Skinner's Winners: Week seven picks
In what was one of the most exciting Sunday Night Football games in recent memory, the quarterback of the future and the quarterback of the past (and present) squared off in Foxboro in a shootout that gave me about seven strokes and nine heart seizures.
As a Patriots fan, and a man who chose the Chiefs +3.5 while being 0-4 on the day, my heart was torn in a million different ways. A Patriots win by more than three points would have resulted in me changing my column name once again, but a Chiefs win would have both saved my dignity and set my favorite team's season on a trajectory I was not prepared to confront.
The football gods smiled upon me and the Chiefs lost by exactly three, giving me the satisfaction of both the Patriots stealing a win and of finishing the weekend with a win on the gambling board. Small victories like this keep me going. I’m a single male in my mid-twenties. This kind of victory is the most exciting thing in my life, and I am going to enjoy it.
But enough about me. Let’s get to this week's games, as college football recovers from its most dramatic weekend yet with multiple top-10 teams falling to inter-conference foes. This weekend should deliver more of the same, and I cannot wait to watch every single minute I can of it. Here are my picks for the week:
Michigan (-7) @ Michigan State - 9 a.m. MST - FOX
Can Harbaugh get the best of D’Antonio? That is the question that everybody with any ounce of football knowledge is thinking going into this game. Michigan comes into this game on a roll that hasn't quite been produced in the Harbaugh era so far, and a win on the road against the in-state rival Spartans could really propel the Wolverines into serious playoff contention, as they currently sit just outside of the coveted four slots with the seventh ranking, depending on which voting poll you look at.
Michigan State comes into this game as a home underdog to a team that hasn't been able to get the better of them for the last few years. The Spartans carry a favorable 4-1 record for the last five years.
For me, seven points is the perfect spread, because I think Michigan has finally found their groove offensively. I am taking the Wolverines and the khaki’s on the road.
Mississippi State @ LSU (-6.5) - 4 p.m. MST - ESPN
Joe Moorhead has impressed in his first year at the helm of Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs carry a top-25 ranking into Death Valley for a night game that should be one of the more exciting college-football games of the weekend. Likely, the Bulldog’s fun and wide-open offense will look to open up the playbook and shock the Tigers after two hugely emotional games against Florida and Georgia.
As much as I think the Bulldogs have a shot in this one, I also think this LSU team is special and is not going to look at this game as one to let up on. The Tigers now have three top-10 wins, more than any other team in the nation, and aren’t scared of any team that they line up against. I’m sticking with the hot team that is playing at home, under the lights, in one of the toughest venues in all of sports. Geaux Tigers.
Oregon @ Washington State (-3) - 4:30 p.m. MST - FOX *LOCK OF THE WEEK*
Oregon is coming off an overtime win against Washington that resembled two heavyweights going toe-to-toe, trading punch after punch, with the Ducks delivering the last blow in overtime and winning on a walk-off touchdown that set Autzen Stadium into a justifiable frenzy. After the debacle that occurred against Stanford in the same building, Oregon wasn't fazed at all and delivered a win that could also deliver them the Pac-12 North.
One other team stands in their way: the Cougars of Washington State, the team hosting College GameDay for the very first time, which should have Pullman on the brink of anarchy for the majority of Saturday. I am pretty confident in this pick, as I have been staring at this line for hours and still can’t make any sense of it. I think the Ducks will win outright. Ducks +3 is my pick, and it’s going to also be my lock of the week.
Arizona @ UCLA (-9.5) - 7:30 p.m. MST - ESP2
A matchup between two of the cellar-dwellers in the Pac-12 South also contains two of the most intriguing off-season coaching hires, Chip Kelly and Kevin Sumlin, who have both worn the mantle of most-coveted head coach in college football at one point. Those days seem a distant memory, as the two coaches' records up until this game come out to an incredibly underwhelming 4-9 and look to get much worse after this weekend's matchup.
UCLA is coming off a 30-point win over Cal, an encouraging sign in a season that has shown few and far between for UCLA. Arizona is coming off a humiliating display against Utah, but has had one more day of rest and preparation than the Bruins have. This spread seems fair, especially with the absence of Khalil Tate and Vegas banking on the Arizona offense to be just as anemic as they were in Salt Lake. I think those guys know what they are doing. I’m hedging my feelings and going with Bruins -9.5.
L.A. Rams (-9.5) @ San Francisco 49ers - Sunday 1:25 p.m. MST - CBS
Whenever I get to see the Rams play the game of football, I watch as much as I can. Todd Gurley is an animal, Jared Goff is on his way to becoming an elite quarterback, the defense is loaded with stars and the coaching staff is actually competent and creative. All this combines to make a neutral viewer's dream cocktail of football watching.
The Niners are banged up and are coming off a short week that saw them get their hearts yanked out of their collective chests by Aaron Rodgers, who led another fourth quarter drive to put the final nail in the Niners' coffin.
The last-minute loss and the powerhouse that L.A. seems to be are why I am taking this game. I think the Rams will win by a couple touchdowns, and I don’t see the Niners being able to hang with them with C. J. Beathard throwing passes. I’m taking the Rams.
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