Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 30-29-1 (.508) (-$210) ATS 41-19 (.683) SU
Masters Champions 1-0
Quick Thoughts From Last Week:
Kyle Trask for Heisman? The Senior quarterback from Manvel, Texas threw for 356 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaged 12.3 yards per attempt and completed 8 passes of 20+ yards, all against the SEC’s stingiest pass defense. Trask’s numbers are very similar to Joey Burrow’s at this point last season — it’s probably time to take him seriously.
SMU is a Good Houseguest, Lets Tulsa Win Despite jumping out to a 21-0 lead, SMU lost for the second time this season, likely ending their conference championship hopes. Meanwhile Tulsa gathered their second victory over a Top 20 opponent this season, matching their total from 1977-2019 and are themselves back in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2010.
Wisconsin Runs Over Michigan...Again Last year in Madison the Badgers raced out to a 28-0 lead in the first half over the Wolverines, and ended up rushing for 359 yards and 5 touchdowns. This year, Wisconsin raced out to a 28-0 lead in Ann Arbor (the Wolverines’ largest home deficit at half-time ever), and rushed for 349 yards and 5 touchdowns in the game. The Badgers were playing their second game in 11 months and managed to only commit one penalty and did not commit a turnover. Michigan is now 0-11 under Harbaugh as an underdog.
West Virginia Shuts Down Duggan, TCU Max Duggan only managed 180 total yards, while the Mountaineers got 156 yards rushing from Leddie Brown to send the Horned Frogs home in defeat. TCU is now 15-17 since the start of the 2018 season. The Mountaineers have the week off before welcoming Oklahoma to Morgantown on November 28th.
Tech Beats Baylor in Non-Thriller Thriller Sure, it was a last second field goal that won it for Tech, but not much interesting happened in this game unless you count the ridiculous symmetry in the stats. Total yards (Tech 381 Baylor 360) Yards Per Play (Tech 4.9 Baylor 4.9) First Downs (Tech 19 Baylor 20), Third Down Efficiency (Tech 6/16 Baylor 6/16) Penalties (Tech 6 Baylor 6).
Penn State Drops to 0-4….all together now, That’s a Shame Nebraska started a McCaffrey brother at quarterback, so you know it was going to be good. Okay Luke McCaffrey didn’t blow the doors off of anybody (152 passing yards 67 rushing yards), but he was efficient, and allowed the Nebraska defense to be rested enough to stop Penn State twice in the red zone in the game’s final minutes. The Nittany Lions only managed one touchdown in six red-zone trips, and that drive started at the 1-yard line. Penn State needs to defeat Iowa this weekend in order to avoid their first 0-5 start in program history.
Depending on the day or week, this season has felt about 2-3 seasons long or 2-3 weeks long, and in some conferences it has been. With COVID spiking around the country and more and more games getting canceled each week, it might be silly to take a look at the national picture until literally the day before the game is played, but we need to write about something this week, so let’s take a look at the College Football Playoff picture.
First of all, barring any major upsets (and in the case of at least one of these teams, two upsets), it stands to reason that….yawn….Alabama, Ohio State will be there.
Alabama has Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas left in the regular season, and then likely Florida in the SEC Championship. Barring a loss to any of the three ducks, the Crimson Tide could probably afford a loss in Atlanta and still make the playoff, and probably for good reason.
Ohio State probably cannot afford a loss due to the reduced schedule, and some might even have an issue with them making it as an undefeated team, but we all know an undefeated Ohio State makes the playoff, so there is no use in even discussing it. In their way? How about Indiana (Top 10! Still favored by 20!), Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan. It would be very 2020 for Michigan to beat Ohio State, but c’mon, the Wolverines couldn’t beat Lake Travis High School right now.
If Ohio State were to lose in the Big Ten Championship, Wisconsin would be glad to take their spot, but if Northwestern knocks off the Buckeyes, the committee will pretend that their wifi is out and act like their phone doesn’t work when Northwestern calls to find out their destination.
If Northwestern were to win out, including a win over Ohio State, perhaps an undefeated Oregon or USC could make it, or perhaps even, gulp, Texas A&M.
Cincinnati and BYU probably get the same treatment as Northwestern.
That leaves us with the ACC, and Notre Dame and Clemson. These teams likely meet again in the ACC Championship. If the Irish win the rematch, they are in and Clemson is likely out. If Clemson wins, then the series stands at 1-1, and both of these teams probably make the playoff.
My money? It is on...yawn again...Alabama. Ohio State. Clemson. Notre Dame.
I am not in favor of expanding the playoff, mostly due to the asinine argument that people always try to force every conference champion into the mix, and that is absolutely ridiculous (what if the best three teams in the country are LSU, Auburn and Alabama? What happens if 7-5 Wake Forest knocks off Clemson to win the ACC Championship? Just spitballing here, don’t @ me), but it is getting a bit tiresome seeing those same teams in the playoff every year.
Oh well, at least Oklahoma won’t be there.
Cincinnati -5.5 @ Central Florida:
Meh, I’m only picking this game because the Texas/Kansas game was postponed.
Cincinnati 34 Central Florida 21
ATS - Cincinnati
SU - Cincinnati
Indiana @ Ohio State -20.5:
I’ve been doing this column for probably twenty years at various outlets and I am certain that this is the first time that this column included a Top 10 Indiana Hoosiers team.
And they are 20+ point underdogs to Ohio State.
This game is the 99th time that Ohio State has played a Top 10 matchup, tying Oklahoma for the most such games in history. The Buckeyes are 53-41-4 in these games.
This is the second time in Indiana history of such a match-up, with the other being the 1968 Rose Bowl loss as #4 to #1 USC. So this is their first regular season match-up against another Top 10 team.
The Hoosiers last defeated Ohio State in 1990 and haven’t won in Columbus since 1987. That all adds up to 25 straight wins for the Buckeyes in this series, and 2015 was the last time this wasn’t at least a two-score game.
It hasn’t been a one-score game in Columbus since 1993.
If the Hoosiers are to pull off the upset, they’ll need Michael Penix Jr. to out-perform Justin Fields — does anyone want to bet on that?
Ohio State 45 Indiana 21
ATS – Ohio State
SU – Ohio State
Wisconsin -7.5 @ Northwestern:
You think Wisconsin/Northwestern and you think powerhouse against a team that fields a bowl team twice a decade, but this series has been really close, so close that the Wildcats have won 7 of 14 matchups this century, and defeated the Badgers 31-17 the last time these two met in Evanston.
It is defense, defense, defense for Northwestern, as that unit is only allowing 4.3 yards per play and ranks 5th in the country in S&P+ defense. Ask Purdue, which only managed 2 rushing yards last week in a loss to the Wildcats.
This is a de facto Big Ten West semi-final, and the Wildcats come into this one 4-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1996, but Wisconsin just has a better track record here.
Wisconsin 27 Northwestern 24
ATS – Northwestern
SU – Wisconsin
USC -3 @ Utah:
This game is up there in prosecution exhibits on why you don’t bet on college football in a pandemic — USC is 2-0...but have looked EXTREMELY shaky in those two wins, needing Sam Ehlinger-like comebacks to defeat Arizona State and Arizona, not exactly the cream of the crop in the Pac-12.
Utah, meanwhile, hasn’t played a game since December 31st, when they lost to Texas in the Alamo Bowl due to COVID protocols. They are breaking in a new quarterback, although nobody really knows who it is because coaches like to be cute like that, but the fact that there isn’t a clear cut alpha probably tells you all you need to know there.
USC overcame 11 penalties to defeat Arizona in the final minute last week, which isn’t a great look for the preseason Pac-12 South favorite. Red zone offense has been a problem in Los Angeles, as evidenced last Saturday in Tucson when they reached, the 10-, 1- and 4-yard lines against the Wildcats and came away with three points.
As shaky as USC has been, you have to feel they are not very good and have been fortunate to win the first two weeks. Salt Lake City isn’t usually a place to get right.
Utah 31 USC 28
ATS – Utah
SU – Utah
Kansas State @ Iowa State -11:
This game has massive Big 12 race ramifications, as a KSU win further muddies the waters in the Big 12 standings, while an Iowa State win likely eliminates Kansas State from contention.
As good as the Cyclones have been lately, Kansas State has been an issue for them, as they have only defeated the Wildcats once in the last 12 years, and that was two years ago in Ames, 42-38.
You have to feel like that changes this year, as Kansas State lost Skyler Thompson against Texas Tech earlier this year and held tough with defense, defeating TCU and Kansas in the next two games. But they have lost two in a row to tougher teams, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, and freshman Will Howard hasn’t looked good enough quite yet.
This one might be a defensive battle for a while, but I think Iowa State pulls away late.
Iowa State 27 Kansas State 17
ATS – Kansas State
SU – Iowa State
Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma -7:
Ah yes, it is that time of year, where we get all excited that Oklahoma is playing a team that waxes a lot of the other teams in the Big 12…
And then Oklahoma State loses. Again.
Mike Gundy is 2-13 against Oklahoma as a head coach (and to make matters worse, 0-4 as a starting quarterback). Hell, Bob Simmons has more wins against Oklahoma in his OSU coaching career than Gundy, as he had three wins in six tries.
Granted, in eight of those games they were double digit underdogs, but they have also only covered in 4 of 15 (in 4 of those games they were favored and went 1-3 straight up).
And oh yeah, they last won in 2014. So they are due, no?
Well Oklahoma State does have a defense that can befuddle Spencer Rattler, but Spencer Sanders has to be able to score against the Sooners in Norman, and I don’t feel good about that prospect (see my column a couple weeks ago during TX/OSU week to get my feelings on the guy).
I hope I’m wrong, but Oklahoma just feels like they have things going again, and will be in Arlington on December 19th, waiting for another team to show up.
Oklahoma 34 Oklahoma State 24
ATS – Oklahoma
SU – Oklahoma
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for whenever Texas plays again.