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.
Some day we will again have a column in this space. Today is not that day.
In last week’s action:
- Louisville (+2.5) beat down Florida State, cementing Lamar Jackson’s September Heisman and maybe even the Heisman Heisman.
- Miami (-3.5) did what they should have done to an App State team that was much worse than them, but years of Al Golden made this kind of surprising.
- Ole Miss (+10) was up by 21, then down by almost 20, and someone roared back to beat the spread in the final minutes against the Nick Saban Death Star. [Matt: Hey, by the way, this was complete bull and I called it immediately after Ole Miss scored to cut the massive Alabama lead to 12:
If you were unsure whether Harry is really like this in real life, then… well… yeah.]
- Western Michigan (-3.5) hammered Illinois and is almost assured the Illinois FBS Hat Trick later this season against a depleted Northern Illinois team.
- Ohio State (-2) is also a Death Star.
- Michigan State (+7.5) is probably a lot better than we gave them credit for, and we’ll find out more about them in a monster game this weekend.
- Northwestern (-6) won a football game!
After three weeks, #WireToWire remains very much in play:
[Bob: The weekly standings counts as The Roast of Bob Hayes.]
You should probably start picking against us again when we all agree. Here are the splits:
|We All Agree||1-5|
And the peanut gallery! Next week you’ll need at least 10 picks to qualify, so if you’re below that threshold, don’t miss this week:
|Winning Percentage||Season Record||Last Week|
Here are the games this week, all lines from the Vegas Insider Consensus (an average of a handful of Vegas casinos’ lines) and game times are eastern. Miami and Illinois have byes, so we’re picking four national games.
#11 Wisconsin at #8 Michigan State (-5.5), Noon, BTN
Maybe a monster matchup in the Big Ten between a Michigan State team with a legitimately great win, and a Wisconsin team who is pretty much here because they beat an LSU team that isn’t that good.
Harry: I’m not going to do that thing where people ridiculously overreact to last week’s games, in which Wisconsin looked terrible in a close 23-17 win over Georgia State and MSU looked awesome for most of the game at Notre Dame. These teams are pretty similar in my eyes and I expect a close game where points come at a premium. For that reason, 5.5 is a few too many points for me. Wisconsin +5.5
Matt: Wisconsin’s impressive week one win over LSU looks less spectacular by the week, with the Tigers already resorting to a failed former Purdue quarterback (Danny Etling) to stay afloat in the SEC. I believe in Wisconsin’s defense, but the offense is dismal, Corey Clement or not. The Badgers don’t have the passing ability to abuse Michigan State’s biggest defensive weakness (the secondary, particularly on deep passes), nor do they have the offensive line to contain Malik McDowell and his fellow linemen. I’m expecting a fairly sloppy game that Michigan State wins by 7-13 points. Think…. Michigan-Michigan State 2013, but with less death. Michigan State -5.5
Bob: Both of these teams are *probably* not top-10 teams, though each has what appears to be a quality win from the first three weeks. A point of trickiness: Corey Clement and two other Badgers running backs are still officially questionable. Another one: Alex Hornbook will make his first career start at quarterback for Wisconsin. Still, it’s tough to differentiate these two teams right now and I expect Clement to play, so I will happily take the points. Wisconsin +5.5
#19 Florida at #14 Tennessee (-6.5), 3:30, CBS
The last time Tennessee beat Florida was 2004, when we were nine years old. Also gas cost negative-17 cents per gallon, airplanes wouldn’t be invented for 70 years, and Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt just before the game kicked off.
Harry: This one is pretty easy for me. I don’t exactly believe in Tennessee, as we’ve discussed, but I really don’t believe in the Gators and their quarterback Luke Del Rio isn’t even playing in this one. Go down, Josh Dobbs, way down into Rocky Top Land. Tell ole’ Finebaum, let my points go. Tennessee -6.5
Matt: I’ve been extremely vocal about my distaste for Tennessee and its comically high ranking this entire season, so you already know who I’m going with here. Austin Appleby runs for 70 yards and a touchdown, the most of anybody in the game, and Florida wins despite scoring like 11 points. Florida +6.5
Bob: It looks like former Purdue quarterback (!) Austin Appleby will be taking the snaps for Florida this week following the loss of Luke Del Rio, who was injured on an illegal low hit against North Texas last Saturday. Florida has an enormous 11-game winning streak against its rival Tennessee, and I’m not sure Tennessee will break that this week despite the preseason hype, playing at home, and facing Florida’s backup quarterback. Florida comes in with the nation’s top-ranked S&P+ defense, and the Tennessee offense has struggled despite being led by the prodigal god Joshua Dobbs. Tennessee probably wins, but taking the ‘dog is the move here. Florida +6.5
#20 Nebraska (-7.5) at Northwestern, 7:30, BTN
It’s Nebraska’s every-other-year home game in Evanston, Illinois!
Harry: Last week, Nebraska somehow lost the yardage and turnover battle to Oregon and still won. Do I mention this to suggest that they’re in any trouble at all at Northwestern? Definitely not. In fact, I’m not sure why I mentioned it at all. Nebraska -7.5
Matt: I enjoyed Northwestern’s win over Duke last week, but this Nebraska team provides a completely different beast. Yes, they should have, and basically did, lose to Oregon at home last Saturday. But there isn’t a single Big Ten West team that’s looked as competent as Nebraska through three weeks. The defense isn’t particularly inspiring, but the offense has been solid. Perhaps Mr. Rogers talkin’ ass Mike Riley has finally discovered that Nebraska is born to run — the Huskers currently sit in the top 25 in rushing attempts and just 93rd in passing attempts per game. That’s good! I’m a bit nervous about this pick, but Pat Fitzgerald’s complete inability to field an FBS-level offense for several years running is reason enough to pick the Cornhuskers. Nebraska -7.5
Bob: Tommy Armstrong is *still* Nebraska’s quarterback! And he’s been really good! I think Northwestern will struggle to keep up with Nebraska’s offense in this one, especially with Northwestern’s secondary still excessively banged up, and Nebraska will pull away in the second half. Also, homefield advantage for the Wildcats will be nonexistent in this game. Nebraska -7.5
#7 Stanford (-3) at UCLA, 8, ABC
Ah here we go with these supposed important Pac-12 games that we’re apparently supposed to care about.
Harry: Just pick against us already because none of us are taking UCLA. Stanford -3
Matt: This line is dumb. Stanford -3
Bob: The quality gap here is not as wide as the rankings show, but Stanford is still a tier above UCLA. Also, Stanford beat UCLA by three touchdowns last year. I feel confident only laying a field goal here. Stanford -3
#17 Arkansas at #10 Texas A&M (-6), 9, ESPN
Is any SEC team aside from Alabama even decent? Let’s find out!
Harry: For this game, I’m literally going to use my exact (and correct!) pick of the Arkansas-TCU game from Week 2: “I’d rather watch a full quarter of a Will Muschamp offense than place a bet on this game with actual money, but I don’t see much separating these good-not-great teams in terms of quality, so I’ll take the points and hope for a close game.” Arkansas +6
Matt: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PIG! (I would like Texas A&M to beat a real squad before I fall for this “We’re a good team” play they perform every year.) Arkansas +6
Bob: Eh, who knows. Give me the puntos. I’m going with all five road teams this week – stay away from these picks, folks! Arkansas +6