It's November and people are debating the College Football Playoff rankings. That means the regular season is nearing the home stretch.
Maybe that's a good thing for me. My picks have gone from mediocre to flat-out terrible over the past two weeks. I got back to .500 with a 6-2 outing in Week 7 and then followed that up by going a combined 3-11 over the last two weeks. I can't recall ever having that bad of a two-week stretch during my time doing this.
Feel free to fade me while I continue firing picks at the board. My fortunes will flip one of these weeks. I hit on both of my MAC picks in The Daily Sweat on Tuesday, so maybe it's this week.
Last week: 1-7
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: 10:30 p.m. (Friday) | Line: Utah -7 | Total: 54
Utah has been playing very well offensively since making the switch to Cam Rising at quarterback. Additionally, the Utes have a stable of physical running backs with 6-foot-2, 221-pound Tavion Thomas emerging as the lead back.
Stanford is one of the worst at stopping the run in the country, ranking No. 119 out of 130 FBS teams. On top of that, Stanford is even worse at running the ball (No. 125 nationally) than it is at stopping the run. That’s not a good recipe for success against Utah, especially with QB Tanner McKee questionable to play.
Pick: Utah -7
Time: 11:30 a.m. | Line: Air Force -3 | Total: 37
This is an auto-bet for me and if it loses I’ll be just fine with the pick.
Whenever two service academies play, the under hits at an extremely high rate. It’s two option-based offenses going against one another. The clock keeps running, there aren’t many possessions and these programs take these games extremely seriously.
In this particular series, the under has hit in seven straight meetings. An average of 27.7 points was scored in those seven games.
Pick: Under 37
Time: Noon | Line: Ohio State -15 | Total: 63.5
I’m not going to overthink this one. Nebraska is in the midst of a 1-5 stretch in which all of those losses were by seven points or fewer. That’s just brutal, and the loss to Purdue last week seemed especially demoralizing for the Huskers based on the quotes Scott Frost and several players gave after the game.
After all of those gut-wrenching losses, the Huskers now have to turn around and play Ohio State? I don’t see how they can get off the mat and keep this one very close. Ohio State wasn’t super sharp last weekend in a win over Penn State and is going to want to clean some things up before ending the season with two top-10 opponents: Michigan State and Michigan.
Pick: Ohio State -15
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: ND -21 | Total: 46.5
Navy has been much more competitive since it made the switch to Tai Lavatai at quarterback. The Midshipmen have been double-digit underdogs in their last six games. They’ve covered in five of those games and won two outright, including last week vs. Tulsa. Navy also only lost by seven when it faced Cincinnati.
Notre Dame has played better in recent weeks but tends to play down to its competition. The Irish are just 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games as double-digit home favorites and have only covered twice in their last seven matchups against Navy.
Pick: Navy +21
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: A&M -4 | Total: 49.5
I’ve won some money on Auburn this year, but I think this is the right time to jump off the Auburn train. The Tigers have deservedly gotten credit for what they’ve done this year, but I think some of those wins came in fortuitous spots. LSU has proven to be a mess. Arkansas was coming off getting beat up by Georgia and then losing 52-51 to Ole Miss. And then last week Ole Miss was already banged up before QB Matt Corral got hurt and some questionable fourth-down calls from Lane Kiffin kept points off the board for the Rebels.
Texas A&M is coming off a bye and seems to have hit its stride offensively. There was no letdown after the win over Alabama, though I don’t want to overvalue the Aggies beating two bad teams in their last two games: Missouri and South Carolina. Auburn is playing with confidence, but I really like this spot here for A&M, especially at home.
Pick: Texas A&M -4
Time: 3:30 p.m | Line: WKU -15.5 | Total: 68.5
Western Kentucky brought in the offensive coordinator, quarterback and top receiver from Houston Baptist in order to revitalize what was a struggling offense. It has worked. WKU is third in the nation in total offense behind only Virginia and Ohio State. WKU has put up big numbers all year, but also gave up a lot of points early in the year when it faced multiple Power Five opponents and UTSA.
Since then, the competition level has decreased significantly. With that drop in competition, the defense has played much better. Over its last three games — all wins — WKU has surrendered 52 points combined against mediocre Conference USA opponents. Another one of those C-USA teams, Middle Tennessee, visits this weekend. MTSU is No. 100 nationally in yards per play. I’m expecting a fourth consecutive under for WKU.
Pick: Under 68.5
Time: 4 p.m. | Line: Arkansas -5.5 | Total: 55.5
When Mississippi State is discussed, Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense is usually the focal point. With this game, though, I’m more focused on Zach Arnett’s defense. Arnett runs a 3-3-5 scheme that has slowly begun to spread throughout college football, and the Bulldogs have done a tremendous job this season.
MSU ranks No. 17 nationally in total defense and has been particularly good at defending the run, allowing just 89.6 rushing yards per game. Arkansas runs the ball 64% of the time. If the run game isn’t successful on early downs, the offense tends to sputter. The Razorbacks are only converting on 38% of their third-down plays and could have trouble against an MSU defense that has forced at least one turnover in seven of its eight games.
Pick: Mississippi State +5.5
Time: 7 p.m. | Line: Kentucky -1.5 | Total: 56.5
Tennessee is much better than I expected in Year 1 under Josh Heupel. The Vols are 4-4 with close losses to Pitt and Ole Miss. The Vols were also within seven points of Alabama in the fourth quarter two weeks ago.
Coming off a bye, the Vols should be healthy and ready to go for the home stretch of their season. A road win here over a ranked opponent would give Tennessee a great chance to finish the year with a winning record. This pick is also about my lack of trust in Kentucky’s offense, particularly QB Will Levis.
Pick: Tennessee +1.5