Galaxy of Championship Week Stars and Tough Spreads: Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em.

Herb Gould

There’s a time-honored saying that ``You can’t turn it on and off’’ in sports.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a bunch of hooey. Hokum. Blarney. Malarkey. B.S. Baloney. And lots of other sticky buns.

I say this because Iowa, a 5½-point favorite, raced to a 17-3 second-quarter lead at Nebraska last week, then turned it off and sneaked past the Cornhuskers 27-24.

And because Northwestern, which had it turned off during its 0-8 start in the Big Ten, came out of nowhere—well, Champaign—turning it on for a 29-10 win against Illinois, which turned it off after having it turned on for the second half of the season. The Illini will never have a better chance to beat that team from Up North.

Same deal with Maryland, which had been giving up 54 points a game in its previous four games but suddenly held Michigan State to 19.

On the bright side, I nailed the two most important Big Ten games of the week, correctly predicting that Ohio State would blow out Michigan and that Wisconsin would win at Minnesota. And I was pleased to see Notre Dame score an improbable late TD to cover 16½ points at Stanford.

So that was yet another 3-3 against the spread. Which leaves me seven games over .500 for the season, at 44-37-3. And another 5-1 straight up gives me a 65-19 season mark.

On to the conference championship games. By the way, if I were to pick these games again in 10 minutes, I might pick every one of them the other way. Which is good for watching. But tricky for picking.

Good luck in sports. . .

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Note: Oregon-Utah on Friday. All others on Saturday.

Oregon plus-6½ vs. Utah, 7 p.m. Friday, ABC

Baylor plus-8½ vs. Oklahoma, 11 a.m., ABC

Cincinnati plus-9½ vs. Memphis, 2:30 p.m, ABC

Georgia plus-7½ vs. LSU, 3 p.m, CBS

Virginia plus-28½ vs. Clemson, 6:30 p.m., ABC

Wisconsin plus-17 Ohio State, 7 p.m. FOX

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold**)**

Oregon plus-6½ vs. Utah, 7 p.m. Friday, ABC

I like the Utes to win with their defense. I like Oregon to hang around with its offense. And perhaps muddy the Pac-12 waters. Wouldn't be the first time.

The Pick: Oregon

The Score: Utes, 27-24

@@@

Baylor plus-8½ vs. Oklahoma, 11 a.m., ABC

Oklahoma knows it needs to make a statement to the playoff committee. And while Baylor has had a marvelous year, the Sooners should be on a mission. They should treat this game like a land rush—all the way to Utah.

The Pick: Oklahoma

The Score: Sooners, 45-34

@@@

Cincinnati plus-9½ vs. Memphis, 2:30 p.m, ABC

Memphis won by 10 last week, 34-24. The Tigers will do it again, but Cincinnati will not make it easy. You know that old saying: It's tough to beat a team by 10 points two weeks in a row.

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Tigers, 38-31

@@@

Georgia plus-7½ vs. LSU, 3 p.m, CBS

Georgia, playing for its playoff life, has a good enough defense to put a scare into LSU. But ultimately, the Dawgs will have a Tiger by the tail.

The Pick: Georgia

The Score: LSU, 28-24

@@@

Virginia plus-28½ vs. Clemson, 6:30 p.m., ABC

A Clemson scorned? That’s the way Dabo Swinney sees it. And that will fire up his players to not treat Virginia cavalierly.

The Pick: Clemson

The Score: Tigers, 42-13

@@@

Wisconsin plus-17 Ohio State, 7 p.m. FOX

Wisconsin needs to show well to make its Rose Bowl case.. Easier said than done, though, against Ohio State, which is led by a posse of future pros, including a trifecta of Heisman candidates.

The Pick: Wisconsin

The Score: Buckeyes, 42-27

@@@

LAST WEEK ATS: 3-3. . . SEASON: 44-37-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 5-1 . . . SEASON 65-19

Comments

Herb Gould

FEATURED
COMMUNITY