I'm back after a few weeks of not getting a column up here, but starting a new job, moving, not having internet, and getting the flu will do that to you. Thankfully I'm now settled in and once again able to maintain a steady body temperature. Even though there were no columns published, I still got 5 picks in each week and got them on the record via email or text to Kevin, and those picks were:
Week 6 (3-2-0)
Miami (+6) over VIRGINIA TECH
Oklahoma (-10.5) over Texas
ARKANSAS (-8) over Auburn
NEBRASKA (-10) over Ohio St
Florida (+12) over LSU
Week 7 (2-3-0)
Baylor (+9.5) over TEXAS A&M
Michigan (+3) over MICH ST
Oklahoma State (-7) over TEXAS
Florida (-2) over AUBURN
Arizona State (+14.5) over OREGON
So, a naturally mediocre 5-5 over the past few weeks brings us to Week 8, which contains considerably fewer juicy matchups when compared to the past month or so. Home teams in CAPS.
West Virginia (-14) over SYRACUSE (Friday Night)
The Orange are a respectable 4-2, but now they run into by far the best team that they are going to see this season. West Virginia should frighten the hell out of me in this spot laying double digits on the road in what could be a fired-up Carrier Dome, but the Mountaineers have been a second-half team all year and should be able to flex their muscle over the course of 60 minutes and show Syracuse why 4-2 in the Big East is, well, 4-2 in the Big East. Dana Holgorsen's offense keeps scoring and scoring, and Syracuse does not figure to be able to do enough through the air to keep up.
Southern California (+8.5) over NOTRE DAME
I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. Neither team in this game is ranked. USC is 5-1, Notre Dame 4-2. The Trojans don't have a signature win and came up short in their only really tough game thus far (Arizona State). Notre Dame does have a signature win (Week 3 vs. Michigan State), but is that plus two straight trouncings of mediocre Air Force and Purdue enough to make the Irish this big of a favorite? While it's fair to say Notre Dame has gotten its head out of its ass after their 0-2 start, I just don't see their defense intimidating three-year starter Matt Barkley one bit. Give me the points and let's hope for a good one.
Wisconsin (-7.5) over MICHIGAN STATE
I really wanted to take Sparty here, but Wisconsin is too good. They beat the hell out of you up front on offense, and while Michigan State defends the run very well, it's very tough to hold up against the Badgers' offensive line for 60 minutes. Do the Spartans have an answer for Russell Wilson? In the end, I don't think they will. This has a chance to be a very good game, but I think the Badgers go on a long 4th-quarter touchdown drive to go up by 11 points and send the fans toward the exits in East Lansing.
LSU (-22.5) over Auburn
Will the real Auburn team please rise and come to the front of the line? The reigning national champions (remember that?) got embarrassed two weeks ago by Arkansas but rebounded to beat Florida last week. The difference? Auburn hasn't put together a truly solid effort on the road yet this season. LSU, meanwhile, is lights-out at home on both sides of the ball (41.2 ppg offensively, 199.5 total ypg allowed defensively). The huge spread here is begging you to take Auburn, so I'll go the other way and say LSU covers it. Who knows, maybe The Mad Hatter will have another fancy special teams play up his sleeve, like the fake punt against Florida that I can't stop watching.
Washington (+21) over STANFORD
The 5-1 Huskies are making a cameo in the Top 25 and present The Andrew Luck Show with their biggest (and maybe their only) test to date before the schedule gets serious down the stretch. Will the Cardinal be looking past Washington and toward the upcoming month, which features dates with USC and Oregon before closing out the regular season against Notre Dame? I'm not a big believer in that cop-out theory (I love it when blowhards act as if they're in a team's locker room and on their practice field every day), but Washington has a lot to prove in Palo Alto and since they played Nebraska pretty well in an equally tough spot in Week 3, I'll cross my fingers and take my chances being spotted 3 touchdowns.