They say it’s not how you start but how you finish and I’m taking on some some serious water while steering this fair ship. Last week’s abominable 1-4 performance leaves the season mark at 30-27, a 52.6 percent clip, short of the 55 break-even point. The pressure is on.
OHIO STATE (-11.5) at Michigan: The Buckeyes average nearly 45 points/ game and are fourth in explosiveness. They gain more than 6 yards/carry and J.T. Barrett is seventh in pass efficiency. The defense has held opponents to 14 points or less in five contests and regained its stiffness following the Iowa debacle. Michigan does not sport a competent quarterback, couldn’t rush the football against Wisconsin last week, and struggles to score (82nd). There’s also the little thing of Ohio State winning 13 of the last 15 meetings between these two. Expect Jim Harbaugh’s guys to put up a solid fight for almost three quarters, but bow to the superior talent late. Ohio State 31, Michigan 14.
Alabama at AUBURN (+5): While I think some of the claims of Alabama’s vulnerability have been overstated this year, this has all the makings of a barn-burner. Auburn eviscerated top-ranked Georgia and has the speed and line play to put a dent in the Tide via the rushing attack. Jarrett Stidham has exceeded expectations with his efficiency and ball security. Nick Saban in 0-6 against his rival when it has 9 wins going into the game. Expect a limited-possession game andJalen Hurts to find himself needing to be the hero late. Alabama 21, Auburn 17.
Virginia Tech at VIRGINIA (+7.5): The Hokies defense is imposing but the offense leaves a bit to be desired. Pitt pushed this team to the brink last week. Rivalry games are always screwy. Playing a hunch. Virginia 25, Virginia Tech 24.
Indiana at PURDUE (-2.5): Hoosier state bragging rights, as well as a bowl berth, are on the line. The two teams are very evenly matched. Jeff Brohm has show the ability to field a competitive and tough team every weekend. Give me the home team with the better defense. Purdue 30, Indiana 20.
Notre Dame at Stanford (UNDER 57): David Shaw’s ability to melt clock is unmatched. The Irish are also a run-heavy side. The fact that Notre Dame is second in yards/carry and the Cardinal defense has been somewhat ineffective against the rush is scary. Eight points against Miami and 24 against Navy, on the other hand, is less so. Notre Dame 24, Stanford 21.