Gould Standard Pick Six: Week 8

Herb Gould

 The good news: The Big Ten is back.

The bad news: How the heck to pick Big Ten games with no, um, actual live-game knowledge—even though this would be mid-season in an ordinary year.

That said, I will take a few stabs, along with some other intriguing matchups from around the college football nation.

Last week was another—yawn—3-3 exercise involving woulda-coulda-shoulda misses with who-knew mistakes.

Worst feeling was resisting the urge to take Kentucky, which is a good-defense, gritty team, ahead of supposedly ready-to-have-a-breakout-year Tennessee.

I will simply say, ‘Cluck-cluck’ to old Notre Dame, which scraped past Louisville, leaving the Irish (and me) 0-3 against the spread in their ACC matchups while playing three teams ND seemed poised to drill.

And my bad for thinking Boston College could hang around at Virginia Tech.

On the bright side, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas A&M all took care of business, which makes me think I should stick to the SEC.

Nope. Time to drop back and see who’s open. This week.

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Illinois plus-19 at Wisconsin, 7 p.m. Friday, BTN

Nebraska plus-26 at Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX

Auburn minus-3 at Ole Miss, 11 a.m., SEC

Notre Dame minus-10.5 at Pitt, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Alabama minus-21 at Tennessee, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Michigan minus-3 at Minnesota, 6:30 p.m., ABC

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold)

Illinois plus-19 at Wisconsin, 7 p.m. Friday, BTN

Yes, Illinois seems poised to bring up the rear in the West Division that Wisconsin seems poised to win. But the Illini have a veteran coach, an experienced quarterback and are getting a boatload of points in an uncertain opener against a team with a new quarterback and new running back(s). Illinois, which shocked the Badgers a year ago, will show up.

Wisconsin 31, Illinois 13

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Nebraska plus-26 at Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX

First impulse is to grab Ohio State because it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for the Buckeyes and Ryan Day (shown above), has been hyping his team to anyone who will listen. Reality check says there are bound to be first-game hiccups—and the Buckeyes can drill Nebraska without covering this huge number.

Ohio State 38, Nebraska 14

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Auburn minus-3 at Ole Miss, 11 a.m., SEC

Auburn has a lot of talent, but between Bo Nix’s miscues and other timely errors, the Tigers can’t seem to get things right. And Ole Miss, which is playing much better than its 1-3 record, is getting points at home. Sure looks like Rebels With a Cause to me.

Ole Miss 31, Auburn 27

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Notre Dame minus 10.5 at Pitt, 2:30 p.m., ABC

The pattern has emerged. Notre Dame wins but, lacking big-play capability, not by as much as expected. And Pitt is a double-dight home dog with a knack for hanging around.

Notre Dame 23, Pitt 17

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Alabama minus 21 at Tennessee, 2:30 p.m.

Maybe Alabama’s maligned defense will get it right against the mistake-prone Vols. Maybe not. Either way, there’s no doubting the Crimson Tide’s potent offense.

Alabama 48, Tennessee 20

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Michigan minus 3 at Minnesota, 6:30 p.m., ABC

Honestly, this is a tough call. Minnesota has the accomplished quarterback (Tanner Morgan), the stud receiver (Rashod Bateman), the Pied Piper coach (P.J. Fleck) and the home field to win. But Fleck has dropped cryptic hints about Covid-19 problems. Wolverines defensive guru Don Brown will figure out Morgan-Bateman. And if Michigan, which is not exactly chopped liver, stumbles here, the consequences are very dire for Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan 30, Minnesota 24

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LAST WEEK ATS: 3-3. . . THIS SEASON: 17-18-1

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 5-1. . . THIS SEASON: 27–9