Game of the Week: Florida at LSU. LSU has this big interdivision conference game at home, where they are 8-point favorites. Honestly, I think they should be even bigger favorites. LSU has won 26 out of 27 at home (the exception was a 21-17 loss last year to Alabama), and has one of the best offenses in school history. While Florida’s defense has great stats, they’ve played the three worst statistical offenses in the SEC in their three conference games. Florida’s last road game against a tough team was at Miami back in Week 2, and they played very poorly in a 21-16 game that wasn’t that close. These two teams have split the last 10 meetings, although LSU has won 3 out of 4 in Baton Rouge, including a 41-11 beating in 2011. In the end, I think LSU is too much for Florida. LSU 28, Florida 16.
Big Game Guarantee: Oregon at Washington. Oregon is the 2nd-ranked team in the nation, and Washington is coming off of a 31-28 loss to 5th-ranked Stanford. The Huskies will have this game at home in Seattle. This game matches the Ducks, 2nd in the nation in yards per game, against the Huskies, 5th in the nation in yards per game. The difference will come defensively. While the Huskies are 10th in defensive points per game, the Ducks are 2nd. Oregon, in fact, has better statistics on both sides of the ball than Alabama, the only team ranked ahead of them in both polls. The bottom line in this track meet will be that fact that Oregon might actually be better than the Tide. Oregon 50, Washington 35.
BONUS: Another Big Game Guarantee: Missouri at Georgia. Georgia is a 7-point favorite at home, coming off of a “sigh of relief” type of game at Tennessee, which they won in overtime after tying the game in the final seconds. Missouri is undefeated, but their toughest opponent so far is Vanderbilt, who they beat last week 51-28. Last year, at Missouri, the Bulldogs trailed 20-17 with 3 minutes left in the 3rd before Georgia scored 24 straight to win 41-20. Both of Georgia’s top two running backs are out with injuries, with Todd Gurley week-to-week and Keith Marshall out for the year, and they’ve also lost three of their receivers to varying injuries. Missouri has climbed into the rankings at #25 with their unbeaten record, but I think Georgia, even with all the injuries, will be led to the win by senior leader and QB Aaron Murray. Georgia 24, Missouri 20.
Upset of the Week: Northwestern at Wisconsin. I was reluctant to pick the same team to pull an upset in back-to-back weeks, but Wisconsin is a 10-point favorite in a spread I just don’t agree with. I understand the game Is in Wisconsin, but this is a Northwestern team that led most of the game and came very close to beating Ohio State in my upset pick last week. They eventually lost, 40-30, although that last touchdown for the Buckeyes was on the game’s final play after Northwestern had begun to lateral the ball down by 4. Now the Wildcats go to Camp Randall Stadium, where they haven’t won in 13 years, but this is probably the best team they’ve had in that span of time. While Wisconsin only lost by 7 to Ohio State, they never led and made it close at the end, while the Wildcats, as I mentioned, led a majority of the game and were down 4 on the game’s final snap. I believe Northwestern is simply the better team here, even if the game is in Wisconsin, which is a tough place to play. Northwestern 27, Wisconsin 24.
Closer Than The Experts Think: Texas A&M at Ole Miss. This game is played in Oxford with the Rebels as 6-point underdogs. It’s unusual for me to do a “Closer Than The Experts Think” on a spread that small, but I think this will be a close game, and although the spread is small, many are picking the Aggies by double digits. On paper, A&M has been impressive with their only loss being to Alabama, and scoring at least 42 points in each game. Also, Ole Miss is coming off back-to-back losses. However, the first loss was to top-ranked Alabama (can’t really blame them for that), and the second loss was at a rejuvenated Auburn team, after the Rebels fell behind by 17 early but made the game close late. Ole Miss is one of the nation’s great rising programs, and will give the Aggies a handful. This game, by the way, is on a big stage, at 8:30 on ESPN (and there is no ABC primetime game this week). A close game late will eventually be won by the great play of Johnny Manziel. Texas A&M 38, Ole Miss 34.