Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and I pick five college football games against the spread and make appalling jokes at pretty much everyone’s expense. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section and we’ll post the standings each week.
Happy Thursday, gang. Today commences the University of Miami’s fall break, which beautifully coincides with this weekend’s rivalry contest between Miami and Florida State in Tallahassee. I’m driving up tomorrow morning and I’ll run down my experience in next week’s column. For now, even though it’s not related to college football, enjoy this forever and ever:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 8, 2015
In games we picked last week:
- Northwestern (-5) shut down Minnesota 27-0 at Ryan Field, putting up yet another strong case to doubt the Wildcats at your own risk. (Note: That won’t stop Matt and I from doing exactly that later in this very column.)
- Oklahoma (-7) made a statement of its own in Norman, blowing out trendy upset pick West Virginia.
- Illinois (+7) beat Nebraska in a football game!!!!!!
- Alabama (+2.5) rolled Georgia to prove that maybe you shouldn’t count the Tide out when their only loss came by six points in a game where they had a negative-five turnover margin and yielded the flukiest touchdown of the season.
- THE CUBS WON THE WILD CARD GAME HOLY SHIT SEE YOU IN ST. LOUIS
- Clemson (EVEN) tried their hardest to blow what appeared to be an insurmountable lead against Notre Dame in a hurricane, but in the end the lead was indeed insurmountable.
After a sizzling start, Bob and I are falling back to earth in the standings. Matt is somewhere beneath it tunneling around. [Ed Matt: Need I remind you who won the dang thing last year?]
Here’s a look at the splits:
|We All Agree||7-6|
And the peanut gallery, where a familiar face is now on top:
|Winning Percentage||Season Record||Last Week|
Can Bob and I fight off a couple shaky weeks and remain above .500? Here is this week’s slate. As always, game times are eastern and on Saturday.
Illinois at #22 Iowa (-11), Noon, ESPNU
It’s Illinois and Iowa in…a game actually relevant to the Big Ten West title picture? What a time to be alive, folks.
Bob: I think Iowa is pretty good and I don’t think Illinois is that good despite their win over a ruffffff Nebraska team this past week. HOWEVA, this spread is kind of large for an Iowa team that only scored 10 points last week and is facing the #9 S&P+ defense. I feel dumb taking Illinois against a ranked team on the road, but here we go. Illinois +11
Matt: OH YEAH EVERYBODY SUCK IT, I TOTALLY APPREHENSIVELY TOLD YOU TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE ILLINOIS GAME LAST WEEK DIDN’T I? OHHHHHHHHHHH HELL YEAH WE ACTUALLY WON A BIG TEN GAME AGAINST A (probably just average) NON-PURDUE/NORTHWESTERN OPPONENT. BILL CUBIT FOR LIFE! I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE! IOWA BY TWO TOUCHDOWNS! Iowa -11
Harry: After consulting my non-existent gambling manifesto that I simply make up on the spot whenever I feel it’s convenient, I cannot break Section 3, Article 2: Never, ever, EVER lay double digit points with Kirk Ferentz. Illinois +11
#13 Northwestern at #18 Michigan (-8.5), 3:30, BTN
If you told me that the Northwestern-Michigan game would be between two teams legitimately deserving their spot in the Top 20 five weeks ago, I would’ve told you, “Eh, crazier things have happened, but that seems relatively unlikely.” What a time to be alive, folks.
Bob: Both defenses are amazing, both quarterbacks are okay, both teams have great runningbacks. People who follow me on Twitter or talk to me at all about Northwestern know that I think Northwestern has been overrated due to a bit of luck, but frankly, they are still a very good football team. Additionally, Michigan really has not done anything that Northwestern has not (other than lose a football game!), and both defenses are great and both offenses are not, so I think this spread is high. Northwestern +8.5
Matt: I’ve been about as skeptical of Northwestern as anyone you can find. It’s not too hard to find a way to explain away the wins over Stanford (stale offense, now revved up in recent weeks), Duke (Duke won the statistical battle in most areas), and Minnesota (Minnesota is playing like an FCS team on offense right now), but that these wins keep piling up means it’s becoming more and more difficult to doubt the Cats. They are certainly not the 13th best team in the nation, but they’re probably pretty good. I’m still waiting for Clayton Thorson and the offense to cost the team a game with turnovers or poor play in general, but Northwestern continues to find ways to improve upon its stellar defense and cover the mistakes of its counterpart. Because Michigan has a more impressive resume, a better coach, and more talent at most positions, I think I’ll take Michigan to cover what is a scarily huge line for what should be a defensive game. Michigan -8.5
Harry: I simply can’t see Northwestern scoring more than 14 points or so on Michigan’s unbelievable defense, so the Wolverines should win this one fairly comfortably, maybe in the 24-10 type range. Michigan -8.5
#11 Florida (-5) at Missouri, 7:30, SECN
I was really hoping Florida would continue to flounder for a couple years, but you can’t have it all.
Bob: Florida ranks 5th in S&P+. Missouri ranks 101st. Florida -5
Matt: How about Florida?! They’re doing the same thing Michigan is– profiting off of firing an incompetent coach who left behind plenty of talent for the new guy to mold. I don’t think Florida will remain a top ten team all season, but they’re probably co-favorites with Georgia to win the SEC East, they’re definitely better than Mizzou right now, and I think their defense does enough to win this game by a touchdown. Florida -5
Harry: So, in reality, how good is Florida? The Gators’ beatdown of previously undefeated Ole Miss last week was impressive, but how do you reconcile that with their narrow victories over the likes of East Carolina and Kentucky? Last week was either a fluke or a major harbinger of a dangerous young team coming into its own. I have no idea which side of that is correct, but I think they beat Missouri by more than five points regardless. Florida -5
Miami at #12 Florida State (-9.5), 8, ABC
Why does Al Golden still have a job?
Bob: Miami is not very good, and Florida State is not very good for a team considered as a top team. This could be close for a while, but I like Florida State to pull ahead. It’s just hard for me to see a Golden-led Miami team go into Tallahassee and pull this one out, and the line is not too high. Florida State -9.5
Matt: Miami is gonna win. Miami +9.5
Harry: I have no idea what Al Golden put in Matt’s coffee. Florida State -9.5
#23 Cal at #5 Utah (-7), 10, ESPN
What a match-up we have in this week’s #Pac12AfterDark game. Stay up for this one; Cal quarterback Jared Goff is easily one of the top five most fun players to watch in the country.
Bob: Cal is fun and all, but they really ain’t that good. Cal’s defense is awful. Utah has been pretty good both ways. Utah -7
Matt: Cal’s defense is still a tire fire. Utah is solid on both sides of the ball and should be able to pull out a nice victory in a high-scoring game. And then Cal will fall out of the Top 25 for some reason, despite losing by 2-4 scores on the road against the #5 team in the country. Yay polls! Utah -7
Harry: It makes me happy to see a plucky team like Cal be 5-0 and I hate to rain on the parade, but the Golden Bears just beat Texas, Washington and Washington State—not exactly a murderer’s row—by a combined 12 points. Also, have a gander at Cal’s remaining schedule. Quite frankly, I’d be surprised if they finish the year any better than 7-5, but I would love to be surprised. Prove me wrong, Jared Goff. Utah -7