Having already picked all of the truly interesting games this week (i.e. those played by SEC teams), it's time to move on to our national picks. We suffered a relapse in our losing ways last week, going 3-5 against the spread. This bring our national ledger to to 17-35. As Charles Barkley would say, that's turrible. We might right the ship this week, but Don't Bet On It!.
No. 2 Oregon at Arizona State (+10)
Everyone knows that Oregon has the best offense in the PAC-12. Guess who's number 2? Arizona State. The Sun Devils also happen to have the best defense in the conference. And home field advantage. Let's take State plus the points.
No. 4 Kansas State at No. 17 West Virginia(-2.5)
Kansas State is very, very good. However, they're not nearly as good defensively as Texas Tech. They are slightly better than the Red Raiders offensively, but they're not nearly as good the 'Eers. Plus, Morgantown is almost as weird a place as Lubbock, but WVU will be getting the benefit this time. We're taking WVU at home.
No. 12 Florida State (-20) at Miami (FL)
Miami is not very good at football. Despite FSU's loss to NC State, they are actually pretty good at football. Well, at the very least, they're better than the Hurricanes. You could argue that the 'Noles haven't played particularly well on the road, but Sun Life Stadium isn't the intimidating arena the Orange Bowl once was. In fact, the Tar Heels beat them there last week. It's a lot of points, but we're taking FSU and their points on the road.
Virginia Tech at No. 14 Clemson (-8.5)
The Hokies gave up 20 points to Duke in the first quarter last week. They have also lost to Pitt, Cincinnati, and North Carolina on the road. Clemson is better than all of those teams. The Country Gentlemen are going to win big at home, bringing the Turkeys to 0-4 on the road.
No. 18 Texas Tech (-2.5) at TCU
The Red Raiders are coming off a huge win against WVU, and they have a big game against conference-leader Kansas State next week. This could be a trap game for them. But then again, Texas Tech has the best defense in the conference, and their offense is far better than Iowa State's. Why is Iowa State relevant? The Cyclones went to Forth Worth and beat the Horned Frogs two weeks ago. Texas Tech wins by at least a field goal on the road.
No. 21 Cincinnati (-7) at Toledo
Head on over to cfbstats.com and look at these two teams' numbers. The Bearcats are better than the Rockets in every meaningful offensive and defensive statistical category, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The only arguments for the line being this low are that it's a road game and that Cincy might be looking ahead to next weekend's conference match-up with No. 16 Louisville. I'm not convinced that anyone can claim a legitimate home-field advantage in a place called the Glass Bowl, and even a distracted Cincinnati squad should be able to handle the Rockets with ease. Let's take the Bearcats to cover on the road.
Michigan State (+10) at No. 23 Michigan
Yes it's a B1G game for a silly trophy, but this game might be sort of fun to watch. Denard Robinson is one of the most exciting and electric players in college football, even though Al Borges is stubbornly trying to his unorthodox talents into a West Coast offense ill-suited to them. Spartan RB Le'Veon Bell is one of the best backs in the game, but State hasn't quite been able to figure out how to make the most of him (especially in the absence of a credible passing attack). But these in-state rivals genuinely hate each other, which always brings out the best on the gridiron, and they each appear to be weak in areas that would otherwise expose the chinks in the other's armor. I like the Wolverines' chances to end the Spartans' four game winning, but they won't win by more than 10. Let's take the Spartans plus the points.
North Carolina (-10) at Duke
I know it's not basketball season yet, but we're picking this game because, as with the in-state Michigan rivalry above, these teams legitimately dislike each other 365 days a year. I respect that. Anyway, despite the Blue Devils' hot start, the Heels simply have more talent. Plus, Wallace Wade isn't nearly as intimidating to visitors as Cameron Indoor Stadium. UNC wins big on the road.
Baylor (+11) at Texas
Baylor has one of the best offenses in the country, and Texas's defense is atrocious. The Bears' defense isn't great either, but it's comparable to the Horns'. This should be a shoot-out that's not decided until the final possession. Although Baylor has never won three in a row against Texas and hasn't performed particularly well on the road, let's take the Bears to keep it close in Austin.