Jerry's Past Picks
Texas A&M gave up on this season long ago. Even last week, when the Aggies had an opponent it could take out some frustrations on, they only beat UMass 20-3. Meanwhile, LSU wants to be sharp headed into the battle with Georgia and is still trying to look good to a selection committee that at worst, can put them in a very good bowl game.
Iowa State has one of the top defenses in the nation. The Cyclones rank eighth nationally in total and scoring defense, but they are almost as bad on offense as they are good on defense. TCU has ridden a powerful offense to an undefeated season, but the Horned Frogs will probably have to rely more on their defense this time. They have won that way too. ISU has not given up more than 31 points in a game this season. If they can hold TCU to no more than 35, the under should hit.
The Old Oaken Bucket is up for grabs and Purdue is also playing for the right to be the sacrificial lamb the Big Ten West sends to the conference championship game. While this line is not as comical as the -20 odds makers put on the Boilermakers against Northwestern last week, Purdue has still yet to beat an FBS opponent by more than 10. Boilers win, but not by much.
Army's record is more a reflection of its strength of schedule than the quality of the Black Knights. Six of Army's seven losses have come to teams that have at least seven wins. In their wins, the Black Knights have been dominant, with UConn the first team to lose by fewer than 24 points. UMass is arguably the worst team in FBS and they should be no match for Army's ground assault.
The Seminoles had a mid-season three-game slump, but have been on fire ever since. Florida State has won its last four games by an average over 33 ppg. Granted, the teams the Seminoles beat may not be as good as Florida, but who knows? The Gators are coming off a loss at Vanderbilt. We are not asking FSU to cover 30 though, just 9.5 and I'll take that.
Iowa's offense was the laughingstock of college football for the first two months of the season. Something clicked though beginning with the Northwestern game. That began a three-game stretch in which the Hawkeyes scored 27 ppg. Things went back to normal last week in a rivlary slugfest with Minnesota, but the good Iowa offense should reappear against toothless Nebraska. The Hawkeyes will not need a lot to cover against a Cornhusker offense that went into a slumber after a 37 point outburst at Purdue last month.
As long time followers of my work know, I am a Purdue grad and fan, so you can probably understand why I busted out laughing when I saw this line, which was originally Purdue -20. The sum total of the margin of victory in Purdue’s five FBS wins this season is 27 points. The Boilermakers have yet to beat an FBS team by more than ten. I realize this is not a great Northwestern team, especially offensively, but 18-point wins is not how Purdue rolls.
While I'm at it, let's look at the total for this game. It opened at 48, but it's coming down due to both common sense and a forecast calling for gusty winds. That does not favor a Purdue offense that likes to throw. Although, the Wildcats have a poor run defense, so the Boilermakers could lean on breakout star RB Devin Mockabee. Northwestern is going to try to establish the run as well. Both teams also have unreliable kickers. This total figures to be tough to reach.
Illinois travels to Michigan on a two-game losing streak that has seen its best in the nation scoring defense drop to second behind the Wolverines. The Illini defense gave up 294 yards to Michigan State two weeks ago in a 23-15 home loss to the Spartans. That tied Indiana for the most points scored on Illinois this season, also in a loss. Then Purdue comes in and lights them up for 379 yards and 31 points, both season highs against the Illini. Things are trending the wrong way and a trip to Michigan is rarely the cure for what ails you. The Wolverines will roll.
Coming off an overtime loss to LSU which all but killed their College Football Playoff hopes, Alabama faces another difficult task when it travels to No. 10 Ole Miss. The Rebels have had an extra week to prepare and is at home, so this spread seems pretty high. History is not on Mississippi's side though. Alabama has not lost consecutive regular season games since 2007. Still, I think the Rebels will make it interesting at least.
Iowa State is the top rated team in the country in relative total defense and second in relative scoring defense in games between FBS teams. They Cyclones are also outside the top 100 in relative offensive yards and points. The Cowboys are reeling, in no small part due to injuries, especially on the offensive side of the ball. QB Spencer Sanders missed the Pokes previous game against Kansas and may not be ready to go this week either. Points may be pretty tough to come by in this one.
Fresno State QB Jake Haener, the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, is back from injury and the Bulldogs are looking a lot more like the team many predicted to win the conference. Odds makers have not caught up yet. UNLV was competitive against San Diego State last week, but got trounced in their three prior games against better opposition.
Auburn finally jettisoned Bryan Harsin after the Tigers had lost five of their last six games. They were not competitive in all but one of those losses. You never know what you are going to get when a coach gets fired, but Auburn looks like a program in disarray. The Bulldogs are struggling a little right now as well, but they are 4-0 at home this season winning by an average of 24 points per game. MSU gets things turned around here.
BYU got off to a great start this season, but went 0-4 in October, including blowout losses to Arkansas and at Liberty. Boise State was struggling until it fired its offensive coordinator. The Broncos are now riding a four-game winning streak and lead the Mountain West. Sometimes a nonconference game in the middle of conference play gets a flat performance, but Boise State should be plenty fired up to play their old conference rival. Ride the hot hand here.
You have to wonder what Michigan State’s mindset will be going into this game. Coming off a loss to Michigan isn’t the problem, of course. It’s the incidents in the tunnel after the game that has the program under scrutiny. Also, you have seven players from the defense suspended indefinitely, including three starters and three others who played in the Michigan game. Illinois should have its way with the Spartans depleted defense.