Brian: 2-3 (9-11 on the year)
Jeff: 2-3 (8-12)
ATL: 0-2 (0-2)
Northwestern Wildcats at Penn State Nittany Lions (-10) - Self-loathing pick. Penn State may not be a contender in the Big Ten this season, but despite scholarship reductions, they are a much better team that Northwestern heading into the 'Cats Big Ten opener. The Wildcats rank 106th nationally in total offense, while ranking 95th in passing defense. Penn State ranks 10th in total defense, and 16th in passing offense. This is strength-on-weakness, strength-on-weakness. The Nittany Lions roll in this one.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M Aggies (-8) - An old Southwest Conference game here. Expect points. Lots of 'em. Arkansas' offense looks a lot like BC's this year. The Razorbacks rank 8th nationally in rushing offense ... and 114th in passing offense. The Aggies get it done primarily through the air, ranking 4th nationally in passing offense and 40th in rushing offense (albeit against lesser competition over the last three weeks). Last season, the Aggies earned a 12-point win over Arkansas in Fayetteville. A&M should at least match that winning margin playing in the friendly confines of Jerry World.
Bowling Green Falcons (-4.5) at Massachusetts Minutemen - This line has come all the way down from starting at Bowling Green -14, but has since bounced back up to -5 or -5.5 in some places as of this writing. Funky line movement aside, I just don't see UMass taking this game. Both of these programs are coming off week 4 beatdowns at the hands of Big Ten opponents. Bowling Green got thumped by Wisconsin, 68-17, while UMass fell to Penn State, 48-7. UMass has looked improved this year, but QB Blake Frohnapfel struggled last week, throwing for just 17-of-33 for 263 yards (77 of them on a garbage time TD in the fourth quarter). I'm not sure you can read much into UMass' close calls against marginal Power 5 conference opponents. Bowling Green already has one Power 5 notch in its belt with a 45-42 home win over Indiana (nevermind the 59-31 loss at Western Kentucky to start the season). This is UMass' FBS home debut at McGuirk and they are expecting a sellout so the crowd should be into it. Still, like BGSU to cover here.
To recap, that's surviving a scare from FCS Youngstown State in the opener, come-from-behind victories over Western Kentucky and Texas State and a 44-19 loss to Washington. The Illini are 1-10 in their last 11 road games against the spread. Make that 1-11 when Ameer Abdullah and the Cornhuskers rushing attack runs roughshod over the Illini defense.
Oregon State Beavers (+9.5) at USC Trojans - USC has had an extra week to regroup following the Trojans' 37-31 loss in Chestnut Hill. Oregon State is 3-0 on the year but hasn't really beaten anyone of note so far this season (and hasn't looked particularly good doing it either). Winning outright is probably too tall a task for this Oregon State team (the Beavers are winless at the Coliseum since 1960 ... 22 straight losses), but I think the Oregon State passing offense will put enough points on the board to keep this game close. Just not that sold on this Trojans team, though I'll take the victory over a top-10 team and run with it. Special shout out to The Queen Bee, who will probably be sweating the outcome of this one until late in the fourth quarter.
Colorado State Rams at Boston College Eagles (-9.5) - BC will get an easy victory in this one. They had their let down after USC in the first half of the Maine game and now USC is old news. They also have a bye week after this game so there will be no looking ahead to an ACC opponent that will mess them up.
Florida State Seminoles (-19) at N.C. State Wolfpack - The Wolfpack are unfortunately in for a beat down here. NC State has squeaked out some victories this season but opening up ACC play against the national champs will be a rude awakening for them. NC State's incredibly weak schedule out of conference just does not prepare them for Winston's return.
Cincinnati Bearcats (+16) at Ohio State Buckeyes - Ohio State will win this game but not cover the spread. OSU has struggled against Navy and lost to Virginia Tech -- now a two loss team -- already this season. This spread is based on the Ohio State name, not their performance this season.