Every year, I go through the same pattern against the spread. Early, I pick on pre-season hype, which is unpredictable. Then things settle in a bit, which is helpful.
Then some struggling teams grow up, and some fast-starting teams lose their way. Which is all very confusing. Which is the way we are now.
By November, things become more clear again.
For now, here are five murky mid-October selections: Kansas State-Oklahoma, N.C. State-Clemson, Illinois-Rutgers, Nebraska-Indiana, Western Michigan-Akron.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The Game: Oklahoma minus-10.5 vs. Kansas State
The Pick: Oklahoma, 31-17
The Comment: Sooners, coming off tight 45-40 Red River Rivalry win vs. Texas, stay up for K-State, which outlasted Texas Tech 44-38 last week. Sooners draw on last year's playbook, a 55-0 rout of the men from the Little Apple.
The Game: Clemson minus-18 vs. N.C. State
The Pick: Clemson, 38-17
The Comment: N.C. State has been playing well. But Clemson is on a mission after coming up short of its national title goal last year. And the Tigers have the horses to do that.
The Game: Illinois minus-6 at Rutgers
The Pick: Illinois, 24-21
The Comment: After the wrenching overtime defeat vs. Purdue, Illinois will be determined. But there’s also an edginess there, starting with Lovie Smith, and the uncertainty regarding QB Wes Lunt's unspecified injury is tricky. Ah, the mystery. Lovie is one of the many coaches who take a CIA-like approach to injuries. Scarlet Knights were blown out by Ohio State and Michigan, but played Iowa tough in a 14-7 loss.
The Game: Indiana, plus 3.5 vs. Nebraska
The Pick: Indiana, 31-30
The Comment: The Hoosiers, who beat Michigan State for the first time in eight tries in their last home game, go for their first win in five tries (since 1959!) vs. Nebraska. With Tommy Armstrong Jr., Huskers will get their points. But IU is pumped up for homecoming.
The Game: Western Michigan, minus-10.5 vs. Akron
The Pick: Western Michigan, 41-24
The Comment: The Zips (4-2) are having a good year. The No. 24 Broncos (6-0), ranked in top 25 for first time in school history, are poised for a great year under fiery young coach P.J. Fleck. Western Michigan is the only team in the nation without a turnover.
Last week: 2-3
Season : 13-13[/membership]