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.
No podcast today.
In games we picked last week (Matt is writing this part as well):
- Ohio State (-1) exposed just how much Michigan was fading down the stretch, abusing the Wolverines on the ground with Ezekiel Elliot and J.T. Barrett on way to a completely dominant victory.
- Northwestern (-3.5) rudely took advantage of an Illini squad that was clearly emotionally compromised given the tragic news of Bill Cubit’s extension, revealed just hours beforehand by the extremely competent Fighting Illini Athletic Department.
- Florida State (-2.5) beat the crap out of Florida. Florida scored just two points in the entire game, literally dropping a deuce on the field.
- Notre Dame (+4) covered, but their near victory was completely overshadowed in my mind by the absolutely idiotic game management by Stanford Head Coach David Shaw, confirming the likelihood that he will someday coach in the NFL.
- Oklahoma (-7) did exactly what I thought they would at Oklahoma State, crushing the Cowboys, who seems to be the Big 12’s version of Ole Miss this season, winning one big game they have no business winning over a really good team (TCU/Alabama) because of turnovers.
(Back to Harry) In the standings, a surging Matt has run off a 9-1 record over the past two weeks to gain some breathing room on the field. [[Ed Matt: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAHHHHHHH]]] 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||18-13|
And the peanut gallery. Drew and Andrew are still tied at the top, so let’s turn our attention to a HARD CHARGING JACOB, now ahead of two participants and within the hundredths place of Bobby and Creed. He’s also 9-1 over the past two weeks.
|Winning Percentage||Season Record||Last Week|
Here is this week’s slate. As always, game times are eastern and on Saturday. We’re picking the five most relevant conference championship games of the week and none of our teams are involved in any of them. Hooray for basketball season.
AAC Championship: Temple vs. Houston (-6.5), Noon, ABC
Bob: I love Tom Herman, but right now, the numbers HATE Houston and even put Temple as four-point favorites. Houston is coming off an impressive win over Navy, but Temple also just trounced the team that beat Houston and the team that lost by one to Houston in back-to-back weeks. It’s going to be an interesting matchup between Houston’s high-scoring offense and Temple’s tough defense. Too large of a spread for a toss-up game. Temple +6.5
Harry: I agree with Bob that there’s too much recency bias here. Sure, Houston is coming off a very impressive beatdown of Navy, but two weeks ago the Cougars lost to UConn. I would definitely not be surprised if Houston covered this spread, but it’s too many points to lay with a somewhat inconsistent team. Temple +6.5
Matt: Might have some short picks this week, as I’m pretty burned out on writing after a long week of doing it nonstop for class. I’ll take Temple as well, frankly because I don’t want to lose ground betting on Houston when I think this is pretty much a toss-up. Temple +6.5
SEC Championship: Florida vs. Alabama (-17), 4, CBS
Bob: I love Alabama and so does the betting public, but this spread remains far too large. The real tough bet here is whether Florida will score at all against the nation’s top defense. Florida +17
Harry: I get that Florida is a shell of itself at this point, but a three-possession spread in a conference championship game is far too much. BOLD-ISH PREDICTION: Florida will find a way to score at least 10 points. Do I see Alabama putting up more than 27 points? Nah. Florida +17
Matt: RRRRRRRRAWWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLL TTAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEE Alabama -17
Pac-12 Championship: Stanford (-4.5) vs. USC, 7:45, ESPN
Bob: USC has not been quite as impressive since Clay Helton’s takeover as people like to think, with a number of close wins against mediocre teams. With two top offenses, this will be a high-scoring result, and I like Stanford by the same spread that I unsuccessfully took last week. Stanford -4.5
Harry: I’m still shocked that USC decided to tab Clay Helton as the guy going forward when they definitely have the financial wherewithal to throw $4 million per year at Tom Herman. Helton has done an admirable job, but Stanford is superior to USC on both sides of the ball and already beat the Trojans once this year in Los Angeles. Stanford -4.5
Matt: These hooligans said it all, including the weirdness of keeping Clay Helton on staff. If he had not randomly ascended into the role because of unforeseen circumstances, there’s no way he would even be a candidate for the job given his prior experience. Remind you of any other situation in college football? Stanford -4.5
Big Ten Championship: Michigan State (-3.5) vs. Iowa, 8, FOX
Bob: What scares me is that despite Iowa’s ridiculous run of luck this season, it is one very winnable game (remember all those really shaky Michigan State wins and that loss to Nebraska) away from qualifying for the College Football Playoff. Matchup-wise, Iowa is designed to stop the run and force teams to pass, which doesn’t bode well when the opponent is Michigan State. I actually think this pick is not as simply “don’t pick Iowa” as one would initially think, especially with it being over a field goal. Still, I have to go with the clearly better team here. Michigan State -3.5
Harry: While it scares Bob, the idea of Iowa in the College Football Playoff is so gloriously hilarious that I’ve been rooting hard for it since the Hawkeyes hit about 9-0. I do think it would be foolish to completely dismiss the Hawkeyes here, but it’s going to be an uphill battle for them. While Iowa is legitimately pretty good and can only win the games on its schedule, it doesn’t bode well that the best team the Hawkeyes have played is…Wisconsin? Northwestern? Pittsburgh? And out of those three, they only won one convincingly. Michigan State -3.5
Matt: This is the toughest pick of the week for me. I think these teams are pretty equal this season, with Michigan State having the opportunity to play a few better teams and taking advantage. Iowa is far more consistent, but S&P+ says Michigan State should be favored by around five points in this one, so I’ll stick to my trust in numbers. Michigan State -3.5
ACC Championship: North Carolina vs. Clemson (-5.5), 8, ABC
Bob: Clemson good. North Carolina ain’t played nobody. Again, I don’t think this is as simple of a pick as it initially seems, but I still think Clemson is decisively the better team and am surprised to see the spread this tight. Clemson -5.5
Harry: North Carolina is similar to Iowa in that they haven’t played a great team. However, unlike Iowa, they’ve straight up dominated some pretty decent teams like Pittsburgh and Miami. In other words, we have no idea how good the Tar Heels are. Clemson looked vulnerable last week against South Carolina and that helped push this line below a touchdown. I’ll take the Tigers, but not all that confidently. Clemson -5.5
Matt: Clemson is so, so, so good. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people pick this upset, but I don’t see it happening without some major turnover issues for Clemson or some huge plays. Naturally, it wouldn’t be wise to pick UNC when I can only see them covering with a good deal of luck. Having watched both teams play several times this season and looked pretty extensively at their advanced statistics, it feels like Clemson should be favored by at least seven in this game, if not more. Clemson -5.5
Remember to make your picks in the comments!