Did y'all know that football games are being played this weekend? No, really. I thought that we were just crowning LSU national champions on Saturday, too, but it turns out that there are actually a couple of games left on the schedule. Heck, some of them might even be pretty good.
That means that it's time to predict the outcome of some of these football games. Last week, I went a respectable 5-2 against the spread in the SEC, bringing my conference ledger to 10-5-1. My national picks, however, were not so respectable, as I went 1-3 against the spread, bringing that mark to 5-9. If math isn't your strong suit, that means that my overall record against the spread is 15-14-1. Is this the week that I finally get my act together with national games and bring my overall tally in line with my SEC picks? Don't Bet On It!
Oklahoma Sooners at Oklahoma State Cowboys (-3.5) - Bedlam has been even more lopsided than Clean Old Fashioned Hate, with the Cowboys winning just 16 of the 105 meetings. Oklahoma State hasn't even been able to win one at home since 2002. History seems to suggest that taking Oklahoma plus the points is a no-brainer. On the other hand, the Pokes have the nation's second best passing offense with Justin Blackmon catching passes from Brandon Weeden, while the Sooners' secondary is coached by Willie "Two Thumbs" Martinez. Have I already used this rationale this season? Yep, and Baylor rewarded my confidence by beating Oklahoma by a TD... with a worse defense than Okie State's. Oklahoma State covers.
Virginia Tech Hokies (-7) v. Clemson Tigers (Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game) - Didn't we already see this game? Honestly, I thought about picking this game as the National Game of Disinterest. It's a rematch in a championship game that doesn't even always sell out. But Virginia Tech is going to get a chance to avenge its earlier home loss, and, admit it, you're morbidly curious about whether Clemson will continue Clemsoning. (Hint: They are still Clemson.) The Hokies cover.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles v. Houston Cougars (-14) (Conference USA Championship Game) - Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: Yes, Houston is undefeated. No, they don't deserve to play in the national championship game over Alabama. Why? Southern Miss will be just the fourth team they've played with a winning record. But Houston has the most prolific offense in college football, and their defense is comparable to Southern Miss's. The Cougars average just under 16 more points per game than the Eagles, so I'll take them to cover.
Wisconsin Badgers (-9.5) v. Michigan State Spartans (Inaugural Big Integer Championship Game) - I'm sensing a rematch theme emerging here. You think ESPN planned this all along to prime us for the inevitable LSU-Bama rematch, PAWWWWWWWWL? Maybe. Maybe not. I do think that State's earlier win was a total fluke, though. Nebraska is statistically superior to Sparty in nearly every way other than passing yards, and Russell Wilson is a way better quarterback than Kirk Cousins. Bret Bielema's Badgers batter the Spartans.
Texas Longhorns at Baylor Bears (-3) - Texas hasn't been great this year, but Manny Diaz has quietly improved upon Will Muschamp's defense. The Longhorns' Achilles heel has been its offense. Fortunately for them, Baylor's defense is just terrible. I'd love to take Baylor here just because of the incredible Robert Griffin III, but he's recovering from a concussion. Apparently, he's feeling fine (which is good), but he won't be 100%. Texas covers.
Lousiana Monroe Warhawks (-7.5) at Florida Atlantic Owls - This is Howard Schnellenberger's final game as the Owls' coach, and it's probably his last game coaching period. To call Schnelly a legend doesn't really do him justice. He served as offensive coordinator under Bear Bryant from 1961-1965, helping the Tide win 3 national championships. He later served as the offensive coordinator for the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. Later still, he revived a moribund Miami Hurricanes program, which had nearly been disbanded altogether, engineered their first national championship, and almost single handedly created the machine that would terrorize college football for two decades. On top of all his professional success, by all accounts, he is a loving father and family man. The game loses a bit of its character with the loss of Schnellenberger to retirement. (Warhawks cover.)
Go SEC EASTERN DIVISION CHAMPION Dawgs!