We're 4-3 after our second "free money" pick of the season also fell spactacularly flat. We picked the Sun Devils plus 5.5, but the Bruins covered in the second quarter and never looked back. That was the UCLA team that we all expected to see this year. All they needed was for us to publicly pick against them. You're welcome.
This week's slate of games is just spectacular. Even if you narrow things down to games involving at least one ranked competitor, there are at least 10 that are worth watching. It's hard to narrow things down too much further, so we're going to show a little love for the conference (B1G) and the team (ND) that are usually our default choices for the National Game of Disinterest. This week's National Games of Interest are No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State (-7.5) and No. 14 Stanford (-2) at No. 9 Notre Dame.
The picks: Michigan State -7.5 and Notre Dame +2
Why you should care: All four of these teams are ranked, and the point spreads are relatively tight. These games should be good. (Just a heads-up: you'll need to DVR Stanford-ND, which kicks off 30 minutes before our scrimmage against Vandy.)
Rationale: We all know that the B1G stinks as a whole, but let's be honest here. Michigan State and Nebraska are both good. MSU is 4-1 with a top 5 offense and a stout defense. Nebraska is 5-0. Their top-5 rushing offense is led by senior Ameer Abdullah, who has 3 games over 200 yards this season and has already accounted for 941 total yards and 10 TDs. Unfortunately, he'll be up against one of the best run defenses in the country in Michigan State. Although the Huskers' passing attack is probably a little underrated, it seems like the Spartans are more likely to bottle up Nebraska than vice versa. The Cornhuskers are giving up 19 points per game, which seems impressive until you realize that they've played Florida Atlantic (98th-ranked scoring offense), McNeese State (Div 1-AA), Fresno State (69th-ranked scoring offense), Illinois (74th ranked scoring offense), and Miami (72nd ranked scoring offense). And don't forget that the Spartans' only loss was to Oregon in Eugene in a game that the Spartans led at the half and until the end of the third quarter. Sparty covers at home.
The Cardinal-Irish game is even more interesting if you like watching good defensive play. These teams rank 1st (Stanford) and 4th (ND) nationally in scoring defense. The question is which offense will be able to make the most headway. The line opened with ND as a 1-point favorite at home but quickly moved in favor of Stanford. You can sum up the argument for Notre Dame with two words: Everett Golson. After sitting out the 2013 season due to academic improprieties, the senior signal caller was garnering a lot of Heisman buzz until he committed 4 turnovers last week against Syracuse. However, it's worth noting that he also went 32/39 (including 25 in a row) for 362 yards with 4 TDs against 2 INTs. It's harder to make the case for Stanford's offense, which ranks 80th nationally in scoring (27.5 PPG) despite facing only 1 top-25 opponent (USC), to whom they lost and against whom they scored just 10 points. Let's take the Domers +2 at home.