Joe can count on his hand the number of times he has finished a week above .500 against the spread in the past three seasons. Amazingly, last week was one of those times.
Faced with one of the more challenging set of games in the three-year run of Joe vs. the Pro, Joseph Goodman, the Herald’s national college football columnist, finished 6-2 against the spread and 4-4 straight up. For the season, Joe is 51-21 straight up and 34-33 against the spread. Joe has never been above .500 against the spread this late in the season.
While Joe is finally having a respectable season, the Pro, Lee Sterling of ParamountSports.com, continues to increase his lead. Last week, Sterling went 5-3 against the spread and 5-3 straight up. Overall, Sterling is 52-20 straight up and 38-29 against the spread.
This week’s picks:
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Alabama at LSU (Alabama by 9.5)
Joe: Steve Spurrier said this week that the Crimson Tide could beat an NFL team. Alabama isn’t nearly that good but LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger doesn’t stand much of a chance. Alabama 24, LSU 15
Pro: If you want to step in front of the Bama Express that is +17 in turnover ratio and has a QB that has thrown 18 TD passes with 0 interceptions, you’re making a big mistake. Alabama 27, LSU 13
Missouri at Florida (UF by 17)
Joe: Mizzou’s first trip to The Swamp will not be an enjoyable experience. Florida 32, Missouri 17
Pro: Trying to cover an almost 3 TD spread after bubble burst with no passing game is a recipe for disaster. Florida 27, Missouri 16
Pittsburgh at Notre Dame (ND by 16.5)
Joe: Manti Te’o will keep the Irish focused after last week’s unlikely victory against Oklahoma. Notre Dame 28, Pittsburgh 21
Pro: Irish off three gut-busting games. Panthers have playmakers in RBs Graham and Shell and WR’s Street and Shanahan to make this game interesting for three quarters. Notre Dame 30, Pittsburgh 20
Southern Methodist at Central Florida (UCF by 12)
Joe: Knights continue their domination of C-USA. Central Florida 42, SMU 20
Pro: SMU QB Garrett Gilbert is trending up after big games vs. Memphis and Houston. He still hasn’t had even an average game against a good defense. Knights exact revenge for last year and win going away. Central Florida 38, SMU 21
Connecticut at South Florida (USF by 8)
Joe: Never bet on Big East football games. The unskilled are unpredictable. South Florida 45, UConn 42
Pro: Huskies need to run to score and average just 42 rushing yards per game past three games. They are poor travelers, 0-8 ATS last eight road contests. Make it 0-9 ATS after Saturday night. South Florida 30, UConn 16
Oregon at Southern California (Oregon by 8)
Joe: Oregon’s season is on the line against the Trojans. No problem. Oregon 28, USC 21
Pro: Arizona scored 39 points in upset of Trojans last week. Ducks run the same zone read option but with more talent and speed. Oregon 45, USC 28
Florida Atlantic at Navy (Navy by 16)
Joe: FAU’s bowl game was last week against Troy. Expecting a dud here. Navy 35, FAU 13
Pro: Owls showing improvement but third road game in four weeks and having to face the triple option for the first time makes me side with the Midshipmen. Navy 41, FAU 21
Florida International at South Alabama (FIU by 3.5)
Joe: Jags coach Joey Jones will have his team prepared. Hope FIU isn’t expecting to walk through the motions and win. Of course, nothing has come easy for FIU this season, so why would they expect it now? I’m rambling and obviously have no idea what I’m talking about here. FIU 40, South Alabama 20
Pro: Panthers are ready for a breakout game, and stepping down in class should allow them to notch an easy win against former 1-AA opponent. FIU 34, South Alabama 23
Joe vs. The Pro is a weekly college football feature that analyzes games and predicts the outcome against the spread. Sterling, a nationally respected numbers man, has been analyzing spreads for more than 20 years. Joe analyzes spreads in less than 20 seconds.