Raise your hands if you expected a week as crazy as we had last Saturday at about 3:15 in the afternoon. Now put your hands down because I know you're all lying. After a rather pedestrian start to the day with the noon games, last week turned into one of those days that you are all too happy to spend on the couch watching the insanity.
Unfortunately, some of that craziness lead to a 1-4 record (thank you very much, back door cover Nebraska!), so we will look to improve on things with another set of big time clashes.
Texas vs. Oklahoma (-14.5)
I know this isn't the game it has been in past years with the Longhorns struggling, and the Sooners coming off a tough loss to TCU, but it's still the Red River Shootout (screw you PC police!). Charlie Strong's first season in Austin has been more significant for the players he has dismissed from the program, than for the results on the field. The Texas offense has struggled to do much of anything (117th in scoring), while relying on a relatively stout defense (21st in scoring) to at least stay in games. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma offense has been humming right along, while the defense has been exposed somewhat in their last two games.
It's hard to see Texas keeping this close, even though the defense has been solid. Oklahoma still has designs on a playoff spot, and after losing last weekend in Ft. Worth, I'm going to assume Stoops has their full attention. I'll give the points here and take the Sooners.
TCU at Baylor (-8)
Congratulations, Gary Patterson! You just knocked off Big 12 favorite Oklahoma! Your reward? A trip to Waco and the high flying Baylor Bears! TCU certainly established themselves as a Big 12 player with the win over OU last weekend, and a win over Bryce Petty would make the Frogs the conference favorite, and give them an inside track for the playoff. On the other side, Art Briles' squad dominated Texas, in Austin a week ago in a rather pedestrian 28-7 game.
I really like Gary Patterson, and I think TCU is a strong squad, but I just have a hard time seeing them going into Waco in what will be a raucous environment, and getting a second top 5 win in 7 days. This game opened at -10, and I may have been more inclined to take the Frogs there, but at just 8, I'll go with Baylor.
Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State
I'm still trying to wrap my head around Mississippi State sitting at #3 in the country, but here we are. Dan Mullen has the Bulldogs at 5-0, with two impressive wins over LSU in Baton Rouge, and last weekend versus Texas A&M. Auburn has flown under the radar to some degree this season, at least to the degree the #2 team in the country can do that.
You can make an argument that, despite the name value of LSU and Texas A&M, the Bulldogs have yet to really be challenged. Auburn, at the very least, went on the road to knock off Kansas State last month, although there were plenty of chances for the Tigers to drop that contest. Auburn has much more experience in big games, and the road trip to Starkville will not phase them. I'll give the points and go with the road favorite.
Oregon (2.5) at UCLA
After last weekend, this has turned into something of a "do or die" game for each team. Oregon fell for the second straight year to Rich Rodriguez' Arizona squad, this time in Eugene. Down in LA, the Bruins dropped a 30-28 contest in the Rose Bowl to Utah. A second lost ends any hope of a playoff spot, and likely, a trip to the Pac 12 title game in December. The side battle between two of the best QBs in the country in Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley will be entertaining as well.
Neither team has been able to protect it's star QB, with Hundley even missing some time with an elbow ailment earlier this season. Whichever team is able to keep its QB upright more often will win the game, and I'm going to go with the Ducks to do just that.
USC (-2.5) at Arizona
Arizona has always been an easy team for me to root for, given some family connections to Tucson. On the other side, it's always been easy to root against USC. Because, well, USC. Given both of those statements, I really enjoyed last weeks results with the Wildcats getting a massive road win in Eugene, and the Trojans having their hearts ripped out with the easiest game winning Hail Mary you will ever see.
It's only a couple of days, but I think that extra time off for Arizona is going to be big. Not only is it a little extra rest, it gives Rich Rodriguez a couple of extra days to "move on" from the Oregon win. Vegas always likes USC, it seems, but I like Arizona getting 2.5 at home.
AROUND THE B1G
Indiana (+4) at Iowa
Northwestern at Minnesota (-5)
Illinois at Wisconsin (-26)
Michigan State (-22) at Purdue
A few extras this week that I like
Florida State (-24) at Syracuse - The Orange are a mess on offense, making a change at offensive coordinator mid-season, and breaking in a new QB after Terrell Hunt broke his leg. I like the Noles BIG.
Alabama (-10) at Arkansas - Maybe it's just me, but it seems like Arkansas almost beating an OK Texas A&M team has made everyone love Bert again. Not me. Saban is mad, and Bert won't like Saban when he's mad.