COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS: Ohio State rooting for Michigan

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Ohio State fans need to root for Michigan. Seriously.

The Buckeyes' loss last Saturday to Penn State has created this somewhat uncomfortable situation, where their fans have to pull for their hated rival. Here's why: The sixth-ranked Buckeyes can win a three-way tiebreaker in the Big Ten East among themselves, Michigan and Penn State if all finish 8-1 in the conference, which would mean the Buckeyes beating the Wolverines in the regular-season finale.

If Michigan were to lose before Nov. 26, Ohio State would need another Penn State loss to win the division and move on to play for the Big Ten title with an 8-1 record.

Of course, the Buckeyes still need to take care of their own business, and that starts Saturday at home against Northwestern. As for No. 2 Michigan, a short road trip to Michigan State is up next. The Spartans have owned the rivalry lately, but they also currently own a five-game losing streak.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio built a Big Ten power on a foundation of victories against Michigan. Seven in the last eight meetings to be exact. The Spartans have also won two of the last three Big ten titles, beating Ohio State along the way each time.

It is a long shot, but nothing would be more Michigan State than beating Michigan and in the process helping to eliminate Ohio State.

The picks:


No. 25 Virginia Tech (minus 4+) at Pittsburgh

The Hokies would be tough to catch in the ACC Coastal with victories against North Carolina, Miami and Pitt ... VIRGINIA TECH 27-24.


No. 22 Navy (plus 8) at South Florida

The Bulls allowed nearly 300 yards rushing to Temple last Friday night ... USF 38-32.


No. 3 Clemson (minus 5) at No. 12 Florida State

The Tigers' only victory in Tallahassee since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992 came in 2006 ... FLORIDA STATE 35-31.

No. 4 Washington (minus 10) at No. 17 Utah

A somewhat unexpected Pac-12 game of the year ... WASHINGTON 28-20.


No. 2 Michigan (minus 23) at Michigan State

Big brother strikes back; the Wolverines haven't been favored by this much against the Spartans since 1992 ... MICHIGAN 35-14.

Northwestern (plus 27) at No. 6 Ohio State

The Wildcats' last victory in Columbus was in 1971; Northwestern has beaten the Buckeyes once since ... OHIO STATE 35-24.

No. 7 Nebraska (plus 8+) at No. 11 Wisconsin

The Huskers are 1-5 on the road against ranked teams since joining the Big Ten in 2011 ... NEBRASKA 23-20.


No. 8 Baylor (minus 3) at Texas

No. 10 West Virginia (minus 3+) at Oklahoma State

There will be one less Big 12 unbeaten after this weekend ... TEXAS 38-31; WEST VIRGINIA 27-26.

No. 13 Boise State (minus 13+) at Wyoming

The Broncos are 10-0 all-time against the Cowboys ... BOISE STATE 31-23.

No. 15 Auburn (minus 4+) at Mississippi

This will be the sixth ranked opponent the Rebels have faced, though two no longer are ... AUBURN 33-28.


No. 5 Louisville (minus 31+) at Virginia

Another chance for Lamar Jackson to do fun stuff ... LOUISVILLE 45-21.

No. 14 Florida (minus 7+) vs. Georgia at Jacksonville, Florida

Tennessee needs a Gators' loss; the Vols can send a thank-you card to the Bulldogs ... GEORGIA 21-17, UPSET SPECIAL.

Kansas (plus 40) at No. 16 Oklahoma

From 1995-97, the Jayhawks won three straight against the Sooners; Kansas has not beaten Oklahoma and lost the last two meetings by a combined 106-14 ... OKLAHOMA 53-7.

No. 18 Tennessee (minus 13) at South Carolina

Part I of the Volunteers' schedule was about surviving; Part II is about not screwing up ... TENNESSEE 28-10.

No. 24 Penn State (minus 11+) at Purdue

Want to throw away all that positive momentum from a huge upset? Lose to Purdue ... PENN STATE 35-14.


Miami (minus 2+) at Notre Dame - (at)nashman92

The Hurricanes have lost three straight and the Irish are off to their worst start since 2007. Not exactly the way to revive rivalry ... NOTRE DAME 28-24.

Maryland (plus 5) at Indiana - (at)TheDudeBecks

The Terps are a victory away from bowl eligibility under new coach DJ Durkin, a season after winning three games ... INDIANA 27-24.

UCF (plus 9) at Houston - (at)brianmctaggart

Maybe the bright side of Houston losing two of its last three is the Cougars might be able to keep their coach another year? Nah, probably not ... HOUSTON 37-24, BEST BET.

Texas Tech (plus 8) at TCU- (at)iamDougWarren

First to 50 wins? Not so fast. The Red Raiders have lost four games in the last two seasons in which they have scored 50 points ... TCU 62-45.


Record: Last week 13-9 straight; 3-19 vs. points.

Season: 116-45; 68-88-3.

Upset specials: 2-6.

Best bets: 1-7.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at


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