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.

Yep, it’s an express week again as this column is going to be shorter than the FBI investigation into Br on second thought, not going to go there! (Please direct any heated political takes you have to my email, msilich2@gmail.com. I am eagerly awaiting them.) Hey, at least we’re getting it out on Thursday this week. Our employers sign our paychecks so sometimes we do need to do our real jobs. Beat FSU!

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Bob continues to pace the field, including being tied for the lead in the Peanut Gallery.

Season Record Last Week
Bob 17-8 (.680) 4-1
Harry 14-11 (.560) 4-1
Matt 11-14 (.440) 2-3

Matt and I should just probably stop going out on limbs alone because it has not been ending well.

We All Agree 7-7
Bob Alone 1-0
Harry Alone 2-4
Matt Alone 0-5

Well, it looks like The Great Jacob War of 2018 has been settled as soon as it started, with one of them playing the role of France and surrendering his way out of the Peanut Gallery. Congrats to The One True Jacob, anointed by default. Also, get a load of Mike Rosenberg recently! Truly a quarter-season resurgence matched only by his beloved Purdue Boilermakers.

Winning Percentage Season Record
Mike .680 17-8
Josh .600 15-10
Lee .600 15-10
Molly .600 15-10
Julian .550 14-11
Bobby .550 11-9
greenmonstersite .520 13-12
Bernie .520 13-12
The One True Jacob .480 12-13
Arnim .467 7-8
Creed .417 10-14
Sam .400 10-15

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This week we have two really intriguing and fun national games for you to pick and also three games involving Miami, Northwestern and Illinois (scroll down to see who Illinois in particular is playing if you dare).

#19 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma (-8), Noon ET, FOX

The Red River Shootout is always one to circle on the calendar, but this year’s edition looks particularly inspired on paper. Reminder to everyone that this is a neutral site game at the Cotton Bowl as always.

Bob: The metrics are low on Texas, who has presumably been dragged down by the rough Maryland loss in week one, but the Longhorns appear to be on a tear. There is potential for “they’re actually pretty bad” arguments for at least two of Texas’s three wins. All these factors combine to make evaluating the Longhorns a tricky task. Meanwhile, Oklahoma, save for a couple bad quarters here and there, has been pretty consistently Oklahoma-y against relatively weak opposition thus far. For me, Texas has earned the benefit of the doubt and my confidence taking more than a touchdown at the Cotton Bowl. Texas +8

Harry: In recent years, even with Texas being pretty noncompetitive, this game has gone down to the wire. Oklahoma’s insane offense has showed some (relative) vulnerability against competent defenses this year, and it’s hard to bet against Texas’s defense right now the way that the Longhorns are playing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Longhorns won outright, so I’m certainly happy to take the points. Why not roll with Tom Herman in a big game? Bevo O’Rourke +8

Matt: Many people have seen my previous failed Texas picks. And many more people have seen my record this season when I pick alone. Everyone is telling me to log off. I will never log off. Ted Mooz -8 (Yes, I’m picking against Texas, but I wanted to make the Ted Mooz joke. Then again, a vote for Ted Cruz really is a vote against Texas, amirite?) [ED Harry: No.]

Northwestern at #20 Michigan State (-11), Noon ET, FS1

Northwestern looks to notch a second straight week of punching above their weight before ultimately painfully succumbing to a Top 25 team from the state of Michigan. Phantom holding calls sold separately. 

Bob: I still have very little confidence in Northwestern to win football games in 2018, but it’s hard not to take encouraging signs from an excellent defensive performance against Michigan. (The offense still sucks though.) I have a gut feeling this will be a flat performance, but I am also not sure what Michigan State has done to warrant such a steep spread, as they have underperformed to some extent in each of their first four games. I’ll take the Wildcats to hang in there with their defense and keep it within single digits. Northwestern +11

Harry: As many viewers checking in the first time on the Wildcats this season found out last week, Northwestern’s defense is no joke even if Clayton Thorson being an NFL prospect is. Michigan State is not a team I’m comfortable laying huge spreads with even when they’re in top form and this Michigan State outfit does not appear to be. I’ll take the ‘Cats to stick within 10 points in a sleepy game. North by Northwestern +11

Matt: I immediately regretted picking against Northwestern last week — I should have remembered that Fat Pitzgerald has some sort of mind control going with Michigan that allows him to inflict pain on the Wolverines and the viewers at home for 2-3 quarters before losing in heartbreaking fashion. It happens every time! I’ll take the Cats to do the same to a strange MSU team. Pat Fitzgerald’s Disconcertingly Well-Lodged Rabbit’s Foot +11

Illinois (-5) at Rutgers, Noon ET, BTN

Look me in the eyes and tell me aren’t at least slightly morbidly interested in this one. Okay I believe you.

Bob: Illinois has the key advantage of having a bye week ahead of RUTGERS WEEK as well as the key advantage of playing against a football team even more awful than they are. Illinois -5

Harry: Good lord, man. The advanced stats call this one a toss-up, with S&P+ (drink) giving Illinois a 55% chance of winning with a projected margin of 2.5 points. That said, I have a hard time taking Rutgers even against Illinois considering their results this season, with massive losses against the likes of Kansas and Buffalo (both better than Illinois I suppose). I guess I just refuse to take Rutgers on principle. Oski Ow Ow -5

Matt: Losing this game would inflict unfathomable pain on my soul. My Soul -5

Florida State at #17 Miami (-14), 3:30 ET, ABC

If you told me going into the season that FSU would be 3-2 and Miami 4-1 going into this game, that wouldn’t sound all that outlandish. How bad Florida State has looked offensively is certainly a surprise though and Vegas sees this as a laugher.

Bob: On the surface considering the history of this matchup, this spread looks absurd. The problem is that Florida State has been legitimately bad with a terrible offense (109th in Offensive S&P+). It’s a little hard to gauge what to expect from Miami’s offense, as the high-potential N’Kosi Perry has performed well in limited reps to fairly weak opposition. I’ll take Miami to land a big home win. Miami -14

Harry: On paper, Miami should cover this spread. Florida State cannot block (except for extra points credit roommate Matt Levin for that one) to save its life and Miami will be the best defensive front that they’ve faced this year by a good margin. The advanced stats also like the Hurricanes to cover. That said, these FSU-Miami games tend to be quite close no matter the on-paper disparity between the teams, so this pick is really killing me. I really don’t know, so I’ll go with my heart. Let’s beat these clowns by four touchdowns. Miami -14

Matt: The underdog has covered in 13 of the past 16 Miami-FSU match-ups. That’s a pretty good trend. This year feels like an especially rough case, but I think the FSU defense steps up a bit here. Yelling Racist Chants All Game Long, And You Can’t Stop Me +14

#5 LSU (-2.5) at #22 Florida, 3:30 ET, CBS

It’s been a while since an LSU-Florida game had some stakes. While I don’t particularly care for either program, I do think college football is a lot more interesting when this is a meaningful game and it certainly is this year.

Bob: There is very little value in the points here, and LSU appears to be enough of a better team (metrics be damned) to overcome the home field advantage at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. LSU -2.5

Harry: As that Kentucky loss looks less embarrassing by the week, it’s time to consider the possibility that Florida is rounding into a competitive team in Year 1 under Dan Mullen. This is hardly a surprise, and the home atmosphere should be imposing at The Swamp with the Gators re-entering the Top 25. LSU is ripe for a letdown, and I’ll happily take the home ‘dog in what I see as a fairly even matchup. Mullen and Sons +2.5

Matt: Coaching matters. Bath Salts +2.5

Remember to leave your picks in the comments! 

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