This coming weekend’s slate of college football games is as bleak an assortment as I can remember. If one didn’t know better, they’d think some sort of collusion was at play in an effort to bring a nation down after last Saturday’s glut of marquee matchups. If you’re lucky enough to find something that holds your interest and keeps your remote control at bay, hold on with a tight grip and ride that wave. Another may not come.
To the picks …
Tulane at Oklahoma (OVER 57.5): The Sooners may have a bit of a letdown after beating Ohio State, but Baker Mayfield seems determined to write a whole new script this year. A dynamic offense is averaging 43 points a game and has no shortage of playmakers. Tulane, stingy on defense thus far, is coming off Navy’s triple-option attack, which has been known to present lingering problems. Oklahoma figures to build a big lead, then get some new bodies in the game. Green Wave quarterback Jonathan Banks has been effective and a run-heavy gameplan could eventually yield success against OU’s second unit. Oklahoma 45, Tulane 14.
Ole Miss at CALIFORNIA (+4): Rebels quarterback Shea Patterson has beat up on two bad teams at home and looked very impressive doing so. Let’s see how his game translates to the West Coast, in a hostile atmosphere. Cal has a road victory over UNC under its belt and more balance on offense. Ole Miss is allowing 25 points per game and haven’t played anyone. Points will be aplenty. Poise will be in shorter supply — and more on the home side. Prediction: California 38, Ole Miss 35.
Baylor at DUKE (-14): The Bears have lost two home games — one to Liberty and one to UTSA. They are a rudderless ship. A quarterback change to Zach Smith won’t help. Duke, on the other hand, embarrassed Northwestern last week. The Blue Devils are averaging 50 points a game led by dual-threat Daniel Jones, who must be licking his chops. Trust me when I say Baylor is so much worse than you think and Duke will finish this year in the Top 20. Duke 55, Baylor 20.
Wisconsin at BYU (OVER 41): Look, BYU’s offense hasn’t shown up yet. The Cougars and Wisconsin are both gifted defensively, giving up a combined 29 points per game thus far. But if you see a college football game with an over-under this low, you have to take it on principle. The Badgers are rushing for 295 yards/contest and LSU was able to run all over BYU. A repeat may be afoot. Wisconsin 28, BYU 14.
Louisiana State at MISSISSIPPI STATE (+7): The Bulldogs haven’t played anyone. LSU beat BYU, which may not be something to write home about. The atmosphere should be electric. Danny Etling looks great but I’ve seen enough Tiger quarterbacks fail to get it done on the road. Going against the grain here but seven points is a lot to lay on the road. LSU 23, Mississippi State 17.
2017 record: 6-5