Because it's Thanksgiving week and most people (including myself) are on vacation right now, I'm going to keep my column short this week. Here are my picks, along with some brief analysis. My usual brilliant wit and humor may be somewhat lacking this week as I'm currently full of tryptophan, Saranac caramel porter and pumpkin pie. Hope you're all having a great holiday weekend and taking some time to be appreciative of the good things in your life. I'll be back in full force next week to talk about the conference championship games.
Syracuse -8 over Temple
The Cuse are playing really well right now. Temple isn't good. I think this will be a 2-3 touchdown victory for the Orange.
LSU -11 over Arkansas
It's over for Arkansas. Their team has completely given up on this season. If John L. Smith wasn't $50 million in debt he would be resigning to "spend more time with his family" on Monday, but alas I'm guessing he'll be unceremonious dismissed instead. Meanwhile LSU is starting to show some semblance of an offense. Blowout game.
West Virginia / Iowa State OVER 68.5
WVU can't stop anyone.
Louisville -11.5 over UConn
Louisville is coming off a really bad loss. They should be fired up. UConn's defense can slow them down for a little while, but not for a full 4 quarters. I think this is tight at halftime and ends 38-17 or something like that.
Ohio State -3.5 over Michigan
This Ohio State team has no business finishing the season undefeated, but it looks like that might happen anyway. This Michigan squad doesn't seem like the team to beat them. I know it's a rivalry game, so the Wolverines should play with passion and physicality, but Ohio State has the distinct talent advantage. Who would have thought that in Denard Robinson's senior season, Ohio State would be the one with the advantage of a highly-athletic quarterback?
Rutgers +2 over Pittsburgh
The Big East is Rutgers' to lose. I like the Knights to win this game outright.
Oregon -9.5 over Oregon State
No pick here. Oregon is the better team but you can't sleep on the Beavers, who have homefield advantage and the added emotion of a rivalry game.
Wisconsin +2.5 over Penn State
Penn State's final game of the season, and the last collegiate game ever for guys like Gerald Hodges, Matt McGloin and Michael Mauti (who sadly won't get to play, but will be able to experience one last roar of the Beaver Stadium crowd). Those guys should be commended for their commitment to the Penn State program. Not just for staying at the University, but for playing hard, maintaining a positive attitude and refusing to let the 2012 Nittany Lions team be mocked or vilified. Penn State will replace those guys' talent but they may never replace their leadership. Unfortunately I think the Lions will fall short in their 2012 finale. Wisconsin is playing well, and Monte Ball should have a field day against the depleted Penn State defense.
Alabama -32.5 over Auburn
So the other day I found out Auburn was under investigation by the NCAA and my first thought was, "hmmm, I wonder what player could possibly be the cause of this?" Hey NCAA, you don't need to mention that you've investigating Auburn AND Cam Newton. Just say you're investigating Auburn and we'll figure out the rest. Moving on to the game. This year's Auburn team is not just bad, they're historically bad. No wins over SEC opponents, hell, no wins over any decent opponent. Farewell Gene Chizik, thanks for the National Championship, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Oklahoma State +6.5 over Oklahoma
Oklahoma is overrated, Oklahoma State is underrated. This should be a tight game.
Stanford -2.5 over UCLA
Stanford is a very good team whose strength just happens to be stopping speedy players in the open field. That's a pretty good strength to have when you play in the PAC-12. I think this game plays out a lot like last week's Stanford-Oregon game, with the Cardinal winning by 3-7 points (in regulation this time).
Clemson -4 over South Carolina
Aside from the one loss to Florida State, in which the Clemson defense really let the team down, the Tigers have played very well this entire season. South Carolina on the other hand has been getting progressively worse with each passing week. I'd prefer this line at -3 but I'll lay the points and take Clemson in a home night game.
Notre Dame -5.5 over USC
As much as I've tried to put down Notre Dame this year, over the past few weeks I've had to finally submit and give them their due praise. Stanford = quality win. Oklahoma = quality win. Pittsburgh = the kind of gutty performance that every champion has to go through. I'm not ready to crown the Irish just yet, but I do think they win this game and head to Miami in January to face the SEC champs.
BUT, let me just say this. Everyone is handing this game to the Irish because of Matt Barkley's injury. Let's take a look at USC's recent history, shall we? Carson Palmer's backup was an unknown guy named Matt Leinart. Leinart's backup was some guy named Matt Cassel who never played, oh, until he became an NFL starter. After Leinart left school, USC was forced to suffer through a year with future NFL player John David Booty before starting some unknown guy named Mark Sanchez. And after Sanchez left, they started an inexperienced and untested freshman named Matt Barkley. You see what I'm getting at. Let's not freak out just because USC has to play a new quarterback. Nobody knows who Max Wittek is right now, but that could all change very soon.
I'll take Notre Dame in this game, but it wouldn't surprise me if USC hung with the Irish or even pulled out an upset. But that's not the most likely scenario, and you bet with your head, not your heart, hence why I'm taking the Irish.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @thefaketomz