Read Stewart Mandel’s recent expansion of college football.
Well, you see that. After spending most of the season on the wrong side of .500, I started my stretch run with a 14-7-1 mark over the past two weeks.
What could go wrong with this?
Last week: 7-3-1 during the spread: 55-53-2.
(All point spreads are from BetMGM; click here for live odds. All primetime Eastern and Saturday unless otherwise noted.)
There are certainly some factors to be upset about here in the game – Michigan finally taking on its first formidable foe, the chaos surrounding the program and Penn State’s home-field advantage. The Nittany Lions’ formerly ho-hum offense exploded against Maryland last week. But, here’s the thing: Penn State doesn’t win games like this.
Michigan 21, Penn State 16 The Pick: Michigan -4.5
No. 8 Alabama (-10.5) at Kentucky, noon (ESPN)
Something strange happened over the weekend. Alabama beat a defensively inconsistent LSU team at home, and suddenly Tide fans went from “We’re not very good this year” to “Playoffs, here we go!” They went. I expect Bama to win this one comfortably, but it’s worth remembering that this is the same team that hasn’t exactly dominated smaller foes like Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Alabama 28, Kentucky 20 The pick: Kentucky +10.5
No. 13 Tennessee (-1.5) at No. 14 Missouri, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
I’m surprised to see the Vols as the favorites, though the uncertainty of star Mizzou wide receiver Luther Burden’s performance Saturday may give some rest to the naysayers. I still think the Tigers aren’t as highly visible as they should be for a team that took LSU and No. 2 Georgia to the wire. They are indoors, and the voles, while decent, are very comfortable.
Missouri 30, Tennessee 24 The Pick: Missouri +1.5
No. 18 Utah at No. 5 Washington (-9.5), 3:30 p.m. (FOX)
Washington returns home after two seemingly watered down road games against Stanford and USC where the defense has combined for 1,010 yards and 10 TDs. I don’t think the Huskies can completely shut out Utah like they did Oregon, but there’s no reason to turn it into another track meet.
Washington 35, Utah 28 The Pick: Utah +9.5
I was surprised to see the Canes rank in or near the Top 25 in both offensive and defensive yards per game, as it rarely shows up in their results. Their last two outings were losses to 2-7 Virginia and 20-6 to unranked NC State. Meanwhile, star wide receiver Keon Coleman looks to be back for FSU this week.
Florida State 28, Miami 10 The Pick: Florida State -14.5
West Virginia at No. 17 Oklahoma (-12.5), 7 p.m. (FOX)
The Sooners bounced back after beating Texas. After barely escaping UCF with losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State, they ranked a modest 49th nationally in passing defense (5.3 ypp). Meanwhile, the Mountaineers have developed an excellent pitching game with Jaheem White and CJ Donaldson. But I don’t see them winning in Norman.
Oklahoma 34, West Virginia 20 The Pick: Oklahoma -12.5
No. 9 Ole Miss at No. 2 Georgia (-10.5), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Ole Miss is a good team, but this is like, “No. 2 vs. No. 9″ to me. In fact, I don’t see the Rebels giving the Dawgs a tougher game than Missouri did last week. Ole Miss quarterback Jackson Dart has been sacked 13 times in three road games this season, including 5 in a 24-10 loss at Alabama. Georgia should be able to contain him. .
Georgia 26, Ole Miss 14 The pick: Georgia -10.5
Florida at No. 19 LSU (-14), 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
You know it was a sad time for both schools when LSU was forced to announce that the game was sold out on Wednesday. Wasn’t that months ago? LSU’s defense has won all season, but the Gators have a middle-of-the-road offense, and the Tigers have Jayden Daniels.
LSU 38, Florida 27 The Pick: Florida +14
No. 7 Texas (-10) at TCU, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Maybe it’s a lack of confidence in Malik Murphy if Quinn Ewers isn’t ready to return this weekend, maybe it’s because this is effectively TCU’s Super Bowl, but this seems like a modest spread for a Top-10 team facing a 4-5 opponent. In particular, Horns running back Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter should dominate the Frogs’ defense.
Texas 24, TCU 10 The Pick: Texas -10
USC at No. 6 Oregon (-15.5), 10:30 p.m. (FOX)
After the Pac-12 darkness has unfortunately descended into the final few weeks, and even though this is an attractive matchup for that window, East Coast viewers should be allowed to retire early. Oregon is closing in on the juggernaut, first at Utah 35-6 and then 63-19 at Calo. One shudders to think what Bo Nick and Bucky Irving will do against the USC defense.
Oregon 56, USC 28 The Pick: Oregon -15.5
Mandel upset SpecialIowa State (-7.5) at BYU, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
2-4 in conference with some ugly road losses: 44-11 at TCU, 35-6 at Texas and 37-7 at West Virginia. But in this case, 5-4, the Cyclones travel to Provo for a nightcap. Iowa State is stout defensively but mediocre offensively, which doesn’t leave much margin for error.
BYU 17, Iowa State 14 The Pick: BYU +7.5
(Photo of Jordan Travis and Keon Coleman: James Gilbert/Getty Images)