What No One Tells You About #Winning – #NFL Week 9

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Browns vs. Bengals: Score and Twitter Reaction for 'Thursday Night Football'1. Eifert Tower:

Eifert is a touchdown machine

Tyler Eifert caught five passes, scoring on three of them, in the Bengals’ 31-10 home win over the Browns. Eifert is the first Cincinnati player to score as many receiving touchdowns on as few catches since Cris Collinsworth (also 5 receptions & 3 TDs) against the Jets in the 1986 season finale.

Eifert has caught six touchdown passes in four games at Paul Brown Stadium this season. Only one other Bengals player scored as many receiving touchdowns through the team’s first four home games. That was Carl Pickens, who scored seven in 1995.

The Red Rifle lights up Browns

Andy Dalton completed 78% of his passes for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Cincinnati’s win over the Cleveland. Dalton’s passer rating of 139.8 is the second highest ever recorded by a Bengals starting quarterback in the team’s 84 games against their cross-state rivals. Ken Anderson put up a 141.7 mark at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in November 1975.

  • Johnny Manziel gave the Browns a brief spark, but the Browns ultimately were little more than supporting players in the battle of Ohio on Thursday night. These Cincinnati Bengals are making undefeated look easy.  Tight end Tyler Eifert caught three touchdown passes for the 8-0 Bengals in a 31-10 victory over their division rivals. This is the type of clinical, balanced, mature performance we’ve come to expect from the Bengals. Cleveland and Cincinnati traded long drives in the first half before the Bengals absolutely dominated the second half. The Bengals had 12 first downs and 17 points before the Browns picked up a first down in garbage time. Eifert has proven to be a difference maker in the red zone and could be the second-best tight end in football.  Andy Dalton completed 21 of 27 passes for 234 yards and……(continue reading)

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2. ‘Cause Knowing Is Half The Battle

#NFL week 9 trends

All-time, teams that start 7-0 and are favorites of a touchdown or more in the next game went 3-8 against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Patriots (-14) vs. Redskins and Bengals (-10) vs. Browns.

Only four teams in NFL history have been underdogs in their next game after starting the season 7-0. Those teams went 1-3 straight-up and 2-2 against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Panthers (+2.5) vs. Packers.

Since 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 franchises, teams that have lost six games in a row and are underdogs of a touchdown or more went 13-21 against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Titans (+8) @ Saints..

  • ATL -7 @ SF Teams are 16-11 against-the-spread when they face Blaine Gabbert.
  • BUF -3 vs. MIA The Bills are 6-4 ATS in their last ten games as home favorites against the Dolphins.
  • CAR +2.5 vs. GB In his career, Cam Newton as a home underdog is 2-11 straight-up and 5-8 against-the-spread.
  • CHI +4 @ SD Jay Cutler is 5-2 ATS in his career on Monday Night Football – all as an underdog.
  • CIN -10 vs. CLE The Bengals are 2-8 against-the-spread in the last ten games as favorites of 10 or more points.
  • CLE +10 @ CIN All-time, underdogs of 10 or more points on Thursday Night Football are 10-19 (35%) ATS.
  • DAL +2.5 vs. PHI All-time, the Cowboys as a home underdog against NFC East rivals are 17-11-1 ATS.
  • DEN -5 @ IND Chicken parm you taste so good. Peyton Manning has been favored in 23 of 28 road games with the Broncos and is 15-8 ATS in those contests.
  • GB -2.5 @ CAR Following a loss and as a road favorite, Aaron Rodgers is 4-1 against-the-spread.
  • IND +5 vs. DEN Andrew Luck is 6-1 straight-up and 7-0 ATS as a home underdog.
  • JAX +2.5 @ NYJ The Jags have lost 12 straight as road underdogs and are 5-7 ATS in those games.
  • MIA +3 @ BUF All-time, with extra rest following a Thursday night game and as an underdog, the Dolphins are 4-2 ATS.
  • MIN -2.5 vs. STL The last ten times the Vikings have won three games in a row, Minnesota covered in nine of the next ten games.
  • NE -14 vs. WAS Tom Brady has never lost a game as a two touchdown favorite but he is just 7-11 against-the-spread in those games.
  • NO -8 vs. TEN Drew Brees has covered six straight games as a favorite of a touchdown or more following three straight wins.
  • NYG -2.5 @ TB Eli Manning as a road favorite is 11-5-1 against-the-spread in his career.
  • NYJ -2.5 vs. JAX All-time, following two straight losses and as home favorites the Jets are 8-13-1 against-the-spread.
  • OAK +4.5 @ PIT All-time, the Raiders as road underdogs in Pittsburgh are 4-2 against-the-spread.
  • PHI -2.5 @ DAL In the Chip Kelly era, the Eagles as road favorites are 2-5 ATS.
  • PIT -4.5 vs. OAK Big Ben as a home favorite in November is 5-11 against-the-spread.
  • SD -4 vs. CHI Philip Rivers at home on Monday Night Football is 5-3 against-the-spread.
  • SF +7 vs. ATL The 49ers are benching Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert is 5-22 straight-up as a starter in his career.
  • STL +2.5 @ MIN The last ten underdogs in Minnesota went 6-3-1 against-the-spread.
  • TB +2.5 vs. NYG All-time, the Buccaneers at home in November are 39-28-3 ATS.
  • TEN +8 @ NO Since 2000, teams that fired their coach during the season are 7-19 straight-up and 9-17 against-the-spread.
  • WAS +14 @ NE All-time, road underdogs of 14 or more points in Foxborough are 10-4 against-the-spread.

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Teaching You How to #Win – #NFL Week 9 Projections/Toughest Matchups

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Top Projections &Toughest Matchups

Based on feedback from you, we are changing this section up just a bit by expanding to all positions. In order to do so we wanted to provide you with some definition behind the data we are providing.weekly_top5_wk9

  • DraftKings Tops FPPG – Top 5 players for each position based on fantasy points per game on DraftKings.
  • FanDuel Tops FPPG – Top 5 players for each position based on fantasy points per game on FanDuel.
  • DraftKings Tops Proj  – Top 5 players for each position based on TheDiRTCanon current week projection for DraftKings.
  • FanDuel Tops Proj – Top 5 players for each position based on TheDiRTCanon current week projection for FanDuel.
  • DraftKings Toughest Matchups – Top 5 players with the toughest matchup, based on TheDiRTCanon opponent value with a minimum projection for the needed score to #Win for DraftKings.
  • FanDuel Toughest Matchups – Top 5 players with the toughest matchup, based on TheDiRTCanon opponent value with a minimum projection for the needed score to #Win for FanDuel.

At The DiRT Canon, our matchups not only consider what the player’s opponent has given up to a position, we go all the way down to the depth chart position for that player and what that defense has given up to that position.  We also consider, this information for the current season and ever in the past along with incorporating home or away. We have then added our own personal flavor where we don’t bother providing you with players that aren’t going to play or are basically irrelevant so we have established a custom figure of projection for each position that we also filter by. What does this mean? It means that we aren’t going to tell you some third string guys whom have the lowest opponent value for the week but instead we are looking to display players that are expected to at least get you the minimum amount of points needed from that position in order to #Win.  Just click Weekly_Top5_wk9 for the full report. Like information like this, come and sign up today, we will be offering a 7 day trial, just click here.  Enter promo code WIN to get 50% off your first month when you upgrade to our Silver Membership!

Intelligence & Analysis

The first half of the season is in the books and now we enter the back half of the NFL season. This means it is crunch time for you to #Win from this point forward. Let’s breakdown this weekends games and players you should be looking to take. Starting with the QB position, this position has been interesting as last week was the first time where you had to have one of the top 3 QB’s or you weren’t going to be in the money. In most weeks, you could have almost taken any QB and still have a shot at winning so long as you had 3 of the top 5 skill positions. For this week, it appears that we will be back to the norm in terms of QB need but our top 3 QB’s are Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees. I don’t think there is much difference between these three guys but Brees has the most difficult matchup in terms of passing yards against.  Personally, if the weather holds up Jameis Winston is a very cheap but viable option this weekend. Another sleeper to consider would be Tyrod Taylor as he is 3rd in overall scoring for players that are eligible for the Sun-Mon contests and with a DraftKings price of only $5,300, he should be one to take a strong look at as he comes back from a knee injury and almost 3 full weeks of rest. Moving onto the RB position, Gurley is no longer a cheap #MustHave for this week as his salary tops the FanDuel RB’s but he is still someone that you should consider. Freeman gets the 30th ranked rushing defense, combined with the fact that he is averaging 5 receptions per game over his last 5, he will get at least 20 points with a shot at the 30’s this weekend. Looking for a #Sleeper in the RB position, there are four cheap options, none of which pose much risk in terms of needing to achieve that 20 point threshold. These players are Darren McFadden, Jeremy Langford, Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. In terms of rank order for confidence rating, Williams #1, McFadden #2, Langford #3 and Steward #4. Let’s finish with the WR position. Julio Jones is leading the NFL in receiving yards and while he isn’t as productive on FanDuel, he is a must start on DraftKings because he simply gets 9.5 catches per game. Some cheap guys that you should consider this weekend are #1 Stephon Diggs, #2 Tavon Austin, #3 Tedd Ginn, #4 Rishard Matthews. DC*3PO has Alshon Jeffrey as the #1 overall WR this weekend and I have to agree. Taking Julio with Alshon and one of these sleepers, should get you around 85+ fantasy points at your WR position and put you in position to take home some serious cash! Still unsure on finalizing your lineup? Come and check out our Lineup Analyzer™ here and let our system give you some additional recommendations!

For full projections for DraftKings go here.

For full projections for FanDuel go here.

Getting Smart With #NBA + #NHL NEWS o’Day (11-6-15)

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1. NBA Bounce House

Wade playing young so far in 2015-16

For the fifth time in five games this season, Dwyane Wade scored at least 20 points (25 on Thursday night) as the Heat won 96-84 at Minnesota. Wade, who will celebrate his 34th birthday in January, is the oldest player to put up 20+ points in each of his first five games of a season since Karl Malone, at age 37 in 2000-01.


Bulls backcourt puts up big numbers

Derrick Rose scored 29 points in 37 minutes and 29 seconds, and Jimmy Butler added 26 points in 37:55 of the Bulls’ 104-98 home win over the Thunder. It was the fourth time in franchise history that both of Chicago’s starting guards scored at least 25 points while playing less than 40 minutes. The other Bulls backcourt mates to do that were Quintin Dailey and Reggie Theus (March 1983 vs. New Jersey), Michael Jordan and John Paxson (November 1989 at Utah), and Ben Gordon and Rose (January 2009 at Phoenix).


Home court doesn’t mean much in Jazz gamesAltX.Logo.white

The Jazz have been on a wild ride lately. Utah’s last four games have consisted of road wins by 28 and 21 points at Philadelphia and Indiana, a 16-point home loss to Portland, and a 12-point win at Denver Thursday night. No team has had a four-game stretch that included three road wins by 12+ points and a home loss by the same kind of margin since the 76ers in November 1980.


Lillard continues hot start

Damian Lillard led all players with 27 points in the Trail Blazers’ 115-96 win over the Grizzlies, bringing his season scoring total to 164. Only one other starting guard has scored as many points over Portland’s first six games of a season; Clyde Drexler put up 166 in 1988-89.


Jefferson can’t miss

Al Jefferson made 15 of 18 shots from the floor (83%), scoring a game-high 31 points in the Hornets’ 108-94 win at Dallas. The only other Charlotte player ever to shoot better than 80% in a 30-point game was Larry Johnson (81%, 31 points), against the Bulls on April 23, 1993.


2. Ice-Ice Baby

Carlson reaches 200-point milestone

John Carlson tallied one goal and one assist in the Capitals’ 4-1 win against the Bruins. Carlson’s first point in Thursday’s game, an assist on an Alex Ovechkin goal, was the 200th point of his NHL career. The Massachussets native is one of seven U.S.-born defensemen to have recorded 200 or more points since 2009-10, his first season in the NHL. The others are Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Suter, Alex Goligoski,Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, and Keith Yandle.


Anderson thrives with extra work

Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson stopped 38 of Winnipeg’s 40 shots on goal in his 3-2 shootout victory over the Jets on Thursday. Anderson has won all three games in which he faced 40 or more shots on goal this season, which has improved his career record in such games to 36-12-9.


An unlikely two-goal game for GrossmanAltX.Logo.white

Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann registered the first multiple-goal game of his ten-season NHL career when he scored his first two goals for the Coyotes in their 4-2 win against Colorado. Grossmann, who was traded to Arizona by the Flyers in June, scored only five goals in 463 games over his first eight years in the NHL before matching that goal total with five in 68 games for Philadelphia last season. He’s the first Coyotes defenseman other than Oliver Ekman-Larsson to score two goals in one game since New Year’s Eve 2013, when Keith Yandle scored twice against Edmonton.


Kucherov loves western New York

Nikita Kucherov scored one goal and assisted on another in the Lightning’s 4-1 victory over the Sabres in Buffalo. Kucherov has tallied four goals and four assists in his five career games versus the Sabres at First Niagara Center, with at least one point in each game, but he no points in five career games against them in Tampa.


A rare winner for Hodgson

Cody Hodgson, who signed with Nashville as a free agent last summer, scored his first goal for the Predators on Thursday and it was the game-winning goal in their 3-2 victory at Minnesota. Hodgson scored 41 goals over the past three seasons while playing for the Buffalo Sabres but only one of those goals was a game-winner, and it came more than two-and-a-half years ago against the Bruins in Boston on Jan. 31, 2013. None of the last 37 goals he scored for the Sabres were decisive tallies.


Flames win another in OT

Mikael Backlund’s goal at the 35-second mark in overtime earned the Flames a 2-1 win over the Flyers. Backlund has scored three overtime goals in an NHL career spent entirely with Calgary, with one in each of the last three seasons, a period in which the Flames have recorded a league-high 19 overtime wins, four more than Anaheim, the team with the second-highest OT win total.


Wiese on an unlikely scoring run

Dale Weise extended his point streak to a career-high four games when he scored the first goal in the Canadiens’ 4-1 win against the Islanders. Weise leads the Canadiens with eight goals in 15 games this season, two shy of the single-season high he set while playing 79 games for Montreal last season. Weise’s goal in Thursday’s game was a power play marker, as was the goal he scored against Ottawa two days earlier. Before Tuesday’s game, Weise had scored only one power play goal in his 271 career games in the NHL.

SOURCE: Elias Sports Bureau

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What No One Tells You About #Winning: #CollegeFootball Week 10

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Prescott throws 4 TD passes, Mississippi State tops Missouri
1. Next Up, Alabama

The streak is over.  Dak threw 4 TD’s and you think that would be enough to make the palindrome score of a game more interesting – it wasn’t – the rain was the most entertaining part of this snooze-fest.  Does anyone feel sorry for Mizzou – NO.  This is what was expected when they joined the SEC and they had a good run and might make another one, but for this year – it’s ugly.  Now after this cakewalk is done, STATE can focus on Alabama coming to town next week at their house.  That could be the Tide’s 3rd loss and we haven’t gotten to Thanksgiving yet.


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2. It’ll be Ok Baylor

Going to Manhattan is never easy, it used to be, but not since Bill Snyder.  So you gotta give it to the Wildcats for upsetting expectations and actually being competitive.  Do we take more from KState showing up or more from Baylor finally playing someone who got beat by another Big12 team, 55-0?  We’ll see, but know this – Jarrett Stidham is better than Seth Russell and for Baylor fan, that oculd be exciting.   The challenge will be his composure during the stretch run, because he is only freshman.

  • Baylor’s mission on Thursday night at Kansas State wasn’t necessarily style points; it was survival. The Bears did just that in escaping with a 31-24 win.  With the toughest part of the schedule coming up — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU in a row — the Bears went on the road with their true freshman quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, making his first career start replacing the injured Seth Russell. While the No. 6 Bears were pushed to the end, they survived thanks in part to the phenomenal play by Stidham, who appears quite capable of keeping the nation’s top offense rolling, even if not all went smoothly.  Baylor’s potent offense scored just 10 points in the second half, opening the door for a Kansas State comeback effort. The Wildcats scored……(continue reading)

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3. Remote Patrol

Finally.  The committee came out with their rankings and all over ESPN we had the car-wash of faux-outrage…R-E-L-A-X.  It will all workout and it starts this Saturday.  We have huge games that will shake up the top and send someone tumbling down, and the bigger outrage will be how far these teams fall.  Before we get to it, indulge me a little dig at Clemson – also known as Tigers and also call their stadium Death Valley – Listen Clemson, their is only one Death Valley and it resides in Baton Rouge, it was first and LSU has greater traditions and more titles – furthermore Clemson fan,  your tradition is, getting on a bus, touching a rock, and running down a hill – that was everyday in kindergarten for the rest of us.

(h/t matt brown)


Early Afternoon

No. 5 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
Noon, ABC

Pitt was never as good as the record that got it into the top 25 last week, and North Carolina quickly dealt a blow to the Panthers’ ACC Coastal hopes last Thursday. Now, Pitt will try to regroup by playing playoff spoiler for the Irish, who, with a loss to No. 1 Clemson, are ranked higher than all but three of the 11 undefeated teams still remaining. The Irish survived a hard-hitting game with Temple last week, and now they go back on the road to Pennsylvania to face Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers defense, which has had a bunch of ups and downs, giving up 7.66 yards per play to the Tar Heels last week. Notre Dame should be able to get tailback C.J. Prosise back on track after he was contained by the Temple brick wall, and while another road game — this time at noon — could lead to a slow start, Notre Dame has too many weapons for Pitt to slow down.


Duke at North Carolina
Noon, ESPN2

Duke is a poorly officiated miracle play by Miami away from being undefeated in the ACC, and the result could certainly hurt in the long run. But Duke still can be in control of the ACC Coastal if its beats rival North Carolina, who has only lost to South Carolina in a sloppy opener this season. It’s a matchup of what’s been a terrific UNC offense (third in yards per play) against a terrific Duke defense (fifth in yards per play allowed), as Duke attempts to respond after the heartbreak and noise of the last week. The Blue Devils certainly poses a challenge for the Tar Heels, but Marquise Williams, Elijah Hood and this offensive line are on a roll. Duke probably can’t keep up, especially with how much the Tar Heels defense has improved under Gene Chizik.


Texas Tech at West Virginia
Noon, Fox Sports 1

All the talk in the Big 12 has been about the conference’s backloaded schedules. That doesn’t apply toAltX.Logo.white West Virginia and Texas Tech, who just spent the last several weeks giving up endless points to top teams. West Virginia has allowed 44.8 points per conference game with a 0-4 record in the Big 12. Texas Tech has allowed 50.3 points per conference game with a 2-4 record, because it has played Kansas and Iowa State. West Virginia in particular needs a rebound game, and it gets the Red Raiders at home, after Texas Tech gave up 70 points to Oklahoma State last week. The big question is whether West Virginia’s secondary can stay healthy. Once a strength of the team, the unit lost Karl Joseph for the season and has dealt with injuries to others. Texas Tech, as usual, is the type of team that can take full advantage.


Penn State at No. 21 Northwestern
Noon, ESPNU

Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan own the Big Ten East, and Iowa owns the West, but the Nittany Lions and Wildcats are still a combined 14-4. Penn State’s offense has gotten better and better, with the combination of QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Saquon Barkley and WR Chris Godwin giving this unit a ton of big-play potential. The offensive line remains a problem, particularly against a top defense like the Wildcats have, but there’s no doubt that the Nittany Lions have made strides over the last several weeks — culminating in a dominant 39-0 win over Illinois last Saturday. Penn State has had some trouble with running quarterbacks, so Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson could pose a problem, but the Wildcats haven’t done enough to prove they can move the ball on a team with such an imposing defensive front.


Vanderbilt at No. 10 Florida
Noon, ESPN

The race is all but over, but the Gators can clinch the SEC East title by taking care of the 3-5 Commodores. By no means is it an automatic blowout win, as Vandy plays tough defense, but it also just got shut out 34-0 by Houston. Vandy could catch Florida asleep after last week’s beatdown of Georgia in a rivalry game, but while things might look a bit ugly, there’s little evidence that the Commodores can score on this Florida defense.


Kentucky at Georgia
Noon, SEC Network

At the end of September, Georgia was ranked eighth. At the beginning of November, it appears to be imploding. The Bulldogs lost 27-3 to rival Florida and haven’t scored a touchdown in either of their last two games. Last week, No. 2 QB Brice Ramsey punted, while No. 3 QB Faton Bauta started. Now Bauta took scout team safety reps this week, and either Ramsey or former starter Greyson Lambert might start on Saturday. It’s all in the hands of maligned offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, and there have also been reports of clashes between defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and the rest of the staff. Nearly everything has been going wrong for Georgia, and while the rest of the schedule presents opportunities for wins — Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech — this is a difficult team to trust right now. Kentucky has lost three straight and is going to have a tough time winning in Athens, but the Wildcats can at least make things interesting.


No. 11 Stanford at Colorado
1 p.m., Pac-12 Network

A week after escaping Washington State in the middle of the night Eastern Time, Stanford moves into the early afternoon slot — really, the morning in both Boulder and Palo Alto. We’ve seen Stanford struggle once with an early kickoff, losing 16-6 at Northwestern, and now it gets another one, although a bit closer to home. Colorado gave UCLA all it could handle last week, but it’s unlikely that the Buffaloes’ beatable run defense will be able to do much to slow down Christian McCaffrey, even if it takes a bit of time for the Cardinal to wake up.


Late Afternoon

No. 16 Florida State at No. 1 Clemson
3:30 p.m., ABC

Two years ago, undefeated Florida State and undefeated Clemson met in Death Valley, both ranked in the top 10. Florida State left with 51-14 win, vaulting Jameis Winston to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race. Saturday will end differently.

While both the Seminoles and Tigers lost a lot from last year’s teams, Clemson has more effectively reloaded, with a defense that remains one of the best in the country, an offensive line that’s playing better than expected and the continued development of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who torched N.C. State on the road last week. This is a talented, athletic and well-coached Clemson team, and it is deserving of its No. 1 ranking in the selection committee’s first top 25.

Injuries have been an issue for Florida State, but at least star running back Dalvin Cook — who carried the offense until last week — is set to return from an ankle injury. Cook has also dealt with a hamstring injury this season, so his health is worth keeping a close eye on whenever he is on the field. His explosiveness is capable of being a game-changer, and the Seminoles likely don’t have much of a chance against Clemson without him. Florida State also has quarterback uncertainty. Everett Golson — who’s had mixed results since transferring in — missed last week’s win over Syracuse with a concussion, and while he has been cleared, Jimbo Fisher has not named a starter. In Golson’s place, Sean Maguire threw for 348 yards against the Orange, with the help of a big game by receiver Travis Rudolph.

Florida State is talented and capable of being explosive, but Clemson has easily been the better all-around team thus far. The Tigers can shut down Florida State’s passing game, and they can frustrate Cook — especially if he’s not 100 percent. Throw in the upward trajectory of Watson at quarterback, and Clemson can get payback here and continue on its path to the playoff.


No. 8 TCU at No. 14 Oklahoma State
3:30 p.m., Fox

The selection committee ranked Oklahoma State last among the eight Power Five undefeated teams, and also behind undefeated Memphis. It’s probably deserved, for now. The Cowboys have had an impressive 8-0 start. They just scored 70 points against Texas Tech, and their defense — led by Emmanuel Ogbah — is much improved from last year. Still, the Cowboys beat Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia by one score each, and they gave up 53 to Texas tech. They also beat nobody in nonconference play. They’re still in prove-it mode, and fortunately the last month of the season presents plenty of opportunities: TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all visit Stillwater, starting with the Horned Frogs on Saturday.AltX.Logo.white

TCU has been a different team on the road, beating Minnesota by six, Texas Tech by three and Kansas State by three, and there are still questions about a thin defense — although the Frogs did beat West Virginia 40-10 last week. It’s hard to know just what to make of the Oklahoma State offense yet, but QB Mason Rudolph has been solid, with backup J.W. Walsh capable of playing a changeup role as a runner.

This is also, of course, a big test for that improved Cowboys defense. They couldn’t stop Texas Tech last week, and it’s reasonable to believe they will have a tough time slowing down TCU’s machine, led by Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson. There is a good chance that Oklahoma State will beat at least one of the other Big 12 power in these three November home games, and TCU’s road struggles and issues on defense are a red flag, for sure. But the Horned Frogs just have too much going for them on offense right now.


Arkansas at No. 18 Ole Miss
3:30 p.m., CBS

Arkansas’ hype for this season began last November, when it surprisingly shut out LSU 17-0 and Ole Miss 30-0 in consecutive weeks. It’s been a disappointing 2015 season for the Razorbacks, but a four-overtime win over Auburn a couple weeks ago at least has them back at 4-4, within striking distance of a postseason bid. It’s hardly a given, though, as they’re going to have to pull off an upset. While Arkansas overwhelmed Ole Miss last year, don’t expect it again. This isn’t the same Razorbacks defense, Ole Miss has a healthy Laquon Treadwell playing at a high level and the Ole Miss defense is capable of containing the Hogs. Alabama-LSU is the big SEC game of the week, but Ole Miss still controls its own destiny, with a head-to-head win over Alabama and LSU coming to Oxford in a couple weeks.


No. 9 Iowa at Indiana
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Can Indiana finally close out a win? The Hoosiers started 4-0 but are now 4-4, going winless in Big Ten play. They got blown out by Penn State, but otherwise they played Michigan State close for three quarters, blew a huge lead to Rutgers in the third quarter and took Ohio State down to the wire. Indiana can score, but it just doesn’t have the depth or defense to finish off wins. So, now it gets another shot to play the role of spoiler — and bolster its own increasingly fragile bowl hopes — against undefeated Iowa, who has a clear path to the Big Ten West title with what appears to be a light November schedule. It’s certainly a dangerous spot going on the road to Bloomington after an Indiana bye, especially if Hoosiers tailback Jordan Howard is healthy again after missing time with an ankle injury. It’s still just too hard to trust Indiana to close out an upset.


Arizona State at Washington State
3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

After an impressive run of three straight Pac-12 wins, Washington State has to bounce back after a tough late home loss to Stanford, which was almost the biggest win of the Mike Leach era. Arizona State has to bounce back from heartbreak too, as the Sun Devils lost in three overtimes to Oregon last Thursday. Both are trying to at least seek bowl eligibility, with erratic Arizona State sitting at a disappointing 4-4, while Washington State is 5-3, one win away from just its second postseason bid since 2003. Given the state of the Sun Devils’ pass defense against Oregon last week, Wazzu might be able to notch another impressive win behind rising star quarterback Luke Falk.


Cincinnati at No. 25 Houston
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

While Cincinnati owns a win over Miami, its season hasn’t gone as hoped, as it has fallen into the AltX.Logo.whiteAAC’s second tier while Houston, Memphis and Temple are in the top 25. This is still a dangerous Bearcats team, though. Last week, as Houston shut out Vanderbilt, Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel went 15 of 15 for 319 yards and five touchdowns to dominate hapless UCF. It’s an interesting upset opportunity for the Bearcats (who are -9 in turnover margin) on the road against the Cougars (who are +15), especially because Houston’s huge AAC West showdown with Memphis looms next week. Expect at least a scare from the Bearcats, who nearly took down Memphis too.


Rutgers at No. 17 Michigan
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Michigan survived to win the Little Brown Jug with its goal-line stand at Minnesota last week, and now it returns to the friendly confines of Big House to meet Rutgers — another team Brady Hoke lost to last season. With the trip to Penn State and the home showdown with Ohio State still to come in the last two weeks, Michigan first has to keep taking care of inferior opponents to stay in the Big Ten East race. It’s Rutgers this week, then Indiana next week. In this case, there’s not much evidence that Rutgers is capable of scoring on the road against a defense like this. Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock is expected to play after missing the end of the Minnesota game, and the Wolverines should roll at home.


South Carolina at Tennessee
4 p.m., SEC Network

Big-game failures — beyond the Georgia win — have prevented Tennessee from taking the step forward it wanted, but even at 4-4, it’s well-positioned for a solid closing run with as many as nine wins still possible, including the bowl game. The Vols had a tough early schedule, but they finish with the Gamecocks, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt. They’ll be clear favorites in all four games. They responded to the Alabama loss by blowing out Kentucky on the road last week, and this week may look similar, given South Carolina’s inability to slow down anyone. Kyler Murray ran all over the Gamecocks last week, and Joshua Dobbs will try to do the same.


Prime Time

No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama
8 p.m., CBS

LSU-Alabama has been one of the best rivalries in football for years now, and it’s still not slowing down. Alabama is the best recruiting team in the country, and LSU is not far behind. The two teams share plenty of history — including the fact that Nick Saban has led both to national titles — and love to play with similar physical styles, even if Alabama has occasionally embraced tempo and spread concepts. It probably won’t on Saturday.

There will be two deep, hard-hitting defenses on the field in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, and there will be two massive and talented running backs in LSU’s Leonard Fournette, the Heisman frontrunner, and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. College football does not get much better.

Make no mistake, this isn’t going to be a Baylor-TCU type of shootout. It will likely be played at a methodical pace, with a heavy emphasis on defense. This rivalry is always one of the most physical and exhausting games of the season, with two teams desperate to beat each other and secure their position in the SEC title and College Football Playoff races.

The matchup of Fournette vs. the loaded Alabama defensive front in particular is the best of the season. Nobody can lock up a Heisman on Nov. 7, but it’s certainly a big enough stage, and a tough enough matchup, for Fournette to make a big statement. While it is still hard to ever bet against Alabama, LSU has looked like a slightly more complete team this year. Alabama may be better in the defensive front seven, but LSU has a better offensive line, Fournette gets a slight edge over Henry and Brandon Harris has been more efficient at quarterback than Jacob Coker. Really, the game is a toss-up that should go down to the wire, so we’ll go with the best player in college football.


Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State
8 p.m., ABC

Last Saturday, Minnesota on a Michigan goal-line stand in which the Golden Gophers poorly managed the clock in their first game under interim coach Tracy Claeys. Ohio State was off, but it got bad news as well, when quarterback J.T. Barrett — after finally making his first start of the season — was suspended for one game after an OVI charge. That means the offense cycles back to Cardale Jones for now, and while there have certainly been struggles for the Buckeyes, getting to turn to Jones when necessary is obviously a nice backup plan. After all, he’s never lost as a starter. He’s not going to lose here, either, with Minnesota going on the road for a prime-time game in a tough environment a week after a physical heartbreaker.


No. 7 Michigan State at Nebraska
7 p.m., ESPN

Nebraska finally got some good news, as quarterback Tommy Armstrong will return to the lineup after missing the dreadful loss to Purdue. Without Armstrong, Nebraska lost five turnovers to the Boilermakers and lost 55-AltX.Logo.white45, dropping to 3-6 to make bowl hopes all but impossible in Mike Riley’s first season. Less than a year after firing Bo Pelini, who went 9-4 every year, athletic director Shawn Eichorst already had to release a vote of confidence in Pelini’s successor. Maybe Nebraska can turn things around on Saturday. Five of its six losses have been by five points or less, and Michigan State has a reputation for being on the other side of close games, with a 4-0 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. But while Michigan State’s back seven is beatable, Nebraska’s even more beatable, giving up 315 passing yards per game. While the game is in Lincoln, Connor Cook is more likely to take advantage of defensive problems than Armstrong.


Navy at No. 13 Memphis
7 p.m., ESPN2

Navy is the overlooked team in an exciting AAC race. While Memphis, Houston and Temple have gotten the attention, the Midshipmen are quietly 6-1, their only loss coming to Notre Dame. Last week, senior QB Keenan Reynolds tied Montee Ball for the career FBS rushing touchdown record, and while Memphis is undefeated, its defense is hardly a shut-down unit. Reynolds will get his chances. Still, this is a tough matchup on the road for Navy, as Memphis QB Paxton Lynch continues to play lights-out football. In the first of several big November games in the AAC race, expect Lynch and Memphis to maintain that unbeaten record.


Auburn at No. 19 Texas A&M
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Last year taught us to never get too excited about a young Texas A&M quarterback’s performance against a bad South Carolina defense. Texas A&M is cycling through QBs since losing Johnny Manziel, first with Kenny Hill’s quick rise and fall, then with touted recruit Kyle Allen looking like the future and now with touted true freshman Kyler Murray taking over. After Allen struggled against Alabama and Ole Miss, Murray completed 20 of 28 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown and ran 20 times for 156 yards and a touchdown against the Gamecocks. By no means are all of Texas A&M’s problems solved, but Auburn provides another beatable defense for Murray to get comfortable and make some plays.


No. 12 Utah at Washington
7:30 p.m., FoxAltX.Logo.white

Washington has quietly built the Pac-12’s best defense, despite losing Hau’oli Kikaha, Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Marcus Peters. While the Huskies are still building their offense, the defense has become a force. Last week, they shut down Arizona in a 49-3 blowout win, and they lead the Pac-12 in points allowed and yards per play allowed. Utah’s defense has gotten more attention, but Washington has actually been better on that side of the ball. This marks the second time that Utah has been a road underdog to an unranked, .500 team, joining the USC game. Vegas might be on to something.


Iowa State at No. 15 Oklahoma
7 p.m., ESPNU

This should be a laugher, but transitive property mandates that we point out that Iowa State just won 24-0 against Texas, who inexplicably beat Oklahoma. The Sooners are the only team ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards per play on both offense and defense, but they still found a way to lose to the Longhorns. Iowa State’s only actual hope here is that Oklahoma gets caught looking ahead to its final three games: Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. Don’t let the Texas game fool you, though, because this Oklahoma team is capable of playing at a really high level.


Late Night

California at Oregon
10:30 p.m., ESPN2

Oregon is still flawed, but it is a different team with a healthy Vernon Adams at quarterback, as shown by last Thursday’s wild three-overtime win at Arizona State. These are, of course, two very beatable defenses, meaning there should be plenty of chances for Cal to score behind quarterback Jared Goff, and for Oregon to score behind Adams and tailback Royce Freeman. The Ducks are all over the map right now, but they do have more weapons and a better offensive line than the Golden Bears, which can make the difference at home.


Arizona at USC
10:30 p.m., ESPN

USC is showing signs of life under interim coach Clay Helton, beating Utah and California the last two weeks to stay alive in the Pac-12 South. The Trojans host the defending division champion Wildcats, who have fallen apart in recent weeks, losing at home to Washington State and 49-3 at Washington. Arizona is 5-3, but its wins have come against UTSA, Nevada, Northern Arizona and the two worst teams in the Pac-12, Colorado and Oregon State. USC has some injury issues up front — along with star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster — but it is getting enough out of its defense and running game to win a third straight game.

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