A few tasteful games on tap this week, or at least, considerably better than last week. Alabama visits Arkansas in Saturday afternoon's biggest game, with the West Virginia Mountaineers' first trip to Baton Rouge being the highlight of the night games. In my silent protest of Andy Reid doing his best John Kerry flip-flop impression and naming Michael Vick the Eagles' starting QB, I'm going with nothing but dogs this week.
NOTRE DAME (+4.5) over Stanford
Even though I rode them to a comfortable win a few weeks ago over UCLA, I'm still not totally ready to buy Stanford. Not that I have the utmost confidence in Notre Dame either, but they do have the quick-strike ability on offense that will keep them in every game they play and are two or three plays away from being 3-0. Even though Stanford is probably the better team, I'm not crazy about laying more than a field goal in South Bend with a sophomore QB and re-tooled offense.
ARKANSAS (+7) over Alabama
My first thought was to go with Alabama until they give you a reason not to, but you have to give the Razorbacks a puncher's chance at home. This could be the national breakout for Ryan Mallett if Arkansas can put a scare into the Tide in the 3:30 feature game. It sounds cliché, but if Arkansas can control the game's pace and provide a respectable defensive effort against the Alabama running game, we could have an interesting one until the end.
West Virginia (+9.5) over LSU
The money has been pouring in on LSU this week (the Tigers opened as a 7-point favorite) with conceivable reason. West Virginia faces a tall task in Death Valley, and simply getting the ball to Noel Devine in space won't be enough. However, these isn't the LSU of JaMarcus Russell-Jacob Hester-Glenn Dorsey anymore, and the Mountaineer offense may just be multi-faceted enough for the first time in 3 years to keep it within single digits. Keeping my fingers crossed that WVU cornerback Brandon Hogan gets the nod to play from Bill Stewart after his day at the Braylon Edwards Driving School last week.
Oregon State (+17.5) over BOISE STATE
Echoing Kevin's sentiment about the Boise hype, I'm pulling for Oregon State here. I also think this line is 4-5 points too high so my decision is easy. This is Boise's last game against a real opponent before it goes back to facing the likes of Louisiana Tech and Idaho, and Oregon State has an alarming recent history of knocking off Top-3 opponents, so something's gotta give. Bonus points to the Beavers for painting their practice field blue this week to mimic Boise State's turf. And of course, any writeup on Oregon State would be incomplete without saying it.....Jacquizz Rodgers!
ARIZONA STATE (+11.5) over Oregon
The Ducks are 3-0 ATS this year and have covered some big numbers along the way. Of course you can also say this is the first time they're playing a team that's worth a damn, but we'll find that out late Saturday night. The Sun Devils gave Wisconsin all they could handle last week, and former Michigan QB Steven Threet looks now to be in an offense that compliments his abilities. Oregon is going to have to watch its step here in Tempe if it is to remain on the fringe of the title conversation. I think the Ducks win ugly.
Last Week: 3-1-1