Weekly Picks

Nystrom's Week 14 ATS Picks

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

TCU (-6 1/2) TEXAS

 

Analysis: Texas has come on strong with a three-game winning streak (albeit, against Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State), while TCU has had to survive the fearsome powers of Kansas to stay in the playoff hunt. Malcom Brown leads a frisky Longhorn defense that can give quarterbacks headaches. They held Brett Hundley, Bryce Petty, Trevor Knight and Clint Trickett-led offenses to 20, 28, 31 and 16 points respectively. That’s a pretty good slate of gunslingers. None of them have the sort of dynamic (if rough) athletic talent of Trevone Boykin, though. TCU can’t be thrilled about traveling on Turkey Day, but everybody on the team is saying the right things. Boykin’s played under the bright lights several times this season and he’s shown an ability to step up to the moment against a tough defense, most notably in the team’s throttling of a tough Kansas State team. This is TCU’s chance to make their case for a playoff bid. They aren’t perfect, but even if they struggle, I find it difficult to believe that Tyrone Swoopes will be able to put up enough points to keep up with Boykin.

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

TCU Horned Frogs

 
 

Against the Spread:


TCU Horned Frogs

 

 

 

FLORIDA STATE (-7 1/2) Florida

 

Analysis: Sigh. Let’s go through this dance again. Florida State might be undefeated, but they fell to a ghastly 3-8 ATS after last week’s squeaker against Boston College. Picking Florida State games often brings me to existential crisis in the shadows of the night, as my head tells me, week after week, that this team will finally put together a full game. And then they just don’t. Even with Will Muschamp exiting stage left, there are a few red flags around this game. Florida State gives up 148 yards rushing per game. Pretty much the only thing Florida does well is rush the ball, behind Kelvin Taylor and Fred Jones. Florida’s defense also has a few legitimate studs like lineman Dante Fowler. Unfortunately for the Gators, Treon Harris offers almost nothing at the quarterback position. It’s hard to feel comfortable picking the Seminoles, but I’m just going to close my eyes and do it. They’re the better team. They have the better quarterback. They’re playing for more than the nebulous “win one for coach.” The line's under 10. What I’m thankful for this holiday weekend is that Florida State can only flummox the universe for so much longer.

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Florida State Seminoles

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Florida State Seminoles

 

 

 

WISCONSIN (-14) Minnesota

 

Analysis: I would love, love, love Minnesota in this spot if David Cobb was a sure thing to go. Of course, if Cobb was a sure thing to go, it’s doubtful that the line would be this high. The workhorse back pulled his hamstring on a touchdown run against Nebraska last week and his status for Saturday is questionable. Behind Cobb, Minnesota’s next leading rusher is quarterback Mitch Leidner, who has only rushed 36 times for 406 yards this season. More concerning for the Golden Gophers is the fact that they have issues stopping the run and are up against Melvin Gordon. Even in a relatively quiet effort against Iowa, Gordon still cracked 200 yards out on the ground. They won by two points. A huge game by Gordon does not automatically portend fire-and-brimstone on the scoreboard. Gordon will get his, but Minnesota has lost one game this season by double digits, an early September defeat to TCU back when TCU actually played defense. I’ll take the points, even if Cobb is sidelined. Minnesota is the football equivalent of mashed potatoes. They hold their gravy.

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Wisconsin Badgers

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Minnesota Golden Gophers

 

 

 

ALABAMA (-9 1/2) Auburn

 

Analysis: Oh how karma has swung on Auburn. A year ago, they were shocking Alabama with the so-called “Kick-Six” return by Chris Davis (whose helmet from that game sold for $48,000 at auction, because rich people have money). They are not catching the absurd breaks this year and recently bottomed out with a fumble-fueled loss against Texas A&M’s freshman quarterback and an absolute mauling at the hands of Georgia. Auburn should get leading receiver Duke Williams back from injury, which would help Nick Marshall immensely. Earlier in the week, you could get this line at Alabama -7. I would have jumped on that. It’s up to 9.5 now, which is tough. Auburn’s defense has been bleeding points of late, but they still have the second-best conference unit in the red zone and with a few stops, they’ll keep this thing close. Bama’s offense is competent enough, but they aren’t going to beat the stuffing out of a pumped Auburn team (assuming that Auburn still actually has any stuffing left in them at this point). No kick sixes this time around, though. The Internet will have to find something else to turn into a cute meme.  

  

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Alabama Crimson Tide

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Auburn Tigers

 

 

 

Mississippi State (-2 1/2) OLE MISS

Analysis: Ole Miss has fallen into a sinkhole and they are fighting to extricate themselves. As all quicksand aficionados know, the more you fight, the deeper you sink. Bo Wallace is not the quarterback to remain calm in dire situations. He was picked off twice last week without a touchdown, including a particularly ugly pick-six at the goal-line. After winning their first four SEC games, they’ve lost their last three. Mississippi State, on the other hand, is an impressive 5-1 ATS in their last six road games (including covers against both LSU and Alabama). That’s the kind of stat you like to see for a road favorite. Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson are cranberry sauce and rolls. You’re not going to build a plate around them, but they offer a nice balance to your meal—the team is 39th in passing and 23rd in rushing. Whereas Bo Wallace is that one random dish of potato salad (?!?) that that cousin you don’t know brings. Did you even invite a cousin? Why doesn’t he take his shoes off? He’s getting a little too comfortable with your sister. Avoid the potato salad. We kid because we love, Bo, we kid because we love. (Avoid the potato salad)

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Mississippi State Bulldogs

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Mississippi State Bulldogs

 

 

 

UCLA (-5) Stanford

Analysis: It’s taken a long time to come around on UCLA. I’m not sure if I’m even there yet. But it’s impossible to deny that they’ve come on strong of late with their five-game winning streak and a convincing win over USC. Over those five games, the offensive line has allowed just eight sacks and has given Brett Hundley time to settle. When Hundley minimizes his tendency toward happy feet, he can make plays. Stanford will be without top receiver Ty Montgomery, who suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter of last week’s win over Cal. Stanford’s defense will keep this one close early, but the Bruins are playing well at the right time of the year. If they win this game, they’ll get a crack at Oregon in the Pac-12 title game (assuming Oregon doesn’t slip up in Corvallis).  

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 UCLA Bruins

 
 

Against the Spread:


 UCLA Bruins

 

 

 

USC (-7) Notre Dame

 

Analysis: This line feels at least three points too high. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses. USC stumbled against UCLA and Notre Dame gave up a late lead against Louisville. Everett Golson’s body language was horrible at times. There were rumblings in the press box at halftime that Golson might be benched, but Brian Kelly stuck with him and he did calm a bit to lead the Fighting Irish to a near-victory after it looked like they would be blown off the field. Despite having a ton of offensive talent, USC is prone to strange lapses in scoring. It’s hard to get a gauge on either of these teams and I don’t trust such a high line. Notre Dame, down Sheldon Day and Joe Schmidt, doesn’t have the defensive horses to win, but they showed against Louisville in the second half that they still have their pride. They’ll put up enough points to cover the seven.

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Southern California Trojans

 
 

Against the Spread:


Notre Dame Fighting Irish 

 

 

 

OHIO STATE (-21) Michigan

 

Analysis: Michigan is one of the worst passing teams in the country despite having freak athlete Devin Funchess out there watching passes sail over his head and bounce at his feet. Their running game, while slightly better because it is not solely dependent on Devin Gardner’s existence, is no great shakes. The entire mess adds up to a team that consistently struggles to put 20 points on the board. On the other side of the field, Ohio State’s come back to earth since their win over Michigan State. The Buckeyes’ close win over Minnesota is understandable. Legitimately struggling against an awful Indiana team screams of overconfidence, though. Michigan’s defense is a top-25 unit. This isn’t going to be a layup, especially if Urban Meyer’s squad takes Michigan lightly.

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Ohio State Buckeyes

 
 

Against the Spread:


Michigan Wolverines 

 

 

 

Wild Card #1: Oregon (-19) OREGON STATE

 

Analysis: Oregon State already pulled off one big home upset when they beat Arizona State. They then promptly got smashed by Washington 37-13. Meanwhile, Oregon looks really, really good. Marcus Mariota has had nary a hiccup on the way to his (assumed) Heisman. In their biggest games of the season against the likes of Michigan State, UCLA, Stanford and Utah, the Ducks have put up convincing performances. Sean Mannion has the physical ability to throw for the Beavers, and they’re sure to come out with fire, but visions of upsets are going to fade by the third possession as Mariota carves up this squad like so many turkeys.

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

Oregon Ducks 

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Oregon Ducks

 

 

 

Wild Card #2:  LSU (-3 1/2) TEXAS A&M

 

Analysis: The Aggies were roughed up by Shane Ray and co. in their loss to Missouri, but even in that game, Kyle Allen showed his sparkling ability to throw a really, really pretty pass. Allen will face another tough defense when the Tigers (LSU species) roll into town. A&M’s biggest problem-area is defense (they’re ranked 75th overall).  Unfortunately for Les Miles, the Tigers’ offense is a bit of a mess. If they had any semblance of a running game, this would be a more comfortable spot, as Texas A&M allows over 200 YPG on the ground. LSU has scored 20 points in their last three games combined. Texas A&M is at home and even in what should be a low-scoring game, LSU might just want the season to end at this point. That Alabama loss left lasting psychological scars, clearly. On that note, happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the games!

 

 

 

 

   
Straight Up:

 Texas A&M Aggies

 
 

Against the Spread:


 Texas A&M Aggies

 

 

 

Record: Straight Up (83-47), Against the Spread (70-59-1) ... Last week: 5-5, 6-4

 


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