The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released next week, but we already have a pretty good idea about the teams…probably about a dozen at the moment…that are a legit part of the debate. And while all of that adds a layer of interest to the conversation I must admit that it creates an odd dynamic for these picks since I don’t really want to focus on just a handful of teams over & over again for the next several weeks. We have the same issue with the NFL because, while they are only at the mid-point of the season, the difference between contenders & pretenders is becoming clear. As fans it is expected that we pay more attention to good teams and competitive matchups, but on the other hand I don’t want to bore Zach, myself, & whoever else might be out there reading our silly little opinions. At any rate, we’ll do the best we can, and hopefully going forward that’ll mean being better than last week. I went 2-3, while Zach was 1-4 (a half point made the difference in the Jets-Dolphins game). Overall we are both still keeping our heads above water, but I think we need to wash the nasty taste of a subpar week out of our mouths with some bonus picks today. You’re welcome.
My Season: 25-22
Z’s Season: 24-23
Miami (FL) (-20.5) at North Carolina
Is The U back?? Possibly. Right now the ‘Canes are 6-0 and in the Top Ten, but they still have home games against Virginia Tech & Notre Dame, so we’ll see. The 1-7 Tar Heels can only hope that Miami is looking ahead to those two games and isn’t prepared for this one, which seems unlikely. I am typically uncomfortable with three touchdown point spreads, but I think I’m okay with it for this particular game. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Miami (FL)
Z’s Pick: Miami (FL)
Wisconsin (-26.5) at Illinois
The Big Ten has Ohio St., Penn St., & Michigan, so up until now no one has paid much attention to the 7-0 Badgers. Well…except whoever votes in the polls since they are in the Top 5. Wisconsin has a very real chance to make it into the playoff, especially since Michigan isn’t living up to the hype and the other two previously mentioned teams aren’t on the schedule. Conversely, the 2-5 Illini have lost five straight after unimpressive victories over inferior opponents to begin the season. Wisconsin will win this game, but by how much?? I’m feeling frisky, so let’s roll the dice on another huge point spread. Zach isn’t sold on Wisconsin, but he believes they’ll win this game…just not by 26 points.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Illinois
Georgia (-14) vs. Florida
For decades this rivalry was known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but the PC Police nixed that moniker several years ago, atleast on an official basis. I’m sure fans & alumni of both schools still call it that. Anyway, it is a “neutral” site game played in Jacksonville, FL, which is about 71 miles from Gainesville, FL and over 300 miles from Athens, GA. I guess they define neutral differently in The South. The 7-0 Bulldogs are serious playoff contenders and seem to be headed toward a clash with Alabama in the SEC title game. The Gators are 3-3…far below expectations. I assume Florida will finish the season with 7 or 8 wins and play in some December bowl game that no one will watch, but let’s be honest…this is their championship game. They would love nothing more than to torpedo Georgia’s National Championship dreams. Do I think that’ll happen?? No, but they’ll give it a good try at home in The Swamp and probably keep it closer than two TDs. Zach isn’t totally sold on Georgia either and thinks they haven’t really been tested yet, but he doesn’t believe the Gators will be much competition either.
My Pick: Florida
Z’s Pick: Georgia
UCLA at Washington (-17.5)
Who will emerge at the top of the Pac 12, and will that team be included in the playoff?? The answers…at this stage…are “Who knows??” and “It’s not looking good”. The Huskies are 6-1 and in a dog fight to win their division. The 4-3 Bruins have not bounced back from a putrid 2016 nearly as well as I thought they would, even though QB Josh Rosen has remained healthy. If this game were being played in Los Angeles I’d pick the underdogs in a heartbeat, but it’s not. I’m kind of ticked off that the game isn’t scheduled for prime time (late at night here on the East Coast) so I could have something to entertain me at work that night, but that’s life. I might regret it, but I’m going to go with my gut and believe in UCLA to keep it competitive. Zach agrees.
My Pick: UCLA
Z’s Pick: UCLA
Houston at South Florida (-10.5)
According to NCAA post-season rules the highest ranked team from the five “lower” conferences gets thrown a bone…an opportunity to play in one of the bigtime New Year’s bowl games. It is the college football equivalent of affirmative action. What they really should do is split Division 1-A, aka the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) into two separate divisions, each with its own national title, but that’s a discussion for another day. Right now South Florida, Central Florida, & Memphis are contenders for that spot. The 7-0 Bulls have had one game cancelled and one rescheduled because of hurricanes, but the cancelled game was against a 1-AA/FCS opponent so it doesn’t really matter. Meanwhile, the 4-3 Cougars have fallen off just a bit under new head coach Major Applewhite. I suspect that’ll change in the future, but for now they’ll have to take their lumps. I ranked South Florida in my pre-season Top Ten, and I think they can still get there if they keep on winning, which I expect they’ll do. Zach agrees.
My Pick: South Florida
Z’s Pick: South Florida
Utah (-3.5) at Oregon
I expect this game to be sneaky good. The Utes have lost three straight games after beginning the season with four wins. The 4-4 Ducks are also on a three game losing streak. Obviously neither team is going to win the conference, but they can play the spoiler role and also position themselves for a lovely tropical bowl location. I think 100+ points collectively will be scored, and I’m going to pick the underdogs to get the job done at home. Zach agrees.
My Pick: Oregon
Z’s Pick: Oregon
Penn State at Ohio State (-6.5)
This is it. This is the big one. The greatest game ever…atleast for this week. The Nittany Lions are 7-0, ranked #2 in the country, a shoe-in to play in the Big Ten title game, and solidly in the college football playoff. However, all of that could change with a loss at The Horseshoe in Columbus. After an early season loss to Oklahoma the Buckeyes have rebounded and currently stand at 6-1, still have a shot to play in the conference championship game, and at #6 in the polls could easily vault back into playoff contention. I know Ohio St. has the home field, but I am still surprised that they are favored by a touchdown. That is either wicked awesome respect for the Buckeyes, or total disregard for Penn St. Perhaps it’s a little of both. In my pre-season poll I opined that if the Lions could split games against Ohio St. and Michigan they’d be national title contenders. That may have been too optimistic. They took care of the Wolverines last weekend, but a loss in this game would likely eliminate any playoff hopes. Conversely, I predicted that Ohio St.’s playoff aspirations would be crushed by either Penn St. or Michigan. I honestly didn’t think they’d lose to Oklahoma. So how will this game shake out?? The home field advantage is undeniable, and I’m not sure Penn St. can get “up” two weeks in a row. I’m not confident at all choosing either way, but I will ride the wave of my pre-season forecast. Zach’s disdain for Ohio St. is limitless and actually a bit tedious at this point lol.
My Pick: Penn St.
Z’s Pick: Penn St.
Oakland at Buffalo (-2.5)
These are two of the more surprising teams in the NFL…for completely different reasons. The Raiders are 3-4 and already way behind the proverbial eight ball in their division. Conversely, the 4-2 Bills are only a half-game behind the Patriots. I don’t think it’d be out of line to say that this is a battle for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Is Buffalo for real?? Can Oakland battle back from an uneven start and prove they’re the legit contender many thought they’d be?? I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to such matters. If the Bills are really that good this is the time to prove it, but I still think the Raiders are the better team. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Oakland
Z’s Pick: Oakland
Houston at Seattle (-6)
The 3-3 Texans are coming out of their bye week, and I think they are better than their record would indicate. That being said, the 4-2 Seahawks are pretty darn good too…especially at home. I love Houston QB Deshaun Watson, and I’ll be rooting for him in this game. However, I think it might be a little too much to ask a rookie to go into Seattle and win. Zach is a little suspicious of Seattle’s offensive line and thinks that might be enough for Houston’s defense to get the job done. I wouldn’t be mad if he’s right.
My Pick: Seattle
Z’s Pick: Houston