My games were a split on Thursday night. Texas dominated from the outset and continued an impressive turnaround defensively. While I was able to introduce the exploits of Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace to my Seattle family, his fumble in overtime cost me an Egg Bowl victory. I had a great Thanksgiving, but now it is time to focus. Miami plays this afternoon and I have five picks on the line today – Nebraska, the Canes, Washington, Arkansas, and Oregon. I hope my first Apple Cup lives up to the hype.
There are nine chances for me to win on Saturday. I am 8-5 on Golden Picks this season and expect the Noles to destroy the Gators. Don’t be surprised if Will Muschamp channels the mind of Jason Kidd and spills a drink on the field late in the second half. Never underestimate the stupidity of a coach on the hot seat. I would encourage all Miami fans to root for North Carolina and Virginia tomorrow and keep the faith.
FLORIDA STATE -27.5 at Florida 12pm – ESPN
FSU is absolutely dominant on both sides of the ball. QB Jameis Winston hasn't let off the field issues distract him on Saturdays. FSU remembers the disappointing loss to the Gators last year and wants revenge. Florida has no confidence following the embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern and several coaches on offense will likely be fired in the coming weeks. The Seminoles won't let up against their rival and I expect the final winning margin to be 40+. Florida will need luck to score more than once on Saturday afternoon.
Duke at NORTH CAROLINA -5.5 12pm - ESPN2
Duke has won seven straight and can win the Coastal by beating UNC. The Blue Devils have been a great story this season, but this is a new level of pressure. Duke fell behind at Wake last week and was able to rally from a 14-0 deficit. They can't afford another slow start on Saturday. North Carolina has won five straight and has been explosive on offense with young QB Marquise Williams. UNC has more talent and will beat the rival Blue Devils in Chapel Hill. TE Eric Ebron has a big day in his final college home game.
Ohio State at MICHIGAN +16 12pm – ABC
Michigan stepped up for me last week against Iowa, despite losing late in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines will play their best game of the season and stay close with Ohio State. OSU’s defense has struggled at times and the Buckeyes have played an easy schedule. If Michigan can get on the board early, this game could be interesting in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have a very solid defense and will make life difficult for OSU QB Braxton Miller. Unfortunately for people like me that hate Urban Meyer, Ohio State will likely win, but the margin will be smaller than most people expect.
BAYLOR -13 at Texas Christian 330pm - ESPN2
Don't give up on Baylor just yet. The Bears are still playing for a BCS berth and I expect a much stronger performance against TCU. QB Bryce Petty will bounce back and Art Briles's offense will resume putting up big numbers. TCU is 4-7 and looking forward to the offseason. Turnovers have killed the horned Frogs this season and Baylor will take advantage. The Bears start fast and put an end to any possible upset chance in the first half.
NORTHWESTERN -3.5 at Illinois 330pm - BTN
Northwestern’s collapse this season has been truly shocking. Injuries and close losses have been the theme in Evanston the past two months. Illinois finally won a Big Ten game, narrowly beating Purdue this past Saturday, but that won’t quiet the critics of HC Tim Beckman. His job could very well be on the line tomorrow. I hope Kain Colter can suit up for the Cats. He deserves a good ending to a terrific Northwestern career. If he can’t play, I expect Trevor Siemian to play well and take advantage of a porous Illini defense. The Cats do just enough to win and Northwestern breaks a frustrating losing streak.
ALABAMA -10.5 at Auburn 330pm - CBS
I love what Gus Malzahn has done at Auburn this season and badly want to say “War Eagle” all day after picking the Tigers. Unfortunately though, I think Alabama is too talented and has too much experience. Auburn’s offense is one-dimensional and Nick Saban will crowd the box and force Nick Marshall to make plays in the passing game. AJ McCarron has a chance to win the Heisman with a strong performance and his experience will be valuable given the pressure of this Iron Bowl. Alabama’s running game will ice the game late and the Tide will roll to a 20-point win.
CLEMSON +5 at South Carolina 7pm - ESPN2
This is the year. Clemson will beat South Carolina and regain in-state bragging rights. The Tigers have more explosiveness on offense and QB Tajh Boyd will be the best player on the field. Jadeveon Clowney talked a lot of trash this offseason, but he’ll struggle to back it up. WR Sammy Watkins will catch a long touchdown in his final regular season game in a Clemson uniform. South Carolina players might be distracted by the scoreboard showing updates from Texas A&M at Missouri. The Gamecocks could make the SEC Title game with a Missouri loss. Many people mocked Clemson’s performance against Florida State, but the Noles have dominated everyone since. Clemson has blown out four straight opponents and Dabo’s team will be ready.
NOTRE DAME +15 at Stanford 7pm - FOX
Thanks to Oregon’s loss last week, Stanford has already clinched a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cardinal were caught peeking ahead towards Arizona State and a potential Rose Bowl appearance. Notre Dame has a physical defense and won’t be bullied up front by Stanford. I have a lot of respect for the game planning of Brian Kelly. Stanford wins a slugfest by just 7-10 points as the experience of Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees helps keep his team close.
Texas A&M at MISSOURI -4.5 745pm - ESPN
I predicted it last week and I’m sticking to my guns. Missouri will beat A&M and win the SEC East. The blueprint to slow down Johnny Manziel is now out there, thanks to LSU’s defense. Texas A&M’s defense is terrible and I expect a big night from Missouri’s running game. DE Michael Sam will get after Manziel and force a few errant throws. QB James Franklin will lead his team to Atlanta and continue a dream season in Columbia.