Welcome to Against All Odds: NCAA/NFL Picks Championship Week! From the opening weekend of the NCAA football season through Super Bowl LII, Mike Drakulich (PSN), the man behind Pittsburgh SportsNation, takes on his father, Michael J. Drakulich (MJD), in picking NCAA and NFL games against the Vegas spread.
Mike Drakulich covers both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Panthers during the season for NGSCSports.com!
To appease the taste buds of Pittsburgh’s local coverage area, Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, when they are playing, will always be on the docket among the NCAA games chosen, as will the Pittsburgh Steelers for NFL games.
Once Bowl Season arrives, we’ll bring you EVERY Bowl Game and then continue throughout the conclusion of the NFL Playoffs.
Itchy vs Scratchy. Black Spy vs White Spy. Cheers vs Gary’s Old Towne Tavern. History is full of rivalries, but none are better than father vs son! Who will rise above the other this season and become the 2018-19 Against All Odds Champion?
I guess you can call last week just “one of those weeks”, as I started off winning my first five games, only to watch my teams lose four out the last five, thus finishing at 6-4. That was good enough to bump my record back above .500 to 53-52, and I now trail my dad by just two games heading into Championship Week in college football. Dad is at 55-50 after going 4-6, courtesy of some bad luck and bounces.
This marks the final full week of college football games in the regular season, as just Army vs Navy remains next week before the Bowl Season begins.
Lines as of 11/29/2018
Friday, November 30th
PAC 12 Championship Game
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA.
#17 Utah Utes (9-3) at #11 Washington Huskies (9-3), 8:00 pm
Line: Washington -5.5
Pick: PSN: Washington | MJD: Washington
Is the PAC 12 a mess or what? Haven’t really seen much of these teams with the exception of Washington a few times late night. The Huskies are 11-1 overall and 5-1 vs the Utes in PAC 12 play, including a 21-7 victory earlier this season. You can expect a low scoring affair as both teams have the top two scoring defenses in the conference.
Saturday, December 1st
Big 12 Championship Game
AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX
#14 Texas Longhorns (9-3) at #5 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1), 12:00 pm
Line: Oklahoma -8.5
Pick: PSN: Oklahoma | MJD: Oklahoma
Texas was the victor in the first match-up of the season vs Oklahoma 48-45. Longhorns QB Sam Ehlinger has stuck it to the Sooners in his last two meetings, throwing for an average of nearly 300 yards and rushing for an additional 90. Oklahoma’s QB Kyler Murray can light it up, too. He threw for 364 yards and rushed for 114 vs WVU last week. Expect another typical high scoring BIG 12 affair, with the Sooners pulling away late in the 4th this time.
AAC Championship Game
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL.
Memphis Tigers (8-4) at #8 UCF Knights (11-0), 3:30 pm
Line: UCF -3.5
Pick: PSN: UCF | MJD: Memphis
How can you not feel heartbreak for UCF and McKenzie Milton, who suffered a horrific leg injury in last week’s game vs South Florida? The Knights haven’t lost a game in over two years, and pretty much any hopes of getting a shot at the College Football Playoffs ended with Milton’s injury. Darriel Mack, Jr. takes Milton’s spot and hopes to lead UCF to another undefeated regular season in the AAC Championship game vs Memphis. The Tigers Darrell Henderson has rushed for a FBS best 1,699 yards, along with 19 touchdowns. Tough go without Milton, but I think UCF will dig down deep and win this game for their fallen leader.
SEC Championship Game
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA.
#4 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) at #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1), 4:00 pm
Line: Alabama -13.5
Pick: PSN: Georgia | MJD: Alabama
If Georgia wins, we could be looking at a potential rematch sometime in the College Football Playoff. Georgia won’t be so lucky with a loss. The Bulldogs have to put it all on the line vs the defending National Champs, who also, coincidentally, beat them in the Championship last January. Georgia is 13th offensively, and 10th in scoring defense. Tua Tagovailoa is the difference maker for the Crimson Tide. He is averaging 265.8 yards a game passing, with 38 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He also has 211 yards rushing and five more scores. This will be Alabama’s biggest test of the season, and I believe this will be the first time they face a little adversity to achieve victory. Bama in a close one.
Big Ten Championship Game
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN.
#21 Northwestern Wildcats (8-4) at #6 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1), 8:00 pm
Line: Ohio State -13.5
Pick: PSN: Ohio State | MJD: Northwestern
I admit I had my doubts about Ohio State last week, but their they were, blowing Michigan away yet again. It’s hard to imagine them tripping up now against a tough, but no where near as talented Northwestern squad. The Buckeyes are averaging 543.9 yards per game. Dwayne Haskins has thrown for 4,081 yards, 42 touchdowns, and only picked seven times. Thee Ohio State will roll…
ACC Championship Game
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC.
Pitt Panthers (7-5) at #2 Clemson Tigers (12-0) 8:00 pm
Line: Clemson -28.5
Pick: PSN: Pitt | MJD: Pitt
The Pitt Panthers aren’t strangers to being huge underdogs to Clemson. The last time these two met was in 2016. All Pitt did was hand Clemson their only loss of the season via a last second field goal by Chris Blewitt, which stunned the Tigers 43-42. Clemson still went on to win the National Title. This time it’s the ACC Championship game, and Pitt faces an even better Clemson team that has few, if any weaknesses. Pitt runs the type of offense, and has the skill set of players to pull off another monumental upset, if the stars align the right way. The way the Panthers can run the ball behind Qadree Ollison and Darren Hall, Pitt can play ball control and keep the vaunted Clemson offense off the field. The biggest key is quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has to utilize the middle of the field for once in the passing game, and make high percentage passes. It would also help if his offensive line gave him enough time to drop back and find an open receiver.
Clemson ranks #4 in total defense and #2 in run defense, allowing only 84.8 yards per game. Pitt has to find some semblance of a passing game, or it will get ugly in a hurry. Tigers QB Trevor Lawrence has thrown for 2,488 yards and has 22 touchdowns via the air. He has a wide array of receiving options to choose from. Travis Etienne is a beast at RB, collecting 1,307 yards rushing with 19 scores.
Sunday, December 2nd
LA Rams (10-1) at Detroit Lions (4-7), 1:00 pm
Line: LA Rams -10.5
Pick: PSN: LA Rams | MJD: LA Rams
The Rams high powered offense behind Jeff Goff should have no problems chopping the Lions up come Sunday afternoon. Detroit couldn’t even beat the Bears without Mitch Trubisky, so God help them this week.
Arizona Cardinals (2-9) at Green Bay Packers (4-6-1), 1:00 pm
Line: Green Bay -14.5
Pick: PSN: Green Bay | MJD: Green Bay
If ever there was a game the reeling Packers needed, it’s this one vs the lowly Cardinals. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense will have a field day in this one.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-9), 4:05 pm
Line: Kansas City -15.5
Pick: PSN: Kansas City | MJD: Kansas City
Oakland fans should begin drinking as early as they can, as the Chiefs will be looking to stomp the life out of the already lifeless Raiders.
LA Chargers (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1), 8:20 pm
Line: Pittsburgh -3.5
Pick: PSN: Pittsburgh | MJD: Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh lost one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever watched in my life last week. Somehow, despite moving the ball at will vs the Broncos, the Steelers were sent out of Mile High Stadium as 24-17 losers. Of course, fumbling the ball on the goal line out of the end zone, fumbling the ball on another long run in scoring position, and a last second interception on the three yard line are mistakes that are rarely left unpunished when you play in the NFL. The Steelers beat themselves, plain and simple.
Now they face a Chargers team without their best RB in Melvin Gordon on Sunday night in Prime Time. There are no gimme games, but this is one the Steelers have to rise up and just take care of business in, IF they have any desires to claim a first round bye in the AFC Playoffs.
MJD: Last Week: 4-6 | Overall: 55-50 — .514
PSN: Last Week: 6-4 | Overall: 53-52 -2 .504
2017 Champion: PSN
2016 Champion: MJD
2015 Champion: MJD
2014 Champion: PSN
2013 Champion: PSN
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL Football.
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