Finally, a great week of picking games: 5-1 against the spread and 6-0 straight up! And what’s our reward? A quarter of this week’s FBS games have been postponed. As of Friday morning, 11 games are off the schedule this weekend, including six involving ranked teams and four of the seven SEC games. Thanks, COVID.
Not to puff our chests too much, but did we mention we went 3-0 picking underdogs to win straight up last week? Thank you, Gators, Razorbacks and Fighting Irish.
Let’s press our luck again this week with a watered-down slate of games.
Arkansas at No. 6 Florida
Kickoff: 6 p.m., ESPN
Line: Florida by 17 ½
Quick Hit: Welcome back to the sideline, Barry Odom. With Sam Pittman in COVID quarantine, the Razorbacks turn to their defensive coordinator to serve as interim head coach. That means Odom will climb down from the press box and coach from the sideline for the first time since … Mizzou beat Arkansas in the 2019 finale. We all remember the last time Odom coached at The Swamp: He earned his biggest victory as Missouri’s head coach, taking down the Gators in 2018. (Side note: Former Mizzou linebacker Michael Scherer gets a temporary promotion this week from Hogs quality control coach to defensive assistant and gets to replace Odom’s seat in the press box.)
As for the game, Odom’s defense is a takeaway factory. The Hogs will earn some extra possessions with an interception or two. I’d worry about Arkansas quarterback and former Gator Feleipe Franks getting rattled in his return to Gainesville. The Hogs won’t have the firepower to keep pace with Florida. But … Arkansas is 6-0 against the spread this week.
Matter's Pick: Florida 33, Arkansas 20
Vanderbilt at Kentucky
Kickoff: 11 a.m., SEC Network
Line: Kentucky by 17
Quick Hit: The Wildcats are playing with heavy hearts this week after Thursday's death of beloved offensive line coach John Schlarman, who fought cancer for the last two years. Expect an inspired effort from UK, especially along that monstrous O-line. It’s been a forgettable season for the Wildcats, but they’ll have a feel-good day Saturday. (That doesn’t mean they’ll cover.)
Matter's Pick: Kentucky 23, Vanderbilt 10
South Carolina at Mississippi
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m., SEC Network
Line: Mississippi by 11
Quick Hit: The Gamecocks are spiraling, maybe to the point where Will Muschamp’s $13 million buyout can’t protect him much longer. The Rebels had a bye week to sharpen an offense that’s second only to Alabama in the SEC in yards per game. South Carolina, with more questions at quarterback, will struggle to match Ole Miss' offense. If so, the SEC could soon have its first pink slip of 2020.
Matter's Pick: Mississippi 37, South Carolina 24
No. 13 Wisconsin at Michigan
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m., ABC
Line: Wisconsin by 4 ½
Quick Hit: Hey, there, Badgers. Glad you could rejoin the college football season. When last seen Wisconsin looked like a playoff contender, but it’s been three weeks since the Badgers dismantled Illinois. Now, a trip to the Big House to visit one of the nation’s most disappointing teams. Does Michigan have any fight left? Can Jim Harbaugh salvage the season and his job? This doesn’t look like a typical Wolverines defense, and at last check the Badgers were hopeful impressive young quarterback Graham Mertz could play Saturday. Bad news, Big Blue.
Matter's Pick: Wisconsin 24, Michigan 17
No. 2 Notre Dame at Boston College
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m., ABC
Line: Notre Dame by 13 ½
Quick Hit: If you’re old enough to remember 1993, you’ll recall Notre Dame had just toppled No. 1 Florida State but barely had time to celebrate before Boston College spoiled any Irish championship dreams the following week. Could the Eagles do it again? (Before we get carried away with déjà vu, that ’93 BC team was hardly an afterthought on the Irish schedule. The Eagles were ranked No. 17, coached by the great Tom Coughlin and led by Big East player if the year Glenn Foley at quarterback.) With a sturdy defense, this BC team showed some pluck against Clemson last month and could do the same against the Irish. Expect a competitive game.
Matter's Pick: Notre Dame 31, Boston College 23
Last week: 5-1 against the spread; 6-0 straight up
Season: 20-22-1 against the spread; 31-12 straight up