In all honesty, this is a down week for college football as most conferences have walkover games scheduled for this week. With a few notable exceptions that is.
Without further ado....
1. New Mexico State @ Ole Miss (-45) - The Rebels are smarting after being taken to the wood shed by Florida. New Mexico State is in the running for bottom 5 program in Division 1A. The Rebels have a couple of weeks to get things right before they climb back into SEC West play. I expect Ole Miss to cover here, by quite a bit.
2. Baylor (-45) @ Kansas - It's not often you see a conference game go 38 points against the home team. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, that line still feels low. Baylor HC Art Briles knows that he cannot afford another clunker performance as the Bears had against Lamar and SMU. They need to beat teams by a LOT to woo CFP voters who are not enamored with their pillow-soft OOC schedule. Baylor to cover and (an even surer bet) their fans to act as if they've just won the CFP afterwards.
3. Oklahoma (-16.5) vs. Texas (@ the Cotton Bowl) If you're a college football purist, then pray to the football gods that Jerry Jones doesn't get his hands on this game and mess up one of the better sights in college football. Everyone is suggesting here that Texas can cover because this is a "rivalry" game and rivalry games are always close. In fact, the average margin of victory in this game is 14 points, the median margin of victory is 10 points. However, 9 of the top MOV are owned by the Sooners, and 4 of those have occurred since the year 2000 when the Sooners beat the Longhorns 63-14. The Longhorns are a mess right now, they're young and spending more time infighting than playing meaningful football. OU to cover. We'll find out over the coming weeks if this job is too big for Strong or no.
4. Georgia (-3) @ Tennessee - After last weeks thrashing by the supposedly "finished" Crimson Tide, Georgia brings it's bruised and battered ego into Neyland Stadium to face a Volunteers team who is suddenly playing for it's season life, and MAYBE even the job of Head Coach Butch Jones. While Georgia's QB Greyson Lambert has not been good he's not been the brush-fire that the entire Tennessee team has been. What the Volunteers don't want in this game, is a lead because they're sure to blow it. With Nick Chubb in the backfield I don't see that as a problem this week. Georgia to cover.
5. Wisconsin @ Nebraska (-1) - This is what I call a history bet. Neither team this year has beaten anyone even remotely close to good. Wisconsin is 3-2 while Nebraska is 2-3 (in a much more spectacular fashion. Looking at the series history however Wisconsin is 3-1 SU against the Cornhuskers and 4-0 ATS. While Paul Chryst appears to be struggling to install his system at Wisconsin, Mike Riley appears to be watching things fall apart in Lincoln. I was not a fan of the Riley hire at Nebraska and people are starting to see why. Wisconsin on the ML to win. If we're lucky Nebraska will lose it in dramatic fashion once again.
Side note: There are a TON of Total plays this week that I like a lot starting with Wisconsin/Nebraska. Currently the line is at 49. Nebraska has been a bad beat machine this year on the number but the head-to-head matchup has cleared the over the last 4 times these teams have played.
Other total lines I'd consider: Houston/SMU: 74 (over), Washington/Southern Cal 56 (over), Duke/Army 48 (under), Baylor/Kansas 77 (over) and Virginia/Pitt 48.5 (under) [have you seen these two teams play?]
Other games of note: (slim pickings this week....)
Washington @ USC (-17) No team has been more of a disappointment to me this year than the Washington Huskies. I didn't think they would win the PAC-12 South, but I thought they would be somewhat competitive. This hasn't happened. My lean here is USC.
Oklahoma State @ West Virginia (-5) Perhaps the question of the college football year is "How is Okie St. undefeated at this point?" They barely beat Kansas State and were given a gift against Texas. We're going to find out a lot about them this week. I think West Virginia wins, but I don't think they cover.
Rice @ Florida Atlantic (-1.5) This is a close game (on paper) that I think is going to come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes. I like Rice to win here on the ML, but it's a very slight lean.
South Carolina @ LSU (-19) - This line opened at -13, was moved to Baton Rouge due to severe flooding in the Carolinas and has ballooned to the current number. I wanted to include this in my Five, but it didn't reel right piling on a team that's now at a schedule disadvantage. South Carolina is going to be playing with a lot on their minds. LSU to cover on the legs of Fournette.
TCU (-10.5) @ Kansas State The poor Wildcats are struggling to field a healthy QB. TCU has one of the better ones in college football. I realize that it's unwise to bet against Bill Snyder, but I think TCU to cover is the play here.
SMU @ Houston (-25.5) While I don't think it was all that smart of the Coogs to tape SMU jerseys to the ground (I think giving any team locker room fodder is a mistake) I still think UofH rolls here. Coogs to cover and make a pretty big statement to the voters.
California @ Utah (-7) Game Day will be there, and many are calling this the "big game of the week". Still, it's 5 vs 23 (in the meaningless AP poll) and I think that Utah is the much better team. I like Utah to cover.
Northwestern @ Michigan (-7.5) As a Michigan fan, I will be paying the closest attention to this game because I believe the winner will be considered a favorite to finish 2nd in the B1G and get a pretty good bowl game. The Total for this game is currently sitting at 35 which still feels high. I see this as a 17-7 type of game with both defenses dominating from the start. Because it's the B1G, this will be called "ugly" football. Were the game in the SEC it'd be labeled a "defensive classic". Such is the college football world we live in. Hey, I'm a fan. Michigan to COVER.
Good luck this week.