I had a pretty good week last week, going 12-7 against the spread, putting me at 24-17 for the season against the number. The good: picking Michigan to handle Notre Dame. The bad: picking Texas to beat BYU. The ugly: picking Southern California to cruise past Washington State. Here are this week's guesses:
Texas Tech 31, TCU 30: Gary Patterson's D will be a much stiffer test for young Baker Mayfield, but I think Kliff Kingsbury will have him ready. It doesn't hurt that Tech has some keen understanding of the Horned Frogs system (former TCU assistant Trey Haverty now coaches for the Red Raiders.)
Alabama 35, Texas A&M 34: After a week spent behind the scenes with the Aggies (for an upcoming story), I was very tempted to pick the big upset. I'm convinced Johnny Manziel and the A&M offense are that good ... but the Aggies are young and will miss DB Floyd Raven, their most physical player and a great special teamer. And, it's really, really, really hard to beat Nick Saban twice in a row.
Washington 31, Illinois 24: I like the improvement the Illini have made on offense, but Keith Price has gotten a lot better too. Huskies DC Justin Wilcox should be able to slow down Nathan Scheelhasse enough.
Ohio State 35, California 24: Urban Meyer has two really talented QBs and the Buckeyes have enough athletes to handle the trip west. Young Jared Goff and a gifted crop of young receivers will give OSU some problems.
Oklahoma State 55, Lamar 10: Despite the distractions around the Cowboys' program, OK State still will have little trouble here.
Mississippi 27, Texas 23: The Longhorns are banged up and just had a staff shakeup. Hugh Freeze's team is banged up but has had extra time to get ready for this one. Expect the young Rebels, who already have a nice road win this year (at Vandy), to pull the upset.
Arizona State 24, Wisconsin 17: Neither team has played anyone close to decent this season. My hunch is to go with the home team since I think they're pretty close in skill level, it's not an easy trip and it's late at night Badgers time.