McMurphy's Picks: Danny Sheridan Says Oregon Is Favorite Among Unbeatens
USA Today sports analyst Danny Sheridan, who has been providing the odds for the newspaper since its inception in 1982, shared his insight with FanHouse this week. Sheridan projected what the point spreads would be if the four unbeatens played this weekend at a neutral site.
Again, these lines are only if the teams met this weekend and are not necessarily what the point spreads would be if the teams played on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz. Also, these lines assume that Auburn's Cam Newton is eligible and playing.
According to Sheridan, this weekend's lines at a neutral site would be:
Oregon 6-point favorite against Auburn
Oregon 2-point favorite against TCU
Oregon 2-point favorite against Boise State
TCU 4-point favorite against Auburn
Boise State 4-point favorite against Auburn
TCU even against Boise State
So, according to Sheridan's current odds, Oregon rates as the nation's best team with TCU and Boise State tied for second and Auburn fourth.
Now, onto my college football picks, found here every Friday. I'm still at a solid 55 percent against the number. Reminder: this is for entertainment purposes only. Before the season I was staked an imaginary $5,000 bankroll and currently have an imaginary $700 profit. Each pick is for $50, except for the $100 best bets (three of them again this week). Point spreads from Wednesday's USA Today.
Boise State at Idaho, Friday. This rivalry is so heated Boise State cross country coach Brad Wick was reprimanded by the WAC this week after remarking that Idaho's fans "have very poor sportsmanship." At least he didn't insult them and call them "nasty" and "inebriated" like Boise State's president Bob Kustra did during the summer. Boise State -34½.
Boston College at Duke. Duke has canceled tailgating activities for Saturday's game after a teenager was found unconscious in a portable toilet before last week's game against Virginia. The teenager figured that was the best place to find Duke's defensive playbook. Boston College -3½.
BYU at Colorado State. Since the Cougars and Rams both feature 19-year old freshmen starting quarterbacks in Jake Heaps and Pete Thomas, respectively, the teams agreed to a noon kickoff local time so the youngsters wouldn't be out past their bedtimes. BYU -6½.
Army at Kent State, Best Bet. Having just played rival Air Force and with Notre Dame on deck at Yankee Stadium next week, how much interest will Army have in playing at Kent State? I'm guessing not a whole lot. Kent State even.
Central Michigan at Navy. After watching East Carolina surrender 76 points to Navy last week, Central Michigan plans to try a 2-1-2 zone against the Midshipmen. If that doesn't work, look for the Chippewas to employ a box-and-one on Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs. Navy -15.
Clemson at Florida State. Entering the season's final few weeks, Clemson and Florida State are two of four teams with a shot to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. There are actually 128 possible scenarios to determine the champion. Unfortunately for Florida State, half of those have the Seminoles losing on a last-second field goal that sails wide right. Florida State -7½.
Georgia at Auburn. Minutes before kickoff, ESPN breaks another Cam Newton story reporting that Cecil Newton, Cam's father, used the $180,000 he got from Auburn to purchase Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green's Independence Bowl jersey. Georgia +8½.
South Carolina at Florida. Minutes before kickoff, FoxSports.com reports while Steve Spurrier attended Florida in the mid-1960s, he had three different instances of academic cheating and faced potential expulsion from the university. Urban Meyer immediately issued a statement that he didn't leak any information about Spurrier's academic record. Florida -6½.
Louisiana-Monroe at LSU. The Warhawks bring in a special type of Bermuda grass and plant it on the visiting sideline, causing LSU coach Les Miles to get momentarily distracted. Miles wonders if – you can see this one coming a mile away – the grass is greener (and tastes better) on the other sideline. Louisiana-Monroe +32½.
Ole Miss at Tennessee. In last year's game, Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster rushed for a school record 282 yards as Ole Miss defeated Tennessee for the first time since 1983. Good news for the Vols: McCluster is no longer at Ole Miss. Even better news for the Vols: Lane Kiffin is no longer at UT. Tennessee -2.
Iowa State at Colorado. Having fired Dan Hawkins, former coach Bill McCartney has said he's interested in returning as the Buffs' coach. The 70-year old McCartney becomes a leading candidate when Colorado officials realize that their first choice, former CU coach Eddie Crowder, has been dead since 2008. Colorado +2½.
Miami at Georgia Tech. Former Yellow Jackets coach Bobby Ross and members of Georgia Tech's 1990 national title team will be honored at halftime of the Miami-Tech game. Upon learning that the 73-year old Ross is still alive, Colorado offers him the Buffaloes' head coaching position. Miami -3.
Mississippi State at Alabama, Best Bet. With the Crimson Tide's national title hopes crushed by last week's loss at LSU, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy summed up the Tide's psyche on Monday. "It feels like the end of the world, it really does," McElroy said. Imagine what it's going to feel like when the Tide lose to the Bulldogs? Mississippi State +13½.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma. Earlier this week, workers in Norman erected a statue of former Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson in front of Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The statue weighs 1,200 pounds – or basically the same amount as former OU running back Marcus Dupree. Oklahoma -14½.
Vanderbilt at Kentucky. Wildcat Nation has eagerly looked forward to this game for several weeks. This is Kentucky's final home game, meaning UK fans can finally stop pretending they care about football and turn all their attention to basketball. OK, you're right: they've never pretended they care about football. Kentucky -14.
Oklahoma State at Texas. The last time the Longhorns lost to Okie State in Austin was in 1944. That was so long ago that T. Boone Pickens had just made his first billion. Texas +5½.
Washington State at Oregon State. Following Saturday's game at Oregon State, Washington State will be off for the next two weeks before playing its season finale against Washington. I'm confused. Haven't the Cougars actually been off all season? Oregon State -23.
Penn State at Ohio State, Best Bet. Walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin, who will make the start for the Nittany Lions, said it was "ridiculous" that Penn State was a 17-point underdog against Ohio State. He's right: it should be even higher. Ohio State -17½.
"Cover Me's" Trifecta of Terror plus one: This week, "Cover Me" goes with Iowa -10 at Northwestern, Minnesota +20½ at Illinois, Louisiana Tech -15½ at New Mexico State and his best bet is Stanford -5½ at Arizona State.
About last night: I picked Pittsburgh -5½ at UConn. UConn won 30-28.
Lock of the week: Master Lock American Lock 1167 Series, Anodized Solid Aluminum Padlock
McMurphy's picks: 11-8
"Cover Me's" picks: 2-1
Bankroll: Up 700 for season; 5,700 balance
McMurphy: 66-53; +500 (6-9 best bets)
"Cover Me": 16-15; +200 (4-1 best bets)
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY