Maryland (+2.5) @ Virginia Tech
Hmmm... this one requires some thought. Instincts and past seasons' performances says that the Hokies are just better. But they're on a two game losing streak and are definitely not as good as they have been in years past. At the same time, the Terrapins have won two in a row (one against a decent though down Wake team) and are better than they have been in years past. But they also seem to drop games they should win. At home, the Hokies need to win to become bowl eligible, and I think the ball will bounce their way.
The Call: Virginia Tech by 7
The Result: Virginia Tech 23-13
So the Hokies are sitting pretty in the ACC Coastal - they've got the win over UNC, and can really start to wrap things up with a win over Miami next week. Another week, another up-down showing for the Terrapins. But, they're already bowl eligible, so I guess that's something.
TCU (-1.5) @ Utah
This is one of the biggest of the week and will basically decide a BCS bowl berth, should the winner win out. I like the Horned Frogs chances in this one, if only because they've played the harder schedule so far this year and have beaten better teams. It'll be a tough one, but they should have the experience to pull it out.
The Call: TCU by 7
The Result: Utah 13-10
It looks like the Utes are making another undefeated season run. They've got an easy time against San Diego State next, and then finish up against BYU which might be tricky. The Horned Frogs only have one game left, against Air Force, and will probably end up in a mid-level bowl where they'll pound a 7-5 BCS conference team. So they have that to look forward to.
Purdue (+9.5) @ Michigan State
Is it possible the the Boilermakers catch the Spartans looking ahead to Penn State? Sure, but even if they do, Michigan State will probably just turn around and be like, "Huh? Game today? Oh okay, sure. Here's four TD's - have a nice day."
The Call: Michigan State by 17
The Result: Michigan State 21-7
Now the 9-2 Spartans have two weeks to prepare for Penn State. But even with that win, now that Penn State has lost, it would tie the Spartans with Ohio State for tops in the Big10. In order for them to make it to Pasadena, the Buckeyes need to lose one more against either Illinois or Michigan. So while Michigan State can feel really good about this year, they're gonna need some help to finish how they want to.
Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (-4)
Been looking forward to this one for a couple weeks now. The Jackets have endured a bit of a rocky last month with every game decided by a TD or less. That might help them in a close one, but it also could hurt them since they haven't been able to put away teams that they should. And you've gotta feel good about what the Tar Heels have accomplished so far this year. Barring a complete collapse, they're going bowling and still have a shot at an ACC title. A win against GA Tech would go a long way towards those goals.
The Call: North Carolina by 7
The Result: North Carolina 28-7
The Tar Heels are sittin' pretty with only Maryland, NC State, and Duke left. 10-2 is very doable - they just gotta hope that Miami beats the Hokies next week, since they beat the Hurricanes earlier in the year. Tough loss for the Jackets - they're still looking good for a decent bowl. I'm thinking somewhere between Dec. 23rd & 30th.
Baylor @ Texas (-27.5)
The big question in this game is if the Longhorns can rebound from their heartbreaking loss last week. Logic says they'll pile it on the Bears in order to prove their worthiness. The Bears weren't looking like their usual pushover selves at the beginning of the season, but that train's back on track - their only wins are against I-AA Northwestern State, 0-23 Washington State, and 2-7 Iowa State. McCoy retains his good form and passes for four TD's (and runs for one).
The Call: Texas by 35
The Result: Texas 45-21
Or matbe he'll just toss 5 TD's - that works too.
Illinois (-6.5) @ Western Michigan
Sure the Illini aren't as good as they were last year, and the Broncos are 7-2, but only 6.5? Illinois has played better games and tougher teams - who has Western Michigan played? Nebraska, who they lost to.
The Call: Illinois by 10
The Result: Western Michigan 23-17
The Illini had a decent day, but those two turnovers were killers. Tough day for the Big10.
Georgia (-10.5) @ Kentucky
The Dawgs got pummeled last week (both by themselves and the Gators), and you can bet they're ready for some revenge. But will they have the energy, knowing that (without a miracle) they can't with the SEC East title, the SEC title, or a national championship? They're most likely going to the Outback Bowl (though who wouldn't want to see them in the Cotton Bowl against a Big12 team?), and I don't know if that's enough to rally the troops. The Wildcats might sense a chance for a big win, and even though they've been off the radar, they're 6-3 with losses only to South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. This one's ripe for an upset, but I think I'll try to thread the needle.
The Call: Georgia wins, but Kentucky covers the spread
The Result: Georgia 42-38
Noticing some disturbing trends in the Dawgs D as of late? Brilliant!
Wyoming (+26.5) @ Tennessee
Will or can Fulmer go balls out in his last three games with the Vols? We'll know after this one.
The Call: Tennessee by 31
The Result: Wyoming 13-7
I don't even know what to say about that one. I guess now that the Vols aren't going bowling Fulmer's replacement can get started a bit earlier. He's going to need to.
Kansas @ Nebraska (-1.5)
In their three losses this year @ South Florida, to Texas Tech, and @ Oklahoma, the Jayhawks still managed to score 34, 31, and 21 points respectively. The Huskers are prone to giving up big points to good teams, though they can put the points up too. The Kansas D is just a bit better this year (sorry Bo - don't get angry).
The Call: Kansas by 10
The Result: Nebraska 45-35
Since when do the Huskers put up 45? If they're peaking, they're a bit late. I guess if Mizzou tanks the Big12 Championship game is a possibility, but that's a long shot. Kansas is still better than they were in the early 2000's, which isn't saying a lot - at least they're going to a bowl (probably).
Clemson (+5.5) @ Florida State
Really? 5.5? Despite last week's scores, I gotta believe the Tigers are tanking and that the Noles are starting to hit their stride.
The Call: Florida State by 17
The Result: Florida State 41-27
So the Seminoles are tied with Wake atop the ACC Atlantic at 4-2. Both have Boston College still on the schedule along with Maryland & NC State, respectively. But Wake holds the tiebreaker based on their head-to-head win earlier in the year. So even though the Noles are looking really good right now, a couple timely losses might be their downfall. We'll have to see...
Alabama @ LSU (+3.5)
Make no mistake, this one is going to be a war. No, not on the field - Bama should win convincingly there. I'm talking about in the swamps, in the parking lot, in the stands... There's gonna so much bad energy directed at Saban that it'll make Death Valley look like the penultimate scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Yeah, I know that analogy is a bit of a stretch. But I couldn't think of another time when a former coach has been hated so much by a fan base. You know what I mean.)
The Call: Alabama by 7
The Result: Alabama 27-21
Well, Les Miles' face didn't melt, so he's got that going for him. As far as the rest of Bama's November, Mississippi State should be easy, and they've won the SEC West no matter what happens against Auburn (but you can bet they'd like to exorcise those demons). The SEC championship against (most likely) Florida is probably going to be for a trip to the National Championship game.
Penn State @ Iowa (+7.5)
You think the the Nittany Lions haven't heard you talking? Saying that they're unworthy, that they haven't played anybody this year, that they don't deserve to be in the national championship game? Oh JoPa hears - he's got ears like an eagle, mark my words.
The Call: Penn State by 24
The Result: Iowa 24-23
JoPa now realizes that you're right. The national championship game is basically out of the question now (unless we get some 2007-sized upsets at the top), but the Rose Bowl is still there if they beat Michigan State on 11/22. A matchup with the Trojans would still draw huge numbers, but it wouldn't be for nearly as much anymore.
Oklahoma @ Texas A&M (+27.5)
The Sooners got another piece of their puzzle last week in Texas's loss to Texas Tech. If they can beat the Red Raiders, which is more than possible, and if the Longhorns lose one more, the Sooners go to Kansas City. So are they gonna be looking ahead to the Red Raiders? Nah - that's not for two more weeks. And I get the feeling they enjoy pounding teams by ungodly amounts. But the D...
The Call: Oklahoma by 34
The Result: Oklahoma 66-28
D Schmee. Isn't there some sort of law against scoring so much? Really, no matter what happens the rest of way in the Big12, I really want to see what the Sooners can do against a stellar D. If you're making the argument that they're easily the best one-loss team, I don't know that you'd have much persuading to do.
Arizona (-40) @ Washington State
Well, another spread involving the Cougars that doesn't break the magic 50 barrier. C'mon, Vegas - give me something to work with here!
The Call: Arizona by 52
The Result: Arizona 59-28
See, what you're supposed to do, Wildcats, is score like you did but not give up any points to the Cougars. That's what everyone else has done this year, and that's where you went wrong.
Louisiana Tech @ San Jose State (-7.5)
And now for our "Eh, What the hell - why not?" pick of the week. The Spartans are looking pretty good this year, and if it wasn't for that loss to Boise State they'd be sitting pretty in the WAC.
The Call: San Jose State by 14
The Result: San Jose State 21-0
Oh, so that's why not. Point taken. If it wasn't for this game... well, no, I still wouldn't be sitting pretty this week.
Notre Dame (+3.5) @ Boston College
Even though they're not ranked, it's tough not to say that the Irish are significantly improved this year. They're going bowling, probably to one they don't deserve and where they'll get hammered by a much better team, but we're not going to think about that right now. The Eagles really shouldn't've lost to Clemson - that one's gonna haunt them. As it is, I think the Irish can pull this one out, but it'll be close.
The Call: Notre Dame by 3
The Result: Boston College 17-0
Wow, talk about a self-destruction. The Irish couldn't do anything right all night long. I thought that wins over Navy & Syracuse were a given, but now I'm not so sure... Solid effort by the Eagles - that'll give them a boost.
Florida (-24.5) @ Vanderbilt
The Gators are hitting on all cylinders right now, playing better than anyone, arguably. The Commodores are in free-fall, losing their last three and just praying they hang on and get to a bowl game...
The Call: Florida by 31
The Result: Florida 42-14
Remember what I said about Oklahoma possibly being the best one-loss team? I think the Gators might have something to discuss.
Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech (-3.5)
The Red Raiders can score, we know that. But their D was uber-solid last week, at least in the first half. That bodes well against the Cowboys potent running game.
The Call: Texas Tech by 14
The Result: Texas Tech 56-20
14, 40 - same difference. By now, we all know how good the Red Raiders are. I wouldn't be surprised to see them jump Alabama in the rankings this week.
Not the best of weeks - just 11 for 18 straight up and 9 for 18 against the spread. Bleh. Overall, that puts me 129 for 182 (71%) straight up and 102 for 182 (56%) AtS. We'll do better next week.