Last week we picked Oklahoma State to cover the spread against Florida State, and, after one of the best games games in an otherwise uninteresting weekend, we were proven correct. The Pokes gave the 'Noles all they could handle for the better part of 60 minutes. The Cowboys are being robbed by not being voted into the top 25 after that performance, but, if they keep playing the way they did last Saturday night, they'll be there soon.
This weekend flips last weekend's script: there are a number of potentially compelling national games while the SEC schedule is pretty weak. But only one game can be our National Game of Interest: No. 14 USC at No. 13 Stanford.
The pick: USC +3
Why you should care: We can start liking USC again now that Lane Kiffin is gone, and USC was one of only two PAC-12 teams to beat the Cardinal last year.
Rationale: Kiffin has plenty of faults as a coach, but he sure can recruit. By my count, more than half of USC's roster is made up of former 4-or-5 star recruits, and they're spread pretty evenly on both sides of the ball. On offense, once Cody Kessler settled down, he was pretty solid, and he'll be working behind a fairly experienced line (coached by former Stanford and 49er assistant Tim Drevno). He'll also be throwing to Nelson Agholor, who had 8 catches for 104 against the Cardinal last year. On defense, they return 8 starters and upgrade to a coordinator (Clancy Pendergast) whose defenses have shown immediate improvements everywhere he's coached.
Mainly, though, I'm just expecting Stanford to fall off a bit. They have to replace a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and, although he hasn't quite shown it as the head man in Vanderbilt, Derek Mason was a heck of a coordinator.
Bonus pick: Michigan +4.5 at Notre Dame. This is purely a spite pick.