A year ago, at this point in the season, the College Football Playoff had Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, & Clemson in its Top 4. Three of those four actually ended up in the playoff. So what is going to happen this season with Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, & Michigan?? Who knows?? ‘Bama will meet Georgia in the SEC title game, but one has to wonder if the Tide would still roll into the playoff even after a loss. I say yes. Clemson’s path looks pretty clear since they have no serious competition in the ACC. Notre Dame still has to travel to USC, and I’m not sure whether or not anyone should take Syracuse seriously. Michigan has to travel to Columbus, OH to face the Buckeyes to end the season, and if they clear that hurdle they’ll be heavily favored in the Big Ten title game. At any rate, there is still a lot of football to be played. Last week Zach & I shared dismal 2-3 records, and I think we’ve reached the point at which some bonus picks might be warranted.
My Season: 25-31
Z’s Season: 23-33
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-19)
They usually call this rivalry Bedlam, but with the 5-4 Cowboys struggling this year after three straight ten win seasons the game lacks its usual luster. Having said that, State has beaten Boise St. & Texas, so they’re not all that terrible. The 8-1 Sooners lost to the same Texas team that State defeated, but they sit atop the Big 12 standings and still have a legit chance to make it into the playoff. Never say never as far as an outright upset goes, but I’d be surprised if Oklahoma lost at home. However, the question becomes whether or not they’ll cover the points. Zach doesn’t care for Oklahoma’s defense but he feels like State’s offense looks sluggish. Neither of us are too sure of an outcome, but we both think it’ll be a fairly competitive game.
My Pick: Oklahoma State
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma State
Oregon at Utah (-3.5)
The Pac 12 isn’t getting all that much attention, in part because there is no one dominant team. The standings are a jumbled mess and the conference champion will have no chance to make the playoff. Both teams are 6-3, but only Utah still has a shot to get to the conference title game, plus they have the home field. That’s good enough for me. Zach thinks Utah is DOA after losing their starting QB to a broken collarbone and believes Oregon will win by multiple TDs.
My Pick: Utah
Z’s Pick: Oregon
Texas (-1.5) at Texas Tech
On the surface these are two teams heading in the opposite direction. The 6-3 Longhorns have lost two straight, including a heartbreaker to the WV Mountaineers, while 5-4 Tech gave Oklahoma a hell of a battle last week before going down. The Red Raiders have the home field, but I just don’t think that’s enough. Texas still has a shot to play in the conference title game, and I don’t believe they’ll screw it up. Zach likes Tech’s ability to put up points on offense so he’s picking the upset.
My Pick: Texas
Z’s Pick: Texas Tech
Virginia Tech at Pitt (-2.5)
If you would’ve asked me two months ago which one of these teams had the best opportunity to play in the ACC title game I would have chosen Tech without hesitation, but surprise surprise…it’s the 5-4 Panthers who lead their division and would be the lamb led to slaughter at the hands of Clemson if the season ended today. But that could all change, beginning with this game. I had the Hokies in my pre-season Top 10, but at 4-4 they haven’t lived up to my lofty expectations. Pitt has the home field, but as much as I adore Heinz Field when my Steelers play there, as far as I can tell when watching on TV the stadium usually seems half empty on Saturdays. The Vibes are telling me that Tech is still a better team, despite their mediocre record. Zach foresees a slow & boring defensive battle and likes the home team to win a close one.
My Pick: Virginia Tech
Z’s Pick: Pitt
UCLA at Arizona State (-12.5)
Isn’t it amazing how quickly Herm Edwards has turned around the Sun Devils?? Atleast it feels that way. I don’t know if their record will end up being much better than it had been the past few seasons, but when watching them one gets the sense that they are headed for good things. Conversely, the Bruins sit at the bottom of the Pac 12, and it is a bit jarring how fast the shine has worn off of head coach Chip Kelly, who was thought to be one of the best in the business just a few years ago. I’m a little nervous about the points, but I’m going with the favorites to cover. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Arizona State
Z’s Pick: Arizona State
Clemson (-20) at Boston College
Clemson looks like a lock to make the playoff, but have they really played anyone?? With the exception of a close out of conference road win at Texas A&M I’m not sure their case is all that strong. Can the 7-2 Eagles mount a challenge?? I’d like to see it, and I believe it may be possible. I won’t go so far as to predict an outright upset, but the points are a bit much for my comfort. Zach agrees.
My Pick: Boston College
Z’s Pick: Boston College
New Orleans (-4.5) at Cincinnati
The 7-1 Saints just acquired WR Dez Bryant, and that’s kind of a big deal. I don’t think he’s a #1 receiver anymore, but throw him into the mix with Michael Thomas & RB Alvin Kamara with Drew Brees slinging the rock and New Orleans is just that much more of a legit contender. Of course I’m not even sure he’ll play at all in this game since he was just signed and might need a week or two to learn the playbook & shake off some rust. The Bengals are…as usual…one of the NFL’s forgotten teams, but the truth is that they’re a half game out of the division lead and a strong playoff contender. Could this be a trap game for New Orleans after the hype of last week’s victory over the Rams?? Cincy has the home field…but I just can’t pull the trigger. I wouldn’t be shocked to see New Orleans lose, but I’m not going to pick against them, and neither is Zach.
My Pick: New Orleans
Z’s Pick: New Orleans
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (-3)
Who would have believed before the season began that these teams would be tied in the cellar of their division?? The Jags were being touted as a Super Bowl contender, but at 3-5 they’ve hardly looked the part. You may recall that in my NFL Preview I called Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette “an injury waiting to happen”, and lo & behold…he gone!! Meanwhile, Colts’ QB Andrew Luck has shown flashes of being what everyone thought he could become before he was bitten by the injury bug. The obvious concern is how Indy’s offensive line will hold up against Jacksonville’s formidable defense. Can Luck survive the game intact?? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to roll the dice and predict he will be just fine. Conversely, Zach believes the Jags will win by double digits.
My Pick: Indianapolis
Z’s Pick: Jacksonville