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I've reached the point where I'm considering figuring out what my Lock of the Week should be ... and then going against it for my pick. I'm having an excellent season overall at 28-20 following a 4-2 performance last week, but the Lock of the Week was wrong yet again, dropping it to 3-5 on the year. That means I'm 3-5 on my favorite play of the week and 25-15 on the other 40.

I'm not going to do it, though. I will trust my instincts and hope things even out as we approach the back half of the 2021 regular season. Unless it loses again this week, that is. 

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Games of the Week

No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State 

Latest Odds: Michigan Wolverines -4

Believe it or not, this is only the 18th time in the long history between these programs that both teams are ranked at the time. It's only the fifth time both have been ranked in the top 10, with the last one being all the way back in 1967. This game will also serve as the toughest test for either to this point, and while I'm leaning Michigan's direction, I can't pass up the Spartans and the points.

As efficient as the Wolverines' offense has been (12th nationally in points per possession, 22nd in success rate), it's also one-dimensional. Michigan runs the ball 65.4% of the time, which is the sixth-highest rate in the country. It does this because it's good at running the ball ... and not so good at throwing it. Michigan State's defense has not been great against the run by any stretch, but it's hard to cover as a road favorite when you run the ball as often as the Wolverines do without offering much in the passing game. 

And while Michigan's offense has been strong overall, it ranks 67th nationally in red zone efficiency. That's another factor that makes it difficult for me to trust them as favorites of this size against a Michigan State offense that's capable as well. Michigan 27, Michigan State 24 | Michigan State +4

Latest Odds: Under 67.5

No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 18 Auburn: The totals for Ole Miss games continue to be posted too high, but you won't hear any complaints from me. Betting the under in Ole Miss games has been a profitable 3-1 in the Rebels' four SEC games. Ole Miss has averaged 3.34 points per possession with a success rate of 51.6% on the season, but those numbers drop to 2.93 points per possession and 47.9% in SEC play. That includes the Arkansas game when the Rebels scored 4.33 points per possession. Simply put, this offense hasn't been as good as it's been perceived.

Ole Miss will be on the road against an Auburn defense that ranks 30th in points allowed per possession and has been solid all season long. The Tigers also have an offense that isn't spectacular, but they will be able to control the ball, keeping Matt Corral and Co. off the field as much as possible. This isn't going to be a boring rock fight, but it's not going to be a shootout, either. Auburn 31, Ole Miss 27 | Under 66

Lock of the Week

Latest Odds: Maryland Terrapins -3.5

Indiana at Maryland: The Hoosiers have been one of the season's biggest disappointments, but we probably shouldn't hold that against them. Yes, they're only 2-5, but those losses came to Iowa, Cincinnati, Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State. All five are currently ranked in the top 20 of the AP Top 25 and have a combined record of 31-2. So you'll have to forgive me if I'm not ready to trust Maryland as a 5.5-point favorite when it's only 4-3 itself.

The Terps' lone Big Ten win was 20-17 over 3-5 Illinois, and they've been outscored 151-47 in their last three games against Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota. Maryland has also been one of the worst red zone offenses in the country, scoring touchdowns on only 50% of their trips. It's hard to trust a team that can't finish drives to cover as a favorite, so I'm not going to. Update: Following publication, Indiana announced QB Jack Tuttle will be a game-time decision. If he doesn't play, do not make this bet.  Indiana 27, Maryland 24 | Indiana +5.5

Under of the Week

Latest Odds: Under 43.5

Minnesota at Northwestern: There's not a lot to think about here. Minnesota has been quite limited offensively, ranking 67th in points scored per possession and 48th in success rate. Those numbers aren't bad, but the Gophers offense isn't dissimilar to that of an option team. They run the ball 70% of the time. Only Army, Air Force and Navy run the ball more frequently. That's part of the reason Minnesota has run only 455 plays on offense -- that ranks 108th nationally -- because the clock never stops. On the other side, Northwestern's offense is terrible in every metric. Whether on the ground or in the air, the Wildcats can't do much of anything. They rank 117th in points per possession and 102nd in success rate. They've only managed to score on 24.4% of their possessions, which ranks 122nd.

Defensively, neither team is elite, but both are good. Add it all up, and you're likely to get a pretty dull game. Minnesota 23, Northwestern 16 | Under 43.5

Over of the Week

Latest Odds: Over 54

Kansas at No. 15 Oklahoma State: I'm going against the grain in this one, but the total is too low. Now, the reason it's so low is that Oklahoma State ranks 107th in points per possession while Kansas is 118th. In success rate, Oklahoma State is 83rd while Kansas is in dead last at 130th. They've been bad! But not so bad that I don't think they can reach the over.

While the Cowboys' overall numbers haven't been great, they've faced a lot of solid defenses. The Kansas defense they'll face on Saturday is not solid, however; it's horrible. The Jayhawks pair an offense that ranks 118th nationally in points per possession with a defense that ranks 129th in points allowed per possession. Kansas' opponents have scored on an incredible 55.7% of their possessions. Only the UMass defense has allowed points more often. So while I'm banking on the Oklahoma State offense to do most of the work in reaching this over, I suspect that the Jayhawks will do just enough to get us past it too. Oklahoma State 48, Kansas 17 | Over 54.5

Gut Check of the Week

Latest Odds: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets -3.5

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech: This is a scary proposition. Virginia Tech is at a pivotal part of their season. Coach Justin Fuente is on a boiling seat after losing the last three games, and now the Hokies are on the road against a pretty mediocre Georgia Tech. If the Hokies lose this one, we could see the release announcing Fuente's firing on Sunday.

This is a must-win for the Hokies, and while the team hasn't been good, this hasn't struck me as the kind of situation in which it has quit on its coach. If you don't want to follow me here, that's fine, but my numbers and my gut tell me this is the right play, and I trust what they're telling me. Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 28 | Virginia Tech +4

SportsLine Pick of the Week

No. 20 Penn State at No. 5 Ohio State: Whoops! I ran out of space here, but I have a play on this game I like a lot. If you want to see what it is, just check out my SportsLine page.


Last WeekSeason

Games of the Week

2-0

11-5

Lock of the Week

0-1

3-5

Overall

4-2

28-20

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 9, and which top-10 team will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,900 in profit over the past five-plus seasons -- and find out.