don't Bet On It!

Since we nailed our SEC pick last week, it only made sense that we'd whiff on our national pick. We said the Warhawks and the Sooners would combine for more than 60 points. That would have been true if either (a) the Warhawks had bothered to show up or (b) Oklahoma had bothered to score any points in the first or fourth quarters. Live and learn. Or do anything other than wagering any actual money on our picks, really.

This week features another thin slate of games, but there is one National Game of Interest: Notre Dame at Michigan (-3.5, o/u 51.5)

Why you should care: Despite what Brian Kelly may think, this is most certainly an "historic" rivalry. The first meeting was held in 1887, and, while we like to tease the Irish and everyone in the Big Integer, these two teams are as close as you can get to college football royalty. It's a shame that conference expansion is killing yet another rivalry. With the Irish sort-of, kind-of joining the ACC, it might be a while before these two play each other again.

The pick: Notre Dame (+3.5)

The rationale: The Irish are just better than the Wolverines this year. They return eight starters on defense, all of whom I'm told have real girlfriends. (Are y'all sick of those jokes yet? I'm not sure I am.) You might recall that Notre Dame's scoring defense was second in the nation last year, allowing just 12.8 points per game. They shouldn't have too much trouble with Michigan's offense, which is starting (an admittedly good) converted receiver under center, will miss Denard Robinson's legs, and is still coached by Al Borges. Michigan's defense, on the other hand, was above average last year but returns only six starters and gave up a lot of yards through the air. They should give Irish QB Tommy Rees a chance to prove that last week's 346-yard, 3-TD day wasn't just the result of playing Temple.

Bonus pick: Washington State (+15) at USC. Why? Because USC is still coached by Lane Kiffin and looked dreadful against quite possibly the worst team in the country last week. The Cougars also looked surprisingly game against the Wartiglesmen. What do you think?

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