10-6 last week…not bad, I think. Listen folks, spread-picking ain’t easy; I have a feeling I’d be doing a lot better if I was just going with the ‘straight up’ mode, but what’s the fun in that, right?
Anywho, the running total after last week is 37-31, a respectable six games above .500, but hardly gaining any style points.
So, another big week of playing means more games to break down and, as usual, vegasinsider.com supplies all of my lines (current as of this posting). And remember, folks, these are spread picks and not all teams chosen will necessarily be the straight-up winner.
1. Georgia at South Carolina: South Carolina (-1)
This game might as well be a toss-up for all of the angst, heartburn, and thrown visors it’s produced over the last six seasons. However, for the first time it lands on the big stage as the marquee match-up in college football—sealed with ESPN’s College Gameday Crew thrown in for good measure—and likely the biggest game either of these two teams will play all season.
While Vegas has favored the Gamecocks over the last two years—and turned out correct on both occasions—I’m feeling like Georgia may finally have the pieces to come away on top this time.
South Carolina’s massive defensive prowess, bookended by the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, will pose the biggest test of the season for Georgia’s young offensive line and Marcus Lattimore is sure to find room to run against the Bulldogs front seven, but this game will come down to how well the Gamecock secondary handles the receiving talent on the Georgia side.
Even with the loss of Michael Bennett, the Bulldogs’ leading receiver, Georgia still has plenty of weapons. And if the offensive line gives Murray time, and the running back tandem of Gurley and Marshall are able to keep their production at or near the level it’s been all season, I simply don’t see Georgia not having offensive success against Carolina.
It may be close at the end, but when hasn’t it been?
The Lady’s Pick: Georgia
2. LSU at Florida: LSU (-3)
The Tigers confuse me. I don’t know if they’re under-achieving or just really not very good. In either case, they don’t look like a team that deserves to be in the Top 10 this season and I’m not sure if this is the week they’ll start to change my opinion.
Florida, for all the early madness regarding the quarterback and the offense in general, has finally started to settle in and do the things on both sides of the ball to keep them in the hunt for the SEC. I doubt many expected they’d be sitting at 5-0 after the way they played Bowling Green, but after comeback wins against both Tennessee and Texas A&M—on the road—this team has grown up in a hurry and will likely be licking their chops to throw the knockout punch at an LSU team that is seemingly floundering.
The Lady’s Pick: Florida
3. Mississippi State at Kentucky: Mississippi State (-10)
I don’t know what’s more perplexing: the fact that this game initially opened with Kentucky as the 14.5-point favorite or that Mississippi State is only a 10-point fave as of today.
It doesn’t matter how motivated the Wildcats played last week, they are still not a four quarter football team. They showcased a better effort against South Carolina last week, but the Bulldogs aren’t likely to go in as flat as their SEC East counterparts and Kentucky isn’t likely to have made many believers with just one good game of play.
The Lady’s Pick: Mississippi State
4. Texas A&M at Ole Miss: Texas A&M (-12.5)
After the beating the Aggies put on the Razorbacks last week, I fully understand why the Rebels aren’t getting much love from the point-givers. However, these two teams are more evenly matched than you might think and that Ole Miss defense has shown what it’s capable of against “better” competition—see Alabama.
That said, I expect the Rebels to eschew the souther hospitality and get down to the business of claiming a bit of legitimacy by making a bigger game of this one than many will expect to see.
The Lady’s Pick: Ole Miss
5. Michigan State at Indiana: Michigan State (-14)
Hmmm…the thing about the Spartans is they look like they should be a good football team, but they really aren’t that impressive. I think, just like with Michigan, people over-estimated what they would be able to do this season in a B1G Ten that was looking a little sketchy with a depleted Penn State, a questionable Minnesota, an unimpressive Iowa, and a newly coached Ohio State.
That said, with Ohio State over-achieving, Wisconsin backsliding, and Michigan imploding, the Spartans’ chinks are showing a lot more than they were at the start.
Michigan State can’t seem to score and mostly relies on the defense to keep things tight. And, against a team like the Hoosiers who can air it and throw it, that can be a very dangerous thing.
The Lady’s Pick: Indiana
6. Georgia Tech at Clemson: Clemson (-10.5)
It’s highly possible that the Yellow Jackets will come back and make everyone forget about that ugly home loss to Middle Tennessee…but I wouldn’t bet on it.
The strategy against Tech is simple: stop the run, get ahead early, win the game. Clemson’s defense isn’t stellar by any stretch, but the Yellow Jackets offense is one-dimensional and can be overcome.
The Lady’s Pick: Georgia Tech
7. Northwestern at Penn State: Penn State (-2)
This is Northwestern’s first chance to show how “for real” they truly are this season. Even with Penn State doing their best to overcome their numerous public relations obstacles this season, they are still considered to be a historically relevant program. Their 3-2 record notwithstanding, they have played with a lot of heart and determination this season and a win over a ranked opponent, at home, would do wonders for the morale in Happy Valley.
In short, both teams have plenty to play for and it will come down to who wants it more.
The Lady’s Pick: Northwestern
8. Vanderbilt at Missouri: Missouri (-7)
Both teams need a win, but only one will walk away with one.
It’s hard to say that either squad has done enough to warrant any level of respect where SEC play is concerned, but you have to figure Mizzou is due.
The Lady’s Pick: Mizzou
9. Washington at Oregon: Oregon (-24.5)
I don’t believe the Huskies can keep up with the Ducks on the scoreboard, but I do feel they can slow that offense down enough to keep themselves in the game—at least for a little while.
The Lady’s Pick: Washington
10. West Virginia at Texas: Texas (-6.5)
How do you follow up a 600+ yard, eight touchdown, Heisman-attention getting performance? Well, if you can do half, or maybe even one-third of that against Texas, you might have yourself a winner in Geno Smith.
However, I think the more likely scenario is Smith comes back down to earth, Texas gives a far better defensive performance (at least against the passing game) than Baylor ever could, and the Mountaineers finally face a worthy challenge on the football field this season.
The Lady’s Pick: Texas
The Lady’s Other Picks (Shown in Bold):
11. Illinois at Wisconsin (-14): Illinois
12. UCLA at California (+2.5): UCLA
13. Washington State at Oregon State (-15.5): Washington State
14. Miami at Notre Dame (-14): Miami
15. Nebraska at Ohio State (-3.5): Nebraska