…and this is a first, but we don’t have ANY games on the FBS docket where we disagree significantly with the Vegas point spreads! Last week, by the way, we were 5 and 6 on our eleven “big picks”, still averaging 52% against the spread on those feature picks, and we’re at 51.2% for the season on all picks ATS after a rather hefty sub-.500 week last week as well. (Own your sins, Christians!) As many games as we’ve picked, though, we’re still 25 over even, so even if all of our borderline picks go wrong this weekend, we will remain above water going into the bowls:
So, for the record, NONE of these are “feature” picks. Here are the conference championship games –
Clemson (-26) over Pitt for the ACC title (we have a 22-point margin).
Ohio State (-14) over Northwestern in the Big Ten (we have it -15, but it’ll be hard to blow NW out by much more).
Oklahoma (-7.5) over Texas for the redundant replay in the Big XII (we have it -7)
Washington (-5) over Utah in the Pac-12 Friday night (we see a two-point margin).
Alabama (-13) over Georgia in Atlanta for the SEC title (given the locale, we see it as -9, but my instinct says -13’s about right).
UCF (-3) over Memphis for the American title (while our system spits out -10, that doesn’t include McKensie Milton’s leg injury, so we’d agree with that line).
Middle Tennessee St (-1) over UAB in Conference USA (that’s what we have, too).
Buffalo (-3.5) over Northern Illinois in the MAC in Detroit (we think it’s -2.5).
Boise State (-2.5) over Fresno State in Boise in the Mountain West (our numbers say -4 at home given recent events, so this might be the one place we’d buck the betting trends and take the home team).
Appalachian State (-17.5) over Louisiana-Lafayette for the first Sun Belt divisional title game victory (and conference officials are really regretting their division set ups right now, since Troy and Georgia Southern are both much better and have better records than ULL. We have it -17 as well.)
The only two games besides these worth mentioning are Marshall’s mercy mission to help VaTech try to become bowl-eligible (our numbers say VaTech wins at home; I don’t personally believe that will happen), and the Big Game in the Bay Area, where a falling Stanford is only -2 against a rising Cal-Berkeley (and we’ll take Cal, at +1).
Only four of the eight FCS playoff games look particularly competitive to us. North Dakota State, Eastern Washington, Kennesaw State, and South Dakota State are all at least two touchdown favorites (SDSU is -35 against upstart Duquesne). Weber State is close, at -9, over a fast-finishing Southeast Missouri State from the OVC, but should hold up.
But three of the seeded teams coming off the bye are actually underdogs on the ELO-Following Football computer, drawing into question those seedings in my mind:
- Northern Iowa is actually a one-point ELO-FF favorite at UC Davis, though Massey has it a TD for the Aggies and Sagarin thinks it’s a toss-up.
- Jacksonville State (who should’ve been seeded) comes up as a -6 going to Maine. Both Massey and Sagarin also favor JSU.
- And why in the world James Madison wasn’t given a seed is beyond me. Even more mystifying, why they were put in the quarterfinal bracket with national rival NDSU makes my head hurt. They’re favored to get there by eight over the Patriot League’s Colgate, undefeated against FCS this season but no match for the two-time FCS finalist Dukes. (Massey sees it as 1.5 points for JMU, Sagarin says it’s five.)