Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 29-25 (.537) ($110) ATS 37-17 (.685) SU
We learned last week...
- How do you make up for last season's punt fiasco in Ann Arbor? Easy, you score on every first-half possession and don't punt for the first 51 minutes of the game. The Wolverines scored their first victory in East Lansing since 2007.
- Jimbo Fisher crossed ACC referees off his Christmas card list in the midst of five lead changes in the final 5:25 of the Florida State/Clemson tilt, as it was Clemson with the last laugh, driving 75 yards with 1:17 remaining to keep up their 2013 Auburn-esque run of just getting by...but getting by.
- A Dante Pettis 58-yard punt return with three minutes remaining gave Washington the win, as they open 8-0 for the first time since 1992.
- I'm not sure how TCU and Texas Tech go to overtime and only scored a combined 51 points, but it is very unsettling and I'm not sure that I approve.
- The story of the game in Oklahoma State's upset victory over West Virginia? The Mountaineers turned the ball over three times...and the Cowboys scored 17 points off of those miscues. That is quite some efficiency.
- And finally, we learned in this year of global turmoil, some things stay the same.
Ever since the Big 12 was screwed out of a representative in the 2014 College Football Playoff, after TCU was ranked in the Top 4 earlier in the week and dropped without playing a game, I have taken the stance that these playoff ranking releases mean nothing.
But that still doesn't mean I don't get suckered in.
Word leaked out earlier in the day that on Tuesday that there might be two teams from the same conference in the initial rankings, and most shrugged it off as speculative nonsense until it happened.
I don't want to spend too much time on this, because after all, there is still a lot of football left, and if certain teams win out there is no way that they are going to be left out of the playoff at season's end. But the blatant move by the committee to use Texas A&M for...television ratings?
The fact that Texas Tech athletic director (and committee chairman) Kirby Hocutt went on television and used a win over Prairie View A&M as any sort of barometer (wins over teams over .500) is laughable and threatens to discredit the whole process. I said last week that the Aggies have a very good chance to go 11-1, so this is no knock on them, but you can't put them ahead of an undefeated Washington team that is defeating teams by an average of 31 points per game. You just can't.
But if we can agree that the Top 6 teams are correct (Louisville might have something to say about that), who will be left standing at the end?
I've made my feelings known that this Alabama team might be the best under Nick Saban, so of course they are going to be in. The winner of Michigan and Ohio State will be in (either team would be a three-score favorite in the Big 10 Championship Game).
Clemson might not be playing as well as the others, but their remaining schedule is weak (no ranked teams) as they don't even have to leave the Carolinas until the ACC Championship game, where they might face a three loss team.
So three spots are already taken, who is left? Washington is in if they win out. But that ruins the surprise, so if they trip up, would the loser of Michigan/Ohio State game get in if that game is close? Or would Texas A&M have enough of an argument after a win over LSU (assuming they win out)? Or would Louisville have an argument, with perhaps the Heisman Trophy winner under center?
A lot of drama and intrigue still to play out, no?
We certainly don't need fake drama.
On to the games...
Texas A&M -13.5 @ Mississippi State:
The last road game of the year finds the, ahem, #4 Aggies in Starkville this weekend, where they'll look extend the Bulldogs' winless streak against FBS opponents to four.
Mississippi State isn't quite as bad as they have appeared, losing three games by a field goal or less, and another by a touchdown. They are one of those teams that aren't terrible at any one thing (62nd in S&P Offense and 74th in S&P defense), but the issue is that they don't do anything particularly well, either.
The Bulldogs should be able to stay in it for about a half, but the defense will clamp down on them in the second half and Texas A&M will pull away.
Texas A&M 38 Mississippi State 20
ATS - Texas A&M
SU - Texas A&M
Nebraska @ Ohio State -17.5:
The question here is if Nebraska can move the ball (in the correct direction), as their offense is struggling, and even worse, turning the ball over in the past four games (6 interceptions).
I don't expect the Buckeyes to have much trouble here, but they are coming off an overtime loss to Wisconsin, a loss to Penn State and a lackluster win over Northwestern. Is Ohio State getting bored? Will the Cornhuskers wake them up?
Ohio State 34 Nebraska 23
ATS - Nebraska
SU - Ohio State
Alabama -8 @ LSU:
LSU interim head coach Ed Orgeron is already gaining supporters in his bid to be the permanent coach in Baton Rouge, but would cement that status if the Tigers could figure out a way to end Alabama's five-game winning streak in this series.
LSU is averaging 41.7 points per game since they made the move to fire Les Miles, but that was Missouri, Southern Miss and a beleaguered Ole Miss, not Alabama.
The Crimson Tide was able to hold Leonard Fournette to 31 yards on 19 carries last year, so obviously if they get a repeat performance of that, LSU has no chance.
Time for Cinderella to go home.
Alabama 37 LSU 21
ATS - Alabama
SU - Alabama
Oklahoma State @ Kansas State -2.5:
Crazy stat alert, going back to 1999, with the exception of 2010, the home team has won every game in this series, including last season's 36-34 Cowboys win in Stillwater.
Kansas State's secondary struggles against everyone not named Texas, and their job doesn't get any easier this week against Mason Rudolph, who has thrown for 2,500 yards in 8 games with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
The Cowboys also have the defensive line to contain Jesse Ertz and keep the Wildcats running game honest.
Oklahoma State 34 Kansas State 28
ATS - Oklahoma State
SU - Oklahoma State
TCU @ Baylor -8:
The shine is off of this matchup this year, with TCU's year-long struggles and Baylor's loss last week to Texas, but it should still be a fun conference matchup.
One of the reasons TCU has struggled thus far this season is the inconsistency of starting quarterback Kenny Hill, who was pulled last week in favor of Foster Sawyer. Sawyer ended up stinking up the place even worse, throwing for 86 yards on 6/17 passing. The always a gentleman Gary Patterson then went on to throw offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie under the bus afterwards, blaming him for the substitution patterns.
Whew boy. At least Baylor has some calm waters?
Baylor quarterback Seth Russell went through the concussion protocol this week, but is still expected to start. If he plays, then Baylor should be able to handle TCU relatively easy.
Baylor 41 TCU 31
ATS - Baylor
SU - Baylor
Texas -4 @ Texas Tech:
Once again, we are struck with the question...which Texas team shows up? Is it the home team that handled Baylor last week, looking every bit of a solid team that can sneak up and beat Top-10 teams?
Or is it the scared, rudderless team that turned Davis Webb into Johnny Unitas, Oklahoma State into Alabama and Jesse Ertz into Steve Young?
Texas Tech hasn't exactly made its name on defense over the years, but this year's squad might take the lead in the clubhouse, as the Red Raiders have scored 55 in one game and 59 in another and lost those games. They rank 122nd in total defense (518 yards a game), 118th in pass defense (giving up 304 yards a game and 8 yards per attempt) and 103rd in rush defense (giving up 213 yards per game).
Feed D'Onta Foreman the ball like Joe Maddon gives Aldoris Chapman the baseball.
When Texas takes the field...hey do you guys want to hear some more bad Tech stats?
Patrick Mahomes (if he plays, which he will) will get his yards, no way around that. The guy is averaging more than 400 yards per game, the Longhorns just can't let the rush defense get away from them like they did last year, when they surrendered 293 rushing yards against these guys.
Slight chance of that happening this year, as the Red Raiders don't even have a running back on the roster that has rushed for more yards than that on the year, but you do have to watch Mahomes, who has rushed for 441 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.
The good news is that Mahomes does tend to get sacked a lot (19 on the year), so a Texas defense that has 16 sacks and 31 tackles for loss since Charlie Strong took over the defensive play-calling should have some success there.
The Horns benefited from an 11:00 AM start, before most Tech students can even locate their car keys in the freezer, and they benefit from a banged-up Mahomes, and they benefit from the momentum of last week.
They HAVE to take advantage of all that this week.
For all the talk of "weird things happen in Lubbock", the place has been magical for the Horns, who have only lost three times in the Big 12 era on the South Plains (2008...sorry, 2002 and 1998)
Texas finally gets a road win.
Texas 48 Texas Tech 41
ATS - Texas
SU - Texas
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for the Depot District.