Is Ohio St 18.5 Points Better than Penn St? Michigan, Minnesota Road Favorites

Herb Gould

A 3-1 start last week left me feeling optimistic. Penn State bit off more points than it could chew. But Alabama, Wisconsin and Michigan all covered ample spreads. (And hold the jokes, please, about TMG sportswriters at the pre-game buffet.)

But then, stuff happened. I was thinking that Minnesota was good enough to Row the Boat past Iowa. Wrong. The Hawkeyes brought their offense out of dry dock to hand the Gophers their first loss.

And Notre Dame, which was supposed to slog past Navy’s trench-warfare style, made like an air force, flying to a big rout with a devastating passing game. Wrong.

And so. . . another 3-3 left me a tolerable 38-31-3 this season against the spread, but still wanting more. That at least was offset by 5-1 straight up for a season total of 54-18.

Editors always told me nobody cares about straight up. But I find it comforting in a coulda-shoulda-woulda kind of way.

And I also know that many readers prefer to see us so-called ``experts’’ struggle. Actually, that’s a trend that goes far beyond sports these days. But that’s a topic for another day—and another galaxy.

On to Week 13, where I hope to get ahead of the chains and stay there.

Good luck in sports. . .

THE GAMES

(Central Flyover Time)

Penn State plus-18½ at Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX

Illinois plus-15 at Iowa, 11 a.m, BTN

Minnesota minus-14 at Northwestern, 11 a.m, ABC

Boston College plus-19 at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Michigan minus-9 at Indiana, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Texas A&M plus-13½ at Georgia, 2:30 p.m, CBS

THE PICKS

(ATS winner in bold**)**

Penn State plus-18½ at Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX

Big showdown in the Big East. Looks for Gus Johnson to be packing extra throat lozenges. I was on the Penn State bandwagon for a big chunk of this season. But the Nittany Lions have shown flaws the last two weeks. Ohio State has not shown flaws. The Buckeyes’ chase for the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff also will keep them thirsty, my friends.

The Pick: Ohio State

The Score: Buckeyes, 38-17

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Illinois plus-15 at Iowa, 11 a.m, BTN

Illinois may not get its fifth straight win. But I’m thinking it’s safe to stick with the revived Illini to stay within 15 points of Iowa, which is hardly an offensive juggernaut.

The Pick: Illinois

The Score: Iowa, 31-17

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Minnesota minus-14 at Northwestern, 11 a.m, ABC

Northwestern is a mess this year. From 8-1 to 0-9 in conferene play is a real dire possibility. That’s the way to bet. Despite loss at Iowa, Minnesota is still a dark horse for all kinds of impossibly good things.

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Gophers, 41-21

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Boston College plus-19 at Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m., NBC

Yeah, it looks like a lot of points. But Notre Dame is playing really good football at this point. B.C.? Nope.

The Pick: Notre Dame

The Score: Fighting Irish, 38-13

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Michigan minus-9 at Indiana, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

What a strange year when Indiana and Minnesota are both exceeding expectations. I’m going to the Hoosiers’ competitive loss at Penn State last week as a sign that they can hang with Michigan. And not as a sign that the Nittany Lions are not who we thought they were.

The Pick: Indiana

The Score: Michigan, 38-31

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Texas A&M plus-13½ at Georgia, 2:30 p.m, CBS

One thing about the SEC. When there’s a clear-cut good team playing a not-so-good team, the good team rocks on. As opposed to the Big Ten, where there seem to be more oddsmaker conundrums. Short answer: Playoff-focused Georgia takes care of business against the meandering Aggies.

The Pick: Georgia

The Score: Bulldogs, 35-17

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LAST WEEK ATS: 3-3. . . SEASON: 38-31-3

LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 5-1 . . . SEASON 54-18

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Herb Gould

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