Before we get started you have been hot picking games all year, are there any games/lines this week that really jump out at you?
I liked Georgia laying three to Missou before the Todd Gurley suspension, but scratch that. I like TCU getting 8 ½ at Baylor. Baylor’s offense could not get in gear against Texas last week and face a tougher defense this week against TCU. I think this game will be tight. Too many points for Florida State, laying 23 ½ on the road at Syracuse; I like the ‘Cuse. Bad spot for FSU with Notre Dame on deck. I still think the Noles are the best team in the land if they play to their potential, but they still haven’t put it all together yet. And I like Alabama (-9) to bounce back and beat Arkansas soundly. Not a good matchup at all for Arkansas and their power running game – that’s not the way you beat the Tide.
What is your record against the spread so far this year?
I am 9-6 when responding to your weekly “who do you like” question. I started 2-4, but have hit 7 of the last 9. On the Buckeye games, I predicted a 17-point win over Cincy (in the middle of game-week, when the Bucks were around a 15-point favorite), but the line closed at 17. So, if you view that as me predicting a “push” against Cincy, I am 4-0-1 on the Buckeye games. I correctly had the Bucks covering against Navy, Kent State and Maryland, and had Va Tech covering against the Bucks.
Ok, the Buckeyes are off again, which blows. Michigan is playing and they blow too, how bad is Penn State to be dogs to the Wolverines this weekend?
Penn State is a shadow of what they used to be; other than Christian Hackenburg, their talent is down. With the sanctions being lightened and with the James Franklin hire, Penn State should start to pick up the pace in the next few years. Michigan shouldn’t be as bad as they are, but they are reeling, and Brady Hoke hasn’t a clue on how to fix things. I would probably have Penn State as a slight favorite over Michigan in this game. I think this one will be tight, like both of these team’s games against Rutgers….which is a sad statement.
After all the upsets last weekend, does a team from the Big Ten have a shot to make the new four team playoff? If you had to predict the final four today, who would it be?
Nationally, I don’t expect to see any team go undefeated in the regular season, and there will be some very good teams that end up with two losses. If that is the case, Ohio State and Sparty are definitely still alive. The winner of their November 8th matchup will also need to win the rest of their games, including the Big Ten championship, and look impressive doing so. I tend to think the Pac 12 and Big Twelve teams beat each other up, making it hard for a school from each conference to make the playoff. And I think the SEC gets two teams in the playoff regardless. I will go with Florida State, Georgia, Auburn and Michigan State as the four playoff teams, but with all the parity this year, it wouldn’t surprise me to see none of those teams make it.
Which running back should be more upset: Amir Abdullah being held to just 49 yards against MSU or Melvin Gordon running for over 250 and the Badgers still lose?
I think I am ticked off more if I am Melvin Gordon, who Wisconsin should have run more. Not sure why the Badger coaches decided to throw the ball 29 times, with an anemic passing offense and an elite running game; it makes no sense. I am not all that surprised that the Sparty defense held Abdullah in check; they aimed to make him a non-factor in the game, and that’s exactly what happened.
Let's wrap up with at least one Buckeye question. Which player on offense and defense do you now think is primed for a breakout year that you didn't four games ago?
On offense, it’s a no-brainer for me – JT Barrett. I have never seen a first-year starting QB at OSU “get it” so quickly. He lacks arm strength, but you can get away with that at this level…just ask former Heisman winner Danny Wuerfell. But other than that, Barrett brings everything else to the table. He’s already about to the point where he is surpassing Braxton Miller as a decision maker…this comparing Barrett the freshman to Miller the junior. Barrett is doing a beautiful job running the option and for a kid that has played only five games, he is doing an unbelievable job getting through his progressions and finding the “right” receiver. With Barrett raising his level of play the way he has, the final four is (I think) surprisingly in play for Ohio State.
On defense, I have nobody – nothing really that wasn’t expected. I guess if I have to pick someone, I will say Darron Lee, but you are seeing expected growing pains with him. On the other hand, I think you can see what kind of talent he has, and I think he will be a star before leaving Ohio State. Lee is a great athlete that is still learning the position…when he does learn it…look out.