Welcome back to Don’t Call It A Picks Competition, our (hopefully) weekly column where Matt, Bob and Harry pick five college football games against the spread and make each other and no one else laugh with unfunny jokes stemming from obscure references. As always, you’re invited to pick with us in the comment section, and we’ll post the standings each week.

We’ve officially arrived at that point in the season where there isn’t going to be a fully-fledged column most of the time sometimes. To make up for our lack of #content, we’re going to do something we have never done before in six years of this competition: Mulligan Week!

Since Illinois is playing on Friday night this week, we are going to pick six games. That said, we realize some of you like to pick on Saturday mornings, so we won’t punish those who miss the Illinois game. For those who pick all six games, we will drop one of the losses from your record. For example, if you go 3-3, it will show up as 3-2 in the standings. For those who don’t get in before the Illinois game starts, don’t sweat it and consider it a standard five-game week starting with FIU-Miami.

Now you may be asking, “What if I go 6-0 though?” Okay, big shot. I’ll believe it when I see it. But if someone does run the table, all six picks will count for the standings.

Let’s get picking! If anyone has any questions, please write them down on parchment using a quill with no ink and send them via carrier pigeon to my apartment in Miami. No response guaranteed.


It was a rough week for the boys last week, with a shiny combined record of 5-10. Bob SURGED back into the lead with a scintillating .400 week.

Season Record Last Week
Bob 9-6 (.600) 2-3
Harry 8-7 (.533) 1-4
Matt 5-10 (.333) 2-3

The Rule was in full force as well, with the three of us going 1-3 when all in agreement.

We All Agree 3-4
Bob Alone 1-0
Harry Alone 2-2
Matt Alone 0-3

In the Peanut Gallery, Josh and Lee continued their ridiculous duel, as they both stayed above .500 in a week where a lot of us took some hits. After this week, you will need at least ten picks to remain in the contest (as always, that’s total picks, not only correct picks), so make sure to get those picks in if you’re at five right now.

Winning Percentage Season Record
Josh .733 11-4
Lee .733 11-4
Jacob A .600 9-6
Levin .600 3-2
Mike .533 8-7
Molly .533 8-7
Bernie .533 8-7
Jacob B .500 5-5
Arnim .500 5-5
Bobby .500 5-5
greenmonstersite .467 7-8
Creed .429 6-8
Julian .400 6-9 (Nice!)
Zev .400 4-6
Jeff .400 4-6
Picus .400 2-3
Sam .333 5-10


As we mentioned up top, it’s Mulligan Week! If you pick all six games, one of your losses will be dropped from the standings. If you didn’t see this until Saturday morning, no worries and you can start picking as if it’s a normal week from the FIU-Miami game.

#10 Penn State (-28) at Illinois, *Friday* 9 ET, FS1

Who is going to win more games this season: Florida State or Illinois? I’m honestly not sure of the answer.

Bob: I am torn between “this spread is ridiculously large for a team going on the road on a Friday night” and “Illinois is garbage and top teams win these games by 40 all the time, as Penn State already has this season at Pitt. I lean on the side of this happening again and for the Nittany Lions to continue its strong run ahead of a huge matchup in Columbus next Saturday. Penn State -28

Harry: Pretty much since the two-minute drive to close out the first half at Pitt, Penn State has been absolutely wrecking the competition. It’s hard to see them slowing down here, but this spread is really, really large. I’m definitely going to regret this, but 28 points on the road is too many to give up in a conference game. Mr. Stark…I Don’t Feel So Good +28

Matt: With the Illini up 19-17 and just two minutes remaining, USF faced a third-and-20 from midfield. This situation must project as at least an 80 percent win expectancy. They had led the entire game, though the mostly even first half gave way to a second half that was just about hanging on for dear life. Third-and-20. Needing one stop to ice the game against a terrible USF run defense. And then:

Maybe just one time, like once, Illinois could get an upset victory it doesn’t really deserve? I was at this game — 60 percent of Soldier Field was barren, 75 percent of the game was spent in disbelief, and 100 percent of the dreams were crushed. It goes without saying: Illinois sucks this year. They really suck, whether or not the starting quarterback plays (which A.J. Bush did not). But that fact just served to make this ending even more painful, and easily the most gutting moment of fandom I’ve experienced in quite a while. It was simply excruciating, and now Illinois is going to come home and get absolutely housed on a Friday night by the Big Ten team and fan base I detest most. Phenomenal. Definitely wouldn’t have this any other way. (Oh yeah, and click here for a fun look at the three open receivers on the final play from scrimmage as true freshman M.J. Rivers throws it out the back of the endzone. *chef’s kiss*) The Pedophilia Defenders Have Logged On -28

FIU at #21 Miami (-26.5), 3:30 ET, ESPN2

Is FIU the best school from the state of Florida that Miami will face this year? (FSU comes to town in October.)

Bob: I don’t have much to say on FIU other than it’s one of the many random Florida schools with a big-name head coach, but the spread is a little too high. FIU +26.5

Harry: This game is going to be very personal for a lot of people on the FIU side. Head Coach Butch Davis is no doubt still bitter that Miami hired Mark Richt over him in 2015 and pretty much all of the players on FIU are there because Miami ignored them during recruiting. How much is that chip on the shoulder going to be worth? I’ll say just enough to cover the spread, perhaps from the backdoor variety. The Knockoff Florida Atlantic Owls +26.5

Matt: FIU has no idea how to play defense or special teams, but the team’s offense is actually pretty solid this year (#48 in S&P+). Bill Connelly’s (drink) formula projects Miami as roughly a 21-point favorite in this game — I’m going to say the Hurricanes get a bit lazy after a nice road crushing at Toledo. Arch-Rivals Of My Western Kentucky Dynasties +26.5

#17 TCU (-3) at Texas, 4:30 ET, FOX

Did you know that the Florida State Seminoles are 1-2, with their one win being a squeaker over an FCS team, and just lost to Syracuse by 23 points with Syracuse’s starting QB not playing most of the game?

Bob: Based on the evidence we have, TCU appears to be the clearly superior team and should be favored by more points, but who knows with this Texas team. TCU -3

Harry: TCU actually raised my expectations for their season in a losing effort against Ohio State last week. The crowd was perhaps not surprisingly balanced against them and things spiraled out of control for a quick stretch of the third quarter that put the game away, but for most of the contest, TCU was step-for-step with the Buckeyes. Texas is most definitely not back, though beating up on a crummy USC team at home is certainly a sign they are on the right track. The problem is TCU is already where Texas is trying to get “back” to. Lincoln College Horned Frogs -3

Matt: TEXAS IS BACK?!?! No, Texas is not back. RIBBIT -3

#7 Stanford (-1.5) at #20 Oregon, 8 ET, ABC

Let’s be charitable and say that FSU beats Northern Illinois at home this week to get to 2-2. (Far from a guarantee!) Here are the remaining eight games for the ‘Noles: at Louisville, at #21 Miami (*Jack Nicholson maniacally nodding GIF*), vs. Wake, vs. #3 Clemson (hide your eyes), at NC State, at #8 Notre Dame (yeesh), vs. #23 Boston College (ranked BC!!), vs. Florida (at least one of those teams gets a win there). They need at least four wins there to make a bowl game. Can you find four wins?  

Bob: After three weeks of relative cupcakes, Mario Cristobal gets his first test as a major conference head coach. The numbers are a little skeptical of Stanford, and that USC win looks less convincing after the Trojans got walloped by Texas last Saturday. This game being played as a classic Autzen night matchup makes me a little more worried for Stanford, but I’ll ultimately wait until I get more evidence from a Cristobal-led Oregon before taking them over a good, well-coached team in a big game. Stanford -1.5

Harry: Here is where I trot out my dumb theory about picking the “trusted commodity” over a question mark with potential. But honestly, I don’t see Stanford as trustworthy  away from home. They are mostly indestructible on The Farm, but their recent seasons are littered with road letdowns. Come Saturday night, a lot of people are going to be somewhat facetiously tweeting, “OREGON BACK?!” Yeah Baby Give Me One Phil Knight +1.5

Matt: Toughest pick of the week, for me. Oregon and Stanford are two very evenly matched teams, with only Stanford having faced a quality opponent (USC at home, a 17-3 win). Oregon has a surprisingly moribund rushing unit this season, but its passing offense is one of the best in the country behind Justin Herbert. I think the Ducks will probably be the sharps’ pick in this game, so I feel like a bit of a rube for picking Stanford — I just think their defense will travel well, and Oregon won’t put together enough successful plays to win. David Shaw Is A Much More Boring Name Than Mario Cristobal -1.5

#18 Wisconsin (-3) at Iowa, 8:30 ET, FOX

As many have noted, perhaps the most concerning thing for FSU is that this is not going to be a quick fix. Complain about Willie Taggart all you want, but he inherited absolutely nothing on the o-line from Jimbo Fisher and you can’t run any offense if you can’t block for it. It’s going to take a few recruiting cycles to make the offensive line good (charitably, it could be alright in two years, but it’s Ground Zero right now and will be at least below average next year) and FSU is going to struggle until then with division foe Clemson as dominant as ever and conference rival Miami on the upswing. 

Bob: Easy pick, despite the fact that Iowa is undefeated all-time as an underdog playing at night. I am still confident in Wisconsin as a great-but-not-elite side, and they know they will definitely need to win this game before traveling to Michigan and Penn State later in the season. If the Hawkeyes take this one, they would have a very legitimate chance at dethroning the Badgers in the Big Ten West again, but Wisconsin definitely looks the better team still. Wisconsin -3

Harry: Wisconsin should really be favored by 6 points or so here. A complete letdown against BYU is no reason to let recency bias take control and not take advantage of a high value pick here. Famous last words: I’m taking a road favorite at Kinnick Stadium. Scott Walker -3

Matt: This game is the #B1G version of the one just above it. A favored, methodical road opponent goes to a terrifying atmosphere against a solid but flawed team. Earlier, I took Stanford, and I’ll do the same here. Buckminsterfullerene -3

Arizona State at #10 Washington (-17), 10:30 ET, ESPN

While I’m gleefully mocking Florida State in all of these descriptions, I just want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Jameis Winston, who is currently suspended from his professional football job for three weeks for alleged sexual assault, was only ever suspended for one game in college and that was actually because of him just saying something stupid at the student center, not any alleged sexual assault. Florida State!

Bob: Washington will be in full-on “eff you” mode as it needs to win out to make the playoff, especially as the Auburn loss took a hit last week. Arizona State, meanwhile, looks to not actually be that good despite the win over Michigan State and travels north after what has already been a very eventful September. Washington -17

Harry: Arizona State’s Hermissance has a fatal flaw: the offense can’t really score much. That didn’t matter against Michigan State’s inept offense baking away in the Tempe heat, but ASU couldn’t quite get away with it at SDSU. I don’t trust ASU to score enough to stay in this game, and I can easily see Washington winning 31-10ish. Seattle Sutton -17

Matt: I can’t trust Jake Browning further than I can throw him, which is not far, but man… it’s Herm Edwards on the other dang sideline. The Arizona State Sparkys followed up two legitimately impressive performances against UTSA and Michigan State with an absolutely unconscionable stinker loss against San Diego State. Now, I have no idea whether they are who we thought they were; weren’t who we thought but might one day be; or were who they were when they weren’t who we thought, but might still be. Washington, meanwhile, put away a decent Utah team in short order last week. I feel uncomfortable about this one, but I’ll take the Huskies to score more than 30 and hold the Sun Devils to fewer than 14. Chris Petersen Is My Dad -17

Remember to leave your picks in the comments!