A Puzzling Cocktail Party. Can Irish Get Back on Horse? And Flying Illini.

Herb Gould

Last week was a pretty good week.

A tidy little 4-2 ATS pushed the season to 30-21-3, with a 5-1 for 43-11 straight up.

On to Week 10, but first, a little Week 9 history. . .

It was pretty clear to me that the Big Ten’s three unbeaten teams—Ohio State, Penn State and (gulp!) Minnesota—were poised to roll. Even the suddenly muscular Gophers, who were giving Maryland a whopping 16½ points.

Felt good about those. Had a feeling that Michigan, despite all the doubters, was going to beat Notre Dame. Otherwise, there was no tomorrow for Jim Harbaugh and his lads, who are very talented even if they don’t always show it.

I put too much faith in LSU, which would have covered 10½ points if not for a missed extra point and a late Auburn TD. And too little faith in Auburn, a team I often put faith in.

And what to say about the Illini? Even though they were getting 9½, I couldn’t remember the last time they had won two Big Ten games in a row. Well, now they’ve done it the last two weeks. And with Rutgers coming to Champaign, the only question is, is 19 points too many?

Read on, and find out the answers to this and other point-spread questions.

I hope the answers will be correct.

Good luck in sports. . .

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Nebraska minus-3 at Purdue, 11 a.m., FOX

Virginia Tech plus 17.5 at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Rutgers plus-19 at Illinois, 2:30 p.m., BTN

Georgia minus-6.5 vs. Florida, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Miami plus-3 at Florida State, 2:30 p.m., ABC

TCU plus-3 at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold**)**

Nebraska minus-3 at Purdue, 11 a.m., FOX

There’s a lot of grumbling and disappointment in Nebraska after sloppy loss to Indiana. Scott Frost is even saying some players aren’t bought in. Thinking Purdue is still more black-and-blue than black-and-gold. And thinking the Huskers are ready to win in this battle of, um, not-good teams. Also, while Purdue (2-6) is done, Nebraska (4-6) needs to win here and at Maryland to become bowl-eligible without a miracle against Wisconsin or Iowa.

The Pick: Nebraska

The Score: Cornhuskers, 30-23

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Virginia Tech plus 17.5 at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m., NBC

There is great unrest about the way Notre Dame got drilled at Michigan. Ripped on-air by straight shooter Kirk Herbstreit. And my friend, rabble-rouser Paul Finebaum, said Brian Kelly should be gone. I think this is all an over-reaction. The Irish are who they are—still knocking on the 10-win door. They'll beat the improving Hokies. But not by 17½ points.

The Pick: Virginia Tech

The Score: Notre Dame 31-17

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Rutgers plus-19 at Illinois, 2:30 p.m., BTN

Illinois comes in riding its first two-game Big Ten winning streak since 2014. The last time it won three in a row? In 2007, when the Illini were Rose-Bowl-bound. That was so long ago that even Rutgers (8-5) was good then. But that was in the Big East, not the Big Payday. Illini will keep rolling.

The Pick: Illinois

The Score: Illini, 35-10

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Georgia minus-6.5 vs. Florida, 2:30 p.m., CBS

I admit it, The line for this year's Cocktail Party puzzles me. Maybe that’s because when I’ve seen Florida this fall, the Gators have impressed me. The Auburn game was an eye-opener. And when things weren’t going well at LSU—that’s to be expected. And when I’ve seen Georgia, the Bulldogs have looked good, but not as good as advertised. They let Notre Dame hang around, and they were flummoxed by South Carolina. Gators getting all those points? Can’t resist that.

The Pick: Florida

The Score: Gators, 28-27

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Miami plus-3 at Florida State, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Remember when these teams were national-stage good? That was long ago, before the ACC became Clemson & the June Taylor Dancers. Both are 4-4. Neither is a lock for a bowl game. But here’s the thing. In his first year, Manny Diaz can blame the Hurricanes’ woes on the state of the program. Second-year FSU coach Willie Taggart doesn’t have that comfort. Going with the desperate team here.

The Pick: Florida State

The Score: FSU, 28-24

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TCU plus-3 at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Both teams are coming off good wins. TCU over Texas, Oklahoma State over Iowa State. The thing is, while I like Chuba Hubbard’s name and his running, I like Gary Patterson’s defense better. Mike Gundy can talk about being A Man. Gary Patterson is The Man in this game.

The Pick: TCU

The Score: Horned Frogs, 23-21

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LAST WEEK ATS: 4-2. . . SEASON: 30-21-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 5-1 . . . SEASON 43-11

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Herb Gould

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