There are a number of big games across the college football landscape this weekend and the Hail Varsity staff is back for another week to offer their picks. Brandon Vogel still leads the way on the season-long leaderboard with 300 points, but Greg Smith has moved from last into a tie for first following last week. Jacob Padilla (295 points) and myself (285 points) round out the rest of the leaderboard.
Our weekly Friday Forecast is presented by the Gamblers Assistance Program, the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and Choices Treatment Center. If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, call the state-wide help line at 1-800-522-4700.
No. 5 Oklahoma (-6.5) vs. No. 6 TCU
BV: Unlike Oklahoma State, TCU has a defense. The Frogs will get some stops and keep things close, but the Sooners are too much at home. PICK: Oklahoma 31 TCU 27
GS: It seems like things are coming together for the Sooners right now which seems like the perfect time for another Sooners let down. PICK: TCU 35, Oklahoma 31
JP: TCU is a good team, but the Sooners are on a roll and Baker Mayfield is going to build off what he did against the Cowboys last week as he continues his Heisman campaign. PICK: Oklahoma 42, TCU 35
DP: Jumpman, jumpman, jumpman them boys up to something. Baker Mayfield and Co. looked unstoppable in lighting up a pretty solid Oklahoma State defense. Don’t pick against them the rest of this month. PICK: Oklahoma 45, TCU 35
No. 8 Wisconsin (-12.5) vs. No. 20 Iowa
BV: Big line for a Wisconsin team that has been starting sluggishly of late and is now without its top receiver. The Badgers will find a way to get it done, but they’ll have to earn it. PICK: Wisconsin 31 Iowa 21
GS: If this game were in Iowa City, I’d be all over the Hawkeyes. Defense wins the day for the Badgers but no cover. PICK: Wisconsin 17, Iowa 7
JP: It’s going to be hard to replicate the effort Iowa put forth last weekend against the Buckeyes, and Wisconsin’s pass defense isn’t quite as susceptible as Ohio State’s, and the Hawkeyes haven’t quite gotten Akrum Wadley going on the ground as consistently as they would like. PICK: Wisconsin 27, Iowa 17
DP: I still don’t quite understand what happened last week between Iowa and Ohio State. If this one was in Iowa City I’d probably say Wisconsin should worry as this will be the best team the Badgers have faced all season (…sorry), but it’s not in Iowa City. It’s in Madison. I’ll give Wisconsin the victory but Iowa the cover. PICK: Wisconsin 24, Iowa 17
No. 13 Ohio State (-16.5) vs. No. 12 Michigan State
BV: Here comes Mad Meyer again. PICK: Ohio State 35 Michigan State 14
GS: I have no clue what to make of these teams. Will Ohio State just pack it in now that their playoff hopes are done. Is MSU good? This one is closer than Vegas thinks. PICK: Ohio State 28, Michigan State 14
JP: I don’t quite get Michigan State. Lose by eight two weeks ago against Northwestern but bounce back and beat Penn State by a field goal last week? Is this team good or just decent? The Buckeyes obviously had their slip-up last week, so gimme Ohio State. PICK: Ohio State 35, Michigan State 20
DP: I mean, I get that this is in Columbus but this line feels a little ridiculous to me. Ohio State wins because they’ll be mad and looking for someone to take it out on, but come one, show Sparty some respect. PICK Ohio State 37, Michigan State 27
No. 21 Iowa State vs. No. 15 Oklahoma State (-6.5)
BV: Given the Cyclones loss in West Virginia last week it seems easy to take the Cowboys here, but don’t give up on Iowa State yet. PICK: Iowa State 31 Oklahoma State 30
GS: The Iowa State fairytale is coming to an end. Oklahoma State rolls. PICK: Oklahoma State 50, Iowa State 27
JP: Iowa State came back to earth a bit last week against a solid West Virginia team, and this week they take on an even better Oklahoma State squad hurting after a rivalry loss. PICK: Oklahoma State 31, Iowa State 24
DP: With apologies to the little bro who thinks I’m insane for this, I’m taking the Cyclones here. It’s in Ames, where Oklahoma State has historically had issues, and last week’s Bedlam loss wasn’t a normal loss. That one felt like a backbreaker. The Cowboys’ season effectively ends and Iowa State kicks off its march to the champ game. PICK: Iowa State 27, Oklahoma State 24
Minnesota (-2.5) vs. Nebraska
BV: The best thing about Riley-era Nebraska has been how the Huskers have played against Minnesota. That ain’t much, but it’s something. PICK: Nebraska 23 Minnesota 20
GS: Minnesota views this game as an opportunity to get right and it will. PICK: Minnesota 28, Nebraska 14
JP: Eh, why not? PICK: Nebraska 24, Minnesota 20
DP: Last week felt like the beginning of the end. PICK: Minnesota 21, Nebraska 17
BONUS: No. 10 Auburn vs. No. 1 Georgia (-2.5)
BV: I think I had Auburn No. 5 in my preseason top 25. It’s time for the Tigers to reward my insanity. PICK: Auburn 28 Georgia 27
GS: I’m all over the ‘Dawgs. They make a statement as to why they are the best team in college football. PICK: Georgia 31, Auburn 20
JP: Basically read what Derek wrote below me for my thoughts, except I’m expecting more points. PICK: Georgia 38, Auburn 31
DP: Ohhhh boy this is going to be a good one. I don’t totally buy Auburn as a darkhorse SEC contender and I swore off picking against Georgia way earlier this season, but this one will be close. PICK: Georgia 13, Auburn 10
BONUS: No. 16 Mississippi State vs. No. 2 Alabama (-14)
BV: I’m now convinced that Saban is slow playing with Alabama. He likes letting Georgia feel like it’s the best team in the country and the Tide will look like they’re straining here because that’s how Nick wants it. PICK: Alabama 27 Mississippi State 17
GS: Someone has to give Alabama a scare right? Well it won’t be this week. PICK: Alabama 30, Mississippi State 13
JP: Dan Mullen should start polishing up his resume because it’s probably time to get out of Starkville. Who is the best team Mississippi State has beaten this year? LSU? Texas A&M? The Bulldogs have been smoked by the two ranked opponents they’ve faced so far this season. PICK: Alabama 42, Mississippi State 10
DP: Is it December yet? No? Not time to start picking against Saban then. PICK: Alabama 35, Mississippi State 14
Our picks today are for entertainment purposes only. Between 6 and 8 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by another individual’s gambling problem. Don’t gamble more than you can afford and if it stops being fun seek help.
Problem gambling is not a bad habit or a moral weakness. It’s a serious condition. But with help, problem gamblers can put the game in perspective and make decisions to improve their lives.
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, in Lincoln call Choices treatment center 24/7 at 402-476-2300 or statewide call The Nebraska Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700. Help is free so call today.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.