After a week off, I'm back and ready to get back on track. This week has a lot of intriguing matchups, including several résumé boosters for teams with BCS hopes.
The biggest game of the week has to be down in Texas, where everything is done big. This matchup will decide the Mountain West Conference and will also decide whether TCU has legit national title hopes.
The other big matchup takes place out in Buckeye country, where Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State host the Ricky Stanzi-less Iowa Hawkeyes. This game doesn't look as exciting as it did a week ago, but it's still for the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth.
Anyway, time to get down to business.
Last Week's Record: No Picks due to Illness
Season Record: 65-47
Thursday, Nov. 12
No. 24 South Florida (6-2) at Rutgers (6-2)—Line: USF -1
This is a matchup of two 6-2 teams with a lot in common. Neither of these teams is great on either side of the ball, but they're both sound on either side due to great coaching. Greg Schiano's teams always seem to play better as the season progresses, and this appears to be the case again this season.
Freshman QB Tom Savage is improving, and that's the biggest reason for the Scarlet Knights' success over the last few weeks. Now teams can't stack the box on them, and they are getting their running game going. They'll do the same Thursday night and pull out a close victory on their home field.
The Pick: Rutgers +1 Scarlet Knights 27 Bulls 24
Friday, Nov. 13
No. 25 West Virginia (7-2) at No. 5 Cincinnati (9-0)—Line: Cincy -9
Cincy has a new QB controversy, but not one that coach Brian Kelly minds having. Usually a controversy arises if one QB struggles and there's talk of replacing him. That's not the case here.
Both Zach Collaros and Tony Pike have played brilliantly while running the Bearcats offense, and when Pike went down with an injury a few weeks ago, Collaros stepped in without missing a beat. Last week he had 555 yards passing and rushing in a close win against UConn.
Kelly is no stranger to using multiple QBs, as the Bearcats used four different QBs a season ago on their way to an Orange Bowl berth.
Noel Devine has had a few down weeks and needs to get back on track for the Mountaineers to have any shot. I think he'll play well, but the Bearcats offense is just too much, and they'll win by a few scores.
The Pick: Cincy -9 Bearcats 45 Mountaineers 31
Saturday, Nov. 14
No. 15 Houston (8-1) at UCF (5-4)—Line: Houston -5
The Cougars come off of a thrilling victory over Tulsa in which they needed to recover an onsides kick AND make a 51-yard FG as time expired to win. Case Keenum threw for 500-plus yards AGAIN, and he continues to put his name in the minds of Heisman voters.
Last week UCF played against the Texas Longhorns and allowed Colt McCoy to shred them for over 450 yards through the air. I can only imagine how many yards Keenum will put up this week in the Cougars' pass-happy offense. Any guesses? I'm going to guess he puts up 500-plus again, so I'll say 538 yards.
The problem is Houston's defense hasn't exactly been stellar lately, and although they'll allow UCF to hang in there, they'll win this one and cover.
The Pick: Houston -5 Cougars 49 Knights 28
Indiana (4-6) at No. 18 Penn State (8-2)—Line: Penn St. -25.5
Penn State still hasn't beaten anyone this year, and I'm clueless as to how they're still ranked. I understand they're 8-2, but when your best win by far is a victory in the Big House in Ann Arbor, I don't think you've accomplished much this year.
They play another poor opponent Saturday, but although Indiana loses a lot, they've had a ton of close calls this year. This week won't be that close, but they'll cover.
The Pick: Indiana +25.5 Nittany Lions 38 Hoosiers 21
Michigan (5-5) at No. 20 Wisconsin (8-2)—Line: Wisconsin -8.5
The Badgers are another team that has beat nobody, yet they're still ranked. Michigan has to be at their low point of the season, losing at Illinois and at home against Purdue in back-to-back weeks, and they might need to win this week to be bowl eligible. Well, that probably won't happen. They'll lose this week, but it will be a very close, high-scoring affair.
The Pick: Michigan +8.5 Badgers 34 Wolverines 31
No. 3 Texas (9-0) at Baylor (4-5)—Line: Texas -24
It's tough to see Baylor even coming close this week now that Colt McCoy seems to be coming into form. I think Texas will put up points on Baylor, but I think the Bears and their home crowd will be into the game enough to keep them close early on before the Longhorns pull away in the second half.
I predict this game will be tied at halftime, but the Horns come out early and often in the second half to win by three scores.
The Pick: Baylor +24 Longhorns 41 Bears 24
No. 7 Georgia Tech (9-1) at Duke (5-4)—Line: GaTech -13
The Blue Devils came back to reality last week after starting off the ACC season at 3-1. Their loss to UNC pretty much dashes their hopes of winning the ACC and will probably send them on a downward spiral to missing out on a bowl altogether.
They have solid QB play with Thaddeus Lewis, but they certainly don't have enough offense to stick with the Yellow Jackets and Josh Nesbitt. This game will be over early.
The Pick: GaTech -13 Yellow Jackets 45 Blue Devils 21
No. 21 Virginia Tech (6-3) at Maryland (2-7)—Line: VaTech -17.5
This game really doesn't interest me at all, to be honest. Ryan Williams is great, but he's about the only prime time player on either team here. I think the Terrapins will actually play a respectable game for once, but they won't win. Ralph Friedgen is on the hot seat, and he's sure to be fired at the end of the season, if not sooner.
The Pick: Maryland +17.5 Hokies 24 Terrapins 16
No. 22 BYU (7-2) at New Mexico (0-9)—Line: BYU -27
New Mexico is one of the worst teams in the country at 0-9. Their record doesn't even begin to show just how awful they've been this year. They let up nearly 430 yards a game of total offense and have only played two games out of their nine within one score of their opponent.
BYU will dominate this game with the combination of Max Hall and Harvey Unga and will win easily. They'll be covering the spread by halftime, and although it may get closer for a bit early in the second half, they'll cover that big spread.
The Pick: BYU -27 Cougars 49 Lobos 17
Idaho (7-3) at No. 6 Boise State (9-0)—Line: Boise St. -31
The Broncos have to win out, and win out impressively, to even make a BCS bowl at all, let alone the national championship game.
This week a surprising Idaho team comes calling, but the Broncos should have no problem dismissing them. They've been much better at home, winning by an average margin of 29 points against much stiffer competition. They played Louisiana Tech down to the wire last week on the road, and this week's game should be much easier.
Idaho let up 70 points the last time they went on the road, and although this won't be that bad, it won't be much better either. Boise wins big in this in-state rivalry...but they don't cover.
The Pick: Idaho +31 Broncos 52 Vandals 24
Stanford (6-3) at No. 9 USC (8-2)—Line: USC -11
Stanford comes off of a huge home victory against the hottest team in the country, Oregon, and they look to continue their great season against the Trojans. Toby Gerhart has been a beast in the backfield and has 100-plus yards rushing in all but one game this season.
I think the Trojans' speed on defense will give the Cardinal fits all day, despite their power rushing attack. They'll be able to fly to the ball and cause confusion in the Stanford backfield all night. USC has something to prove, and they'll play like it.
Stanford will have a typical letdown game after a big win, plus they don't play all that well on the road while being undefeated at home. Well, this game isn't at home, and they'll lose by a few scores.
The Pick: USC -11 Trojans 38 Cardinal 17
Washington (3-6) at No. 23 Oregon State (6-3)—Line: Oregon St. -12
Jacquizz Rodgers had his worst week of the season last week against Cal, and the Beavers were still able to win easily. That showed me a lot about this team, and I think they're much better than their record shows. Their three losses have all come against current top 25 teams, two of which are against top 10 teams. They lost those three games by a combined 21 points.
Washington had one huge win against USC and has been truly terrible ever since. Well, this week it will be the Quizz show running all over the Huskies and giving the Beavers an easy win in Corvallis.
The Pick: Oregon St. -12 Beavers 37 Huskies 17
No. 14 Miami (7-2) at UNC (6-3)—Line: Miami -3.5
Miami is coming off their best offensive effort of the season against Virginia, while UNC has played their best football of the year the last two weeks. This is a matchup of hot teams, but I just think the U has too much firepower on offense.
I think the loss of Javarris James was the best thing that could have happened for this Miami squad because they now have some real gamebreakers touching the ball 20 times a game with Greg Cooper and Damian Berry garnering most of the carries.
This team is dangerous and has the potential to beat anyone in the country. Then again, they can also play down to competition. Randy Shannon will have the troops ready this week, and they'll win.
The Pick: Miami -3.5 Hurricanes 35 Tar Heels 24
No. 10 Iowa (9-1) at No. 11 Ohio State (8-2)—Line: Ohio St. -17
If Ricky Stanzi was playing QB for the Hawkeyes and not some redshirt freshman, I'd say the Hawkeyes would have a legit shot to come into Ohio State and pull out a victory. He's not starting, and that means the Buckeyes should win this game.
I think the Hawkeyes defense will confuse Terrelle Pryor, and their offense will run the ball and control the clock enough to keep this close though. Giving 17 points to a Kirk Ferentz team seems like a lot, and I think it will be too much for the Buckeyes to overcome.
The Pick: Iowa +17 Buckeyes 27 Hawkeyes 17
No. 1 Florida (9-0) at South Carolina (6-4)—Line: Florida -15.5
Columbia, South Carolina should be fired up for this game. That place always seems to be rocking for big games, and this team usually plays up for them. This week I don't see the Gators being fazed by the crowd noise, and I see them winning easily. This will be their statement that they're still the team to beat in not only the SEC, but in the country.
Tim Tebow will get the offense back on track, and the defense will be its usual dominant self with Brandon Spikes back from suspension.
The Pick: Florida -15.5 Gators 38 Gamecocks 7
Louisiana Tech (3-6) at No. 8 LSU (7-2)—Line: LSU -24
There's no doubt in my mind that LSU will absolutely dominate this game on the defensive side of the ball, but the only question is whether they will have enough offensive power to cover the spread. My answer, no, but their defense and special teams will score a couple of times, and that will give them enough firepower to cover the spread.
Trindon Holliday will take a punt to the house, and the LSU defense won't allow a point all night to the Bulldogs.
The Pick: LSU -24 Tigers 31 Bulldogs 0
No. 17 Arizona (7-2) at California (6-3)—Line: Pick 'Em
I have a hard time figuring out whether Arizona is a legit Pac-10 contender. They control their own fate in the conference, and if they win out, they'll be in the Rose Bowl.
The scary loss of Jahvid Best will undoubtedly hurt the Golden Bears this weekend, but will it provide motivation for them to play up to their potential in this game? They haven't played up to their potential yet this year, and I don't see that starting this weekend.
It'll be a close game, but Arizona will pull out another victory leading up to a huge game against the Ducks next weekend.
The Pick: Zona pick 'em Wildcats 31 Golden Bears 28
No. 2 Alabama (9-0) at Mississippi State (5-4)—Line: 'Bama -12.5
Mark Ingram emerged as the leading Heisman candidate last week with a huge second half against the great LSU defense.
Mississippi State has played a lot of close games at home, but they've lost four of five on their home turf. Their losses were to Florida, LSU, Georgia Tech, and Houston by a total of 32 points, with their largest margin of defeat at 11 points. That all makes this look like a close game, but I see it as being otherwise.
I think the Tide have newfound confidence in QB Greg McElroy, and he'll be able to exploit a Bulldog defense that will be looking for the run all day. He'll throw for near 300 yards and a few scores as the Tide defense holds down the Bulldogs offense all day.
The Pick: 'Bama -12.5 Crimson Tide 35 Bulldogs 10
No. 16 Utah (8-1) at No. 4 TCU (9-0)—Line: TCU -19.5
I have to say that I'm shocked the spread on this game is this high. It seems like Utah is the sucker bet here, but I'm still going with the Utes.
I know the TCU defense is amazing, and their offense and Andy Dalton have been playing extremely well as of late, but I still don't see them blowing out a well-coached Utah team. The Utes defense isn't too shabby either, allowing over 20 points only once this year, to Oregon. They'll be steady again this weekend, and their offense will score enough to cover.
The Pick: Utah +19.5 Horned Frogs 24 Utes 17
Texas Tech (6-3) at No. 19 Oklahoma State (7-2)—Line: Ok St. -4
Oklahoma State is really only giving four points in this game? Well, I know Dez Bryant is done for the season, but Kendall Hunter is back, and he'll lead the Cowboys to a win in this one. He hasn't had a breakout game yet this year, but this will be the one. He'll rush for near 200 yards as the Cowboys win this one in the fourth quarter.
The Pick: Ok St. -4 Cowboys 38 Red Raiders 31
Notre Dame (6-3) at No. 12 Pittsburgh (8-1)—Line: Pitt -7
The Fighting Irish come off of a loss to Navy for the second time in three years after dominating that series for the previous 40 years.
The Panthers are looking great on offense and don't appear to be hurt by the loss of LeSean McCoy to the NFL draft at all. Freshman Dion Lewis is in the top five in rushing nationally, and Bill Stull has been one of the most efficient QBs in the country this year.
Charlie Weis is coaching for his job, and if the Irish lose a couple more games this year, he may be fired. Well, they lose another game this week, but they barely cover.
The Pick: ND +7 Panthers 34 Irish 28
Arizona State (4-5) at No. 12 Oregon (7-2)—Line: Oregon -17.5
The Ducks defense was horrendous last week, but lucky for them this week, the Sun Devil offense isn't exactly stellar. The Devils average under 20 points a game in conference play this season, and they should score just about 20 points again on Saturday. The difference is that Oregon will put up over 40.
You can't blame the offense for last week's loss, as they totaled 42 points and 570 total yards. They'll have another explosion this weekend, and they'll win easily.
The Pick: Oregon -17.5 Ducks 45 Sun Devils 20
Well, that wraps it up for my picks this week. Hopefully I can get back to my winning ways after taking a week off. Check back next week to see how I did. Thanks for reading!