After retrieving the empty water bottles and mustard containers that were tossed at the TV last week watching Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss desperately trying to give away a game to Tennessee in the final minute, the Locksmith has regained his composure and is ready to move on.
So don’t be fooled by the 30-12 record against the spread so far. It’s never easy.
The schedule this week is less than inspiring but there are a few intriguing matchups. Is Pittsburgh ready to assert itself as the team to beat in the ACC when it hosts Clemson? Can 6-0 Wake Forest handle Army’s pesky triple option – at a sold-out Michie Stadium? Can 6-0 Oklahoma State extend its surprising start at improving Iowa State?
For marquee purposes, there’s USC at Notre Dame, though it’s doubtful this meeting will add much to the series lore.
The underrated good game of the week: San Diego State, which is 6-0, is at 6-1 Air Force.
On to the games:
Oklahoma over KANSAS, giving 38
Let’s keep this one simple. The Sooners, with QB phenom Caleb Williams, appear to be hitting their stride. The Jayhawks stink. No, really. They are a very bad football team. Kansas has lost by an average of 32.6 points to the five FBS teams it has faced and that includes Duke and Texas Tech. So in the interest of simplicity, here it is: Oklahoma 59-7.
PITTSBURGH over Clemson, giving 3
Tigers’ defense is still superb and it gives them the best shot of staying in this, because QB DJ Uiagalelei is not getting it done for this sputtering offense. But has that defense faced an offense with the firepower of Pitt’s – and a quarterback playing at the level Kenny Pickett -- the pride of Ocean Township, N.J. -- is at lately? Pickett has thrown for 1,934 yards with 21 TD passes to one interception for an offense averaging 48.3 points and 533 yards per game. This is the Panthers’ shot at something special, and it’s at home. Clemson is 0-6 vs. the spread this year; Pitt is 4-1. Expecting an inspired effort from Pat Narduzzi’s bunch after last week’s workmanlike 28-7 win at Virginia Tech.
Lsu over MISSISSIPPI, taking 9
Here’s the thing about LSU: The program thrives on controversy and turmoil. And here’s one thing that gets lost in that controversy and turnover: This is still a very talented roster. A reminder of that was last week’s win against Florida, when RB Tyrion Davis-Price rushed for a school-record 287 yards and QB Matt Johnson continued his improved play. Not convinced this 5-1 Ole Miss team – which is basically Matt Corral on offense, passing and running – is the real deal yet since two of their wins were against Austin Peay and Tulane and because their last two games (Arkansas and Tennessee) were decided on the final possession. This seems like a bloated spread for a Rebels team that doesn’t play defense. And if Corral keeps running as often as he did last week against Tennessee, it seems to be taunting the injury gods to act.
North Carolina State over MIAMI, giving 3
Two questions regarding the Hurricanes: Is there anyone still healthy enough to play? And does anyone in South Florida care anymore? Give credit to Miami for being feisty in its last two games, heart-wrenching losses to Virginia and North Carolina. But finding a way to lose is also becoming a habit for this team, which struggles to stop the run and is relying on true freshman Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback. Wolfpack have won four straight, with QB Devin Leary having another solid year and RBs Zonovan Knight and Ricky Pearson combining for 887 yards and seven TDs. N.C. State’s physical wide receivers will be a problem as well for Miami, which has lost six straight to Power 5 opponents.
Oklahoma State over IOWA STATE, taking 7
Are we really supposed to believe the Cyclones have gotten their season back on track because of consecutive wins against Kansas and Kansas State? This game looks to be a slugfest between a couple of teams getting average QB play, exceptional production from star RBs and solid defenses, especially against the run. ISU’s Breece Hall has game-changing ability, but OSU’s Jaylen Warner has exploded onto the scene with four straight 100-yard rushing games, going for 193 against Texas last week. Cowboys’ relentless pass rush could give Cyclones’ QB Brock Purdy some problems too. A key for 6-0 Oklahoma State is whether QB Spencer Sanders can avoid the turnover problems that often plague him. The bottom line: This looks like a field goal difference.
Usc over NOTRE DAME, taking 7
It’s easy to dismiss the Trojans after they suffered their first-ever loss to Utah at the Coliseum before last week’s bye but this is not the 1988 Notre Dame team we’re looking at here. The Irish have a revolving door at QB, can’t run the ball and tend to keep teams in games because of their inconsistent play. Despite some bad losses already – Stanford, Oregon State and Utah – the Trojans are still dangerous on offense because of Kedon Slovis, though his over-reliance of Drake London (64 catches) is a concern. USC should be able to score and the bye week should prove beneficial. Notre Dame has yet to wow anyone this year.
Last week vs. spread: 4-2
Season to date vs. spread: 30-12
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