This is weird, because I pick college football games in this column, and the biggest game of the week – which also happens to be by far the biggest game locally – is one that I’ve already picked.
I thought about picking Michigan to win with one prediction, and Michigan State with another, just to see if any of you noticed, and also to make sure that I got at least one right. I later thought better of it.
So to avoid repeating myself, I will direct you to our staff predictions for the game inside this section. But to cover all my bases, I’ll also give you my score here. Deal?
Now that I’ve spent three paragraphs writing about nothing, here are this week’s picks, which I am apparently not very good at anymore.
No. 17 Iowa at No. 20 Northwestern, noon, ABC: I am a vehement defender of the head-to-head win, because in college football, it’s so rare that we get those to compare teams in different conferences, that I feel they’re incredibly important. Saying that, if you asked me to pick a spread right now for a Northwestern/Stanford rematch on a neutral field, I would have Stanford as at least a two-score favorite. The Wildcats are good, don’t get me wrong, but their offense is not. Iowa isn’t Stanford, but it’s better than Northwestern. Pick: Iowa 17-13
No. 13 Ole Miss at Memphis, noon, ESPN2: This is a huge game for Memphis – which is unbeaten – and its coach Justin Fuente, who is a rising star in the sport. Hang with the Rebels, or somehow beat them, and the chance at a top-tier bowl goes through the roof. Sure, it also means your coach is probably gone at season’s end, but that’s happening anyway. I’m not sure the Tigers have any shot at slowing the Ole Miss offense, though. Pick: Ole Miss 44-27
No. 10 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m., CBS: Texas A&M wins the quarterback battle here rather easily, as Kyle Allen is fantastic. But I’ve made this mistake once before with Alabama – albeit with Georgia’s Greyson Lambert, who is no Kyle Allen – and I won’t do it again. Pick: Alabama 34-28
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ESPN: I gave my reasoning in our staff picks, but let me add this – a Michigan win here doesn’t mean the Spartans go away forever. It just means Michigan is better at this very moment. Pick: Michigan 24-17
No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU, 7 p.m., ESPN: Will Grier getting suspended makes this tough for Florida, but I don’t think the Gators were going to go into Baton Rouge and put up a ton of points had Grier been playing. Treon Harris needs to not turn the ball over, and Florida needs to not let Leonard Fournette blow up. That second one is going to be hard. Pick: LSU 24-13
USC at No. 14 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., NBC: One of two USCs is going to show up for this game – a team that rallies around the dismissal of its coach and is motivated to silence doubters, or a team that has gone through too much and, combined with the sub-40 temperatures, packs it in. I imagine we get the former, at least at first, and it will be Notre Dame’s duty to turn the Trojans into the latter. Pick: Notre Dame 31-20.
Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State, 8 p.m., ABC: Penn State is coming off its best win of the season, while Ohio State is still sleep-walking until it absolutely has to play in games. Christian Hackenberg could make the Buckeyes pay if they’re sleeping this week. That is, if he has any time to actually throw. Pick: Ohio State 27-14.
Last week: 3-4 (43%)
Overall: 28-16 (64%)
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.