It was a tough week against the spread for the Pick Six segment, as Lane Kiffin coached his way out of USC covering the spread at the very least and Florida State came up small against a big-time Florida team. This week, despite there being some regular-season games still on the schedule, PUP will only pick conference championships, as those are of a higher degree of importance than, say, Okie State and Baylor scoring 56 points each.
As always, picks are for entertainment purposes only and are not an invitation to gamble, and all times are Eastern.
Last week: 2-4
#21 Northern Illinois Huskies vs. #17 Kent State Golden Flashes | NIU -6 | Friday, 7pm | ESPN2
The MAC has some pretty good teams this year, but these are absolutely the best two. Kent State has a chance to be a BCS-buster if they win, but Northern Illinois won’t be so quick to give up their conference crown. These two teams did not meet in the regular season, but I expect this first encounter to be a very good game. The Golden Flashes are going to get a good bowl invite, but Northern Illinois seems a little better offensively and defensively. I’m a bit hesitant to lay six points but what the hell. Northern Illinois -6
#16 UCLA Bruins vs. #8 Stanford Cardinal | STAN -9 | Friday, 8pm | Fox
This is a rematch of teams that played last week; this time, instead of Los Angeles, they meet on Stanford’s campus. I’ll give the same explanation as last week: UCLA is a good, much-improved team, but Stanford is just better. This line is a little high for my tastes but I can’t come up with a compelling reason why 9 points isn’t doable. Stanford -9
Central Florida Knights vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane | TUL -1 | Saturday, 12pm | ESPN2
Pretty even matchup in the Conference USA title game. These two teams played each other just two weeks ago, and Tulsa won by two. This game is in the same venue, Tulsa, but with higher stakes. The Golden Hurricane massively outgained UCF, but Tulsa was -2 in turnovers, including a pick-six. Both of these teams have good run games, so look for low-scoring, but I think Tulsa is capable of winning again. Tulsa -1
#3 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide | ALA -7 | Saturday, 4pm | CBS
This isn’t an SEC championship so much as it is a play-in for the national championship. As of now, Alabama is my favorite to win the whole thing again, but I don’t think this will be an easy game for the Tide. Alabama’s defense is nearly impossible to break, and only Johnny Football has done it. From the looks of things, the Tide’s schedule has been a little harder than Georgia’s as well. My pick to win the game is Alabama, but the spread is what matters. I’ll put it just inside the seven points, but if ‘Bama covers, I wouldn’t be shocked at all. Georgia +7
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. #13 Florida State Seminoles | FSU -14 | Saturday, 8pm | ESPN
Florida State isn’t playing for a national title, but they are a big favorite against Georgia Tech for a reason — being that GT isn’t that good. They won a very, very bad ACC Coastal at 6-6 with an unimpressive defense, and if there’s one thing the Seminoles can do, it’s carve up bad defenses. Ultimately, I would be surprised if the game was close, but it’s not like FSU hasn’t coasted before. Florida State -14
Wisconsin Badgers vs. #12 Nebraska Cornhuskers | NEB -3 | Saturday, 8:17pm | Fox
Sans bowl bans, this game could have been very different. Instead of a 12-0 Ohio State playing for a national title under Urban Meyer, a 7-5, third-place Wisconsin team plays a real first-place team in Nebraska. The Huskers beat the Badgers in a close game earlier this year and they’re on a roll, whereas Bucky has lost three of four, all of those losses coming in overtime. This Wisconsin team is not up to the level of Wisky teams of the recent past, but Nebraska is the real deal. Could be close, but give me the Huskers. Nebraska -3