The dead week in college football is usually the worst pick’em week.
There are a lot bad games, big lines, uninspired play and gamblers betting their kid’s college funds on Savannah State. So, as you go through my picks this week, do so with caution. Most of these games are hard to read because it’s tough to know whether 18-21-year-old kids will be fired up for their terrible opponents.
With that said, I went 5-4-1 last week. Not my best effort, but kept the winning streak alive. Boise State didn’t hit its number by a point and Rutgers played uninspired. But Maryland, Wisconsin and Utah State ended up being sound calls.
That brings the season record to 21-9-1. If you’ve been following, you’re still up in Monopoly money because, as I stress, these picks are for entertainment purposes only.
Here’s what I like this week (and there’s not a lot to like this week):
Fresno State (-4) vs. Boise State, Friday, 9 p.m. ET: Fair warning before you continue, I am 0-2 in games involving Boise State this season. On the flip side, both of those bets were for the Broncos. This time, I like the Bulldogs, especially at home in what should be a revenge game from a year ago. Boise State is such a mixed bag this year that it’s hard to know what they’re going to do, but I don’t believe in their defense, especially against a strong Fresno State offense. With that said, a small side pick on OVER -68 is also in play here.
Pitt (-3.5) at Duke, 12:30 ET: Pitt is a much better team than it's shown this season and Duke is not. Pitt played Florida State close and won its game against New Mexico handily. Duke struggled some with Memphis and was thrashed by Georgia Tech. This game might be close early, but Pitt will pull away in the end.
Florida International (+43) vs. Louisville, 12 p.m. ET: This is one of those big numbers I hate, but I like the Golden Panthers because Louisville isn’t one to run up the score and because FIU has the ability to get that backdoor cover touchdown late in a game. Make no mistake, Louisville will shred FIU, but I’m not confident the Cardinals will cover the large spread.
Western Michigan (+16) at Iowa, 12:01 ET: Call me a sucker, but I think this is the week Western Michigan finally learns how to Row The Boat. Iowa is mediocre and Western Michigan is getting better. At the very least, the Broncos are gaining confidence after a decent effort against Northwestern. If Missouri State can stay within two touchdowns of the Hawkeyes, the Broncos can do the same.
Utah State (+6.5) at USC, 3:30 p.m. ET: This game was my upset special in What to Watch and I reiterate my confidence in Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keaton here. The Aggies can score and if they can get up early on the Trojans, they’ll turn the home crowd against Kiffin and, well, we know what happens after that. Moreover, the Aggies defense might be the best the Trojans have faced this season.
Baylor (-30.5) vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 4 ET: The Warhawks are getting a lot of love in this game because of their win against Wake Forest, but Baylor is not Wake. The Bears offense is so explosive that it’s tough for any team to catch up. I liken this game to the Bears’ contest against Buffalo. It will be a blowout as Baylor continues to make a statement. The OVER -75 looks enticing here, but take it only if you believe ULM can score a few touchdowns. I’m not sold.
Texas A&M (-28.5) vs. SMU AND OVER 76, 7 p.m. ET: As long as Texas A&M has Johnny Manziel and absolutely no defense, the over is always going to be in play for me. SMU can score against a quality opponent and showed as much against Texas Tech, but it also can’t keep up with a high-powered offense like A&M’s. There’s always the worry about a hangover, but Manziel has powered through hangovers before (double entendre) and will again this weekend.
Oregon State (-8.5) vs. San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. ET: Perhaps this is some sort of sucker bet, but there’s nothing to lead me to believe San Diego State can keep up with Oregon State even at home. The Beavers struggled early, but they’re coming off a big win against Utah and are starting to find a bit of a groove. San Diego State has struggled mightily this season and not sure a bye week has done anything to make it a better team.
Utah (+7) vs. BYU, 10:15 p.m.: I am one of the few national writers that pays attention to and enjoys the Holy War. I’m also pretty familiar with its history of close games, especially last year's contest, which ended on a blocked kick. I think Utah’s defense will be ready for BYU QB Taysom Hill. While I’m not sure Utah will win, it will be a close game.