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: 47-28-3 ATS (last week: 4-4)
Coughlin: 31-22-2 ATS (last week: 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.
Ohio State Buckeyes (-13.5) vs. Michigan State Spartans
Fallica: I've muttered the numbers before -- In its last 12 games as an underdog, Michigan State is 11-1 ATS with eight outright wins. So, this is clearly in the Spartans' wheelhouse. I wish I knew the deal with Connor Cook. He sure didn't look comfortable last week before or after an apparent shoulder injury. It sickens me to lay a huge number with a team that's burned money this year -- I'm still mad at myself for not taking the points with Oregon last week -- but as "off" as Ohio State has been this season, eight of its 10 wins have been by 14 points or more, which would get the money here. While the offense has struggled, the defense has been lights-out.
In the last four games, Ohio State has allowed four touchdowns in 50 opponent drives, with 21 drives failing to net a first down. Is this the week we see the Ohio State we've been expecting to see all season? If we do, the Buckeyes will win convincingly. If we don't, the Spartans are certainly capable of winning outright. Remember, too, how successful J.T. Barrett was vs. Michigan State (300 passing yards, 86 rushing yards) last season.
ATS pick: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 21
Coughlin: So, is this how Urban Meyer had it planned all year? Have College GameDay in town for this game and then Bobby drives the GameDay bus to Ann Arbor for "The Game" next week? It's amazing how Urban always has a plan drawn up and you would think he has an offensive game plan ready for the Sparty defense. Which gets me to another point: Does Michigan State have the manpower on defense to hold up against the Buckeyes' offense? I would think this unit will want to take shots early in what figures to be Barrett's return from his one-game suspension from his arrest. Emotions will run high in this game, and we'll say so will the points. Take the over.
Pick: Ohio State 38, Michigan State 25 (over the total 51 points)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (PK) vs. Baylor Bears
Fallica: Welcome to this week's Big 12-devouring-its-own game. I didn't like what I saw from Baylor last week in Waco between injuries and the really good job Oklahoma did defensively. With Jarrett Stidham nicked up -- and no backup behind him -- the QB run is not really an option for the Bears. Baylor has 9 TDs in 26 drives the last two weeks, so the numbers do point out the regression. There is also a huge edge both defensively and on special teams for the Cowboys. It didn't go well for Baylor last time it was in Stillwater and I think the result will be the same this week. I love how QB J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph complement each other offensively. I think the Cowboys win and host the Sooners in two weeks for a Bedlam game with massive College Football Playoff implications.
ATS pick: Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 31
Coughlin: Who's knows what the heck is going to happen in this one. Did Corey Coleman play last week? What do you expect from Baylor a week after a season-crushing loss to Oklahoma? And on top of that, what are the expectations of Stidham, after what appears to be an apparent back injury suffered early in that loss to OU? Oklahoma State has everything to play for ... but it can't be that easy, right? Take the over and root for fireworks early and often.
Pick: Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 40 (over the total 80 points)
Fallica: "GameDay for Frank" didn't quite pan out, but the scene in Blacksburg should be quite memorable for Frank Beamer's final game at the stadium he's responsible for building. The Tar Heels have been a cover machine lately and have ripped through poor defenses the last two weeks. But as good as I think the Heels are in the eye test, the résumé shows just two wins away from home -- one-score wins at Georgia Tech and Pitt. Sometimes emotion can work against a team, but in this case I will side with the Hokies playing an inspired game for their departing head coach. And yes, I realize this could be a complete trap!
ATS pick: North Carolina 28, Virginia Tech 24
Vanderbilt Commodores (+7) vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Fallica: Vandy has gone under the total in every FBS game this year, so expect another low-scoring game here. The Commodores have allowed 17, 9, 3 and 10 points respectively in their last four SEC games. Texas A&M has been a huge disappointment, failing to cover in each of its last four games, twice as a favorite of 7 points or more. Turnovers have been the biggest issue, as the Aggies have turned it over at least three times four times in the last five games (10 INTs in last five games). The Aggies' QBR in that span (37.50) is considered average. With bad QB play, a road favorite and a solid D (seventh nationally in defensive efficiency) on the other side of the ball, it all adds up to taking the points.
ATS pick: Texas A&M 20, Vanderbilt 17
Georgia Southern Eagles (+15.5) at Georgia Bulldogs
Fallica: This is Georgia Southern's Super Bowl. Three years ago, the Eagles were beaten by 31 in Athens by a team which was one play from playing for the national title. But as we have seen, this Georgia side is a long ways from 2012. Georgia Southern has grown up some making the transition to FBS and I think the Eagles will give UGA all it can handle. Losing to an in-state school would put a capper on a disappointing season for the Bulldogs. I don't think that will happen, but I don't know how many points UGA will score given its issues at QB and injuries at RB. Georgia Southern will keep playing, that's for sure. I would suggest taking the points.
ATS pick: Georgia 35, Georgia Southern 24
Fallica: Even before I saw this number, my hunch was that Georgia Tech would be a great play this week. And now getting a point -- my guess is the line may even move to Georgia Tech as a favorite -- FPI says it should be around a five-point favorite. Miami's defense is not good - the Canes were gutted by North Carolina last week and have allowed huge numbers on the ground to Duke, Clemson, Florida State and Florida Atlantic. I can't imagine many people will be in attendance Saturday for the final home game of the season, and it will create a poor atmosphere where the Jackets will simply go out and execute against a Miami team which may have tapped out at this point. Remember, Georgia Tech isn't going to a bowl, but it has lost one-possession games to UNC, Pitt, Virginia and Virginia Tech. The 3-7 straight-up mark is deceiving.
ATS pick: Georgia Tech 37, Miami (FL) 28
UCLA Bruins at Utah Utes (-2)
Coughlin: This game seems pretty simple to me: Which team do you trust more? Utah comes home after a weird loss to Arizona in Tucson, and the Bruins come in off a gutting loss to Wazzu at home. So, both teams are in a tricky spot, especially seeing how they both have a chance to still play in the conference title game, with some more work to do. I just think Utah's defense matches up well with the Bruins' offense. I also believe Kyle Whittingham and his defensive staff could make things a little confusing for UCLA true frosh starting QB Josh Rosen, in what might be his toughest road start of the year. And if Rosen plays well, he's simply that good and deserves a look at first-team QB in the conference. Give the points here.
ATS pick: Utah 27, UCLA 20
LSU Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels (-4)
Coughlin: Wow, did this game lose some luster in the last couple weeks. Do you believe bye weeks mean anything? How about this late in the year? Would you rather be coming off a bye than coming off two losses where you just got dominated when both the teams you lost to made you throw the ball and proved that you can't? I would much rather be the Rebels coming in off a bye and also have that bad taste in my mouth from last year's loss in Baton Rouge. Even though the last time we saw the Ole Miss Landshark defense, it gave up 53 points in an overtime loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks, I feel like Hugh Freeze and his squad got what they wanted with a bye last week and a chance to get their mind right with two rivalry games in the next two weeks. Take the home team here.
ATS pick: Ole Miss 24, LSU 17