I look around the country right now and I see teams like Florida State, Oklahoma and Michigan State, and I feel a kinship. These are three teams that had excellent performances in 2015 with two of them being chosen for the College Football Playoff. All three looked to build on last season and entered 2016 with big aspirations.
And so far, all three have scuffled and fallen flat.
I can relate. Last year, I had an excellent Pick Six season, and I came into this season thinking I'd just keep on keepin' on, but that just hasn't been the case. After a 2-4 performance last week, I'm at 15-15 on the season. If we don't include the Hail Mary Parlay, I'm 14-11, which might be better but still isn't good enough.
All I can do at this point is keep working to get better. Take it one pick at a time, and give 110 percent to be the best picker I can be. Maybe I don't have a playoff berth left to fight for, but I have my pride on the line.
Sometimes that's all you need.
Now, before I storm out of the locker room with a primal scream, here are this week's picks.
Games of the Week
No. 8 Texas A&M (-6.5) vs. No. 9 Tennessee: It's really hard to pick against Tennessee right now, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm going to ignore all the signs clearly hammering us all in the face from the College Football Gods that this team has been chosen for 2016, and go with what my gut feels and my eyes have seen. Tennessee is winning, yes, but in its first two SEC games, it's averaging only 3.64 yards per carry. It's also allowed 10 sacks in five games -- which isn't horrible, but it's not great when your quarterback is as mobile as Josh Dobbs -- and is giving up 5.4 tackles for a loss per game. These stats, combined with just what I've seen for myself, tell me that Tennessee's offensive line has struggled.
And now this week it gets to face a defensive line led by Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall and Daylon Mack. This is an Aggies defense with 50 tackles for loss on the season. No other team in the country has more than that, and only Miami is averaging more per game. If this isn't enough to convince you, know that the Aggies are 4-1 against the spread this season and 2-0 ATS at home.
Now, this line has moved in some places, and Tennessee is now a 7.5-point underdog depending where you look. If you can find that line, I'd take the Vols; but at 6.5, I have to go with the Aggies. Texas A&M 27, Tennessee 20
Twitter Pick: Texas A&M -6.5 (58 percent)
No. 10 Miami (-2.5) vs. No. 23 Florida State: I originally thought I was going to go with Florida State in this pick, but even after trying to convince myself all week that it was the right pick to make, I just couldn't persuade myself. I'm not fully on board with the Hurricanes being "back" or whatever, as they haven't really had a truly difficult test yet. Sorry, Georgia Tech, it's not personal.
Florida State, on the other hand, has been tested plenty. It's just failed more often than its succeeded, and it's really hard for me to get past the fact that -- statistically -- the Seminoles have one of the worst defenses in the country. Sure, they've played high-octane offenses like Ole Miss, Louisville and North Carolina, but they haven't really shown much of an ability to stop them, particularly since Derwin James has been hurt. Miami's not quite in the same class as those teams, but it's certainly talented, and Brad Kaaya is an excellent quarterback.
Combine all of that with the fact Miami is not only 4-0 on the season, but 4-0 ATS as well, and I just have to roll with the Canes right now. Miami 27, Florida State 24
Twitter Pick: Miami -2.5 (59 percent)
Lock of the Week
Notre Dame (+2.5) at NC State: This line originally opened Notre Dame as a 2.5-point favorite and has since moved five whole points the opposite direction, and for that I am truly grateful. I believe this is nothing more than an overreaction to Notre Dame's defensive struggles, which have certainly been legendary. It's just, what has NC State done to give you any confidence it should be favored against the Irish? Was it beating Wake Forest and Old Dominion? It certainly wasn't the loss to East Carolina, was it? Yes, the Irish have problems on defense, but they're also an Irish team with a lot more talent than the Wolfpack. Notre Dame 38, NC State 30
Underdog of the Week
BYU (+6) at Michigan State: BYU is only 2-3 on the season, but it's 4-1 against the spread. This is the kind of thing that happens when each of your five games has been decided by three points or less. This week, the Cougars hit the road to take on Michigan State, and I think we'll see a similar outcome. While the BYU defense has struggled against spread teams like Toledo and West Virginia, it's done an excellent job against teams like Utah and UCLA, holding them to a combined 37 points in two games. Michigan State's offense has really struggled this year, particularly in the passing game, which is where BYU's defense is at its most vulnerable. I expect these trends to continue on Saturday, and for BYU to play in another close -- if not exciting -- game. Michigan State 20, BYU 16
Over/Under of the Week
Iowa at Minnesota (Over 51): I've been burned by all my old standbys in the over/under game this year, so I've got to mix it up a bit. Looking around, this was a number that just stood out to me. It's too low. I know that when we think of Iowa and Minnesota explosive offenses don't immediately come to mind, but this is a Minnesota team that's averaging 36.3 points per game this season. Iowa, meanwhile, just gave up 38 points to Northwestern last week, and that's a horrible offense. Also, while the Iowa offense struggled on the road against Rutgers a couple weeks ago, that's an outlier in my opinion. My official advice is definitely the over here, but you may want to wait a little longer as the public is pounding the under, so the number may come down even further than it already had (opened at 53). Iowa 31, Minnesota 23
Hail Mary Parlay of the Week
Saturday morning: Texas vs. No. 20 Oklahoma (Under 73.5)
|Last Week||2016 Overall|
|Games of the Week||1-1||6-4|
|Lock of the Week||1-0||3-2|
|Underdog of the Week||0-1||3-2|
|Over/Under of the Week||0-1||2-3|
|Hail Mary Parlay||0-1||1-4|