For every good week, there naturally is a bad week to go along with it. After going 4-1 two weeks ago, my picks were absolutely terrible last week, as I only picked one game right. UConn decided to get their first win in two years the first time I picked against them this month. Otherwise, my other picks were pretty close, with my only big miss being in the Auburn-Arkansas game, where I picked the favored Razorbacks to cover (and they lost by 15). This week I am hoping for better results, as my margin for error to stay above .500 has narrowed. This is the first week since I started making the picks that there will be no inter-ranked games, which should make it fun to pick.
Stratton’s Record: 13-12 (.520); 1-4 last week
No. 10 Oregon at UCLA (-2) (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC):
This game is extremely interesting just because UCLA is favored, despite being a seemingly worse team by a fair margin. The Bruins had a week two win versus 16th ranked LSU, who turned out to be worse than advertised early on. They lost to Fresno State and Arizona State, both of whom are fringe Top 25 teams. Oregon on the other hand beat a strong Ohio State team on the road in a tight game. The Ducks are led by QB Anthony Brown, who is having a good season with 1,194 yards on a modest seven touchdowns. Despite some questions about their curious loss to Stanford, this balanced Oregon team will win straight up on Saturday.
The pick: Oregon
No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-7) (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on FOX):
The spread for this game feels really curious. Oklahoma State is undefeated on the season and is coming off three consecutive ranked wins, but is also a seven-point underdog. The Cowboys have boasted a surprisingly impressive defensive attack this year, while having enough offense behind RB Jaylen Warren to win games. Iowa State has no ranked wins and although they’ve looked impressive enough this year, I don’t see them covering the wide spread. I would have picked the Cowboys even if they were light favorites, but unless the oddsmakers know something I don’t, this feels like a free win.
The pick: Oklahoma State
No. 5 Ohio State (-20) at Indiana (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ABC):
This is a bit of a tricky one. After being shut out on the road against No. 4 Penn State two weeks ago, the Hoosiers bounced back last week and only lost by five to Michigan State. Michael Penix Jr. has shown flashes of Heisman potential in past years, but has looked stale this time around. Indiana has not looked amazing, but their losses have all come to teams currently ranked in the top 11. Ohio State’s only loss came at the hands of Oregon and although they’re impressive, I think IU stays in this one long enough to cover.
The pick: Indiana
USC at No. 13 Notre Dame (-6.5) (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC):
Notre Dame is a team this year that has vastly underperformed, but then again, so has USC. The Irish have had a few too many close encounters with mediocre competition and were completely shut down by now second ranked Cincinnati. QB Jack Coan leads their moderately efficient offense with 1,208 yards and 10 touchdowns, in a game that will be a must win situation to keep any sort of playoff hopes alive. USC has struggled in Pac 12 play, going 2-3 so far, with their defense looking unimpressive in each loss. Look for Coan to light USC up at home.
The pick: Notre Dame
Middle Tennessee State (-15.5) at UConn (Friday at 6:00 p.m. on CBSSN):
I’ve been wrong about the Huskies the past two weeks, so let’s give this another shot. The Huskies got their first win in what felt like forever on Saturday and have a quick turnaround this week with a Friday game under the lights. Krajewski had a nice performance last week, with two touchdowns through the air, plus a nice scramble to get another on the ground. The offensive playbook has not looked impressive the past few games with the team being shut down for the second half against Yale. MTSU hasn’t looked too great either, only beating FCS Monmouth and a decent Liberty squad. I don’t like UConn’s chance to win, but they should cover.
The pick: UConn