This handicapper researched a pair of college football rivalry games on which to offer free picks for this weekend. One comes from the Big Ten, and will decide a berth in the conference championship game; the other comes from the SEC, and could help decide a spot in the four-team national championship playoff.
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin -14/50
The Gophers have played themselves to within one more victory of a spot in the Big Ten championship game. Unfortunately, Goldy runs into its arch-nemesis from across the big river, the Badgers of Wisconsin. At 8-3 the Gophers look to break their jinx against the 9-2 Badgers Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall.
Two weeks ago Minnesota lost at home to Ohio State 31-24, giving the Gophers two conference losses. But in crunch time last week Minnesota came up with a score and a big late defensive stop to secure a 28-24 upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, keeping its Big Ten title hopes alive.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, after a slow start to this season, has exploded to win its last six games in a row, going 4-2 ATS. Two weeks ago the Badgers spotted Nebraska an early 17-3 lead, then went on a 56-0 run for a 59-24 victory. And last week Wisconsin won at Iowa 26-24, setting up Saturday's big game.
Badgers RB Melvin Gordon is on an epic tear, rushing for 800 yards and seven touchdowns in just the last three games. And Wisconsin has also been getting some better play out of the quarterback position.
The Badgers have beaten Minnesota 10 times in a row in this rivalry. Last year Bucky beat Goldy 20-7 up in Minneapolis.
On a key injury note Gophers RB David Cobb, who leads the team with 1,400 yards rushing, pulled a hamstring last week and is “very questionable” to play Saturday, so keep this in mind when looking at the college football odds.
Coach Kill definitely has the Minnesota program headed in the right direction, but the Gophers just don't have enough to get by the Badgers Saturday. We like a hot Wisconsin team for the win and the cover.
Free College Football Pick: Badgers -14 at Bookmaker
Mississippi State -2.5/49 at Ole Miss
The Egg Bowl is always a big deal in Mississippi, but rarely have the stakes been as high as they are for this year's edition of the annual Ole Miss-Mississippi State clash, Saturday afternoon in Oxford.
Mississippi State started 9-0 this season, with a win at LSU and a victory over defending SEC champion Auburn. The Bulldogs then lost at Alabama 25-20, even though they outgained the Tide 428-335. But three turnovers did them in.
Last week MSU bounced back to beat Vandy 51-0. So the Bulldogs need a win Saturday, and an Auburn win over Alabama, to win the SEC West. And that would help immensely in staying in the top four in those playoff rankings.
Ole Miss started 7-0 this season, including that big victory over Alabama. But reality has set in over recent weeks, and the Rebs have lost their last three SEC games. Last week Ole Miss got a taste of possible things to come when it went up to Arkansas and got blanked 30-0.
On the injury front Rebs QB Bo Wallace hurt an ankle in last week's loss to Arkansas, so his mobility may be limited.
Ole Miss has fallen out of the running in the division race, but certainly doesn’t want to give its in-state rival any bragging rights in the recruiting wars. Also, the home team is 9-1 SU, 7-2-1 ATS over the last 10 meetings in this series. But MSU is the more complete team, and healthier. So we like the Bulldogs for the win and the cover in this spot,
Free College Football Pick: Bulldogs -2.5 at 5Dimes