After last week’s incredibly close loss for Miami against FSU, I had a lot of material and jokes about Florida State’s football squad. In light of last night’s campus shooting in Tallahassee, I’m going to abstain from something as trivial as football talk in the face of this horrific situation. Everyone here at DCIAB is incredibly encouraged to hear that all of the shooter’s victims will survive and saddened that the tragedy occurred at all. Our thoughts are with FSU.

Getting into the weekly festivities, in games we picked last week:

    • Iowa (-3.5) flattened a crumbling Illinois football team
    • Mississippi State (+8.5) picked up an extremely frustrating backdoor cover in its loss at Alabama
    • Melvin Gordon (-6.5) nearly single-handedly slaughtered the entire state of Nebraska
    • Florida State (-3.5) pulled off another Houdini act, escaping Miami with a tight win
    • Northwestern (+17.5) went on the road and beat Notre Dame (!!!) allowing me to throw this up one more time:

The standings are getting incredibly tight, though they’re still pretty embarrassing. Bob has pulled into a tie with me and Matt sits just two games ahead:

Season Last Week
Matt 27-33 1-4
Harry 25-35 2-3
Bob 25-35 3-2

Here are the splits:

We All Agree  12-20
Matt Alone  4-2
Bob Alone  6-6
Harry Alone  5-5

This week, we have a new leader in the peanut gallery:

Winning Percentage Season Record Last Week
Creed Tucker .533 32-28 3-2
Andrew Hunt .525 21-19 2-3
Andrew Kelley .475 19-21 0-5
Mike .444 20-25 4-1
Bobby .400 20-30 3-2
Drew .350 14-26 3-2

Here are this week’s games. As usual, all lines come from Pinnacle and game times are eastern. The rankings come from the College Football Playoff Rankings.

Penn State (-6.5) at Illinois, Noon, ESPN2

Can the Illini pull off the upset on senior day or will Penn State seal Tim Beckman’s fate?

Northwestern at Purdue (-1.5), Noon, ESPNU

Coming into the season, who would’ve thought that Purdue would’ve been a favorite against a Power 5 opponent?

#8 Ole Miss (-3.5) at Arkansas, 3:30, CBS

Arkansas looks to make it two in a row after its first SEC victory under Bret Beilema.

Miami (-5.5) at Virginia, 7, ESPN2

After a loss to FSU and with nothing to really play for with the ACC Coastal out of reach, will the ‘Canes come out and play their best?

#19 USC at #9 UCLA (-3), 8, ABC

This year’s battle for Los Angeles is also a huge game in the deep Pac-12 South as four teams sit with two losses. All have a reasonable chance to face Oregon in the championship. Let’s get to the picks.

Penn State-Illinois:

Bob: After sitting in last place all season, I finally have tied Harry and sit just two behind Matt for the least bad of the three of us, so these last three Saturdays are crucial. As for this game, both these teams suck and can’t score. Penn State appears to suck less, but I could easily see this one ending in a close, low-scoring game. I’m tempted to take the points, but I just can’t see the Illini getting anything on this stout Nittany Lion defense. I like Penn State to cover, but not confidently. Penn State -6.5

Matt: This line started at around three or four points, and I would have been happy to take Penn State with that spread. Just a couple weeks ago, PSU barely scraped by Indiana (without a real quarterback) by six points on the road. Illinois poses a different set of challenges than the Hoosiers (a decent passing game as opposed to a fantastic running back with little help), and the question is whether that offense can sustain enough success to hang in this game. Similar to Bob, I’ll nervously take the Nittany Lions to cover this spread. I feel horrible about it in my gut, but it’s too difficult to trust Tim Beckman at this point. Penn State -6.5

Harry: I mostly agree with Matt and Bob’s analysis of this game. I simply can’t pick Illinois while getting less than a touchdown considering how the season has gone for Tim Beckman’s team. Penn State -6.5 

Northwestern-Purdue:

Bob: Purdue is favored? Obviously, Northwestern would get the slight edge if this game were in Evanston, but this still surprises me. I have been saying for a couple weeks that I wouldn’t be shocked if Northwestern beats Notre Dame and then loses to Purdue. I’m riding that feeling, especially after Purdue comes off a bye week following two respectable performances against top teams. Let’s hope I’m wrong about this one, just like I am with every Northwestern game. The narrative is going to be “Northwestern builds on its confidence with another win” if they leave victorious, and it would be “Northwestern too confident in loss” if they lose. Sigh. Purdue -1.5

Matt: I like the improvements Purdue has made this year under Darell Hazell. Unlike Illinois, they seem to be headed down the right path and have been competitive for most of this year. Central Michigan loss aside, this has been a nice bounce-back season for them. Unfortunately for Purdue, I’m buying the improvements Northwestern is showing just a bit more. It may be just one game against an overconfident opponent, but the ‘Cats are poised to become eligible for a bowl this Saturday. I think they make it happen. Northwestern +1.5

Harry: Northwestern is such a weird team. They have a couple great results this season (the win at Notre Dame last week and a victory over Wisconsin at home earlier this year) and some brutal ones (losing to Michigan at home, losing to NIU at home, a 31-point loss to Iowa that could’ve been even worse). Because of that, it’s really impossible to know which NU team will show up. Simply because I can’t trust the good ‘Cats to show up, I’ll take the home team. Purdue -1.5

Ole Miss-Arkansas:

Bob: Arkansas has played close game after close game against top SEC foes, including a 17-0 win against LSU last week. However, they still sit a good 26 spots below Ole Miss in the latest F/+ rankings. Ole Miss comes off a bye week and a win over Presbyterian, and their only losses are in Baton Rouge to LSU and (not really a loss) to Auburn at home. I’ll happily only give up 3.5 points here. Ole Miss -3.5

Matt: Arkansas kind of feels like the Purdue of the SEC right now, relatively speaking. They’re losing on a consistent basis, but you can definitely see pieces coming together that could make a solid team in the near future. That said, I’m about to do the same flip-flop I did on the last pick. The loss of Laquon Treadwell is big for the Ole Miss offense, but they should have enough to get by Arkansas. That defense is just too ferocious to let the Hogs cover this spread. Ole Miss -3.5

Harry: I’ve gone back and forth on this one for a while now. Arkansas has improved each week and that culminated in an impressive 17-0 win over LSU last week. However, that LSU team was coming off a grueling battle with Alabama. As Bob mentioned, Ole Miss hasn’t played a decent opponent in three weeks. I’ll take the Rebs. Ole Miss -3.5

Miami-Virginia:

Bob: Miami is 11th in F/+, and Virginia sucks despite wins against Louisville and Pittsburgh. This spread is weirdly low. Miami -5.5

Matt: This is the type of spread that makes dumb people say, “I think Vegas knows something we don’t.” Hint: Vegas knows just as much as observers do. That doesn’t mean Miami is definitely going to cover this spread, but they seem like the better bet because they are the better bet. Miami -5.5

Harry: Miami is playing its best football in years. Three blowouts of decent teams and playing a Top 5 team even leaves me pretty confused why this line is so low. Miami -5.5

USC-UCLA:

Bob: UCLA only has two losses, and they were both relatively close and to two top-20 teams. Meanwhile, USC has been pretty shaky all year. These two are about even according to F/+ (UCLA ranks 17th, USC ranks 21st), but I’m more confident in UCLA this week given both teams’ bodies of work over the course of the season. All favorites this week for me. UCLA -3

Matt:

UCLA -3

Harry: That is a very disrespectful song, Matthew. UCLA -3

 

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