There’s no week like Rivalry Week, and this Saturday’s college football picks are loaded with rivalry games packed with major national championship implications.
Rivalry Week college football picks
No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (-8.5, 50 over/under) at No. 13 Michigan Wolverines, Saturday at noon ET (FOX)
No. 13 Michigan is playing as well as anyone in the country, winning their last four contests by a shade under 40 points per game. Now Michigan sets their sights on No. 1 Ohio State – a team the Wolverines have not beaten since 2011 and has just one win against since 2004.
Perhaps this isn’t the spot where Michigan snaps that streak, but the Wolverines should be able to put up a good fight in Ann Arbor.
Ohio State looked like they were going to crush then-No. 8 Penn State last week, getting out to a 21-0 third-quarter lead before turnovers made it a 21-17 game in a matter of minutes. The Buckeyes eventually pulled away, 28-17, but even that was disappointing considering their advantage in total yards was 417-227.
For the first time all season, Ohio State looked mortal.
If Ohio State continues to turn the ball over Saturday, an outright loss here becomes a very real possibility. Weather could also be working against the Buckeyes here as the forecast calls for cold weather with wind and rain – which makes it hard to score points.
For now, we’ll stick with Michigan getting the points, but Michigan +255 on the moneyline at least has my attention.
Pick: Michigan +8.5
No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers (-2.5, 45.5 over/under) at No. 8 Minnesota Golden Gophers, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The disrespect for Minnesota continues. Yes, Minnesota squeaked out a 38-22 cover last week as 15.5-point favorites against a very bad Northwestern team on the road, but things could have gone a lot worse following such a hard-fought loss the week prior at Iowa – currently ranked No. 17.
Now, Minnesota returns home getting points against No. 12 Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking just a hair above Minnesota in many statistical categories. The two teams also possess very similar overall numbers on offense, although Wisconsin is more run-heavy with Minnesota doing most of their damage in the air.
Snow is in the forecast, which may favor Wisconsin’s running game, but that also means there might not be many points scored.
Given the similarities between these two teams, getting points at home with Minnesota seems like the safest choice. There’s no reason Minnesota can’t win this game outright, so getting 2.5 points might not even be necessary – but we will absolutely take them.
The winner of this game not only receives the yearly trophy of Paul Bunyan’s Axe, but also keeps their national title hopes alive and takes on Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game next Saturday.
Pick: Minnesota +2.5
No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide (-3.5, 45.5 over/under) vs. No. 15 Auburn Tigers, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
I’m not as down on Alabama as everyone else is. Mac Jones is no Tua Tagovailoa but Alabama still has as many weapons on offense as any team in the country.
Auburn’s entire season has been built on the fact that they’ve come up short against the best teams on their schedule. Even the win over Oregon must be taken with a grain of salt considering the best thing you could say about Oregon all season was that they lost a close game against Auburn.
Having said that, Alabama’s schedule has been under much scrutiny due to their lack of a big win.
Alabama is still the proven commodity here and this game is a must if the Crimson Tide wants to keep their playoff hopes alive. I like Alabama here at anything less than four points. The current line has Alabama -3.5, which I think they can cover in a 24-20 type of game. Anything at 4.5 or above and I would have to at least consider Auburn or avoid this one altogether.
Pick: Alabama -3.5
No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-16.5,46 over/under) at Stanford Cardinal, Saturday at 4 p.m. ET (FOX)
No. 16 Notre Dame has won their last three games by 31, 32, and 33 points, respectively, so laying 16.5 points here against a bad Stanford team shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
Stanford, 4-7, will not play in a bowl game for the first time since 2008, which means they don’t have anything to play for. Notre Dame’s national championship dreams have ended, but playing in a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl remains a reality.
The weather in Palo Alto calls for a rainy afternoon, although even that shouldn’t slow down Notre Dame all that much. Stanford has lost four of their last five against far inferior competition to Notre Dame.
Pick: Notre Dame -16.5
No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (-13, 68.5 over/under) at No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys, Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Points should be plentiful in the 2019 edition of Bedlam.
No. 7 Oklahoma leads the country in total yards (574.7) and ranks fifth in the nation in points per game (45.3). No. 21 Oklahoma State is racking up 475.6 yards per game – good for 13th in the country – and a respectable 35.0 points per game (21st).
Defense has been another story.
Oklahoma has failed to put opponents away in recent weeks, allowing 36.0 points per game in their last four games and failing to cover in all four – including a 48-41 loss to Kansas State as a 23.5-point favorite. The Sooners have won their last three games by a combined eight points after entering as a double-digit favorite in all three games.
Oklahoma State likely doesn’t have enough fire power to win this one outright, but given Oklahoma’s recent struggles, there’s no reason the Cowboys can’t keep this one closer than the 13-point spread at home.
Cowboys running back Chuba Hubbard leads the nation in rushing (1,832 yards) and could go a long way in keeping Oklahoma State in this game if he can keep Oklahoma’s offense on the sidelines.
Pick: Oklahoma State +13
Record: College football picks against the spread
Last week: 3-3