What we learned last week: Just when you think it’s safe to climb out of a Gopher hole, Minnesota can’t defend on third-and-long in the final minute, even against wobbly Penn State. And Michigan State is not who we thought they were.
Enough of that. On to Week 6. . . in which we examine Northern Illinois-Western Michigan, Virginia Tech-North Carolina, BYU-Michigan State, Maryland-Penn State and Washington-Oregon. Because I still need more reps.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The Game: Western Michigan minus-19.5 vs. Northern Illinois
The Pick: Western Michigan, 49-21
The Comment: The Broncos, who already have beaten Northwestern and Illinois, go for the Land of Lincoln trifecta. Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, a former NIU player and assistant, may try to keep it down vs. struggling Huskies. But Western has put up 49 the last two weeks, so another trifecta could happen.
The Game: North Carolina minus-1.5 vs. Virginia Tech
The Pick: North Carolina, 38-35
The Comment: Tar Heels can be skittery at times. but they also are talented and resilient. Hokies QB Jerod Evans (13 TDs, one interception) is excellent. But UNC QB Mitch Trubisky (13 and none) is a poised dual-threat keeper.
The Game: BYU plus-5.5 at Michigan State
The Pick: Michigan State, 31-28
The Comment: Struggling Spartans need to grind out a win, but are banged up, and All-America DL Malik McDowell will miss first half (targeting suspension). All five of 2-3 BYU’s games have been decided by three points or less.
The Game: Washington minus-9 at Oregon
The Pick: Washington, 42-30
The Comment: Huskies, who have lost 12 straight to Oregon, are motivated. They also are good—maybe even good enough to crack the College Football Playoff. In other words, Washington has its ducks lined up.
The Game: Maryland minus-1.5 at Penn State
The Pick: Maryland, 20-17
The Comment: Face it. Reputations say Terrapins don’t get to 5-0 with a win in Happy Valley. But the way these teams are playing says it happens.
Last week: 2-3