N.C. State (+1) at Georgia Tech (Thursday night)
The Yellow Jackets are 2-7 against the spreads I've used this season. I picked against them the two times they covered, which is also the two games they won outright (vs. South Florida and at Miami). It's not as if I have any logical idea what to make of the Jackets so, as a service to their backers, I will take N.C. State to increase Tech's chances of victory.
South Alabama (+10) at Georgia State
GSU quarterback Dan Ellington played with a torn ACL against Appalachian State last weekend after coach Shawn Elliott ruled him out. The Panthers still got blown out. They bounce back and cover against South Alabama, which is one of the worst teams in FBS.
Buccaneers (+4½) at Falcons
QB Jameis Winston told Tampa Bay media that he plans to seek out Falcons offensive coordinator/ex-Bucs coach Dirk Koetter before the game and give him a hug. Sounds nice, but somebody with the Falcons should keep Winston away so he doesn't somehow transfer his turnover virus. Winston's TD-to-interception ratio against the Falcons (20-to-5) is better by far than against any other division opponent. I'm still taking the Falcons and giving the points.
Other college games of interest
Arkansas (+44) at No. 1 LSU
A day after Auburn lost yet another rivalry game, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame announced that coach Gus Malzahn is among its latest class of inductees. Fortuitous timing for the Razorbacks, who reportedly want Malzahn to be their next head coach. Come back to where we love you, Gus! Malzahn has 27 million reasons to never express interest in any other job. I can't resist taking Arkansas and all those points.
No. 8 Penn State (+18½) at No. 2 Ohio State
I went looking for justification to back the favorite, so I figured a fan post would provide it. Instead, I found an article by Nick Polak at Roar Lions Roar that opines: "The Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorites on paper in nearly every category and seem primed to cruise to another easy win." I still would pick Penn State, if not for the iffy status of star wide receiver KJ Hamler (head/neck). Buckeyes cover.
No. 6 Oregon (-14) at Arizona State
According to FiveThirtyEight, Oregon has the best chance to make the College Football Playoff among teams not in the top four of the rankings now. That scenario would mean the committee selects Pac-12 champion Oregon over Big 12 champ Oklahoma and one-loss Alabama. The only downside for the Pac-12 is that it would have to stop pretending it's a victim of ESPN bias. I like ASU as a solid home 'dog.
TCU (+19) at No. 9 Oklahoma
Oklahoma overcome a 28-3 deficit to beat Baylor last weekend. I know what you are thinking. But Baylor's collapse wasn't as bad because its advantage was early in the second quarter, not late in the third. And it wasn't the freakin' Super Bowl. Sorry for the digression, but I was there in Houston and I still can't believe it. The Sooners have been shaky for three consecutive weeks, but TCU doesn't have enough offense to keep up on the road. Oklahoma covers.
Texas (+6) at No. 14 Baylor
That was a bad loss for Baylor, but at least the Bears are punching above their weight. Meanwhile, Texas has lost two of their past three games to maintain its status as the Tennessee of the Big 12. No matter the head coach, the Longhorns never live up to the potential of their vast resources and tradition. I like Baylor to cover.
Other NFL games of interest
Panthers (+9½) at Saints
Panthers football executives must be fretting now that Kyle Allen is looking like a QB that every team passed on in the 2018 draft. This offseason they must choose between retaining Cam Newton despite his injury history, sticking with Allen despite his struggles, or drafting a QB despite the two best prospects likely being unavailable when they pick. Weirdly that puts them in a worse position than the Falcons. I'll take Carolina and the points.
Cowboys (+6½) at Patriots
This the Evil Empire of the NFC vs. the Evil Empire of the AFC. Of course, the obvious difference is that the Patriots are a dynasty, and the Cowboys haven't advanced past the divisional round since the 1995 playoffs. That the Cowboys still are hated is a testament to franchise owner Jerry Jones' genius at playing the heel. Patriots cover.
Packers (+3) at 49ers
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers did something shocking for an NFL player. Asked about the race for the top playoff seed in the NFC, which comes with home-field advantage, Rodgers did not say the Packers are taking it one game at a time. "We're all aware of where we're at in the seeding going into Week 12 and what's in front of us and the opportunities," Rogers said, per ESPN. A loss would leave the Packers (8-2) two games behind the 49ers (9-1). I like Green Bay with the points.
Ravens (-3) at Rams
Rams coach/purported offensive genius Sean McVay's team is ranked 12th in points scored in large part because QB Jared Goff has regressed. Meanwhile, the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders for the first time in years because QB Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate. This has been your occasional reminder that great players make great coaches, with the possible exception of the AFC's Evil Empire. Ravens cover.
Last week: 8-4-1 (88-61-5 season)