Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our weekly column where Matt, Bob and Harry 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.
Hello to our thousands of readers (plus or minus thousands)! We’re coming to the conclusion of our third season doing this and we wanted to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of you who participate weekly and make this column the enjoyable weekly activity that it is.
Happy Thanksgiving, to you and your families. Except if you root for Ohio State, then I hope your Thanksgiving is sad.
In games we picked last week:
- Minnesota (-4.5) picked up a win over Illinois IN THE HEARTLAND. I’d recap it more than that, but I didn’t watch the game and I don’t think anyone else did either.
- Miami (-2) blew out Georgia Tech in a monsoon that sent the 5,000 or so fans in attendance to the exits midway through the third quarter.
- Northwestern (+10) beat* Wisconsin on the road! What a dream season for the 9-2* Wildcats! Wow*!
- Michigan State (+13) went on the road and took down an Ohio State team with its best players definitely focused on the task at hand and not at all looking ahead to the NFL.
- Baylor (Pk) went on the road and rolled Oklahoma State in a game that confirmed our suspicions that Baylor is actually pretty great and OSU is not as good as its record indicates.
After an undefeated week, Matt surges to the top of the standings. However, keep in mind that we still have three weeks of bowl picks coming, so this race is still tighter than Stephen Piscotty’s buttcheeks with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth, folks.
Here’s a look at the splits:
|We All Agree||16-12|
And the peanut gallery. It’s turning into a two horse race at the top with Drew and Andrew all tied up. Creed is slipping following his second consecutive 1-4 week. But take a look at the bottom, where Jacob is making a serious push to get out of the cellar.
|Winning Percentage||Season Record||Last Week|
|Jacob Altstadt||.440||22-28||5-0 (!!)|
Here is this week’s slate. As always, game times are eastern and on Saturday. Since Miami plays on Friday and Illinois and Northwestern play each other, we’ll pick four national games.
#8 Ohio State (-1) at #10 Michigan, Noon, ABC
Harry: Did anyone watch Ohio State this week? I get that this is The Game and the Buckeyes should be fired up, but that looked like a team that has already packed it in to prepare for the NFL Draft. Combine that with the fact that the Buckeyes’ national title hopes are all but dead and that gives them even less motivation. Ohio State is obviously the better team, but they won’t win. Michigan +1
Matt: I’ve been a fan of the way Michigan has played all year, but the loss of unheralded star Graham Glasgow at nose tackle has crippled (relatively speaking) what was one of the best defenses in the country through the halfway point of the season. I don’t think that Ohio State is going to lack for motivation in one of the greatest rivalries in sports, so I’ll take the more talented team to pull through this season. Ohio State -1
Bob: I actually don’t at all agree with the NFL narrative Harry (and many others) have pushed. These guys gave up the chance to go undefeated and repeat to instead give a little less effort in a game that already requires lot of sacrificing effort and injury potential? It’s a cheap narrative. Anyway, these teams are about even by most metrics, but when you look at Barrett vs. Rudock, Elliott vs. Smith, Bosa vs, and Michigan’s defense trending down, I like Ohio State here. If we want to throw in the motivation/effort stuff, I don’t think that will at all be a problem for the Buckeyes. Ohio State -1
#16 Northwestern (-3.5) vs. Illinois, 3:30, ESPNU
Harry: I’m not picking against the horseshoe that’s stuck up Northwestern’s ass this season anymore. Northwestern -3.5
Matt: These two teams have very similar statistical profiles, with Illinois having a slightly higher ranked offense and Northwestern having a slightly higher ranked defense according to S&P. For the first time since the conference schedule started, the Illini dropped below the Wildcats in overall S&P rankings, which is indicative of just how poorly Bill Cubit’s team has been playing as of late. With two relatively even teams, the game is probably going to come down to similar things as Illinois-Minnesota did last week: finishing drives and the turnover margin. Northwestern is probably more likely to succeed on both those fronts. Northwestern -3.5
Bob: These teams are about even despite what the rankings say, but I feel comfortable laying just 3.5 here with a slightly stronger Northwestern team. I actually don’t have much to say about this, as Northwestern consistently wins despite poor performances, and really anything is in play here. Northwestern -3.5
#13 Florida State (-2.5) at #12 Florida, 7:30, ESPN
Harry: This is a game I would never bet in a million years with real money. Florida has looked dominant at times, but outscoring Vanderbilt and FAU by a combined two points in regulation over the last two weeks does not give me much confidence in the Gators. That said, they are at home in a rivalry game and FSU is hardly a juggernaut this year. At the end of the day, I just can’t pick the UF team I’ve watched over the last two weeks. Florida State -2.5
Matt: I don’t feel comfortable giving Florida any credit after their past two performances. Give me the Seminoles and you can have the points. Florida State -2.5
Bob: Florida somehow remains #10 in S&P+ despite the shitshow in recent weeks. S&P+ doesn’t know that Will Grier took some medicine, but that still is shockingly high. Florida State still has that brutal Georgia Tech loss on its resume, but that’s not quite as bad as what Florida has been doing and I’ll take it as more of an anomaly. Florida State -2.5
#6 Notre Dame at #9 Stanford (-4), 7:30, FOX
Harry: I really do think that Notre Dame was a really good team at some point this season, but the injuries have simply piled up too much at this point. Stanford will knock them out of the playoff picture. Stanford -4
Matt: I’m with Harry here. Notre Dame would absolutely be one of the top four teams in the country if not for brutal injuries to half their offense (Illini fans know that feel, in both football and basketball). Stanford has stumbled a bit after a red hot start to their conference schedule, but they’re still a very good team that is likely to beat ND by a touchdown or so. Stanford -4
Bob: What these guys said. Too many injuries for the Irish, and though they have performed valiantly despite the health issue all year, it’s tough to pick them in Palo Alto. Stanford -4
#3 Oklahoma (-7) at #11 Oklahoma State, 8, ABC
Harry: I’m as big of an Oklahoma State doubter as anyone, but giving up a full touchdown at home against an Oklahoma outfit that’s questionable in its own right? No thank you. Oklahoma State +7
Matt: In high-scoring affairs like those of the Big 12, taking a seven-point spread is basically a straight up pick for a win or loss (not really, but let me have this one). I like Oklahoma to score in the 40s or 50s in this game and pull out a solid double digit victory, sealing their playoff status. Usually I’m down on Oklahoma, so it feels weird to trust them, but I’ll take the Sooners. Oklahoma -7
Bob: Do people realize Oklahoma lost to Texas and just because it didn’t happen within the last two weeks, people think Oklahoma is the #3 team in the country? If you want a more recent example, they won by a failed two-point conversion attempt at home to TCU’s B squad last week. I’m not a big fan of Oklahoma State, but they are a solid football team who at the very least is far better than Texas and TCU’s B squad. What Matt said is true about Big 12 spreads being reasonably augmented, but this line (and Oklahoma’s ranking) is a little too high. Oklahoma State +7
Remember to make your picks in the comments!