Sadly, we’ve reached the final week of the regular season. Thankfully, it’s got the makings of an epic weekend of games as teams fight for bowl eligibility, conference titles and College Football Playoff spots.
I’ve been on a pretty good run over the last three weeks with my picks, going 15-10-1. I was 5-1 with my first six picks last week, but lost both of the sides I had in the night games to drop to 5-3 for the weekend.
I’ve had a few disastrous weeks this year, but am inching closer to .500. If I can get there before conference championship weekend, I’ll be thrilled. And to get there, I have to go pretty heavy with the volume of picks.
Last week: 5-3
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: Noon (Friday) | Line: Texas -3 | Total: 52.5
Texas, losers of six straight games, is a mess right now. The Longhorns are dealing with a lot of injuries, including to both of their quarterbacks: Casey Thompson and Hudson Card. Kansas State could be without its starting quarterback as well as Skylar Thompson hurt his ankle last week vs. Baylor.
Kansas State is a much more steady, well-coached team compared to UT. And the unit I trust the most in this game is the Kansas State defense. Even if Thompson can’t play, K-State’s backups both have experience. Kansas State has lost four straight to Texas and would love to get a win in Austin.
Pick: Kansas State +3
Time: 1 p.m. (Friday) | Line: USU -15.5 | Total: 49.5
There are very few situations where I would trust Utah State as a two-touchdown favorite, but this is one of them. The Aggies are coming off an ugly loss to Wyoming last weekend but can still win the Mountain West’s Mountain division. At 8-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play, USU has been a big surprise in Blake Anderson’s first season. A trip to the MWC title game would be a big accomplishment.
On the other side, New Mexico is limping to the finish line. UNM, which is 1-10 ATS this year, has been decimated by injuries at quarterback and could start Bryson Carroll, a 5-foot-6 QB who began this season as a graduate manager. The Lobos have lost their last two games by a combined score of 71-7 and gained a total of 297 yards in those games. Just 52 of those yards came through the air.
Pick: Utah State -15.5
Time: 8 p.m. (Friday) | Line: WSU -1 | Total: 43.5
Washington has won seven straight Apple Cups, but the Huskies are having a terrible season. UW is 4-7 and has endured the firing of head coach Jimmy Lake. Washington’s offense has been terrible and even when it puts up yardage, it turns the ball over way too often.
Washington State has also dealt with head coaching turnover, but has played very competitively under interim coach Jake Dickert. Dickert is reportedly a candidate for the full-time job and could help himself tremendously if he helps snap a seven-game losing streak in this rivalry game.
This will likely be a very public side, but I trust the WSU offense enough to get the job done on the road.
Pick: Washington State -1
Time: Noon | Line: Wake Forest -5 | Total: 64.5
Boston College is so much more competitive with Phil Jurkovec at quarterback. BC started slowly last week vs. Florida State, but scored on three straight drives in the second half and had a chance to win it at the end. I think that can carry over to Saturday against a really porous Wake Forest defense that really got beat up by Clemson last week.
Wake Forest’s passing attack is one of the nation’s best, but Boston College’s defense has done very well against the pass this year. I know Wake needs this game to clinch the ACC Atlantic, but BC can keep it close on a cold, windy Saturday in Chestnut Hill.
Pick: Boston College +5
Time: Noon | Line: Navy -12.5 | Total: 43.5
Temple has completely quit. The Owls have lost six straight and the combined score in those games has been 261-35. Temple has been a double-digit underdog eight times this year and is 1-7 ATS.
There's no chance Temple is going to want to deal with Navy’s triple option for four quarters. Navy lost on a last-second field goal to East Carolina last week and wants to get some more confidence before playing Army. I won’t be surprised at all if this is Rod Carey’s last game as the Temple head coach.
Pick: Navy -12.5
Time: Noon | Line: Maryland -1.5 | Total: 52.5
Bowl eligibility is on the line in this one and I was surprised to see Rutgers as a home underdog. Maryland hasn’t been competitive in most of its Big Ten games and can be a very sloppy, mistake-prone team. Rutgers isn’t particularly talented, but I trust a Greg Schiano-coached team to be disciplined and avoid costly mistakes. I also trust his defense to force Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa to turn the ball over a few times.
Getting to a bowl game would mean a lot for both programs, but to get there in Year 2 with Schiano back in the fold feels like something that would be pretty significant for Rutgers, a program that hasn’t played in a bowl since 2014.
Pick: Rutgers +1.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: PSU -1.5 | Total: 51.5
I’ve been winning with the under in Penn State games pretty consistently, so let’s keep it rolling. The Nittany Lions can hit big plays to Jahan Dotson from time to time, but have been pretty underwhelming on offense otherwise. At the same time, the Penn State defense is really good — especially in the secondary. PSU also has a solid defensive line and really fast linebackers that can defend the run.
Michigan State got smoked last week by Ohio State. Entering the game, it wasn’t clear how many injuries the Spartans were dealing with. MSU isn’t public with injuries, so we don’t know if some of those key players are healthy. Even with that said, I’m comfortable enough to project another low-scoring game.
Pick: Under 51.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: Purdue -15 | Total: 50.5
After a triumph in 2020, Indiana has had a brutal 2021 season. The Hoosiers are 2-9 and currently in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. The Hoosiers have been playing their third and fourth-string quarterbacks the past few weeks and are really struggling to put up points.
IU has scored 15 points or fewer in all but one of its Big Ten games. Purdue has one of the best passing offenses in the country and I don’t think Jeff Brohm will hesitate to put up a big number in a rivalry game. The Hoosiers have understandably looked very discouraged in recent weeks.
Pick: Purdue -15
Time: 3:30 p.m. | Line: Illinois -6.5 | Total: 43.5
It’s hard to trust Illinois as a favorite but this is more about how bad Northwestern has been this season. The Wildcats are 3-8 and have just one win in Big Ten play and their six conference losses have come by an average of 25.5 points. The defense is terrible. The offense is worse.
The Illini aren't a good team either, but they haven’t beaten Northwestern since 2014 and the fact that this spread is nearly a touchdown instead of something like 3.5 or 4.5 is pointing me to the home team.
Pick: Illinois -6.5
Time: 8 p.m. | Line: ND -18.5 | Total: 52.5
Stanford is another team I’ve been consistently fading. Even with Tanner McKee back, that offense is terrible. The defense is so much worse. Over their past three games, the Cardinal have given up more than 1,000 rushing yards.
Notre Dame is rolling and is a very physical team. I have no qualms about laying 18.5 on the road here. Stanford is cooked. Notre Dame is up to No. 6 in the CFP rankings and could look for some style points in their last chance to make an impression on the selection committee.
Pick: Notre Dame -18.5