There are a lot of pollsters taking a major hit this week after getting the results of the Presidential election very wrong, and I have to say that I can empathize with all of them right now.
They weren't the only ones taking a bath this week.
I was crushed in my picks last week. It was definitely the worst week I've had this season, and it tied for my worst mark in any week in the long two-season history of this column.
I went 1-5. Even if I break up the three games in last week's Hail Mary into separate picks, things don't get much better, as my record was still 2-7.
The good news is that after I went 1-5 last year, I followed it up with a 5-1 mark the next week, and that included a clean sweep of the individual game picks, as it was only the Hail Mary that failed to pull through. So I'm heading into this weekend's slate looking for a similar recovery.
Games of the week
No. 20 USC (+8) at No. 4 Washington: This line has actually moved a point to Washington (-9) since I posted the Twitter poll on Monday morning, but that's all the better for you if you haven't made your pick yet, because I think USC is going to cover this spread. In fact, while it isn't relevant here for our purposes, I've actually picked USC to pull off the upset on Saturday in Seattle.
My reasoning is simple. We're dealing with a USC team that has been improving as the season has gone along. It has covered the spread in three straight and four of the last five. Making the change to Sam Darnold at quarterback has certainly played a role in this, but even with as well as Darnold has played, what I've seen is a USC team that's been much better running the ball.
In the first four games of the season, the Trojans offense was averaging 4.3 yards per carry. In its last five games, that number has increased more than two full yards to 6.4 yards per carry. On the other side of that, we have a Washington defense that was allowing 3.04 yards per carry through its first five games and has given up 4.9 yards per carry in its last four games. So the thought process here is that USC will be able to run the ball against the Huskies defense, and the loss of Joe Mathis won't help Washington either. He's not only the team's leader in sacks, but he was a disruptive force in the run defense as well. You may not feel as comfortable in the USC upset as I do, but you should feel safe taking the Trojans and the points. USC 27, Washington 23
Twitter poll: Washington -8 (66 percent)
No. 11 Oklahoma (-14.5) vs. Baylor: I was originally going to take Baylor and the points in this spot, but in the end, I can't pull the trigger on the pick. There's just too much going on at Baylor right now that doesn't have anything to do with the football on the field, and I believe we saw one of the results of that in the team's performance against TCU last week.
There's a divide among the coaching staff as members of it are sending out statements in support for Art Briles before the game without Jim Grobe even knowing about it. You have Shock Linwood being suspended for "attitude issues" shortly after a report said Linwood shoved an assistant.
Nothing about the program seems to be in a good place right now, and it just wouldn't shock me at all if the players and coaches on the team are in full-on "let's just get this over with" mode. It sure felt that way last week.
On the other side of the coin, we have an Oklahoma team with some defensive issues, but one that's just in a better place right now, and has a few extra days of rest after playing at Iowa State last week. So I'm going with the Sooners. Oklahoma 44, Baylor 24
Twitter Poll: Oklahoma -14.5 (59 percent)
Lock of the week
Texas (-2) vs. No. 16 West Virginia: So it turns out that it's possible to think that West Virginia is underrated by the College Football Playoff and on the verge of losing to Texas at the same time. The reason for this is that while I think West Virginia deserves to be ranked higher based on what it's done, I'm not a huge believer in its ability to keep doing so moving forward. Texas is a team that's turned the corner this season after a horrible start, has covered in four of its last five, and is a perfect 4-0 ATS at home. West Virginia, meanwhile, is starting to look a little leakier on defense and is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games. I think whatever playoff hopes it still had are dashed in Austin. Texas 34, West Virginia 24
Underdog of the week
Hawaii (+17.5) vs. No. 22 Boise State: I always tend to lean towards Hawaii as an underdog at home just because of the travel involved for the team it's playing, and that certainly plays a role here. Also playing a role is that, unlike most Hawaii home games which are played at night, this will actually be a 2 p.m. local start. Of course, these explanations may not be enough for you, so I'll provide you a bit more reasoning. Does the fact that Boise has failed to cover in any of its last four games, or the fact that it's only 3-6 ATS this season, do anything for you? How about Hawaii being 5-2 ATS as an underdog? Boise State's a good team, but it's just overestimated against Mountain West opponents too often when it comes to the spreads in these games. Boise State 37, Hawaii 21
Over/Under of the week
Rutgers at Michigan State (Under 56): These are just two bad teams without anything left to play for. While I think Rutgers will have plenty of motivation to get up for playing Michigan State, I have serious doubts that a Spartans team that's already been eliminated from bowl consideration is going to be pumped about playing Rutgers in the early afternoon. I just see a groggy slugfest taking place here between two offenses that haven't show much ability to do anything this season, so I'm going under. Michigan State 24, Rutgers 13
Hail Mary Parlay of the week
If you aren't familiar with the HMP, a quick refresher: It's essentially a three-game parlay, but you only bet one game at a time. If the first game wins, you use the winnings on the next game, and so on. It's a play that won't come through most of the time (though it has twice this season, including last week), but when it does, it pays off nicely.
Saturday afternoon: Iowa State at Kansas (Under 56)
|Last Week||2016 Overall|
|Games of the Week||0-2||10-10|
|Lock of the Week||0-1||4-6|
|Underdog of the Week||0-1||7-3|
|Over/Under of the Week||1-0||6-4|
|Hail Mary Parlay||0-1||2-8|