Some really good, yet tough to call games this weekend. Let's plow ahead...
Clemson (+2.5) @ Wake Forest
This one's shaping up to be a solid matchup, in part because both teams have had two weeks to prepare for it. Both are coming off bad losses too, the Tigers to Maryland and the Demon Deacons to Navy. The difference in their season so far is that Wake has beaten some quality opponents, while Clemson hasn't. Playing at home should help Wake too...
The Call: Wake Forest by 7
The Result: Wake Forest 12-7
The Demon Deacons are rolling to another fine season. Clemson? Not so much.
Texas (+6.5) v Oklahoma
The big one of the weekend. The Longhorns & Sooners have looked stellar through the first half of the season, albeit against relatively weak competition. There's gonna be a lot of points scored in this game, and it should last a good 4 hours or so. With that said, the D that bends but doesn't break will win the game.
The Call: Texas by 7
The Result: Texas 45-35
That was a slugfest the whole way. Good Game. Oklahoma is still a great team and probably won't drop too far in the rankings, especially considering what other teams lost and how they were defeated this weekend. Great win for the Longhorns, but they've still got a hell of an October to navigate.
East Carolina @ Virginia (-6)
Look, I know the Pirates have looked bad these last two weeks, blowing their BCS chances out of the water. And I know that the Cavaliers stunned Maryland last weekend. But I think those were flukes - East Carolina is just more talented this year and can play bigger.
The Call: East Carolina by 10
The Result: Virginia 35-20
Hmmm... Apparently I'm putting too much emphasis on the games at the beginning of September rather than at the end. Mistake noted. It seems quite obvious now, but the Cavs seem on their way up while the Pirates are in free-fall.
Minnesota @ Illinois (-12.5)
Illinois is looking better and better as the weeks go by, while Minnesota still hasn't proven anything this season. A win for the Gophers would do wonders for their stature, but Zook's boys are too tough.
The Call: Illinois by 14
The Result: Minnesota 27-20
Ouch - that one hurts.
Vanderbilt (-2.5) @ Mississippi State
The Commodores have themselves a new Lionel Richie, and he's looking better than their old one. As I've said before, Croom's boys usually pull an upset each year, and as shocking as it seems that beating Vandy would be considered an upset, it would be. Not gonna happen though - the rolling continues...
The Call: Vanderbilt by 10
The Result: Mississippi State 17-14
Sorry, Commodores - thought my positive attitude could pull you through. There's the Bulldogs' upset of the year. All the teams who play them from now on can relax.
Ohio (-2) @ Kent State
Let's show the MAC some love, shall we? Both of these teams are not looking good, sitting at 1-5 and having only beaten I-AA teams. I know, the gut says to go with Ohio because they took Ohio State into the 4th quarter. But the real difference is that except for last week, the Bobcats have played a lot of close games while the Rockets have been getting stomped.
The Call: Ohio by 7
The Result: Ohio 26-19
Well done, Bobcats. Thanks for the W.
Nebraska (-20.5) @ Texas Tech
The Cornhuskers have spent this last week trying to remove their foot from their mouths, while the Red Raiders are still trying to come down from the usual September sugar-rush, courtesy of too many cupcakes. Oh sure, Harrell will put some points on the board, but I think the Nebraska D can keep it closer in this one.
The Call: Texas Tech wins, but Nebraska covers the spread
The Result: Texas Tech 37-31
Arizona State @ USC (-27.5)
The Trojans seem to be back on track, evidenced by the absurdly high spread. The Sun Devils are not looking as good as they did last year - that UNLV loss really took the wind out of their sails. But here's the thing. As big as the home game against Georgia was, USC's opponents' biggest game of the year is always the one against USC. And the Trojans have shown vulnerabilities, which Pac10 teams seem to do a good job of exploiting. USC will pull away in the 2nd half, but the Sun Devils will keep it close.
The Call: USC wins, but Arizona State covers the spread
The Result: USC 28-0
Ah - I really hate missing spreads by a point. Jeez. That was a 3rd quarter Mark Sanchez would like to forget - a fumble and three int's, not acceptable any way you shape it. But tons of credit to the Trojan D for keeping the Sun Devils out of the end zone after those momentum changers. The offense wanted to let Arizona State back in, but the D wouldn't let it happen.
Tennessee @ Georgia (-12.5)
The Volunteers are quite the enigma. You know they've got playmakers, they've got a proven coach, they've got the tools - but they just don't get it done. Why is anybody's guess. The Dawgs are in the same boat, except that they win. By a lot. They've had two weeks to think about that Alabama loss, and you can bet they're itching to get back on track and prove they belong at the top of the rankings.
The Call: Georgia by 17
The Result: Georgia 26-14
Ah, missed it by that much again. Not the game the Dawgs wanted to play to show they're better than that Bama loss, but at least they got the W. Tennessee is just not doing well this year. Period.
Michigan State @ Northwestern (+1.5)
At first glance, this matchup doesn't look all that interesting. But the Wildcats are 5-0 with wins over Duke & Iowa, and the Spartans are 6-1 with wins over Notre Dame & Iowa. So both are having great years so far, and this should be an exciting game. Who can keep their team soaring?
The Call: Michigan State by 7
The Result: Michigan State 37-20
For this week, it's the Spartans. But they have a long history of imploding in the second half of the season. Is this the year they finally get over that hump? Games against Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Good luck with that.
Notre Dame (+7.5) @ North Carolina
Another solid matchup. Both of these squads are much improved from last year and are having the same type of season so far. The Tar Heels have played tougher teams these last two weeks though, and they're hitting on all cylinders. That's a relatively small spread, but I think this one will come down to the wire.
The Call: North Carolina wins, but Notre Dame covers the spread
The Result: North Carolina 29-24
And he threads the needle. Sweet.
Arkansas @ Auburn (-17.5)
This one is really not that tough of a call, looking at how big the spread is. The Razorbacks have been horrendous this year, either getting crushed or barely squeaking by a cupcake. The Tiger's have looked really bad at times too and whoever is ranking them #20 or better is being REALLY generous. Sure the D is good, but the O is just terrible. And it's going to be better this week after firing the offensive coordinator? Maybe if Tuberville runs it like he did the first quarter last week, but he says he's not going to. This could be very, very ugly.
The Call: Auburn wins, but Arkansas covers the spread
The Result: Arkansas 25-22
See, that's what happens when the Tigers don't play D. They lose to a terrible team. With games left against West Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama, a 6-6 season is a definite possibility. Solid job by the Razorbacks - they needed that one.
Ball State (-15.5) @ Western Kentucky
Sure this is a home game for the Hilltoppers, but they've only played one game at home so far this year - not gonna be much of an advantage. And how can I go against the Cardinals after what they've done this year? They're the #2 team in my achievement rankings, though their schedule is looking like the 2nd easiest in the country this year. Do I think they can run the table this year? Probably not, but I'm not ready to jump off the bandwagon just yet.
The Call: Ball State by 21
The Result: Ball State 24-7
Still feelin' good. Again.
LSU (-6) @ Florida
Of course the Tiger D is going to focus on Tebow, who's having a mediocre (compared to last season) year. But saying you want to take him out is like shaking a hornets nest with two hands. The Gators need this one pretty bad to stay in the SEC hunt after that Ole Miss debacle - they'll show up to the Swamp ready to play. LSU's offense is looking better than expected this year, but they've been feasting on cupcakes and facing none-too-difficult SEC foes so far. This one has the makings of a great game, and it might just take some Miles trickeration for the Tigers to pull it off.
The Call: LSU by 4
The Result: Florida 51-21
That's the way the Gators can play when they're hitting on all cylinders. Damn. That cocktail party that you were thinking about skipping a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, that's back on. The good news for the Tigers is that their SEC Championship hopes pretty much come down to the game with Alabama - everyone else in the SEC West is sad.
Oklahoma State @ Missouri (-13.5)
The Tigers have been rolling, while the Cowboys have quietly worked their way up to a #17 ranking. Both have high powered offenses, but Mizzou's D is better.
The Call: Missouri by 20
The Result: Oklahoma State 28-23
Strike for me - Daniels had a ton of passing yards, but those three picks were what killed them. He throws only two and the Tigers probably win - not good for the Heisman hopes. Gotta feel good for the Cowboys, but they still have Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma on the schedule. Doubt they can make it through that.
Penn State @ Wisconsin (+6)
Nobody has been able to really slow down the Nittany Lions so far this year, but their points per game has been dropping every week for the last month. Wisconsin is in a nose-dive after consecutive heart-breaking losses. I don't see things looking better for them this week.
The Call: Penn State by 10
The Result: Penn State 48-7
Yeah, that wasn't pretty. 0-3 in the Big10 after getting blown out is not the way the Badgers thought their season would start. The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes seem to be on a collision course.
Air Force (-10.5) @ San Diego State
The Falcons have suffered two close losses the last two weeks and are looking to get back on track. San Diego State is in shambles. This one isn't close.
The Call: Air Force by 24
The Result: Air Force 35-10
Idaho (+33.5) @ Fresno State
No I don't have much (if any) faith in the Vandals. But the Bulldogs are looking pretty shaken up right now, and that spread is huge.
The Call: Fresno State wins, but Idaho covers the spread
The Result: Fresno State 45-32
Yeah, see? The Bulldogs needed that one bad to stay on course for a good bowl game where they can upset a BCS school, while the Vandals are pretty much lost.
Solid week, for the most part. I missed some of the big games, but nailed some others. 12 of 18 straight up, 11 of 18 against the spread. On the season, that puts me at 77 of 108 (71%) straight up, and 61.5 of 108 (57%) against the spread.