Well, I guess I’m back below .500. Thus far, my picks haven’t been terribly impressive, considering the fact that by chance, anyone should be getting roughly 50% correct, which is very similar to what I’ve gotten. I went 2-3 last week, picking Baylor’s win over Oklahoma correctly, as well as Wake Forrest’s squeaker against NC State, which saw the Demon Deacons cover by just one point. The biggest disappointment on my part was in the Clemson game against UConn, where the Tigers just covered by three points, thanks to Huskies’ Brian Brewton’s fluky opening kickoff return. This week, let’s hope to improve and get back above .500.
Stratton’s Record: 22-23 (.489); 2-3 last week
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State (-19.0) (Saturday at 12:00 p.m. on ABC):
This is undoubtedly the game of the week. Two top ten programs face off in a game that promises to excite…except the spread is nearly 20 in favor of Ohio State. Consider: this is the Spartan team that beat current No. 6 Michigan. This CJ Stroud-led team is really good with his 30 passing touchdowns and over 3,000 yards, but they shouldn’t beat Michigan State by 20. At home a few weeks ago, they hosted ranked Penn State and only won by nine. The Buckeyes will win, but give me the Spartans to cover with the massive spread.
The pick: Michigan State
No. 21 Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama (-20.5) (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS):
Ever since their loss at Texas A&M, Alabama has had little difficulty with their fully unranked schedule. They’ve crept back up to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but most analysts see them merely as a placeholder with the SEC championship game against Georgia looming. Arkansas had a really rough three-game skid, but have picked up a trio of victories since. Bryce Young has been really impressive this year with his 33 touchdowns, which is why I’m taking the Crimson Tide to cover at home.
The pick: Alabama
Virginia at No. 18 Pittsburgh (-14.5) (Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2):
This one is the only non-UConn or inter-ranked game that I’m picking, but nonetheless, it should be an interesting one. Pitt has gone from playing the role of spoiler against great teams to actually having a chance at an ACC Championship. Kenny Pickett leads the Panthers, while Brennan Armstrong leads the Cavaliers in what promises to be an explosive outing. Both quarterbacks have over 3,500 passing yards, which is incredible by all metrics at this point in the season. The spread here is really wide, and even though things could get out of hand quickly, I’ll take the Cavaliers to cover here in a shootout.
The pick: Virginia
No. 3 Oregon at No. 23 Utah (-3.0) (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ABC):
I know this game is in Utah, but the fact that the No. 23 team is favored over the No. 3 team feels wrong. The Utes have not been that good this year, with only one ranked win and three unranked losses. Oregon had one fluke loss against Stanford, but they did go to current No. 4 Ohio State and pick up a very impressive win. The Ducks have a balanced offensive attack, but they have also been really impressive defensively by not allowing more than 31 points in a game this year. The Ducks should be favored here, which is why I’ll take them.
The pick: Oregon
UConn at UCF (-30.5) (Saturday at 4:00 p.m. on ESPN+):
The question here is not who will win, but instead how much the Huskies will lose by. The Clemson Tigers killed the Huskies last week in a game that was hardly competitive. UCF got smothered last week at a solid SMU squad and will look to bounce back in a gimme game. The thing is though, with this being a rivalry the caliber of the Civil ConFLiCT, you can throw the records out the window and expect a great contest. Although the trophy and both head coaches are long gone since the rivalry’s conception, the memories live on. The Huskies will cover here, but not by much.
The pick: UConn