Finally, we found a rhythm. It came sometime shortly after dinner on Saturday evening, and it was glorious.
The morning slate of games was not kind; I'm not going to lie. Jim Harbaugh's latest implosion was not kind to our picks. Neither was Nebraska's latest implosion. (More on that in a moment.)
But then, as night came and day left, we caught fire. And although we stumbled out of the gate with our CFB picks against the spread last week, we closed a perfect 5-of-5. We are climbing back (42-46-2 overall) and bracing for a monstrous final stretch.
Before I get to Week 10, here is what went right and wrong with the previous week.
The Good: Mississippi State (+1) vs. Kentucky: Mike Leach's team started slow, although the Bulldogs took down one of the best stories in college football without much of a sweat. This was the game that got it started.
The Bad: Nebraska (-7.5) vs. Purdue: I'm sorry. I'm sorry I picked Nebraska. I'm sorry to the Nebraska fans. I am sorry for everyone, fan or otherwise, who put this game on the television.
Here are the Week 10 picks.
Purdue (+3) vs. Michigan State
There are football hangovers, and then there is whatever Michigan State is experiencing right now.
Now, before I tell you why Purdue is going to win this game outright, I must first pass along props and appreciation for what Sparty did against Michigan last week.
I picked the Wolverines (-4), and for a while I thought that bet would comfortably cash. Kudos to the Spartans and running back Kenneth Walker III, who played like a superhero, for the comeback.
But back to that hangover.
Everything about this week's game, however, feels like a potential problem. For starters, Purdue has mastered the art of taking down top-ranked teams. The Boilermakers did it earlier this year against Iowa before it ejected on its season, and they've garnered a reputation of causing chaos in the years prior.
After losing to Wisconsin, Purdue got back on track against Nebraska last week. Yes, it was Nebraska. But I thought the defense was superb, and the offense found a rhythm once again.
That will be the case once again as college football's great dragon slayer does it once more. Purdue in a tight one.
North Carolina (-2.5) vs. Wake Forest
Oh, I'm not done picking against Top 10 teams.
Wake Forest, which cracked the Top 10 of the AP poll for the first time ever, is an underdog this week against North Carolina. That might sound weird, although you don't have to travel back far to find a similar situation.
Just last week, unranked Wisconsin clobbered Iowa (then No. 9 in the AP poll) by 20 at home. The Badgers were a three-point favorite.
I don't think this game will have that kind of outcome. Wake Forest has the nation's No. 5-ranked scoring offense, and the Demon Deacons should be able to score against North Carolina. But the defense is going up against the best quarterback it has seen this year by far, and I expect Sam Howell to have a huge performance.
I hate to be the 1,000th person to talk about Wake Forest's strength of schedule this year, although we kind of have to. This will be the Demon Deacons' third road game of the season, which is kind of amazing when you look at the calendar.
UNC covers. Also, the scoreboard is going to get a workout.
Oregon at Washington (Under 51)
I really think this could be ugly. That's not meant to be a knock on a game I am fascinated with. Ugly isn't always bad. Sometimes, ugly is just ugly.
In the last two weeks, the Washington defense has allowed a total of 29 points. Granted, those two games came against Stanford and Arizona, although the performances are noteworthy nonetheless. (Also, both games were on the road.)
This is a theme that seems to extend to pretty much every game that the Huskies play in. The under has hit in seven of their eight games.
Oregon, of course, has an offense to change this. The Ducks just dropped 52 points on Colorado, although, well, it's Colorado. While Oregon has done a fabulous job staying productive through a wave of injuries, this will be a much taller order.
Washington's defense and lack of offense are the perfect ingredients for an under. Home field will also do its part.
Arkansas (-5.5) vs. Mississippi State
Amid a chaotic football season, it's easy to forget that Arkansas was the talk of the sport not terribly long ago.
The Hogs started the year with four straight wins while covering the spread in all four. And while they have dropped three games, I still really like what this team is capable of.
Enter Mississippi State, which made us money last week. Mike Leach concocted the perfect game plan against Kentucky. Bulldogs QB Will Rogers completed a staggering 36-of-39 passes. It goes without saying that I don't expect a duplicate effort.
Despite the losses, don't sleep on Arkansas. Those losses came against Georgia, Auburn and Ole Miss, and the Hogs nearly upset the Rebels in the final moments. I like this offense, and I think a bye week will also aid this team a great deal.
While many will immediately jump back on the Mike Leach bandwagon, in Sam Pittman I trust. At least for this week.
UTSA (-11) @ UTEP
The UTSA Roadrunners are one of the best stories in college football, and I am here to tell you that they are for real.
The fact that they aren't in the CFP rankings is frankly appalling.
Head coach Jeff Traylor has his team 8-0. For his efforts, he was just given a 10-year contract extension with the school that will make him a very rich man. It will, at least temporarily, cool the chatter that he'll be hired at Texas Tech (or somewhere else) before the 2022 season.
The Roadrunners have also lost just once against the spread, and their offense has scored 142 points in the past three games.
Their opponent is no slouch. UTEP lost last weekend to Florida Atlantic, but the Miners managed to cover the 11-point spread with a late push. It was only their second loss of the season.
Both of these teams warrant your attention. But UTSA has been a cut above. I expect that to be the case once again come Saturday.
Other Games on the Card
Florida State (+2.5) vs. NC State: Somewhat quietly, Florida State has vastly improved since some overwhelming early struggles. The point spread is certainly indicative of that, and I look for FSU to pull a mild upset.
West Virginia (+3) vs. Oklahoma State: On the topic of teams turning a corner, enter West Virginia. The Mountaineers are coming off a meaningful win against Iowa State, and they can (and will) deliver an encore.
Ohio State at Nebraska (Under 64.5): I want no part of the point spread. I learned my lesson last week. Although I could see Nebraska's defense putting up enough of a fight to keep this game lower scoring than expected.
Air Force (-2.5) vs. Army: I bet Air Force the last time it played, and the Falcons delivered a mistake-heavy loss against San Diego State. After a bye, we get a much better effort against Army.
TCU (+6.5) vs. Baylor: The first game without Gary Patterson might actually start with a bang. Interim head coach Jerry Kill is plenty capable of keeping this game closer than expected.
Odds via DraftKings and accurate as of Wednesday.
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