I picked Northwestern to win last week. As you well know, the Wildcats almost got it done against Ohio State. But not only did they fall short on the scoreboard, they failed to cover the point spread thanks to a crazy final play that had worst-of-all-worlds ramifications for NU believers who’d put their money where their mouths were.
That ending also hurt the Six-Pack’s season mark against the spread, but no worries here. Why? Because it also reportedly cost Las Vegas more than $100 million. That’s all kinds of awesome, isn’t it?
But let’s move on. Somehow, Pat Fitzgerald and NU had to do that immediately last weekend, with a date at Wisconsin up next on the schedule. You don’t go sluggishly into Camp Randall Stadium unless you’re OK with losing by 30. We’ll learn even more about the makeup of the Wildcats this Saturday than we did last Saturday.
OK, here we go:
1. NO. 25 MISSOURI AT NO. 7 GEORGIA
The facts: 11 a.m., ESPN.
The records: Missouri 5-0, 1-0 SEC; Georgia 4-1, 3-0.
The line: Georgia by 8.
The story line: There are two whopper questions that precede this SEC East matchup. First: Are the Bulldogs too banged up, with multiple wideouts and likely their top two running backs out with injury, to compete with a ranked team? But also: Do the Tigers really have any business being lumped among the top 25 teams in the country? Mizzou has had impressive victories at Indiana and Vanderbilt, but Athens is a whole new world for Gary Pinkel’s program. Which reminds us of this mostly unrelated but must-listen-to-right-now gem of a year-old radio interview. Awkward Pinkel moments galore.
Greenberg’s pick: Georgia, 34-28.
2.NO. 17 FLORIDA AT NO. 10 LSU
The facts: 2:30 p.m., Ch. 2.
The records: Florida 4-1, 3-0 SEC; LSU 5-1, 2-1.
The line: LSU by 7.
The story line: NFL scouts are drooling over this one, and not only because it pits LSU’s dynamite pro-style offense against the country’s best defense, More specifically, it features the matchup of the best pair of wideouts in college football, LSU’s Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., against the Gators’ spectacular trio of cornerbacks: Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and Vernon Hargreaves III. This is top-end SEC talent on full display.
Greenberg’s pick: LSU, 24-20.
3. NO. 19 NORTHWESTERN AT WISCONSIN
The facts: 2:30 p.m., Ch. 7.
The records: Northwestern 4-1, 0-1 Big Ten; Wisconsin 3-2, 1-1.
The line: Wisconsin by 10.
The story line: How about that huge point spread — crazy, isn’t it? Wonder what it would’ve been had NU beaten Ohio State. Probably a field goal at most. The Badgers have long scored in unmerciful bunches in Madison. If the Melvin Gordon- and James White-led Badgers running game gets untracked, as OSU’s did, UW could give the Wildcats an even harder time than the Buckeyes did. NU’s offense is pretty good, too, though, and we’re believers in Fitzgerald’s — and his players’ — toughness. Blowout? Not happening.
Greenberg’s pick: Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 30.
4. NO. 2 OREGON AT NO. 16 WASHINGTON
The facts: 3 p.m., FS1.
The records: Oregon 5-0, 2-0 Pac-12; Washington 4-1, 1-1.
The line: Oregon by 13½.
The story line: Care to guess when the Ducks last lost a true road game? It was in 2009 at Stanford. (Warning: You’ll want to punch this narrator in the face.) The streak of 18 consecutive road victories isn’t going to end now. Washington is one of the fastest-rising programs in college football, but Oregon is the wrong team at the wrong time for the Huskies — coming off a hard-fought loss at Stanford — to face. Watch as Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota leaps toward the very front of the Heisman Trophy race.
Greenberg’s pick: Oregon, 44-24.
5.NO. 18 MICHIGAN AT PENN STATE
The facts: 4 p.m., ESPN.
The records: Michigan 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten; Penn State 3-2, 0-1.
The line: Michigan by 2½.
The story line: Everybody is impressed with the job Bill O’Brien has done since taking over at Penn State, but last week’s 20-point defeat at Indiana may have been a tipping point for a team that also has lost to Central Florida. The Nittany Lions simply aren’t what they used to be. Michigan has been wholly unimpressive at times this season — embarrassingly bad, really — but this is a good chance to turn things around.
Greenberg’s pick: Michigan, 27-17.
6. NO. 9 TEXAS A&M AT MISSISSIPPI
The facts: 7:30 p.m., ESPN.
The records: Texas A&M 4-1, 1-1 SEC; Mississippi 3-2, 1-2.
The line: Texas A&M by 6.
The story line: These are kindred-spirit programs in the SEC West, both trying to appeal to star recruits who’d rather take down the likes of Alabama and LSU than join forces with them. The Aggies are a tad ahead of Ole Miss in the process; plus, they have quarterback Johnny Manziel to give them a chance in any game, anywhere, anytime. But the Rebels have some of the best young talent in America, and six straight games at home starting with this one.
Greenberg’s pick: Ole Miss, 41-37.
LAST WEEK, STRAIGHT UP:3-3.
LAST WEEK, AGAINST THE SPREAD:3-3.
SEASON, STRAIGHT UP:22-8.
SEASON, AGAINST THE SPREAD:15-13-2.