There are big games all across college football this week as we have reached the midway point of the season for a lot of teams.
Hail Varsity’s Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and myself are back for another round of picks. We have a new leader at the top of the standings as Vogel had the only 40-point week (he was perfect until he picked Iowa) and Padilla has sunk to the bottom. The updated standings: Vogel (145 points), Smith (140 points), Peterson (140 points) and Padilla (125 points).
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.
Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Alabama (-26.5)
BV: If Ag. & Mech. doesn’t blow it in Week 1 against UCLA, we’re probably talking about this game in a much different light. But Ag. & Mech. did blow it and Alabama has been ruthless of late. The Tide . . . to Roll. PICK: Alabama 45 Texas A&M 10
GS: Roll Tide. PICK: Alabama 51, Texas A&M 17
JP: Tide, roll. PICK: 45, Texas A&M 17
DP: I picked Trevor Knight and Texas A&M to beat Bama last year. Never again. PICK: Alabama 43, Texas A&M 17
No. 7 Michigan (-10.5) vs. Michigan State
BV: Harbaugh’s got some repayin’ to do against the Spartans. Michigan State is improved and will hang around somewhat, but the Wolverines cruise by Big Ten standards. PICK: Michigan 27 Michigan State 14
GS: Michigan State will be game after coming off their win over Iowa last week but Michigan’s defense is the real deal. O’Korn is also an upgrade of Speight and it’ll show. PICK: Michigan 24, Michigan State 10
JP: Michigan State is coming off of a nice win against Iowa, but that was in East Lansing and the Spartans only mustered up 17 points. Michigan’s defense is tougher than Iowa’s and this game is in Ann Arbor. PICK: Michigan 24, Michigan State 13
DP: I think the John O’Korn era gets off to a nice start, Michigan’s defense shows out and the the Wolverines get a closer-than-anticipated victory against Sparty under the lights. PICK: Michigan 27, Michigan State 20
No. 8 TCU (-13.5) vs. No. 23 West Virginia
BV: Seen a lot of griping about this line. I think it’s a reflection of the fact that West Virginia is simply OK, and TCU will show that on Saturday. PICK: TCU 45 West Virginia 21
GS: Gary Patterson continues to remind us that he is a heck of a football coach. Give me the Horned Frogs in a close game. PICK: TCU 31, West Virginia 24
JP: I picked the Mountaineers before and they let me down, so I’ll give the Horned Frogs a shot to disappoint me this time. PICK: TCU 35, West Virginia 24
DP: I just don’t know if I can trust TCU is going to be anything different. No. 8 feels crazy high to me for this squad. I’m going to pick the Frogs because I see this game being a shootout and I think the combination of the Frogs’ defense plus home cooking gives them the edge but it’s a very soft pick. PICK: TCU 48, West Virginia 37
Nebraska vs. No. 9 Wisconsin (-11.5)
BV: Wisconsin looks better than it has been the past two years (and the past two years were pretty good.) Nebraska looks the same, more or less. PICK: Wisconsin 28 Nebraska 14
GS: There is something special about night games in Memorial Stadium. I think this one is an old-fashioned Big Ten slug-fest that turns on a punt return by Pierson-El. PICK: Nebraska 17, Wisconsin 13
JP: Nebraska has been so close to knocking off the Badgers the last couple of years, but that’s not a good enough reason to pick the Huskers based on everything we’ve seen from both teams so far this season. I think Nebraska will make a game of it, but I can’t pick the Huskers to win at this point. PICK: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 17
DP: I have been trying to come up with a “Nebraska wins if ____” for this game and I think of something and then talk myself out of it. All the rational thoughts say Wisconsin will beat Nebraska on Saturday. “Maybe the players want it too much.” But we’re not here to be rational. PICK: Nebraska 26, Wisconsin 24
Florida State vs. No. 13 Miami (-3)
BV: If Miami doesn’t win this year against this particular offensive line, it should just cancel the series. PICK: Miami 24 Florida State 17
GS: What happened to this rivalry? I forgot it was happening this week. Miami will get at least 6 sacks against a very poor FSU offensive line and roll. PICK: Miami 28, Florida State 10
JP: Mark Richt has not yet lost control of the Canes while the implosion continues for the Seminoles. PICK: Miami 27, Florida State 17
DP: When did Miami become a fringe playoff contender? I don’t know enough about either of these teams to pick something weird. Give me the Canes. PICK: Miami 30, Florida State 17
BONUS: Oregon vs. No. 12 Washington State (-2.5)
BV: Washington State’s first road trip of the season, and they catch a couple of breaks on the injury front. I still don’t think it will be quite enough for the Cougars, however. PICK: Oregon 35 Washington State 34
GS: Classic trap game here for Washington State. Royce Freeman is back at practice but without him being 100 percent and Oregon playing its backup QB, I just can’t see the upset being sprung. PICK: Washington State 38, Oregon 21
JP: Autzen Stadium is No Memorial Stadium, and whoever plays quarterback for the Ducks is no Justin Herbert. PICK: Washington State 31, Oregon 20
DP: Mike Leach isn’t worried about Oregon. So I won’t be either. PICK: Washington State 37, Oregon 27
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.