The argument about Leonard Fournette sitting out his junior season at LSU to preserve himself for the NFL is a ridiculous one.
It’s ridiculous because it shouldn’t be an argument that keeps coming up when a true sophomore looks more NFL-ready than his junior and senior counterparts. The NFL rule that doesn’t allow players to enter its draft until they are three years removed from high school benefits two parties: the NFL (free PR for its future superstars for three whole years) and the NCAA (getting to keep top players under their control for three years).
It does not benefit the players, who should be given the freedom to decide for themselves when they are ready. If they are wrong, it’s on them. If they’re right — as Jadeveon Clowney would have been, and Fournette surely would be — then they get to start earning a paycheck. It appears that professional sports is the only place we allow this to happen, and it’s insane.
OK, now let me step off my soapbox and try to redeem myself after a disastrous Week 4, as I went 3-4 and showed a complete lack of understanding of the Pac 12. Bravo, Utah.
No. 22 Michigan at Maryland, noon, Big Ten Network: Michigan’s beatdown of BYU last week was mighty impressive. But Michigan’s biggest win of the weekend was Utah’s dominance of Oregon. In one day, Michigan went from improving team with middling conference title chances to legit contender in some people’s eyes. Don’t expect this week to dampen that enthusiasm. Pick: Michigan 28-6.
Purdue at No. 2 Michigan State, noon, ESPN2: This game will likely follow the script of MSU’s previous games (not including Oregon) – essentially dominated by the Spartans, but with a score that doesn’t really impress anyone. With Michigan and Ohio State on the schedule, frankly that’s all the Spartans need. Pick: MSU 34-10.
No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma, noon, Fox Sports 1: With TCU looking vulnerable and us not really knowing anything about Baylor thanks to its schedule, Oklahoma and emerging star Baker Mayfield appear to have an opportunity to surprise a lot of folks this season (think about that sentence, for a second: Oklahoma beating Baylor and TCU would surprise people. College football is weird in 2015, and I love it). West Virginia looks strong, as well, but not this week. Pick: Oklahoma 38-28.
Iowa at No. 19 Wisconsin, noon, ESPN: I’m not big on either one of these teams, but in the Big Ten West, it’s probably these two and Northwestern this season. Wisconsin’s defense is probably the difference here. That and Camp Randall. Pick: Wisconsin 21-14.
No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS: Alabama enters this game as an underdog in Vegas, and that hasn’t happened since 2009. That is ridiculous. These teams are incredibly close across the board, but Georgia’s advantage under center will be the difference. Pick: Georgia 24-21.
No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana, 3:30 p.m., ABC: Indiana enters this one unbeaten and with the nation’s top rusher, Jordan Howard. Ohio State has been shaky enough early on that people are no longer declaring it the clear-cut national title favorite. So does Indiana have a chance? Um, no. Pick: Ohio State 44-27.
No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson, 8 p.m., ABC: The weather might be the most important player in this one, as the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin are set to dump about a foot of water on South Carolina. That favors Notre Dame, as the Irish appear to have an advantage on both lines. It could also slow down Deshaun Watson, Clemson’s star quarterback who represents the Tigers best chance at winning. Pick: Notre Dame 17-14.
Last week: 3-4 (43%)
Overall: 21-9 (70%)