Last week was pretty average. 5-5 straight up and 5-5 against the spread. We did get the Upset of the Week again calling for Oklahoma State to beat West Virginia. Average is good compared to how the picks were going the first half of the season.
I suppose the big news this week is the first CFP rankings came out. The big talking point has been Texas A&M ranking ahead of Washington. I don't think that they deserve to be ranked ahead of the Huskies, but I don't get too worked up about it. All the crazy scenarios that people project to the end of the year never come to pass. It will all work itself out in the end. At least it has the past 2 years. Again, we are arguing over the 4th ranked team, which never mattered in the BCS era.
It was tough coming up with some decent match ups to pick this week. There are a couple of big ones in Alabama-LSU and Nebraska-Ohio State. Other than that, there probably won't be anything that shakes up the national landscape too much. But that doesn't mean it won't happen.
There are actually very few teams on bye this week. If you are going to make a move, you need to hope your teams do it for you this week. On to the Week 10 guesses.
Teams on bye: Arizona State, Utah, Houston, South Florida, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, UNLV, New Mexico State
Both of these teams are surprising in the way they are performing this year. In the preseason, it looked like Air Force was going to be the #3 team in the Mountain West behind Boise State and San Diego State. They had a preseason strength of schedule that was in the 120s. But Air Force comes into the game losing 3 of their past 4 and are sitting in 5th place in their division. Army was expected to be a little bit improved, but they are only 1 win away from bowl eligibility already. I don't think many anticipated that sort of improvement. Army is running the triple option as always and are #2 nationally rushing. But this year they have picked up their defense jumping up to #3 from a middling #47 last year. Air Force has already lost to triple option team New Mexico, although it was by only 5 points. Air Force learned their lesson from that game and win this one, sweeping the service academies on the season. PICK: Air Force 24, Army 18
Wisconsin is coming off a big win over top 10 foe Nebraska. While this game looked easier earlier in the season, Northwestern has made itself a tough team to play the last few weeks. Despite that, Wisconsin just has too much for Northwestern. The Badgers' defense is #9 in the country and that's even with facing 4 teams currently ranked in the top 13 of the CFP rankings. Wisconsin still needs some help to win their division even if they win out, so they can't afford to drop one here. This team is locked in for the task at hand. PICK: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 17
N. Carolina (-10.5)
This always seems to be a tricky game to pick. These teams have split the last 4 meetings between them. Georgia Tech is another one of those triple option teams, but unfortunately for them, the Tar Heels have had a bye week to prepare for it. North Carolina is in the thick of it again for the Coastal division crown. VA Tech does hold the tiebreaker over them, but it's not unreasonable to think that North Carolina can win out against its remaining schedule (GT, Duke, Citadel, NC State) and make it back to the ACC championship game with a VA Tech slip up. Georgia Tech is much improved over last year's debacle, but is still a pretty average team. If North Carolina really thinks of itself as a conference contender, they should handle this game. PICK: North Carolina 35, Georgia Tech 28
So Miami is doing what Miami does best. Start off the season strong, and then fade the second half. They are riding a 4 game losing streak and sit at 4-4. Pitt is also doing about what it always does. They are having a solid, but not spectacular, season. They are probably looking at 7 or 8 wins...again. With Pat Narduzzi as the head coach, you would think they would have a pretty solid defense. Wrong. They are 97th in the nation giving up 6.08 yards per play. But unlike past years, their offense is improved as they check in at 6.19 yards per play. These teams have played in close games all season long and there is no reason to think they won't do that here. Let's give Miami the nod in this one. PICK: Miami 38, Pittsburgh 36
#18 Oklahoma St.
Kansas St. (-2.5)
This line was a headscratcher. I was surprised to see that K-State is favored in this one. You would think a top 20 team going against a middle of the pack conference team would be favored, even though it is on the road. Oklahoma State is one botched officiating error away from being a 7-1 team. Kansas State is having a pretty typical K-State year. They aren't flashy, but are just solid. Their defense has been pretty good this year ranking 31st nationally, and they have held some prolific offenses down in their games. So it's not a given that Oklahoma State can expect to score their average of 40 points per game. But OSU takes care of the ball pretty good with their +10 turnover margin. K-State thrives on turnovers and if they can't get those, they have a tough time scoring. So let's go with Oklahoma State for the road "upset". PICK: Oklahoma State 33, Kansas State 24
It looked like both of these teams were going to be labeled dumpster fires at the beginning of the year...USC put out the fire and started a new life. Oregon on the flip side is burning faster than ever. I wonder how many calls have been put in to Chip Kelly to return by the alumni by now? Oregon State seems to be the only team left that Oregon can beat with that deplorable defense, although Stanford doesn't know how to score. But I have a feeling Oregon's D will help them find their way again. USC switched QBs to find out there is still quality QBs in their system. Thus begins the Trojan's turnaround and a team that no one will want to play in the coming weeks. QB Sam Darnold looks more than the part with 18 TDs and 3 INTs....that means he'll probably have 6 TDs and 0 INTs against the Ducks. I really don't think that the Ducks have a shot in hell at winning this game on the road. USC is going to double them up. Put it on the board. PICK: USC 51, Oregon 24
#12 Penn St. (-7.5)
Iowa ain't what they used be, ain't what they used to be, ain't what they used to be! The Hawkeyes are back to slow monotonous offense and slight above average defense. Because of 2015 they extended their coach until 2050 or something along those lines. Penn State finally won a game of merit under James Franklin. I don't quite understand why Penn State doesn't do a whiteout every weekend, because they'll never lose another game at home if they keep that stuff up. Crazy things happen at the whiteout games. Penn State has a solid QB now - not the best but enough to make things interesting. For some unknown reason McSorley is better when his back is against the wall (i.e. more efficient the deeper he is in his own territory). Once he hits the red zone things get weird and unpredictable. I have no doubt in my mind that Iowa will control this game for the most part keeping it to an exciting 14-7 game until the 4th quarter. Penn State has a lively defense that should hold Iowa to minimal points. If Saquon Barkley can find his rhythm then Penn State should walk away with this win, as long as McSorley keeps his cool and doesn't force anything. Keep those passes under 20 yds and move slowly down the field to beat Iowa....that's the formula. Nittany Lions win by 10 and keep up their overrated place in the CFB Playoff ranking, possibly making the top 10. PICK: Penn St 30, Iowa 20
#13 LSU (+7.5)
Hands down the best game of the week. If you noticed earlier this year, Saban was afraid of facing Ole Miss. He knew that the game was going to be a grind up until the end if they wanted a W. If Les Miles was still coaching, this game would be an absolute joke. Now that Orgeron is in charge, there is new life in Baton Rouge - enough that I label LSU the scariest team to play in the nation. They can play with anyone now that the offense has been opened up and the defense is what they have been all year, lock down stuff with Dave Aranda. Saban knows that this will be their toughest game of the year by far. It's very, very tempting to take LSU at home, the place is going to be absolutely nuts!! Get out your popcorn!! If Bama didn't have Jalen Hurts then I would say LSU comes up with the upset at home. I don't agree with Vegas that bama is a 7.5 favorite. They might well be down late in this game. The problem is that the Bama offense can play with anyone and the defense was the only team that knew how to stop Fournette. If Fournette can get loose then watch out, this could be a shocker. I'm going to go out on a limb and hang my hat on the Bama defense to control Fournette. If they control Fournette then there is no way that Etling will beat them on his own. Bama wins in one of the best games of the year. PICK: Alabama 24, LSU 21
#6 Ohio St. (-17)
If this game was at Nebraska I would take the Huskers to take home the win. Since it's at the Horseshoe, I don't think Nebraska has much of a chance. Not many people around CFB have noticed that JT Barrett is gradually getting worse. Sure his numbers are slacking from the first 4 games of the season because of opponents, but the numbers are slightly disturbing. Maybe he's hurt and we don't know it. Nebraska is certainly a solid team that will challenge OSU. Everyone and their mom thought that Northwestern would be murdered after the Penn State loss. Turns out OSU is really talented but they are young and don't seem to deal with the pressure all that well, at least on the road. The Huskers have the ability to score points as long as Armstrong III doesn't over extend himself. It seems that HC Mike Riley has put an emphasis on limiting the the turnovers to keep Nebraska around until the end then figure out how to pull off the win in the 4th quarter. This game will be closer than most think, including Vegas. The spread is 17 in favor of Ohio State. I'm pretty damn confident that OSU doesn't cover here. PICK: Ohio St 30, Nebraska 24
#17 Baylor (-8)
Baylor finally met their match last week.....Texas. And that ladies and gents is the Big 12 in a nutshell, a low quality power 5 conference that will sit out this year's Playoff once again. It sort of looks like Oklahoma is now the class of the Big 12, which makes me throw up in my mouth a little. We didn't know what to expect from Baylor this year after all the absolutely disgusting allegations and stories that have come from Waco. I fully expect that this will be Baylor's last year of relevance for quite some time. TCU was supposed to have this phenomenal defense that will compliment a quick offense to challenge OU for the Big 12...that didn't happen. I feel like TCU and Baylor are leftover fries from the night before....soggy and more disappointing than you remember the last time, the type of teams you vow to never pick again for a few years. TCU and Baylor should match up nicely, especially after Seth Russell passed concussion protocol. I don't feel like this will be a shootout. It feels more like a slopfest of offense covered in below average defense. Baylor seems to have run out of steam and a little luck. I'm going with a bounce back win for TCU while Baylor starts their downward spiral into nothingness. I wonder if Baylor wins another game the rest of the year. TCU wins in an upset. In fact they win in the Upset of the Week! PICK: TCU 30, Baylor 28
Season Record - Straight Up: 53-36
Season Record - Versus Spread: 39-50
Upset of the Week: 3-6