Updated: Nov 2
It's Wednesday and you know what that means, it's time to make some Week 10 college football picks!
And I'll just be blunt: Whether it's because it's November, it feels like fall or I've just had way too much caffeine today, but I LOVE THE BOARD THIS WEEK, BABY!!
Beyond that, we're HOT, after a 5-1 week last Saturday.
Still, the show must go on, so let's turn our attention to Week 9.
Also, make sure you're subscribed to the College Football Betting Pod, where I truly believe our gambling info is as good as anyone's in the business.
Now to the picks!
Jacksonville State (+15.5) at South Carolina: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU
In what I assume has to be the first "Gamecocks vs. Gamecocks" matchup in major college football history, we've got Rich Rodriguez's Jacksonville Gamecocks heading to South Carolina to take on a struggling SEC squad.
Oh, you forgot Rich Rod is the coach at Jacksonville State, didn't you? Well he is, and he's been doing big-time Rich Rod things since he's gotten there. The team sits at 6-2 this year (after a 9-2 mark a year ago) and is running the crap out of the ball, ranking Top 10 nationally in the country. They're going up against the SEC's worst defense and one that is really banged right now. Meanwhile, because of the quirky, Sun Belt schedule, Jacksonville State - which hasn't played since last Tuesday - will have almost two weeks to prepare for this one.
A lot of stuff just seems to be lining up in Jacksonville State's favor, and let's add in a few more: One, the team isn't bowl eligible because of NCAA rules, so this game is essentially their postgame game.
Oh, and one more: You think Rich Rod doesn't want one more bite at the Power 5 apple? How much would a win here help that?
In a lot of ways, this reminds me of Hugh Freeze and Liberty beating Arkansas late last year springboarding him to the Auburn job, and I could see the same here for Rich Rod.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (-3 and UNDER 54): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
I'll just be blunt here: This line makes no sense to me.
I'm not sure if I'm the only one in America who gritted my teeth through Texas A&M-South Carolina last week, but let's just say, it wasn't pretty. And off of a bye, against an overmatched injury-riddled team, you would've liked to see A&M be a bit more dominant.
Instead, we got the typical, A&M 2023 effort: Great defense, stagnant offense, no faith in the quarterback and little ability to make big plays.
And so while I'd love to sit here and make the argument for A&M, I just can't. They haven't won a road game against a ranked team since Jimbo Fisher took over, and have lost eight straight road games overall. Even worse, it's clear watching them that he doesn't trust Max Johnson at quarterback and instead will rely on his defense.
Add in the fact that Lane Kiffin gets a sick thrill out of poking at Jimbo, and to me, Ole Miss wins and covers easily. Because A&M's defense is so elite, the under feels like a safe bet as well.
Ole Miss is my best bet of the week.
Nebraska (-3) at Michigan State: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, FS1
My gambling philosophy all season has been "blindly bet Michigan." But with Connor "The Fixer" Stalions now out of commission, I'm backing off Michigan, and have instead instituted a new policy.
Until further notice, we're blindly betting the Cornhuskers, BABY!!!
I'm not quite sure how many people realize this, but did you know Nebraska has quietly won five of their last six overall? Matt Rhule has this team playing lights out on defense, and the Huskers have plenty of motivation coming into this game. Win this game, and they are bowl eligible for the first time - and this is crazy - since 2016. And in theory, they are also in the mix to win the Big Ten West if they win out.
That last part is a long shot, but this program is way ahead of schedule, and it's all because of Rhule.
I expect them to roll here.
No. 23 Kansas State at No. 7 Texas (UNDER 49): Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
The bottom line is that this noon window is absolutely loaded, and this is another game that the under seems like the smart play.
Texas will again be without Quinn Ewers, and last week in a win over BYU, they relied heavily on the defense and run game. While the 35-6 win looks dominant (it was), it was largely on the back of 35 rush attempts, that averaged five yards per pop.
The problem with that strategy this week is that Texas is going up against a Top 20 run defense in Kansas State.
As for Kansas State, they too want to run the ball, yet are going up against a Texas run defense which is tops in the Big 12.
Take two teams that want to run the ball, against two elite run defenses, and well, you can do the math.
This has 20-17 written all over it, and an easy under hit.
No. 12 Missouri (+15.5) at No. 2 Georgia: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
So, I know college football is a narrative driven sport, and that overreaction on all angles sells, but doesn't it feel like the swings on the Georgia narrative are a bit much?
Last week everyone was all "worried" about this team without Brock Bowers, without acknowledging they were going up against a bad Florida team that needed a miracle to beat South Carolina two weeks before. Then, after beating a bad Florida team everyone is like "Wow, Georgia's hitting their stride late! Watch out!"
Bottom line is that this is an elite Georgia team, but the competition is much tougher Saturday, than frankly it's been all year. Brady Cook and the Missouri pass offense are the best that Georgia has seen this season, and the Tigers defense is tough as well.
I can't pick Missouri to win outright, but does a 34-24 Georgia win feel on the table here?
No. 5 Washington at No. 20 USC (ML): Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Last weekend, after discovering that I actually have Pac-12 Network, I ended up watching a crap ton of the USC-Cal game. And what began as a pity watch actually turned into arguably the most entertaining game of the day.
But then a funny thing happened, USC came back and won.
Here's the thing though, while the internet was getting off their jokes about USC giving up 49 points to Cal, something struck me: I actually thought they fought really hard in that game. They fell down 28-17, and easily could've quit. Instead, the defense actually played reasonably well in the second half, forcing two turnovers and three punts. Yes, they gave up some points, but that was also because the offense kept scoring so fast.
USC is far from perfect, but I did think they showed some mental toughness there.
Beyond that, we all know the narrative on Washington. Number 5 in the country, sure, but they also have not looked good since that win over Oregon. Did you know that in the last two games, that high-powered Washington offense has been outgained by Arizona State and Stanford?
Point being, Washington is on the brink, and USC isn't dead yet.
I'd add that for all the "Caleb Williams has nothing to play for" talk of a few weeks ago, if USC wins out, they will play for a Pac-12 title, and bluntly, if he outduels Michael Penix and Bo Nix in the process, he might win the Heisman as well (yes, I say this as someone who took a flier on him at +10000 earlier this week).
So yeah, the last part probably isn't going to happen, but I do see the Trojans winning Saturday.
No. 14 LSU at No. 8 Alabama (-3): Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Ah, it's the game that always captures everyone's attention - LSU-Bama, under the lights at Bryant Denny Stadium. This is truly an awesome showdown, between two awesome teams. Ones that do it completely differently, with LSU relying on its high-flying passing attack, and Alabama relying on its defense.
The fact that the spread is just three-points makes it that much more intriguing. As a general rule, when Vegas makes a home team a field goal favorite, it means they're relatively even. And in the case of this game, I think they are.
At the end of the day though, I'm going to back the Tide for a few reasons.
While the Tide's offense is far from elite, they're catching LSU at the right time. Star defensive lineman Mehki Wingo recently underwent surgery and is likely out for the season. Beyond that two defensive backs - Denver Harris and Duce Chestunt - are, in Kelly's words "not practicing right now." Whether that means they're suspended from the team or not, Kelly bluntly said that neither would play this week.
Add in uncertainty on LSU's defense, with the fact that this is the best defense that LSU has seen since Week 1 against Florida State and I'm rolling with the Tide here.
No. 19 UCLA (-3) at Arizona: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1
Let's wrap the column with a little Pac-12 After Dark.
And let met start by saying this: Shout out to Jedd Fisch. I didn't get the hire and he proved me 1,000 percent wrong. The Wildcats have played everyone tough this season, and are coming off back-to-back wins over ranked teams. They easily could've beaten Washington and USC in the two weeks prior.
As I said Saturday, there aren't 15 teams in the country playing better than them right now (Arizona fans, get your "Gone Fisch-ing" t-shirts here, BABY!!).
At the same time, one of the teams who is playing better than this UCLA.
UCLA has an elite defense, and what few acknowledge is that the offense has looked a lot different since re-inserting Ethan Garbers into the starting lineup. They've averaged close to 500 yards in the last two games since he took over.
I love the Arizona story, and don't love taking road favorites. But UCLA giving just a field goal is the right side here.
No. 15 Notre Dame (-3) at Clemson - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC: This feels like the kind of game where Dabo Swinney rallies the troops and finds the way to get the win. The problem is I can't find the pathway how. Clemson's best skill position player (Will Shipley) probably won't play, and a bad pass offense is going up against an elite Notre Dame defense.
I guess there's a scenario where Sam Hartman has a bunch of turnovers and Notre Dame loses that way, but I'm not betting on it.
Purdue at No. 3 Michigan (-32.5) - Saturday, 7:30 ET, NBC: As mentioned earlier, we had a strict, "blindly bet Michigan until further notice" policy in these picks, right up until the Connor Stalions stuff blew up. Maybe the Wolverines prove a point and roll this week. Or maybe, Stalions was the genius behind Michigan all of a sudden going from a 2-4 team in 2020, to 33-3 in the last three seasons. Again, just not a bet I want to make.