While we've seen some success our SEC picks, it took us six weeks to beat the spread in our national picks. We went 5-2, and would've gone 6-1 if it weren't for the Utes' obnoxious backdoor cover. Unfortunately, our record is still a poor 14-30 against the spread for the season. We've got a big hole to dig ourselves out of. If you've ever been to a casino, you know there's nothing more dangerous than trying to win your way out of a hole. So please heed our usual disclaimer, and, while we hope you enjoy each individual selection, Don't Bet On It!
No. 5 WVU (-3.5) at Texas Tech
West Virginia is scoring 52 points per game. This gives them the third most prolific offense in the Big XII. (!!!) The Mountaineers are allowing 35 points per game, which is only the second worst scoring defense in the conference. Texas Tech is scoring 39 points per game. This is only good enough to rank sixth in the Big XII. (Mother of...) While the Red Raiders' scoring defense is perfectly average in the conference (5th out of 10), they allow the fewest yards per play. Also, weird things happen in Lubbock. This is why WVU is only a 3.5 point favorite. It's misguided. Oklahoma won by 21 points in Lubbock last week. West Virginia has a much more explosive offense than Oklahoma, except in terms of yards per rushing attempt, and they're turning every game this year into a shoot-out. Tommy Tuberville has never been comfortable coaching in a shoot-out. Let's take the 'Eers to cover on the road.
No. 6 Kansas State (-6.5) at Iowa State
Let's give it up for Old Man Football! At 73, Bill Snyder is the oldest coach in college football, and he has the Wildcats undefeated after 5 games. At 45, Cyclone head honcho Paul Rhoads is a spring chicken, so perhaps he can be forgiven for only leading Iowa State to a 4-1 record this year. Unfortunately, that loss was by 11 points to an overrated Texas Tech squad at home, and Kansas State has been winning by an average of 28 points per game, including a 5-point victory against Oklahoma. In Norman. At night. Kansas State has to be the pick here.
No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame (-8)
You have no idea how much I want to make this the National Game of Disinterest. But you know what? Notre Dame is actually a good football team. There. I said it. They also have the second best scoring defense in the nation, despite opening against Navy's triple-option, facing Denard Robinson's Wolverines, and going up against Miami's surprisingly prolific passing attack. Stanford's offense is a mess and won't be able to get anything going unless Notre Dame gets caught looking ahead to... BYU? Yeah, the Irish are going to win big at home.
No. 10 Oregon State (+6) at BYU
Speaking of everyone's favorite fighting Mormons, how is BYU favored here? I'm not even sure Vegas knows. As of this morning, the bookmakers have them favored by anywhere from 2.5 to 6 points. (We use the "consensus" line from vegasinsider.com.) Here's what we do know: Oregon State has been shutting down the run, and BYU has been making its living running the ball. On the other hand, the Beavers have the eighth most passing yards per game in the country, while BYU's pass defense is ranked 87th nationally. Given some oddsmakers' willingness to give a line lower than 6 and what seems like an obvious advantage for Oregon State, I think we have to take the Beavers to cover on the road.
No. 11 USC (-12) at Washington
Washington beat Stanford. Stanford beat USC. Therefore Washington will beat USC, right? Not so fast, my friend. USC is better than Washington at literally everything (other than beating Stanford lol). The Trojans might not be the best team in the country, or even in their conference, but they're at least two TDs better than Washington. Ugh. The greatest trick Lane Kiffin ever pulled was getting me to keep taking USC to cover.
No. 15 Texas at No. 13 Oklahoma (-3)
Corporate sponsors may be trying to change the Red River Shootout to the Red River Rivalry, but this year's on-field performance will underscore the accuracy of the former moniker. Both of these teams have explosive offenses and shaky defenses.
Under these circumstances, you'd normally give the edge to the home team, but Kansas State blew up Norman's night game mystique three weeks ago. And anyway, we have at least one concrete reason to take the Sooners at home: Oklahoma has the third best rushing offense in the conference, and the 'Horns have the second worst rushing defense. [Ed: It turns out the Red River Whatever is played at a neutral site. My bad.]
Syracuse at No. 20 Rutgers (-7)
This game isn't strictly interesting, but we need to fix our record and it's an easy pick for Rutgers. The Orangemen are surprisingly game at home, beating a decent Pitt Squad, keeping things interesting for a few quarters against USC, and losing by just 1 point to Northwestern. But whatever fight they may have apparently doesn't like to travel; Syracuse lost to lowly Minnesota by a touchdown on the road. Rutgers is far better than Minnesota, and they also get to play at home. Let's take the Scarlet Knights to cover.
Fresno State (+7) at No. 24 Boise State
Unlike our Big East pick, this game is actually interesting. The Mountain West may be dead, but these two teams certainly are not. In fact, they're the two best teams in their conference, and their stats are pretty much even. That's why this line seems a little out of wack, even though Fresno State has never beaten Boise at home (as far as I can tell). Let's take the West Coast Bulldogs to keep it close since they have a superior offense and a comparable defense.