The Six Pack: Notre Dame taking care of business leads slate of college football picks

You know, the thing about gambling is that no matter how much time and research you put into making a bet, you still have to have luck on your side. I went 3-2-1 last week, meaning The Six Pack has gone 8-3-1 the previous two weeks, but it could have been better, or it could have been worse.

If Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams had just gone down after picking up a first down, the Aggies could have just run out the clock and beaten Ole Miss 31-24 ,and our Lock of the Week would have won. Instead, Williams went over 50 yards for a touchdown, and the Aggies won 38-24, ruining our cover even if Ole Miss (+12) seemed like a sure thing with the Rebels trailing by three with five minutes to play. So we could have gone 4-1-1 last week.

On the other side of that coin, had Tua Tagovailoa not banged up his knee in Alabama's 24-0 win over Mississippi State, the Tide probably get another touchdown or two with him on the field, and I don't get my push on Mississippi State (+24), and I'm 3-3. That looks a lot worse than 3-2-1, just like 8-4 over the last two weeks wouldn't look as good as 8-3-1.

The point is that no matter how much work you put in, or how sound your logic, luck will always play a role. So, even if I'm incredibly confident in my picks this week -- and I am -- I'll still have my fingers crossed. Every little bit helps.

Games of the Week

No. 3 Notre Dame (-10) vs. No. 12 Syracuse (at Yankee Stadium): This is a massive game for both teams, and many consider this the last real obstacle between Notre Dame and Syracuse. At first, I thought this would be a game that Notre Dame would lose, but then when I took a closer look at the matchup, I realized I was wrong. I don't think the Irish are good enough to be a threat to either Alabama or Clemson in a College Football Playoff matchup, but they're a lot better than this Syracuse team. Don't get me wrong, the Orange are good, and they're fun, but they've taken advantage of bad teams in recent weeks, and it's inflating their value in this line.

The Orange have played four games outside the Carrier Dome this season and have lost two of them. They've allowed 34.25 points per game in those four. One of those road games came against Clemson, which is the best defense Syracuse has faced all season. Notre Dame's defense will be the second-best it's faced all season, and I expect the Orange to struggle moving the ball just like they did against Clemson. Their 23 points against Clemson was their lowest output of the season, but the difference is that game was one in which Trevor Lawrence got injured and missed a lot of the game. Well, Ian Book is Notre Dame's version of Trevor Lawrence, and Dexter Williams is its answer for Travis Etienne. The fact everybody expects Notre Dame to lose this game now has me convinced it'll roll (and then fall to USC next week). Notre Dame 41, Syracuse 27

No. 11 UCF (-7) vs. No. 24 Cincinnati: I have conflicting feelings about UCF this season. The truth is I don't think the 2018 version of UCF is as good as the 2017 version, and this team is getting a little too much credit for things last year's team accomplished. As far as the best teams in the Group of Five are concerned, UCF has the best record, but I'm not convinced it would beat teams like Utah State or Fresno State.

But that doesn't mean I don't think it's the best team in the AAC. It is. Cincinnati has had a good season, but like UCF, it's done so against a weak schedule. Using S&P+ schedule metric, Cincinnati has played a softer schedule than UCF has, and it's only beaten two teams ranked in the top 60 of its rankings. While the Bearcats have a defense sturdy enough to slow UCF down, it can't stop the Knights completely, and I don't trust this Bearcats offense will be able to keep up throughout 60 minutes. UCF 35, Cincinnati 24

Lock of the Week

FIU (-5.5) at Charlotte: Oh hell yeah, we're going to Conference USA for our lock because this is where the value is this week. Now, I don't view FIU as an excellent team, but it's a team that has done an excellent job of beating up teams it's better than. So far this season, the Panthers have played three teams ranked in the top 100 of the S&P+ rankings. It has lost all three of those games. Its other six games have come against teams ranked 100 or lower ... or not ranked at all (Arkansas-Pine Bluff). The Panthers have won all six of those games by an average of 29 points per game, and they've gone 4-1 ATS in those games. Charlotte is currently ranked No. 113 in S&P+. They're also 4-0 ATS on the road this season, and they aren't getting nearly enough credit with this line. FIU 31, Charlotte 21

Under of the Week

Miami at Virginia Tech (Under 51.5): I've done well with unders in both Virginia Tech and Miami games this season, so it only makes sense that I'd take the under when they're playing one another. These two play every season as ACC Coastal counterparts, and in their last 15 meetings the under has gone 11-4. Throw in the fact both of these teams have had disappointing seasons, and I'm not sure how much motivation either side will have in this game. I mean, unless they're both desperate to get to Shreveport for the Independence Bowl. Miami 27, Virginia Tech 21

Underdog of the Week

Wisconsin (+4.5) at Purdue: Purdue is a hard team to get a read on. One week, the Boilermakers are beating Ohio State 49-20, the next they're looking incompetent on offense during a 23-13 loss to Michigan State. Then they follow that up with a 38-36 shootout win over Iowa, which is followed by a 41-10 loss to Minnesota that nobody could have seen coming. It's because of this lack of consistency that I have trouble trusting the Boilermakers as a 4.5-point favorite over Wisconsin right now. If Minnesota was able to rush for 265 yards against Purdue last week, what will Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin be able to do to this defense? Oh, and let's not forget that Louisville fired Bobby Petrino over the weekend, so now everybody is talking about Jeff Brohm leaving for Louisville. Brohm's doing the best he can, but that's going to be a distraction at some point. Players hear the rumors, too. Wisconsin 27, Purdue 23

Late Night Game of the Week

San Diego State (+13) at Fresno State: Earlier in this column, I said that I'm not sure UCF could beat Fresno State, and now here I am telling you that a San Diego State team that just lost to UNLV last week will cover this spread against the Bulldogs. Well, that doesn't mean I think the Aztecs will win. I believe that, stylistically, this is a difficult matchup for Fresno State. One they should win, but I expect Rocky Long's defense to be at its best following a bad loss. Fresno will get the win, but it will have to fight for it. Fresno State 24, San Diego State 14

SportsLine Bonus Pick of the Week

No. 16 Iowa State at No. 15 Texas: Both of these teams remain alive in the Big 12 title race, so it's a must in in Austin on Saturday night. The Longhorns are 3-point favorites with the total set at 47. I have a strong play available on this game which you can only read at SportsLine.

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CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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