Pick #1: Alabama -11.5 (-110)
Since the Texas A&M Aggies moved into the SEC West two years ago they’ve covered the spread in both meetings with the Crimson Tide, going 1-1 SU in the process. That SU victory was Johnny Manziel’s coming out party as he led the Aggies over the Tide the last time these two played in Alabama and this year it’s A&M’s QB Kenny Hill who is looking to duplicate that performance. There are some similarities between that game and this one as both Manziel and Hill were/are freshman QB’s coming into Tuscaloosa and both times the Aggies were/are double-digit underdogs.
The bad news for Texas A&M is the fact that Hill hasn’t exactly proved himself to be quite the dynamic playmaker that Manziel was and this year’s game is also a month earlier in the season. A fact like that can’t be ignored as Manziel had many more starts under his belt for that ‘Bama game and there really is no substitute for improving as a college football QB than getting thrown into the fire and learning through experience. Those extra 3-4 games that Manziel had under his belt definitely helped him pull off the upset and Aggies HC Kevin Sumlin would have loved to see Hill get the same experience before going into a tough place like Alabama.
The news gets worse for the Aggies as unlike in 2012 when they were improving every week and knocking off top-tier competition, Texas A&M has regressed the past few weeks. They enter this game on a two-game losing streak as they fell to both schools from Mississippi and the fact is, after Nick Saban and ‘Bama might have took Manziel a little lightly two years ago, the Tide always learn from their mistakes and will not take Hill lightly simply because he’s a freshman.
Alabama is 7-1 ATS the last eight times they’ve played a SEC team coming off a double-digit SU loss and offensively they’ve been a much better team at home. The Tide have scored 41, 52 and 42 points in their three true home games this season and I would not be surprised to see them approach those numbers this week against the Aggies.
Pick #2: Oklahoma State +7.5 (-110)
This is the end of a gruelling three-game stretch against Oklahoma, Baylor and OK State for the TCU Horned Frogs and after upsetting the Sooners they blew a 20+ point lead in the 4th quarter last week to lose their first game of the year. That loss to Baylor is likely going to stick with this Horned Frogs team for sometime as a win there would have vaulted them into a front-running position to make the playoffs. Instead, the Horned Frogs are left to pick up the pieces of what could have been as they try and try and get back into the win column.
The problem for TCU will be that lingering hangover effect from last weeks loss. Fading a team this late in the year after their first loss is something I always look for, but it was the way TCU lost last week that makes this wee’s game a great “fade TCU” game.
Last year OK State capitalized on three TCU INT’s to win 24-10 in a game that was littered with turnovers. OK State had three INT’s themselves, but their defense was able to step up and hold the Horned Frogs down when they needed too.
Oklahoma State has been on cruise control all year with a 5-0 SU mark but they’ve yet to get into the meat of their schedule as this will be their first true test. That fact isn’t lost on the Cowboys and with a 14-3 ATS record after failing to cover the spread and an 8-2 ATS run going after a win, they’ll be able to keep this game close (at worst) with a shocked TCU team. The Horned Frogs are 1-4 ATS after a loss and 5-11 ATS after scoring 40+ points, so look for this game to be a one-score game either way.