"That term, 'David and Goliath,' has entered our language as a metaphor for improbable victories by some weak party over someone far stronger." - Malcolm Gladwell
Entering this season, I tried to talk a big game. I described how my offseason work would lead to a winning season and talked about leaving my PreciseMediocrity nickname in the past. On the inside though, I was scared. In years past, every stretch of success would quickly be met with unrelenting losing. My emotional state was like George Costanza's in the Pilot episodes.
"George: God would never let me be successful. He'd kill me first. He'd never let me be happy.
Therapist: I thought you didn't believe in God?
George: I do for the bad things."
Despite that, here I am on Thanksgiving, sitting nine games above .500 on the season. I have a winning record in every major conference. On Saturdays, I've won 56% of the time, winning on a relatively consistent basis week after week. Following the Clemson loss, I launched the SCOTT Pick in honor of the Canes new head coach. My most confident picks the past four weeks under Coach Scott have gone an improbable 12-2.
This weekend has some incredible games, with rivalries, playoff implications, and the Heisman all on the line. I briefly thought about only picking a few of them, thus ensuring I would stay above 50% overall, but I quickly dismissed that idea. I am doing the exact opposite, fully aware that the previous paragraph may trigger a massive dose of mean reversion. Here are 27 picks to follow. Let's hope I win at least 9. Enjoy your holiday weekend with family, friends, and football.
MIAMI +7 at Pittsburgh - 12pm Friday
Pitt has flown under the radar all season. The Panthers are 8-3, with all three losses coming against Top 15 teams (UNC, Iowa, & Notre Dame). WR Tyler Boyd is already the school's all-time leader in catches and yards as a junior. RB Qadree Ollison has had a huge season, taking over once All-American candidate James Connor was injured.
I'm very happy this game will be played at noon. Pittsburgh will be unusually warm at kickoff, with Friday's high temperature set for 65 degrees. The Canes never seem to adjust well to cold weather, so I'm thankful that won't be an issue tomorrow.
Brad Kaaya should have success in the passing game on Friday. Miami will have a speed advantage on the outside and WR Stacy Coley had a monster game the last time he visited Pittsburgh in 2013. Pitt DE Ejuan Price leads the ACC in sacks so Art Kehoe's unit will need to step up. Miami's defense has been opportunistic with turnovers, but the Panthers do a good job protecting the football, with just 11 turnovers all year. Pitt loves to control the clock, relying heavily on the running game. The Panthers run the ball over 60% of the time and average 33:31 in time of possession per game. Miami's defense played with energy against Georgia Tech and this embattled unit will need make plays on some key 3rd and shorts to get Brad Kaaya back on the field.
Sitting at 7-4 with nothing tangible to play for, Miami's performance will depend on pride and self-motivation. The players seem to enjoy playing for Larry Scott and the seniors want to end their season on a positive note. Talent wins out as Miami is able to hold onto an early lead and edge the Panthers by a field goal.
CLEMSON -17 at South Carolina - 12pm
PENN STATE +11 at Michigan State - 330pm
FLORIDA STATE -2.5 at Florida - 730pm
OKLAHOMA STATE +7 vs Oklahoma - 8pm
TEXAS TECH +1 at Texas - 730pm
HOUSTON +4 vs Navy - 12pm
WESTERN MICHIGAN +8 - 12pm
ARKANSAS -14 vs Missouri - 230pm
WASHINGTON -7 vs Washington State - 330pm
IOWA -2.5 at Nebraska - 330pm
BAYLOR +1 at Tcu - 730pm
TULSA -7 at Tulane - 8pm
GEORGIA -4 at Georgia Tech - 12pm
WEST VIRGINIA -14 vs Iowa State - 12pm
PURDUE +6.5 vs Indiana - 12pm
OHIO STATE pk at Michigan - 12pm
DUKE -4 at Wake Forest - 1230pm
NCST +5.5 vs North Carolina - 330pm
AUBURN +14 vs Alabama - 330pm
USC -3 vs Ucla - 330pm
NORTHWESTERN -3.5 at Illinois - 330pm
TENNESSEE -17.5 vs Vanderbilt - 4pm
MISSISSIPPI STATE +1 vs Ole Miss - 715pm
TEXAS A&M +5.5 at Lsu - 730pm
NOTRE DAME +4 at Stanford - 730pm