Even with football spread all over this Thanksgiving weekend, there’s still some solid Saturday games. In fact there’s six games between ranked teams, and that doesn’t even count the number one team in the country heading to LA as the Irish look to secure their spot in the Championship game. Plenty of intrigue which makes locking in our college football picks for ESPN College Pick’Em both challenging and a lot of fun.
Last week wasn’t much fun for any picks in a crazy week of upsets where the average entry was a lowly 24 points. In our FantasyCPR group, Josh Black M2 extended his overall lead while I was able to remain in second place trailing by 23 with just two weeks left. Neither one of us had the highest score of the week though as QuirkMichael put up 30.
Here’s my ten picks for this Saturday’s top games.
1 point- USC over Notre Dame: Get ready for the BCS mayhem that will ensue when the Trojans knock off the Irish. Notre Dame’s defense is great, but that’s not how you beat SC. USC’s defense is a bit down and the way you beat the Trojans is by outscoring them in a hurry. Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA have beaten them in the last three games but all scored at least 38 points. Notre Dame is a great team, but this matchup stinks for them. SC will be able to throw the ball and I don’t think Freshman QB Everett Golson can get the points to keep up. USC’s offense will be under new leadership as USC’s own Freshman Max Wittek takes over for the injured Matt Barkley. However, let me explain in two words why this pick isn’t with more confidence: Lane Kiffin.
2 points-Baylor over Texas Tech: Baylor got its huge win over K-State last week and now head to Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders. Points should be plentiful as both teams score in bunches and give up plenty as well. Both teams are also staggering to the tape, but Texas Tech has lost three of four with their only win coming in overtime against lowly Kansas. Baylor’s recent wins are slightly more impressive than that.
3 points- Penn State over Wisconsin: Beaver Stadium will be hyped up for the Badgers visit. Wisconsin has lost two of three falling at home to both Michigan State and Ohio State in overtime. The Nittany Lions lost at home in their opener and to Ohio State a month ago, but I think they’ll close their largely successful season out with a win. PSU does have a ton of injuries to key players, though, which is why I’m not more confident.
4 points- Florida State over Florida: In a great rivalry the Seminoles welcome the Gators to Tallahassee in a matchup between teams in the top ten. Florida’s physical play has served them well this year, but Florida State’s defense is elite and they’ll be facing a banged up Florida offense behind Jeff Driskel who couldn’t play last week against Jacksonville State. E.J. Manuel will be ready to lead the Seminole offense against a tough Gator D, but he’s been playing extremely well lately. The Seminoles are seventh in points for and fifth in points against in the country. The Gatres are 80th in points scored. All of this, and the game is at home for FSU. Cue the Warchant & ‘Nole chop and give me four points.
5 points- Clemson over South Carolina: Clemson welcomes South Carolina in another great in-state rivalry. SC Still has no Marcus Lattimore but has won three in a row. The reason I’m not impressed is they only played Tennessee, Arkansas, and Wofford. Clemson on the other hand has piled up seven wins in a row since losing to Florida State. The Tigers will be playing only their second ranked team of the season but South Carolina lost its last two games on the road against ranked opponents by a combined 67-33 at LSU and Florida. This will be a fun, high-scoring game between two teams that don’t like each other. I think Clemson pulls this one out and gets a nice win for the ACC.
6 points- Oregon over Oregon State: The Ducks look to bounce back from their loss to Stanford and could be in line for the BCS Title game (with a lot of help) and the Pac-12 North. Oregon State has a shot at a BCS-bowl as well. The Beavers are 5-0 at home, but I don’t think their offense can keep up with the Ducks who will shake off last week’s win and pile up the points in this year’s version of the Civil War.
7 points- Oklahoma over Oklahoma State: Bedlam is another of the awesome top-25 matchups between in-state rivals. Oklahoma will look to avenge last year’s pummelling in Stillwater as they welcome the Cowboys to Norman in what should be another entertaining high-scoring shootout. Oklahoma’s offense is clicking on all cylinders and has put up 35+ points in six of their last seven. Oklahoma State has also put up points but has allowed lots of points especially on the road. OU still has a shot at the Big 12 title if they get the win here and some help from their rival Texas next week.
8 points- Ohio State over Michigan: OSU looks to wrap up a perfect season under Urban Meyer. Michigan will be out to spoil their rivals season as they head to Columbus. Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, and the Wolverines offense will have their hands full with the Buckeyes D. They’ll miss Fitzgerald Toussaint, their starting running back, who was injured last week against Iowa. Ohio State had won seven of these matchups in a row before losing last year, but still has won the last five in Columbus. In a weekend full of rivalries, this should be another good one, but I think OSU gets the win at the ‘shoe and finishes their perfect season.
9 points- Stanford over UCLA: Stanford looked incredible last week defeating Oregon. Their defense stopped the Ducks high-flying offense and Kevin Hogan has looked great leading the offense since taking over for Josh Nunes. Hogan and the offense will take on a solid Bruins defense while the Cardinal defense will have to try and limit Johnathan Franklin. The Bruins have wrapped up a spot in the Pac-12 Championship and the Cardinal can do the same with a win here. UCLA may not show too much against a team they could face next week at Stanford in the title game.
10 points- Georgia over Georgia Tech: Georgia controls its path to the National Championship and can’t get caught looking past their instate rival Georgia Tech before facing Alabama in the SEC Championship game next week. If Georgia gets the win here, they’ll control their own destiny. The Bulldogs have played a soft schedule to be sure, but they’ve feasted on non-ranked opponents and got the big win over Florida putting the Bulldogs in a good spot going forward. I don’t think they’ll look past the Yellow Jackets.