It’s time for another look at the key games of interest this weekend from among the top 25. As always, I haven’t picked these out because they necessarily represent the best bets, and I am not representing them as picks. They are merely the ones with the storylines that I find most interesting this weekend. Without further ado:
Minnesota (+20) at Ohio State – The Gophers aren’t getting a lot of respect – this game opened at 17 and has moved to 20 in some places. That’s interesting given the solid start that Minnesota has had (undefeated for the first time since man has been walking upright), and the high profile challenges that Ohio State has faced (forgetting how to play football against USC – a team that apparently isn’t invincible after all). The public loves flashy QBs, and Terrelle Pryor is certainly that. His emergence has made the fickle public forget some of what happened. This is one of the biggest games Minnesota has played in years, so it will be an intriguing test of where the Buckeyes are at.
Tennessee (+6.5) at Auburn – The Tigers have to bounce back from a tough loss against LSU last week – their first at home in the battle of the striped cats in a decade. The Vols have to bounce back from sucking. It’s a much bigger task for Tennessee. The pollsters didn’t really punish Auburn for how they carried themselves. Both teams are facing adversity in their own way, and this game will tell us which one is handling it better. It will also tell us just how much trouble Phil Fulmer is in.
Wisconsin (-6) at Michigan – This one may only be interesting to people like me who like Michigan. I’m simultaneously scared and intrigued to see what kind of adjustments and corrections Rich Rodriguez will have pulled off in his week off. Lord knows that there is a lot for him to do. That will be interesting, and so is the line here. Wisconsin beat a good Fresno State team on the road last time out, and scored a ton in their first two. Michigan was embarrassed last time, and just hasn’t looked good. Despite that, the line is at a relatively modest six. It actually opened at five. That’s lower than I would have guessed, and a sign that from a distance people aren’t as horrified by Michigan as I am from up close.
TCU (+18.5) at Oklahoma – I love this game. Oklahoma has the fourth best offense in the league by the stats, and it may even be better than that when it comes down to it. TCU has the best defense in the country by the numbers. The stakes are huge for both teams – Oklahoma wants a chance to dance in January, and TCU wants to crash the BCS party. This game could be close or it could be a dominating blowout. No matter what, it is going to be fun.
Alabama (+6.5) at Georgia – The Tide have looked better than they were expected to, and Nick Saban appears to have them ahead of schedule. Georgia has been fine, but not nearly as good as people hoped. This is a chance for either team to make a huge statement and to climb on top of the pile for now in the tough SEC. Things could go any way, but if my dreams are answered then Saban will get humiliated – I hate that guy.