After an impressive 2014 season, "Stanford Steve" Coughlin, of SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, and Chris Fallica, of ESPN Stats & Information and College GameDay, are back. Every Wednesday during the college football season, they'll give their best bets for picking the weekend's top college football games.
2015 season record:
Fallica: 33-19-3 ATS (last wk: 3-3-1)
Coughlin: 20-17-2 ATS (last wk: 3-2)
2014 season record:
Fallica: 44-40 ATS (52.4 percent)
Coughlin: 45-28-1 ATS (60.8 percent)
Note: Against the spread (ATS)/total picks are in bold. Odds courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-10) at Temple Owls
Fallica: It's not quite Boston College-esque, but Temple's offensive/defensive efficiency splits are dramatic. The Owls are 10th in defense, but 89th in offense. And four of Temple's wins have come over teams that have two wins or fewer, including a 25-23 nailbiter vs. UMass in mid-September (a week later the Irish beat UMass 62-27 in what could have been a look-ahead spot for the Irish). Ten years ago this week Temple was 0-9 -- and steamrolling to an 0-11 mark (outscored 498-107 on year) -- so the program has made colossal steps forward. But I don't see how the Owls will match up in the trenches or score many points at all. The defense will keep the Owls in it for a while, but ultimately the Irish will pull away to a comfortable win.
ATS pick: Notre Dame 31, Temple 13
Coughlin: I'm worried that the Temple fan base is -- and was -- more concerned with whether or not College GameDay was coming to Philadelphia for the game, rather than the opponent that was invading the City of Brotherly Love this Saturday. I have been a huge fan of both these teams all year and they have two of the best defenses in all of college football. The question is: how will Temple go about this game offensively? Will the Owls come out and take shots down the field and try and get the Irish on their heels? Or will they play conservative and rely on their defense to win the game? My other question is with all the noise from Owls fans, will Temple even have a home-field advantage, knowing how there are Notre Dame fans all over the country? Golden Domers cover here.
ATS pick: Notre Dame 34, Temple 20
Washington State Cougars (+12) vs. Stanford Cardinal
Fallica: In Stanford's seven-game winning streak over Washington State, the Cougs have scored more than 17 points only once - a 38-28 loss in 2010. In the three years under Mike Leach, the Cougars have scored exactly 17 points each time. But this might be the year where Washington State puts a scare into Stanford. The Cardinal are just 50th nationally in defensive efficiency and have been winning with offense. Christian McCaffrey will get his yards, but so will Luke Falk. The Cougs are 4-0 ATS as a 'dog this year with three outright wins. Stanford wins, but it's closer than the experts think.
ATS pick: Stanford 40, Washington State 31
Coughlin: Leach said this week that Cougars home games are like Woodstock back in 1969. If that's the case, then look out -- things are going to get weird in Pullman. I have played at Wazzu: It's a great home-field atmosphere when the team is playing well; it gets dark there at like noon; and you have to walk like a mile to get to the field, which resulted in a couple of our guys getting lost on the way to the field pregame - but that's a story for another time. Things are going well for the Cougs this year and this will be built up like their Super Bowl as first place in the Pac-12 North is on the line, which is the first time in a long time for the Cougs this late in the year. Falk comes into the game leading the conference with passing yards with 2885. I expect the Stanford secondary to be tested like it hasn't been yet this year. Leach will pull out all the stops in this game. Stanford wins, but Wazzu covers here.
ATS pick: Stanford 38, Washington State 28
Georgia Bulldogs (+2.5) vs. Florida Gators
Fallica: Last year, Florida's win over Georgia was one of the most unexpected results of the year based on how both teams had been trending. 418 rush yards? Really, Georgia? I would have to think that is a major motivating factor heading into this season's matchup. Both teams were idle last week and it should serve both well -- Florida coming off a hard-fought loss at LSU and Georgia an ugly win over Missouri. The winner here is likely a near lock for the SEC title game in Atlanta. I expect both defenses to play well and it could come down to a late FG -- and if it does, the Bulldogs have the edge. Underdogs have had the edge in this series lately, so I will let history and an edge in the FG unit make the call for me.
ATS pick: Georgia 24, Florida 21
Coughlin: I know all the money is on Florida already, and I don't care. This pick is totally based on the eye test. We all know everyone thinks the best front seven defensively in the country is Alabama, but I would be on the short list of people that would prefer the Gators front seven when it comes to rushing the passer. I think the defense from Gainesville is good enough to dictate what Georgia can and can't do offensively. I also know that the favorite is not the right side usually in this rivalry, but I don't care.
ATS pick: Florida 20, Georgia 13
Fallica: Oklahoma State has been vulnerable all three games away from Stillwater this year, including a sluggish season-opener at Central Michigan. Texas Tech nearly pulled a home upset of TCU earlier this year and after allowing 63 last week in Norman, the Red Raiders should put up a much better defensive effort. I've been in Lubbock Halloween weekend and it was unlike anything I've ever seen (the weekend Tech upset Texas). The Cowboys are 7-0 but haven't beaten a team with a winning record this year -- in fact only Central Michigan is even .500 -- and they aren't a top 20 team efficiency-wise in any unit. One of the Big 12 unbeatens goes down Saturday.
ATS pick: Texas Tech 45, Oklahoma State 38
Tulane Green Wave (+30.5) at Memphis Tigers
Fallica: Whether Memphis reaches a New Year's Six game or not hinges on the next three games for the Tigers -- Navy, at Houston and at Temple. I expect Memphis to go through the motions here, and that still might be good for a 31-point win, but Tanner Lee should help the Green Wave put up enough points to keep it within the number. The Tulane defense only allowed 291 yards to Navy last week. Hey, it's something to build on!
ATS pick: Memphis 49, Tulane 21
Coughlin: Week after week this season I have found Rainbow Warriors trying to find themselves into our "Bad Beats" feature on SportsCenter, which even included a team playing them that kicked a last-minute field goal to cover 21.5 points on the infamous island. So, in regards to games on the island, if there was one team you could trust to travel to Honolulu and take care of business on the field, it would be a service academy, right? Now, would you be worried if I told you the Falcons have not led for a second of the 180 minutes they have played away from their home field? Don't worry, fly with the Falcons.
ATS pick: Air Force 31, Hawaii 19
Coughlin: Well it's not a chance to get a landmark victory, so you have to like James Franklin and the Nitts this Saturday, right? You tell me, name the big win the program has with him as head coach? OK, there isn't one. So, Franklin will have his guys fired up enough to avenge a loss in Champaign ... yes, they lost to Illinois last year. They're giving less than a touchdown, and there aren't many better in this spot than Franklin. Take the home team here.
ATS pick: Penn State 24, Illinois 14