After a one week hiatus in which we collectively decided to seek help for how bad our gambling picks have been, we are BACK & BETTER THAN EVER. Although our wives are close to leaving us because of a serious gambling addiction that results in far more losses than wins (you can say that again), we refuse to bow in the face of adversity. The tide has to turn . . . eventually.
After a truly horrendous start to the season for both @FarmerBarn and @BarnBurnerZiggy, both look to get off the slide with a bounce-back week. If you decided to go with either of the other two staff members, let’s just say we wouldn’t blame you.
Given that Ziggy is en route to a wedding and waived his picks this week, it’s on to this week’s games. . .
WVU (-3.5) versus Texas Tech
A Mountaineers team yet to face a real test goes on the road to face a resurgent Texas Tech team. The offensive fireworks seem almost inevitable between two teams who both love to throw the pigskin all over the yard. Through three games (WVU’s week three opponent was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence), Will Grier has lived up to the preseason hype. The bearded one has thrown for 14 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions. Grier continues to target his favorite receiver, David Sills V, as the two have hooked up 5 times for scores. On the other sideline, Kliff Kingsbury’s team appeared to get their coach off the hot seat with last week’s upset of Oklahoma State. Many believed Kingsbury was all but done after a week one blowout to Ole Miss. A Lee Corso “Not so fast, my friend” later, the Ryan Gosling wannabe is back from the dead. With offense having never been a problem, the Red Raiders three game win string has come on the heels of what looks to be a slowly improving defense. The Red Raiders D put up a goose egg in the second half of last week’s contest. They’ll face a much stiffer test with a Heisman-hopeful QB in town.
@FarmerBarn: WVU is my gut. Can’t go against Ryan Gosling.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen enough of either of these teams to make an educated guess on this game. Based off of what I have seen, give me West Virginia. I don’t think Texas Tech will be able to stop and/or keep up with Grier.
@BarnBurnerSlim: I was into West Virginia prior to the season, but Texas Tech was very impressive in their win over Oklahoma State last week. Both offenses are very good, which should make this a fun game to watch. I can’t explain it, but I’m rolling with the Red Raiders in this one.
Ohio State (-3.5) versus Penn State
The last two meetings between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions have produced instant classics. Both games featured furious rallies by either team. Two years ago, James Franklin notched his signature win in Happy Valley with an upset win over Ohio State. Last year, Ohio State overcame a 21-3 deficit to stun a then-ranked No.2 PSU 39-38. Might Saturday feature Part III of the quickly growing rivalry? Ohio State welcomes back Urban Meyer to the sidelines. His absence did not prove a distraction after Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes offense put up nearly a zillion yards and a whole bunch of points in four games. Ohio State will be without top defensive player and projected top 5 draft pick Nick Bosa. Bosa suffered an abdominal injury that required major surgery. Penn State, on the other hand, has an equally impressive QB in Trace McSorley. The dual-threat has thrown for 763 yards and rushed for 235 yards on the season. After an opening game scare against Appalachian State, the Nittany Lions have blown out their last three opponents.
@FarmerBarn: I gotta go with OSU. Close game the last two years, but I trust OSU’s defense to get one more stop than I do the Nittany Lions.
@BarnBurnerBaker: This is going to be a major test for the Buckeyes and I’m really interested to see how their defense can perform against a potent Penn State offense without Bosa. TCU was able to put up a lot of points against them and then went and laid an egg against Texas. Happy Valley will be roaring with College Gameday and ABC on hand. I’m expecting this to be a high scoring affair and the winner will come away as the B1G’s glowing chance at a playoff spot. Dwayne Haskins has impressed and if he wins this game he may find himself in the Heisman driver’s seat. This is going to be a tight one. I’m going to take Penn State to cover the 3.5 spread, but I think the Buckeyes will win on the final possession of the game.
@BarnBurnerSlim: This game has become a must-watch over the past few years. Two of the best offenses in football should provide plenty of fireworks. While they haven’t been tested by a team even of TCU’s caliber, I like James Franklin and Penn State to pull this one out.
Stanford versus Notre Dame (-5.5)
Notre Dame and Stanford can both consider themselves lucky to remain among the nation’s unbeaten. The Irish survived an upset bid against pesky Vanderbilt in week 3, a win that prompted coach Brian Kelly to start Ian Book at quarterback over incumbent starter Brandon Wimbush. Book responded with a 300-yard passing day to go with 2 TDs through the air and 3 TDs on the ground. Meanwhile, Stanford refused to go away against last week’s marquee game against the Oregon Ducks. Facing a possible 31-7 deficit, an overturned Ducks touchdown and a scoop and score by Stanford linebacker Joey Alfieri gave the Cardinal team new life. Stanford prevailed in overtime, 38-31. Star Stanford running back Bryce Love continues to find little room running the football. The senior back has 254 yards on the season compared to last year’s mark of 787 yards through the same amount of games. In what is likely a playoff-elimination game, Love’s ability to run the football against a strong Notre Dame D should go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the game.
@FarmerBarn: There’s something to be said about Stanford winning a game last weekend they probably didn’t deserve. I think that collective will and belief to defy the odds carries over again. I got the Cardinal (no S, mind you).
@BarnBurnerBaker: Notre Dame has a chance to win their first home game against a top-ten opponent since 1993 and I think they’re going to do just that. I’m going to be in attendance for this one and I think Stanford will have a hard time getting up for it after their overtime stunner with Oregon. They’re traveling a long way and this game feels like the only thing left standing between Notre Dame and running the table. I think the Irish will win by 10.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Everyone seems to be in love with the Irish, and the quarterback change last week gave the offense the boost it had been looking for. I’m skeptical, as it was just against Wake Forest. The Notre Dame Defense has probably been more impressive in my book, going up against a Stanford o-line that hasn’t seemed to figure it out yet this season. I’ll take Notre Dame, but I’m not as confident about it as I made it seem.
BYU versus Washington (-17.5)
BYU has had a roller-coaster start to the 2018 season, losing a heartbreaker to California in week 2 only to respond with a massive upset of Wisconsin seven days later. The same can be said for the Cougars week 4 opponent, the Washington Huskies. The Huskies lost a heartbreaking season opener to Auburn, but have responded with three straight victories. As chronicled by SI, the Cougars reinvented their offense on the fly with jet sweeps and incessant motioning. Through four games, the Cougars offense has featured 27 total jet sweeps for 146 yards. The Cougars defense will have to find a way to disrupt senior Huskies QB Jake Browning. In last week’s Huskies victory over Arizona State, Browning played turnover-free football for the first time all season. Washington can ill-afford to lose another game or its playoff hopes are all but extinguished.
@FarmerBarn: I’m not sure how good Washington really is, but I think they are finding their stride. I’ll take Huskies.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I like Washington here. BYU’s stunning upset of Wisconsin should help the Huskies avoid overlooking them. I think they will take care of business and are clinging to their chance of a potential playoff berth.
@BarnBurnerSlim: I’ll never cheer for or put my money on BYU after the melee with Memphis following the Miami Beach Bowl a few years ago. Go fuckin Huskies.
Oregon (-3) versus California
Playing at home and with a chance to make a statement in front of a national audience, Oregon choked away a commanding lead against Stanford. The Ducks and first-year head coach Mario Cristobal have to be kicking themselves over letting one get away. Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert played admirable in the Ducks loss, completing 26 of 33 passes for 346 yards and a touchdown. NFL scouts consider the 6’6,’’ 234-pound quarterback one of the top draft prospects. He has another chance to put solid film on tape against a solid Golden Bears defense. The Cal defenders have generated 9 turnovers in three games, two of which came in a Week 2 win over BYU. As one of only three undefeated teams (along with Stanford and Colorado) left in the Pac-12, Cal has a chance to make a big statement in the Pac-12 North with a divisional win over the Ducks.
@FarmerBarn: I got Oregon to rebound. Herbert with a big day.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I’ve been impressed with Cal thus far into the season and just like Stanford, I think Oregon will have a hard time getting over last week’s game. It hurts worse since they ended up blowing a win. I think Cal’s defense will be able to keep the Ducks close enough to give their offense a chance to win the game. California.
@BarnBurnerSlim: Oregon simply blew that one last week, but we saw what they are capable of when they are clicking. Cal is a solid team, but I expect the Ducks to bounce back in a big way.
Just for the Hell of It Game: Syracuse versus Clemson (-24)
In what was likely the upset of the 2017 season, Syracuse shocked Clemson last year at home to the tune of 27-24. Clemson will look for newly-named starting quarterback and true freshman gunslinger Trevor Lawrence to avenge last year’s shocking loss.
@FarmerBarn: Clemson wins handily, but not by 24 or more. Dabo better hope nothing happens to Lawrence here on out with the announcement that now back-up QB Kelly Bryant is out the door. Syracuse covers.
@BarnBurnerBaker: I’m interested to see if the new quarterback controversy at Clemson will be a factor for the Tigers moving forward. Lawrence is their guy moving forward and now Kelly Bryant is unhappy and wants to transfer. Will Dabo be able to keep his team focused with that going on? Syracuse has been impressive and this game has a similar feeling to Iowa State-Oklahoma earlier this year. I think Clemson will win, but I expect Syracuse to cover.
@BarnBurnerSlim: I don’t know if I ever expected to be Syracuse sitting at 4-0 in my lifetime, so shoutout to Dino Babers. Clemson obviously has the QB change and the cloud of a transfer hanging over their heads, but are still a supremely talented football team. I think Syracuse can keep this one interesting, especially with 24 points to play with.