Oh my, were there ever upsets brewing for us last week.
Throughout the college football season, motivation is a major factor in figuring out who will win. That's very true late in the season, and especially during all of the late-season chaos.
How does Oregon or Kansas State really get up for its games the rest of the season? Does USC have enough in the tank to rebound from that loss to UCLA (and do you trust Lane Kiffin)? Is UCLA excited to play after such an emotional win last week, knowing it's in the Pac-12 Championship Game no matter what happens this week?
Figuring out the psyche of each team and what goals it is playing for this late in the season can be very important, and with that, here are this week's picks:
Penn State (-2.5) over Wisconsin: Motivation? No contest in this one. Wisconsin is going to play Nebraska next week in the Big Ten Championship Game no matter what happens on Saturday. Meanwhile, this is Penn State's final game, and a chance to properly send off the seniors who stuck around through a difficult time. Also, Penn State might be the better team, especially against a Wisconsin team that has rarely looked good without Joel Stave at quarterback. It'll be tough for Wisconsin to win, considering this game doesn't mean a lot, and its game next week is for a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Pittsburgh (-1.5) over Rutgers: When a line looks too good to be true, it normally is. Doesn't it look like Vegas is begging you to take Rutgers, which is ranked 21st and 5-0 in the Big East, getting points against a Pitt team that is 4-6? It has to be too good to be true. Take Pitt, which can keep its bowl hopes alive with a win.
Michigan (+4) over Ohio State: I think last week was a revelation for Michigan. The Wolverines tried using quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson on the field at the same time, and they looked tremendous on offense. Now that the Wolverines know that offense can work, they can put more time into drawing up various wrinkles for it. That makes for a tough preparation for Ohio State. And even though Michigan can't win its division, beating Ohio State is always a huge deal for the Wolverines.
No matter who wins this game, it feels like a close one. Too close to give four points to either side.
Stanford (-3) over UCLA: Stanford wins its division with a victory and clinches a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. UCLA won its division with its most emotional game of the season last week, a huge win over rival USC. Now, UCLA could clinch home field for the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win (if Oregon State wins also), so it could have something tangible to play for. Still, Stanford has been very good this season, needs this win just a little more, and there will probably be some letdown for UCLA this week. Especially if the Bruins hold a little bit back in the game plan, knowing it might face Stanford again in a week.
Mississippi (-1.5) over Mississippi State: Ole Miss showed a lot of energy in a loss last week to LSU. That was a good performance despite a 41-35 loss. Although both teams will be motivated by the rivalry, Ole Miss needs a win to get bowl eligible, is at home, and is trying to snap a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.
Last week: 3-2
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