The DiRT Canon Blog

What No One Tells You About #Winning: #CollegeFootball Week 12

name of site - hunter thompson style

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 7: Head Coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers walks on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
1. Dabo-Dabo Do?

Is this already a foregone conclusion that Nick Saban is leaving to either Texas or the Colts?  We already are thinking about possible replacements at Alabama, with 11 other openings around the country and possibly more as the season winds down?  Sure Dabo is a former walk-on and played for the Bear, but is he the answer?  Doesn’t ‘Bama fan want the flavor-o’month and former O-coordinator Jim McElwein?  I find it hard to believe that at 64 Saban wants anything to do with rebuilding anywhere, and yet the man’s ego is a large one and he failed miserably at Miami and going to the Colts would give him the the thing he lacked with the Dolphins – a prettay, prettaaay, prettaaaay good QB.  Then again, Dabo says “You don’t ever say ‘never’ when it comes to ‘Bama job” – so something must be percolating…


2. Is Michigan State a Test For Ohio St, or Pop-Quiz?

Ever since it knocked off Oregon to claim the first championship in the College Football Playoff era, Ohio State has been the subject of national fascination. Who is the better fit at quarterback: J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones? Why do the Buckeyes keep playing tight games against clearly inferior opponents?

Saturday brings the program’s first real test since it hoisted the trophy, as No. 3 Ohio State (10–0) will host ninth-ranked Michigan State (9–1) in Columbus. It will provide an indication of whether these Buckeyes have what it takes to defend their title.

So, who emerges from a critical Big Ten clash? Get hyped for the game with the video below.

https://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid2546892348001?bckey=AQ%7E%7E%2CAAAB9mw57HE%7E%2CxU4DCdZtHhuasNZF5WPK5LWKKRK4p1HG&bctid=4622458642001&height=100%25&width=100%25&autoStart=false&secureConnections=true&secureHTMLConnections=true


nationwide_college map

3. Remote Patrol

The College Football Playoff and conference title races are winding down, with just two more full weekends of football until the league title games. There is still a lot to be decided with many big games left — including six between ranked teams Saturday.  While the SEC mostly has a forgettable weekend, it’s a huge week for the Big Ten and Big 12, both of which had backloaded schedules. Attention will be on the Big Ten for much of the afternoon, then shift to the two big prime-time games in the Big 12. Below, we break down all of Saturday’s notable matchups.

(h/t matt brown)


Early Afternoon

No. 12 Michigan at Penn State
Noon, ABC

Two things need to happen for next week’s Michigan-Ohio State game to be the Big Ten East championship game in Jim Harbaugh’s first season: Ohio State has to beat Michigan State on Saturday, and Michigan needs to win in Happy Valley. Michigan has been the better team than Penn State this season, but this is still a dangerous game for the Wolverines, who have not won in Beaver Stadium since 2006. Penn State is 7-3 overall but 6-0 at home, beating three Big Ten opponents by a total score of 96-10. Of course, those three opponents were Rutgers, Indiana and Illinois. Michigan represents quite a step up, with a defense that has mostly been outstanding — except for defending the run last week in the tight win at Indiana — and an offense that has gotten improvement out of QB Jake Rudock. After Jordan Howard’s success running against Michigan last week, it will be interesting to see what star Penn State freshman Saquon Barkley can do (he ran for 194 yards in the loss to Ohio State) against the Wolverines. Michigan’s defense should rebound enough to get it done, but the Wolverines have a huge game against the Buckeyes next week and have come one play from losing in each of their last two road games against Minnesota and Indiana.


No. 17 North Carolina at Virginia Tech
Noon, ESPN

North Carolina has rattled off nine straight wins but is still fighting for respect. The Tar Heels moved up to 17th in the playoff rankings, with a lot of ground still to make up because they 1) lost to South Carolina, 2) played two FCS teams in September and 3) have not played a team that is currently ranked. This is a very good team, though, ranking second nationally yards per play and making big strides on defensive under coordinator Gene Chizik. Saturday presents a challenge. This is the last home game at Lane Stadium in the legendary career of Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, and the Hokies, at 5-5, are having a rough season but still just need one win to get to the postseason and continue Beamer’s streak of 22 straight bowl games. It’ll be a tough road atmosphere for the Tar Heels, but they are still a tough team to match up with. Their offensive line is good enough to neutralize Virginia Tech’s talented defensive line, and the Hokies just might not be explosive enough to keep up with UNC’s penchant for big plays.


No. 21 Memphis at Temple
Noon, ESPNU

With Memphis’ back-to-back losses to Navy and Houston and Temple losing to South Florida lastAltX.Logo.white week, this game has lost some luster. Still, it remains one of the best Group of Five games of the year. Temple is trying to maintain hold on the AAC East, and Memphis is trying to stay in the top 25. It’s also an enticing matchup between Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch and the Temple defense, led by star linebacker Tyler Matakevich. This is Memphis’ second season in a row going to Philadelphia, and last season the Tigers edged the Owls 16-13. Expect another close one, but Temple probably doesn’t have quite enough offense to out-duel Lynch.


Purdue at No. 5 Iowa
Noon, ESPN2

While the Big Ten East begins its biggest stretch of the season this weekend … Iowa plays Purdue. The Hawkeyes are quietly rolling along, beating Indiana by eight and Minnesota by five. Before a tricky road trip to Nebraska to end the regular season, the Hawkeyes have to fend off Purdue, who in the last three weeks upset Nebraska, got blown out by Illinois and gave Northwestern trouble in a 21-14 loss. Purdue might put up a fight, but Iowa is running the ball too well, with LeShun Daniels racking up 195 yards last week.


Georgia Tech at Miami
12:30 p.m., ESPN3/ACC Networks

In the preseason, this looked like it could be a pivotal game in the ACC Coastal. Instead, Georgia Tech is one of the nation’s biggest disappointments at 3-7, while Miami fired coach Al Golden and has given up 117 points in its last two losses, to Clemson and North Carolina. The Hurricanes are fortunately already bowl eligible — thanks in part to the gift/miracle against Duke — but their struggling run defense could have a lot of trouble with Georgia Tech’s option attack.


Illinois at Minnesota
Noon, ESPN News

Two teams trying to scratch and claw their way to bowl eligibility. Illinois is 5-5 and has Northwestern left after this. Minnesota is 4-6 and has Wisconsin next. The Golden Gophers have put up a fight against Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa under new coach Tracy Claeys, but they still haven’t won since Jerry Kill stepped down. This is a chance to come through at home and make the postseason possible if the Gophers can upset the Badgers next week.


Late Afternoon

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 3 Ohio State
3:30 p.m., ABC

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett played the best game of his college career in the Buckeyes’ season-changing win at Michigan State last November, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 86 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes offense has been up-and-down all season and has been more effective running than throwing, but this is actually a golden opportunity to get Barrett rolling as a passer again. The Michigan State back seven is a shell of its former self and is especially vulnerable to big plays. If Ohio State can get going in the passing game like last year, that’ll open things up for Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott on the ground against what is an excellent Michigan State defensive line.

The Spartans’ problems are more than just the secondary, though. The offensive line has had injuries, and now star quarterback Connor Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury. While he’s going to play, it’s unclear how close he’ll be to 100 percent. That is bad news against an Ohio State defense that has played at a high level most of the season, ranking fifth in yards per play allowed. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent,starting with Joey Bosa up front. Cook has the shoulder issue, the MSU offensive line has had more problems than expected, the running game is inconsistent and the pass defense has holes. Throw in the fact that Michigan State has played a ton of close games, and it’s hard to see the Spartans taking down the undefeated Buckeyes on the road. This is still a very good Michigan State team, but it’s not the same team we saw the last couple years.


No. 15 LSU at No. 22 Ole Miss
3:30 p.m., CBS

LSU was ranked No. 2 only a couple weeks ago. Now it’s going on the road to Oxford to try to avoid three straight losses, something it hasn’t done since 1999. Just like that, after a crushing defeat at the hands of Alabama and a more unexpected one at the hands of Arkansas, the Les Miles hot seat talAltX.Logo.whitek has bizarrely sprung up. Miles is 110-31 at LSU, has won a national title and appeared in another championship game, has won 10 games in seven of 10 seasons and could do so again and he continues to recruit at a high level. Next year, he’ll get Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Malachi Dupre, Kevin Toliver and several other talented young players back.

LSU’s November has been frustrating and could get a lot worse, but let’s tap the brakes on bailing just yet. Maybe the end of the season will go poorly … or maybe Leonard Fournette will get rolling again. The Ole Miss defense is solid against the run, but LSU did have success grinding out yards in a 10-7 win last year against the Rebels. (Fournette will surely rack up plenty of yards against Texas A&M next week). The Rebels struggle to run the ball, and while Chad Kelly has been solid at quarterback, he’ll be throwing against one of the nation’s best defensive backfields. It’s quite clear that LSU was overrated at No. 2, but let’s not overreact too far the other way just yet.


No. 24 USC at No. 23 Oregon
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

For a while, this game looked like it would be sort of depressing. Both teams had disappointing first halves of the season, going from the top 10 in the preseason to quickly out of the polls altogether. Now they’ve crawled their way back in, with Pac-12 title hopes still alive. In fact, USC controls its destiny in the Pac-12 South thanks to its head-to-head win over Utah. The Trojans have won four in a row, although the last three have been by eight points or less, and injuries are really taking a toll. Oregon has also won four in a row, including the upset at Stanford, and again three of its four wins have been by six points or less. These are flawed teams, but they’ve taken big steps in the right direction. While Cody Kessler could have a big day against this Oregon secondary, look for the Ducks offense to do a lot of damage with a healthy Vernon Adams at QB.


UCLA at No. 13 Utah
3:30 p.m., Fox

Injuries have hit UCLA hard this season, with linebacker Myles Jack, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and cornerback Fabian Moreau all out for the season. Now they’re hitting Utah too. Star tailback Devontae Booker is out for the rest of the regular season after tearing his meniscus. Both UCLA and Utah suffered upset losses last week, with the Bruins losing to Washington State and Utah losing to Arizona, and now the Utes have to move on without their most important player. Booker leads the nation with 268 carries, and he also has 37 catches. No other Utah running back has more than 19 rushes (QB Travis Wilson has 94), and Booker is also second on the team in receptions. Just about everything Utah does revolves around Booker. This isn’t the easiest spot for UCLA, coming off a loss with a freshman quarterback — the very talented Josh Rosen — playing on the road against a solid defense, but even with the Bruins’ injuries, it’s hard to see where Utah’s offense is going to come from.


No. 20 Northwestern at No. 25 Wisconsin
3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

In an ideal world for Iowa, the Wildcats and Badgers will play an exciting, down to the wire game that results in both teams staying in the top 25 and boosting the Hawkeyes’ resume. After all, Iowa beat both teams on the road. With Iowa rolling toward the Big Ten West title, this is likely a second-place game in the division, between two 8-2 teams that lean heavily on their defenses. Wisconsin, typically one of the nation’s best running teams, is 89th in rushing this season with a rebuilding offensive line and the absence of running back Corey Clement for much of the year. Northwestern is 116th in yards per play. The defenses are excellent: Wisconsin leads the nation in points allowed and Northwestern is 12th. The over/under of 40 points may be tough to hit.


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

In a battle of top-15 teams last year, Arizona won the Territorial Cup and the Pac-12 South title in AltX.Logo.whitetaking down the rival Sun Devils 42-35. It was one of the most meaningful games ever in this rivalry. Now? Both are trying to finish strong after disappointing seasons. Last week was a good start, as Arizona upset Utah at home and Arizona State scored 27 unanswered points to beat Washington 27-17. Arizona is bowl-eligible at 6-5, while Arizona State needs to beat either the Wildcats or California to get to six wins, in a season in which it began ranked 15th in the AP poll. This isn’t quite what anyone thought it would be in the preseason, but it could still be a fun game between evenly matched teams. Arizona does have health concerns, as quarterback Anu Solomon is questionable after suffering a concussion last week.


Wake Forest at No. 1 Clemson
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Syracuse put up a fight against Clemson last week, but Wake Forest just doesn’t have the offense to really threaten the Tigers in Death Valley, although the Tigers are dealing with some injury questions. Even if Clemson is not at full strength, Deshaun Watson and Clemson’s defensive line can dominate this game. The Demon Deacons don’t have the weapons to keep up, and Clemson will take care of business in its final home game before going to rival South Carolina next week.


Charleston Southern at No. 2 Alabama
4 p.m., SEC Network

Sorry, Nick Saban told us that we cannot take the Buccaneers — who are 9-1 and ranked No. 8 in the FCS! — too lightly, so we must acknowledge the existence of this game.

Charleston Southern’s only loss this season was to an FBS opponent. That opponent was Troy, who beat the Buccaneers 44-16. Sorry, Nick?


Prime Time

No. 10 Baylor at No. 6 Oklahoma State
7:30 p.m., Fox

The stat has been repeated a million times, and it will continue until Baylor changes the conversation: Baylor has not won in Stillwater since 1939. It’s worth noting that the teams didn’t play often until the Big 12 was formed, but the Bears’ last trip there was particularly notable: Oklahoma State ended Baylor’s undefeated 2013 season with a 49-17 win. This time, it’s Baylor who is trying to spoil Oklahoma State’s perfect season and keep its championship hopes — which are slim right now — alive. The Bears have to do it without quarterback Seth Russell, who’s out for the year, and now they may have to do it without new starter Jarrett Stidham. In just his second game, Stidham hurt his back in the loss to Oklahoma last week, and he’s considered questionable Saturday night. If he doesn’t play, the Bears will move on to sophomore Chris Johnson, who spent part of this season at receiver.

Given that uncertainty, and given Oklahoma State’s run of close games — except the TCU win, in which the Cowboys capitalized on turnovers — it’s hard to know just what to expect on Saturday night. Oklahoma State has played well, even successfully using a two-quarterback system with sophomore Mason Rudolph and senior J.W. Walsh. James Washington has broken out as a big-play receiver, and the defense has taken step forward this season behind star pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah. But like with Michigan State earlier this year, the question is whether the wheels will come off: Oklahoma State has won four close Big 12 games and has often had to come from behind, including in last week’s frightening 35-31 win at Iowa State. With Baylor’s quarterback situation a wild card, Oklahoma State stands a solid chance of winning another big game and setting up a Bedlam for the ages.


No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma
8 p.m., ABC

Just as Baylor has a quarterback issue as the Big 12 hits the middle of its big games amid a backloaded schedule, TCU faces one as well with Trevone Boykin questionable after he injured his ankle in last Saturday’s close call against Kansas. Making things worse, TCU will play the rest of the regular season without star wide receiver Josh Doctson, who played last week after a wrist injury but was clearly not 100 percent. If Boykin doesn’t play, TCU’s starter will be freshman Foster Sawyer, whose only completion on seven attempts last week was at least a touchdown.

Given TCU’s injury problems on offense, and given the problem it has had on defense all season, it’s increasingly difficult to see the Horned Frogs winning in Norman. Oklahoma is playing at extremely high level, with a balanced offense that features quarterback Baker Mayfield making a move in the Heisman race, as well as a defense that ranks sixth in yards per play. Mayfield has weapons around him, led by Sterling Shepard and Samaje Perine, and the offense has hit its stride under new coordinator Lincoln Riley. While the loss to Texas keeps its playoff hopes in question, Oklahoma has looked like one of the four best teams in the country.


Mississippi State at Arkansas
7 p.m., ESPN

A week after LSU got blown out by Alabama, Arkansas was there to pile on against a broken-downAltX.Logo.white team. Now the same situation presents itself: Mississippi State was demolished by Alabama, and it has to turn around and travel to Fayetteville to meet an Arkansas team that’s poised to go from one of the season’s biggest first-half disappointments to a possible second-place finish in the SEC West. Two of Arkansas’ wins have been in multiple overtimes — one a miracle against Ole Miss — but the Razorbacks are playing well, particularly quarterback Brandon Allen and tailback Alex Collins. Dak Prescott can have some success against this Arkansas defense, but the timing for the Hogs couldn’t be much better.


Boston College at No.4 Notre Dame (at Fenway Park)
7:30 p.m., NBCSN

Notre Dame is a playoff contender, but the most interesting part about this game will likely be the aesthetics of playing in Fenway Park. Otherwise, while the Boston College defense is excellent (first in yards per play), its offense has been a disaster (126th in yards per play). The Eagles defense might keep them somewhat close to the Fighting Irish, but it’s unlikely to ever feel close. They’re going to need to force turnovers and capitalize on short fields. Otherwise, there’s no reason to be confident in a team that hasn’t scored more than 17 points against an FBS opponent and has a 3-7 record.


Georgia Southern at Georgia
7 p.m., ESPNU

This is such a dangerous game for Georgia, who is 7-3 but has had coaching issues and major issues on offense. The Bulldogs escaped with an ugly win over Auburn last week, and next week they draw Georgia Tech’s option offense. In between, they take on Georgia Southern’s explosive option offense. Remember, the Eagles — who were at the FCS level at the time — beat Florida two years ago in a game in which they didn’t complete a pass. It’s worth pointing out that Georgia Southern, who is 7-2, lost its season-opener 44-0 to West Virginia. (To be fair, quarterback Kevin Ellison missed that game.) This is a dangerous Eagles team, but it lacks depth and can’t come anywhere close to Georgia’s overall talent. Still… Just don’t sleep on this team, Georgia. Georgia Southern leads the nation in rushing, averaging a ridiculous 6.7 yards per carry.


No. 16 Navy at Tulsa
7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Before next week’s showdown against Houston, with the AAC West on the line, Navy has to go on theAltX.Logo.white road and out-score a dangerous Tulsa team. The Golden Hurricane are just 5-5, trying to get to the postseason, and under former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, they are capable of putting up a bunch of points behind their passing game. However, Tulsa also isn’t particularly capable of stopping anyone, with the nation’s No. 116 run defense. That doesn’t bode well for a matchup against Keenan Reynolds and Navy’s option attack.


Tennessee at Missouri
7:15 p.m., ESPN2

Missouri got a nice win last week over BYU after a tumultuous week on campus followed by the unexpected announcement of coach Gary Pinkel’s impending resignation for health reasons. The Tigers, who have struggled on offense all season, are now 5-5, meaning they need to beat either the Volunteers or Arkansas to get to six wins and a bowl to try to send Pinkel out on a high note. Their defense has kept them in games all season, and their defensive front can certainly frustrate Joshua Dobbs and the Vols. It’s still just so hard to trust the Mizzou offense, as the Tigers have scored only three touchdowns in the last five games — although all three came in the last two. Tennessee has just been the better all-around team.


Late Night

California at No. 11 Stanford
10:30 p.m., ESPN

The most ridiculous college football ending of all time happened in the Nov. 20, 1982 matchup of rivals Stanford and Cal. There has never been a Cal-Stanford game since then in which The Play has not been mentioned, and that’s not going to change now:

It’s more relevant than ever this year, in a season that has featured repeated miracle finishes: Michigan State against Michigan, Georgia Tech against Florida State, Miami against Duke, Arkansas against Ole Miss. There have been numerous stunning plays late in games this season, and now Cal and Stanford meet in a late-night time slot, where the Pac-12 frequently features wild endings.

But maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up, because the odds of Cal’s defense slowing down Christian McCaffrey are not favorable.


Colorado at Washington State
10:45 p.m., ESPN2

Wazzu’s fantastic season continues, with coach Mike Leach and quarterback Luke Falk leading the team back from a devastating loss to Portland State, to a 7-3 record overall (5-2 in the Pac-12). The Cougars are headed to their second bowl game since 2003 and already have their most wins in a season since they posted three straight 10-win seasons in 2001-03. Last week, they upset UCLA on the road on a late touchdown. This week, Falk — the nation’s leading passer — should have no problem helping Wazzu pull away against a Colorado defense that ranks 86th in yards per play allowed.

pablo

What No One Tells You About #Winning: #CollegeFootball Week 11

name of site - hunter thompson style

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on during pregame warmups prior to facing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
1. BeamerBall Bowl Hopes Still Alive

With Frank Beamer announcing earlier this month that 2015 would be his last as Virginia Tech’s head coach, much was made of this being the long-time Hokie boss’ final Thursday night game.  In the end, the Hokies turned it into a night to remember for the departing coach.

Trailing by two touchdowns early on, VT was able to come back late in the first half, then again late in the second to secure a 23-21 win over Georgia Tech.  The win improved the Hokies to 5-5 on the season, meaning Tech needs to win one of its last two (North Carolina, at Virginia) to ensure Beamer will be going bowling one last time in his storied career and the Hokies won’t be home for the postseason for the first time in more than two decades……(continue reading)


Charlie Strong

2. Not Interested

Earlier this week, a report out of Miami stated that current Texas head coach Charlie Strong, according to those connected to The U, has an interest in the same job with the Hurricanes.  That report came nearly two weeks after initial speculation connected Strong to The U, with the coach publicly denying any interest.

Just as the script calls for in this type of coaching search, reports are now filtering out of Texas refuting the Miami reports.  From the Dallas Morning News:

A source close to the Texas program indicated Thursday that Charlie Strong is not interested in the head coaching job at Miami

But the source indicated that Strong, who strongly denied interest initially, has not changed his mind. Strong is “very happy” at Texas, the source said.

Offer more than $3m/yr and we might have a different story – it’s negotiation thru the media. (h/t John Taylor)


nationwide_college map

3. Remote Patrol

It’s Friday the 13th and there’s only 3 more weeks left of college football before all giddy-up breaks loose.  Last week was trava-sham-ockery of football in Tuscaloosa and tonight the Buffaloes get custom fitted Trojans – so let’s all grab some coca by-tha-fire and enjoy the show.

(h/t matt brown)


Early Afternoon

Georgia at Auburn
Noon, CBS

It’s the matchup of preseason top-10 teams that turned out to be disappointments, although the positive here is that both are coming off solid wins. After a tumultuous week, Georgia crushed Kentucky 27-3, while Auburn sent Texas A&M into disarray with a 26-10 win featuring Jeremy Johnson back at quarterback because of an injury to Sean White. Both teams have had messy quarterback situations. It appears that both Greyson Lambert and Bryce Ramsey — who is also punting — will play quarterback for the Bulldogs, while it’s unclear whether White or Johnson will start for the Tigers. It’s tough to tell how either of these teams is going to play in any given week, but Georgia has a chance to run the ball well with Sony Michel against Will Muschamp’s Auburn defense.


No. 3 Ohio State at Illinois
Noon, ABC

Ohio State has won the Illibuck seven times in a row, and It’s an overwhelming favorite for an eighth, unless Illinois can somehow play spoiler before the Buckeyes move on to their tough end-of-season schedule against Michigan State and Michigan. Bill Cubit has done a solid job as Illinois’ interim coach and could get the full-time gig, with the Fighting Illini needing to beat either the Buckeyes, Minnesota or Northwestern to get bowl eligible. But while beating Purdue is nice, they’ve struggled against the better teams on their schedule — including a 39-0 loss to Penn State two weeks ago and a 48-14 loss at North Carolina. With J.T. Barrett back at quarterback, Ohio State’s offense should run smoothly and keep the Buckeyes among the playoff frontrunners.


No. 11 Florida at South CarolinaAltX.Logo.white
Noon, ESPN

Florida survived an ugly 9-7 game against Vanderbilt last week to clinch the SEC East, so this game is only about staying alive in the race for a playoff bid and a New Year’s Six bowl. Fortunately for the Gators, the Gamecocks defense is much more vulnerable than Vandy’s. So while this is a road game, Florida shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball, just as its defense should shut down a mediocre Gamecocks offense. Florida has Vernon Hargreaves to contain Pharoh Cooper, and the Gamecocks don’t have much else to put a scare into this Florida defense.


N.C. State at No. 16 Florida State
12:30 p.m., ACC Network/ESPN3

The Seminoles dropped from the playoff discussion with their loss at Clemson, and now their focus turns to at least finishing strong and perhaps staying in the New Year’s Six conversation with the Wolfpack and Chattanooga left before the tough season finale at Florida. Everett Golson will return to the starting quarterback position for the Noles over Sean Maguire, and they actually face a decent challenge this week, as the Wolfpack have been solid defensively thus far. However, N.C. State has played a lot of bad offenses — and did get torched by Clemson — and it has seen nobody like FSU running back Dalvin Cook. Throw in the season-ending injury to N.C. State tailback Matthew Dayes, and it will be tough for the Wolfpack to come away with a road win in Tallahassee.


Pittsburgh at Duke
Noon, ESPN News

North Carolina beat each team the last two weeks, meaning the Tar Heels are running away with the ACC Coastal. Both the Panthers and Blue Devils had just one loss entering the last week of October, but they’ve each lost back-to-back games and are trying to stop the bleeding. Duke’s defense, which had previously been ranked among the nation’s best, is hoping for a turnaround game after allowing 400 passing yards to UNC in one half, while despite a solid season overall under defensive ace new coach Pat Narduzzi, the Panthers rank just 73rd in yards per play allowed. Duke is the better bet at home.


Texas at West Virginia
Noon, ESPNU

Road games have not gone well for Texas: So far, the Longhorns have lost 38-3 at Notre Dame, 50-7 at TCU and 24-0 at Iowa State, for a total road score of 112-10. West Virginia actually held Texas Tech to 26 points in a win last week in Morgantown, and if it can do that, it can likely limit the Longhorns enough to secure another win at home after a rough October against a tough midseason schedule. Mediocrity in the passing game remains a concern for the Mountaineers, but that is still an even bigger concern for the Longhorns.


Maryland at No. 13 Michigan State
Noon, ESPN2

Over the past three seasons, Michigan State has fallen from third to 61st to 90th in pass defense, losing several key players in the secondary, plus defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Fortunately, the Spartans’ greatest weakness might not mean much at home against the Terrapins, whose main threat on offense comes from quarterback Perry Hills running — although he got nothing going against Wisconsin last week. The Spartans have to try to respond well after a devastating, controversial last-minute defeat at Nebraska ruined their undefeated season, but they can control this game by leaning on their stellar line play and Connor Cook.


Late Afternoon

No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

By no means is Alabama perfect, but last week it looked exactly like an Alabama national championship contender, with the defense completely shutting down Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry wearing down LSU for over 200 yards rushing. The Crimson Tide’s defensive front is absurdly deep and talented, with lots of big but athletic bodies — see A’Shawn Robinson’s blocked extra point — and thus they have the capability of slowing down Dak Prescott too.

While Prescott hasn’t gotten the same attention that he had for much of last season, he’s having another terrific season as the best quarterback in the SEC. He’s completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,351 yards with 18 touchdowns and just one interception, and he has rushed for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. Last year, Mississippi State hung with Alabama in a 25-20 loss in Tuscaloosa, despite Prescott throwing an uncharacteristic three interceptions. This Alabama defense is better than last year’s unit, and that front will surely frustrate Prescott, as it is the toughest matchup he’s faced all season.

Mississippi State’s best hope is the Bama comes out a bit sluggish after the emotional high of last week’s win. The best team the Bulldogs have beaten is Auburn, though, and this just seems like Mississippi State will struggle to move the ball consistently against the Tide defense, and then Henry will wear the Bulldogs down to deliver Alabama another victory.



No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2AltX.Logo.white

Clemson has shown few signs of stumbling this season, and while it has to go on the road to the Carrier Dome a week after the emotional win over Florida State, it’s nearly impossible to see the top-ranked Tigers suffering enough of a letdown to actually lose to the Orange. Syracuse has lost six games in a row after a 3-0 start, including blowouts at the hands of Florida State and Louisville the last two weeks. It’s not even clear if Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey will be cleared to play. Regardless, Syracuse doesn’t have the personnel to move the ball consistently against this Clemson defense, and it’s also unlikely to slow down Deshaun Watson.


No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Well, undefeated Oklahoma State playing in Ames in November has never gone poorly … right?

Here’s what Iowa State has going for it this time: It shut out Texas 24-0 in its last home game, and Oklahoma State might not be totally up for this one, after last week’s huge win over TCU and with home dates with Baylor and Oklahoma next. This is the one forgettable game on the Oklahoma State schedule in November. Still … Iowa State just got blown out 52-16 by Oklahoma, and the Cowboys are playing too well on both sides of the ball. Iowa State can’t stop receiver James Washington, and it can’t contain defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Don’t expect any repeats of 2011.


Miami at No. 23 North Carolina
3:30 p.m., ESPNU

The Tar Heels finally broke into the top 25 after their dismantling of Duke, behind over 400 passing yards from Marquise Williams in the first half alone. They’ve been playing at a high level on both sides of the ball and now rank second in offensive yards per play and 40th on defense — which is a huge improvement over last year, under new coordinator Gene Chizik. Miami has won both of its games since firing Al Golden, but one was the controversial miracle against Duke and the other was a 27-21 win over Virginia. North Carolina is the better team in nearly every facet of the game.


No. 14 Michigan at Indiana
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Michigan’s path to the Big Ten championship isn’t actually far-fetched: The Wolverines need to win out against Indiana, Penn State and Ohio State, and they need the Buckeyes to beat Michigan State, all thanks to the Spartans’ loss to Nebraska. Indiana is known for posing upset threats, but it’s typically incapable of putting together a full 60 minutes. That will probably be the case again on Saturday. The Hoosiers defense continues to struggle, ranking 115th in yards per play allowed, while the Wolverines boast one of the best defenses in the country. Michigan should do what it does best and overpower Indiana on both sides of the ball to continue to make an unlikely conference title a possibility.


Wake Forest at No. 4 Notre DameAltX.Logo.white
3:30 p.m., NBC

Notre Dame continues to be in decent playoff shape. While its best wins, according to the committee, are Navy and Temple — the USC win is looking better too — it is fourth in the rankings after LSU’s loss. The path to the playoff seems fairly clear: Win out, including at Stanford in their Nov. 28 showdown, and hope that both Oklahoma State and Baylor lose a game. A one-loss Notre Dame — with its loss coming to Clemson — will probably get a bid over a one-loss Big 12 champion. Before the Stanford game, Notre Dame just has to take care of business against anemic Wake Forest and Boston College offenses. That shouldn’t be a problem, even with the availability of starting running back C.J. Prosise uncertain.


Washington at Arizona State
3 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington’s season has had a couple of surprises — the win at USC, the 49-3 win over Arizona — but it is close to where it was expected to be, fighting for bowl eligibility in a rebuilding season for Chris Petersen. The Huskies are 4-5, needing to win two of three against Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington to get to the postseason. Arizona State’s fight for six wins has not been expected. The Sun Devils opened the season ranked 15th, but at 4-5 as well, they’ll need to win two of three against Washington, Arizona and Cal. The Huskies own the much better defense, but the Sun Devils’ aggressive defensive approach may cause too many problems for Washington freshman QB Jake Browning on the road.


Kansas State at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Texas Tech lost to TCU by three and scored 53 in a loss to Oklahoma State. And while Kansas State got embarrassed by Oklahoma, it has lost to Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU by a total of 16 points during its five-game losing streak. Talk of the backloaded Big 12 schedule means that the league’s top teams have left a path of destruction over the last month, resulting in Kansas State holding a 3-5 record while Texas Tech is 5-5. Kansas State fortunately still has Iowa State and Kansas left on its schedule in its question for bowl eligibility, while six of Texas Tech’s eight Big 12 wins under Kliff Kingsbury have come against the Cyclones and Jayhawks. The season has been frustrating for both, but Texas Tech simply has more playmakers.


Prime Time

No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor
8 p.m., ABC

Oklahoma has mostly played great defense this season, but this will be the true test of just how far the Sooners — who rank fifth in yards per play on both sides of the ball — have come. Last year, Oklahoma was hopeless to stop the Baylor passing game at home, giving up 15 catches to Corey Coleman in a 48-14 embarrassment in Norman. This year, the improved defense goes on the road to Waco, where Baylor has not lost since Oct. 13, 2012. Baylor has dominated Oklahoma each of the last two seasons, and it has a chance to finally notch its first meaningful win of the 2015 season, before the back-to-back road trips to Oklahoma State and TCU.

It’s a huge test for freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who threw for 419 yards in the narrow 31-24 win at Kansas State in his first career start. He’ll have to deal with Eric Striker and a talented Oklahoma defense, although he still has a sturdy line and receivers like Coleman — who’s in the middle of a Heisman campaign — at his disposal. What should definitely be expected is a tighter game than we’ve seen the last two seasons when these teams have met. Baker Mayfield has sparked the Sooners offense, ranking second nationally in passer rating behind injured Baylor QB Seth Russell, and Oklahoma’s defense has run into few problems.

However, the one team Oklahoma did have trouble with defensively? Tulsa, who averaged 6.6 yards per play behind former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. We don’t yet know where this offense is headed behind Stidham, but Baylor still has too many weapons for to falter, at least not at home, against a defense that has yet to prove that it can stop this type of offense.


Oregon at No. 7 Stanford
7:30 p.m., Fox

For a few years, Oregon-Stanford rivaled Alabama-LSU for national importance in an intra-division rivalry, but last year saw Stanford fall off, and this year has seen Oregon take a step back. But this matchup is starting to look a lot more interesting again. Stanford’s rise after its Week 1 stumble at Northwestern has been well-documented, and Oregon is starting to hit its stride again now that quarterback Vernon Adams is healthy. Last week against Cal, Oregon set a program record with 777 total yards in one game, and despite the occasional struggles, the Ducks rank 12th nationally in yards per play.

The question is still whether Oregon can stop anybody. Stanford tailback Christian McCaffrey has another opportunity to increase his Heisman profile, and there is little evidence to suggest that Oregon can slow down this offense. The Ducks may have held California to just 28 points, but the Stanford offensive line is miles ahead of Cal’s. It’s a tough game to call. Oregon is still unpredictable and unreliable in the back end on defense, but Adams’ health changes things. It’s not as if this Stanford defense is impenetrable either. Oregon can absolutely put up a fight and threaten to ruin Stanford’s playoff hopes. Still, this looks like a game in which McCaffrey can steal the show.


No. 21 Memphis at No. 24 HoustonAltX.Logo.white
7 p.m., ESPN2

Memphis’ loss to Navy prevents this from being an even bigger matchup of undefeated teams, but it’s still a great game between top-25 teams in the AAC West division who have New Year’s Six bowl hopes and two coaches, Justin Fuente and Tom Herman, destined for Power Five jobs soon. Despite the Tigers’ subpar outing last week, in which they made too many mistakes against the Midshipmen, this should be one of the weekend’s most entertaining games, featuring talented, productive quarterbacks in Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and Houston’s Greg Ward. Memphis still has a better win (Ole Miss) than Houston has had all season, although the Cougars did win at Louisville, shut out Vanderbilt 34-0 and hold off Cincinnati. Expect a back-and-forth, somewhat high-scoring game, with the edge going to Herman’s Cougars at home as they try to stay undefeated.


Minnesota at No. 5 Iowa
8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Minnesota hasn’t won under interim-turned-permanent head coach Tracy Claeys, but it came a yard short of upsetting Michigan and at least kept things close on the road at Ohio State. Now comes yet another upset opportunity amid a brutal three-game stretch for the Golden Gophers, who need to win two of their last three against undefeated Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin to go bowling. They trounced Iowa 51-14 last year, but these are much different teams: Minnesota has not found a consistent rhythm on offense and has had injury issues on defense, while Iowa has overcome some injuries to put together surprising 9-0 run. The Hawkeyes don’t do anything in particular that makes them look like one of the nation’s best teams, but they’ve done just about everything well and have avoided crippling mistakes. It’s been a tough couple weeks for Minnesota, and winning in Kinnick Stadium at night is a tall task.


Arkansas at No. 9 LSU
7:15 p.m., ESPN

The battle for the Golden Boot has moved up from Black Friday to mid-November, a change that began last year with the Razorbacks unexpected destroying the Tigers 17-0 to kick off their impressive finish to the season. They draw LSU at a good time again: LSU must respond after its frustrating loss to Alabama in which Leonard Fournette rushed for 31 yards, while the Hogs have looked better and have won three straight games — although two of them came in exhausting fashion. First, Arkansas beat Auburn in four overtimes, and then it somehow pulled off a fourth-and-25 miracle and a two-point conversion to win at Ole Miss in one overtime. This matchup will not go like last year’s shutout. Arkansas’ defense has taken a big step back, and while the Razorbacks can move the ball well, this is an opportunity for Fournette to rebound against a mediocre run defense.


BYU vs. Missouri (at Kansas City)AltX.Logo.white
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Amid a whirlwind week on the Missouri campus, football is a mere footnote after the team returned to practice following the resignation of president Tim Wolfe on Monday. With football resumed, the team will head down the road to Arrowhead Stadium for a nonconference matchup with BYU, who has flown under the radar at 7-2. The Cougars made national headlines in September but lost back-to-back games to UCLA and Michigan and have since seen their schedule lighten considerably. Here, they face a Missouri team that is excellent on defense but has scored just one touchdown in its last four games, putting the postseason in doubt with a 4-5 record.


No. 22 Temple at South Florida
7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Watch out for the upset. The Bulls have quietly improved this year. Willie Taggart was on the hot seat, but they are one win away from bowl eligibility — they haven’t been to the postseason since 2010 — and are coming off an impressive road win at East Carolina. Bowl eligibility will likely come because the Bulls end the season with UCF, but this is an interesting opportunity to grab some attention, with the defense playing well and the combination of tailback Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers making plays on the ground.


Late Night

Washington State at No. 19 UCLA
10:45 p.m., ESPN

Mike Leach’s surging Cougars go on the road to face the enigmatic Bruins with a late kickoff, which means this game could easily enter some quality #Pac12AfterDark territory. The Bruins are hanging around the top 20, but they’ve also been ravaged by injuries all season — and the hits aren’t stopping. It makes for an interesting matchup, and a big opportunity for Leach and quarterback Luke Falk to make another statement. Washington State is 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-12, set for its second bowl bid since 2003. They beat Arizona and Arizona State two of the last three games and nearly upset Stanford, and Falk is averaging 415 passing yards per game with 33 touchdown passes. UCLA remains the better all-around team and is at home, but don’t be shocked if the Cougars push the Bruins to the limit, given the challenges UCLA faces on defense. It could, however, also be a good showcase for Bruins running back Paul Perkins to get going again.


No. 10 Utah at Arizona
10 p.m., Fox Sports 1

The Utes are quietly hanging around the playoff race. They still have only one loss on the road at USC, plus their 42-point win at Oregon and their win over Michigan. They’re the favorites in the Pac-12 South, and they could certainly beat Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. If they win out, they’ll have a strong playoff case. They end the season with Colorado, so the challenges are the next two weeks: in Tucson, then at home against UCLA. The Arizona challenge isn’t looking nearly as daunting, as the Wildcats have fallen apart at 5-5. Their only two conference wins are against Colorado and Oregon State, and they were humiliated by Stanford and Washington. They’ve played most of the season without linebacker Scooby Wright, and running back Nick Wilson has missed three of the last four games. The Pac-12 South title defense has not gone well, and this version of the Wildcats seems unlikely to derail Utah’s championship quest.

pablo (1)

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

name of site - hunter thompson style

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.


baylor-kstate

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)

nationwide_college map

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.

pablo (1)

Weekend Update: Block 6 and Other Stats

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1. Ramblin’ Wreck

Special teams are important.  We saw that last week and again on Saturday.  Will you be disappointed next week if there is no crazy finish?  Give it to GaTech for playing FSU tough and leaving Aguayo with a 56 yard FG to win – but what a way to end it – a “Block-6”.

Myself and my attorney have always honored the line from Lee Corso:  Somebody knows something we don’t know and we should listen to that somebody.  That was the case for USC v Utah.  USC started off as 3pt favorite and then moved all the way to -6.5.  It was a classic setup, vegas, sharp’s, they all new that Utah was a pretender when it came to the more talented USC, as they routed the Utes.  Makes you wonder some times…and how ’bout dem buffaloes getting their first Pac-12 win – it was a freaky Saturday and who knows what Halloween will bring….

  • 12 takeaways from another stunning college football Saturday – the nation’s most reliable kicker, was attempting a 56-yard field goal on the final play to break a 16-all tie against the Yellow Jackets. The kick was blocked up the middle but traveled past the line of scrimmage, which prompted Tech coach Paul Johnson to signal for his players to get away from the ball. Thankfully for the Jackets, defensive back Lance Austin ignored that and picked up the loose ball around his own 22-yard line. He circled to the far sideline……(continue reading)

2. Tropical Depression

  • Al Golden’s dismissal at Miami was inevitable.  Even Hurricanes athletic director Blake James figured that out Sunday after initially telling reporters on Saturday that no coaching changes were imminent. Instead, he turned around and fired Golden, whose team was 12-14 in its past 26 games.  In some ways, Golden became Miami’s version of Mike Shula, the former Alabama coach who was kicked aside for a better coach after guiding the school through NCAA sanctions. Golden navigated Miami through NCAA penalties from Nevin Shapiro but never came close to truly succeeding once the sanctions had subsided.  We know Miami players are good enough not to have the Canes lose 58-0 to Clemson — the worst loss in school history.  Is this the most attractive job out there right now? No. USC and possibly South Carolina are better. But don’t tell me the times……(continue reading)

Week 8, Statistically Speaking

Source: John Taylor – CollegeFootballTalk

-14 — Rushing yards for Boston College in its loss to Louisville on 30 carries, an average of -.5 yards per carry.  The Eagles had just 79 yards of offense in the contest.

.560 — Winning percentage of Pac-12 road teams in conferences games this season (14-11).

1 — Number of ball carriers for Illinois in its loss to Wisconsin, with running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (13) getting the only carries.

2 — Number of ball carriers for Florida State in its loss to Georgia Tech, and just one of those was a running back.  Dalvin Cook had 17 carries, while quarterback Everett Golson was credited with seven official carries.

12 — Different players who caught passes from three different quarterbacks in BYU’s 70-6 woodshedding of FCS Wagner.

12.8 — Yards per carry Matthew Dayes averaged en route to a 205-yard day in North Carolina State’s win over Wake Forest, the first time he’s gone for 200-plus in his 30-game career.

13 — Combined number of points by which Nebraska has lost their five games this season.  The Cornhuskers have lost games by one (Illinois), two (Wisconsin, Northwestern), three (Miami) and five points (BYU).

Tennessee v Alabama13 — Consecutive games with a rushing touchdown for Alabama’s Derrick Henry, the longest active streak in the country.

13 — Consecutive 100-yard rushing games for Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, the longest such streak in the FBS.

14 — True road wins for Northern Illinois since the start of the 2013 season, the most of any FBS team.  Duke has 12 such wins, while Ohio State and UCLA have 11.

26.9 — Points per game Kansas has lost by during its current 10-game losing streak.  The Jayhawks have lost eight of those 10 by double digits, including five by 30 or more and one each by 40 and 50 or more.

32 — First-time starters for UCF, the most of any FBS team.

40 — Number of true freshmen Tennessee has played in 2014 (23) and 2015 (17), the most of any program the last two years.  The 17 true freshmen played this season are second behind Georgia’s 22 and Army’s 21.

44 — Consecutive Big Seven/Eight games won by Oklahoma between 1952-59, the longest streak of any team in any conference.    Oklahoma (Big 8, 1984-88) and Boise State (WAC, 2001-05) are tied for the second-longest streak at 31 straight.  Florida State has the fourth-longest such streak at 29 straight from 1992-95 — they could’ve tied that mark yesterday except for, you know —  while Ohio State has won 28 Big Ten regular season games in a row.

UCLA v Washington52 — Number of letters in the full name of UCLA’s kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. For the record, the full name is (deep breath) John Christian Ka’iminoeauloameka’ikeokekumupa’a Fairbairn.

199 — Number of minutes, in game time, it’s been since Missouri scored a touchdown.  Their last trip to the end zone came with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter of the Oct. 3 win over South Carolina.  Since then the Tigers have lost three straight and scored a combined 12 points.

201 — Career-high rushing yards for Arkansas State quarterback Jalen Nixon in Tuesday’s win over Louisiana-Lafayette.  That total, while impressive, is far away from the FBS single-game record for a quarterback — 321 yards by Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynchin November of 2013.  The all-division record is 342 by Matt Roe of Div. III Augustana (Ill.).

201 — School-record rushing yards for a quarterback by Quintin Flowers in USF’s win over SMU.

211 — Yards under Georgia Southern’s per-game rushing average Appalachian State held them in the Mountaineers’ win Thursday night.  The Eagles came into the game averaging a nation’s best 399 yards per game, and were held to a season-low 188; their previous low was 195 in the season opener vs. West Virginia.

Texas State v Illinois248 — Career-high rushing yards for Texas State’s Robert Lowe in a win over South Alabama.  The senior came into the game with 290 yards on the season.

263 — Rushing yards for Tyler Ervin in San Jose State’s win over New Mexico.  Ervin has now gone for 200 or more twice this season, with the other being a 300-yard effort late last month.

268 — AAC-record receiving yards for Keyarris Garrett in Tulsa’s high-scoring loss to Memphis.

355 — Combined rushing yards for Samaje Perine (201) and Joe Mixon (154) in Oklahoma’s win over Texas Tech.  That duo was part of the Sooners’ 405-yard rushing effort as a team.

390 — Career-high passing yards for FIU’s Alex McGough in a win over Old Dominion.  McGough’s previous high was 263 earlier this year.

399 — Career-high passing yards by UCLA true freshman Josh Rosen in a 16-point win over Cal Thursday night.

430 — Passing yards for Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson vs. Kent State, the sixth time in games he’s gone over the 400-yard mark.  He’s also thrown five touchdowns in each of the last three games and four times total this season.

Mississippi v Memphis447 — School-record passing yards forPaxton Lynch in Memphis’ Friday night win over Tulsa.

465 — Yards of total offense for Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott against Kentucky, 348 passing and 117 rushing.  Prescott also accounted for six touchdowns, three each passing and rushing.

514 — Passing yards for Luke Falk in Washington State’s upset of Arizona.  That total isn’t a career-high as Falk threw for 601 yards in a loss to Arizona State lasts season.

741 — Yards of total offense in BYU’s 70-6 dismantling of FCS Wagner.

812Programs at every level of college football, only one of which, Florida State, entered Week 8 without committing an offensive turnover.  That stretch came to an end as Everett Golson tossed his first interception of the year against Georgia Tech.

1,638 — Weight, in pounds, of Arkansas’ starting offensive line, which al.com writes is “the largest front five in all of football — college, NFL or elsewhere.”

344,007 — Twitter followers as of 3 a.m. ET Sunday morning for Michigan football, the most of any FBS team.  Alabama is next at 285,547 followers.

What No One Tells You About #Winning: College Football Week 8

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No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14

AP Photo-Karl B DeBlaker

1. Temple of Doom?

Temple is 7-0.  Just let that sink in for a minute……7-0.  Last night, Temple had to rally in the 4th qtr and you could say that ECU gave it to them with horrible QB play, but that’s what a team ranked in the top 25 for the first time does right? Rally?!  The Temple D is good and if they can throw it like they did in the 4th, they could be even more dangerous.  Getting a road-win, while being ranked is another big step for the Owls.  Setting up a huge test against Notre Dame.  Now maybe you aren’t impressed yet with Temple and maybe you have no idea where they are, and that’s ok.  But you will if they beat Notre Dame – Kali-Mah!

  • No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14 – No. 22 Temple finally cracked the Top 25 because of its defense and its ground game. Some timely passing will help the Owls stay there.  P.J. Walker threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, and Temple scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to rally past East Carolina 24-14 on Thursday night.  Walker finished 19 of 35 for 250 yards for the Owls (7-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference).  Anderson caught eight passes for 126 yards, with five of those grabs coming in the fourth quarter……(continue reading)

  • Rosen leads UCLA past No. 20 California, 40-24 – With UCLA’s season seemingly teetering on the brink of collapse, Josh Rosen calmly propped it back up with a passing performance that put the freshman’s name in the Bruins’ record book.  Rosen completed a school-record 34 passes and threw two of his three touchdown passes to Devin Fuller, and UCLA got back on track with a 40-24 victory over No. 20 California on Thursday night.  Rosen passed for 399 yards in another splendid game for the standout rookie, and Thomas Duarte had career highs of 10 catches for 141 yards for the Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12). UCLA rebounded from consecutive losses to……(continue reading)

nationwide_college map

2. On With The Show This It…

It’s the second-half of the season and pretenders will separate from the contenders in an unappealing Saturday march to the playoff.  You know there aren’t any pivotal games when #GameDay travels to James Madison.  It doesn’t mean there couldn’t be chaos, because there could and we all saw it happen in 2007, in weeks just like this.  So with the Greatest Cyclone ever measured by humans, bears down on Mexico – Let’s brace ourselves and hope it all works out. (h/t Matt Brown)

Early Afternoon

No. 6 Clemson at Miami(+7)
Noon, ABC

Before we get to the Nov. 7 game that everyone has circled on their calendar, when Florida State visits Death Valley, Clemson has two tricky road games to deal with: at Miami and at N.C. State. This is only the second Clemson road trip of the season — the Tigers survived Louisville on a Thursday night in Week 3 — although Sun Life Stadium for an afternoon game isn’t necessarily the most imposing venue. Miami does pose a test for Clemson’s revamped defense, which has played at a high level through the first half of the season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown just one interception, and Miami averages a solid 6.4 yards per play. However, the Hurricanes do have questions about a rebuild offensive line — even if they’ve allowed just seven sacks — which could spell trouble against Shaq Lawson and a disruptive Clemson front. Saturday can be both a showcase game for them, as well as quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will look to pick apart a struggling Hurricanes defense that ranks 93rd in yards per play allowed. This is by no means a guaranteed win for a Clemson team with playoff aspirations, but the Tigers are quite simply a better all-around team, equipped to exploit Miami’s issues.

Clemson 34.7  –  17.85  83.85%


Iowa State at No. 2 Baylor(-37)
Noon, ESPN

On a Saturday that isn’t looking like the most appealing day of football, you might as well watch Baylor do its Baylor thing and score over 60 points again. The Bears average 63.8 points per game, with wide receiver Corey Coleman’s 16 receiving touchdowns out-pacing the touchdown output of 16 entire teams. Iowa State has nine passing touchdowns in six games and has given up 16, and that trend will surely continue. The last time Iowa State visited Waco, Baylor scored 71. After giving TCU trouble for a quarter with three touchdowns last week, Iowa State went on to get shut out the rest of the game. Baylor will take care of business, get a week off and then move on to its much more difficult November schedule

Baylor 51.35  –  20.35  95.8%


Auburn at Arkansas(-6)
Noon, SEC Network

Part of the reason that this Saturday’s slate doesn’t look great is because games that looked important in the preseason suddenly look depressing. Exhibit A: Auburn at Arkansas, featuring two of the most disappointing teams in the country. Auburn is actually 4-2, but it barely beat Jacksonville State, barely got a hand on Leonard Fournette, switched quarterbacks in September and has dropped from 76th to 83rd in defensive yards per play under Will Muschamp. Arkansas lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in nonconference play, and while it did win at Tennessee, it is 2-4 and is going to need multiple upsets to get to a bowl. It can at least start getting on track here by running the ball at home against a vulnerable Auburn defense.

Arkansas 36.65  –  23.65  78.75%


Kansas State at Texas(-4)
Noon, Fox Sports 1

Both the Wildcats and Longhorns, in seasons expected to be struggles, have now faced embarrassments. Texas got steamrolled by both Notre Dame and TCU, while Kansas State — after two near-upsets of Oklahoma State and TCU — lost 55-0 to Oklahoma. After an off week, this is the first time we’ve seen the Longhorns since their jubilant win over rival Oklahoma. Whether it’s a turning point for Charlie Strong and Texas remains to be seen. The win over Oklahoma was huge, but it’s also a rivalry in which unexpected results have happened in the past. Texas’ offense does, at least, have better big-play capability than Kansas State, who may have been exposed by the Sooners in a clear rebuilding season.

Texas 28.9  –  KState 27.6  59.9%


Northwestern at Nebraska(-7.5)
Noon, ESPN2

Remember what happened the last time Northwestern played in Lincoln?:

Since then, this year, Nebraska has suffered a Hail Mary loss in nearly the exact same spot … in addition to three other horrifying, heartbreaking losses. Nebraska has lost four games by a total of 11 points, while Northwestern — who started 5-0 — has lost two games by 68. The Wildcats defense has struggled two weeks in a row, giving up over 200 yards last week to a backup Iowa running back, while the struggling offense hasn’t made much progress, ranking 126th in yards per play. Nebraska may have the nation’s worst pass defense, but Northwestern isn’t the team to exploit that weakness.

Nebraska 25.1  –  Northwestern 18.8  66.55%


No. 25 Pittsburgh at Syracuse(+7)
Noon, ESPN2

Did you know that Pitt is ranked in the AP poll? Or that Pitt has only one loss, on a 57-yard field goal by Iowa as time expired? Every season has these types of out-of-nowhere records that sneak up on you, but Pat Narduzzi has done a fine job in his first season as a head coach, despite a season-ending injury to star tailback James Conner. This weekend should bring another win to get Pitt to bowl eligibility already after four straight seasons in which it has finished 6-7 or 7-6. It has done this despite playing only two home games so far this season, with four of the last five at home. The bad news is that the last five games feature North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville and Miami, so the run in the top 25 might not last too long after Saturday’s visit to the Carrier Dome.

Pitt 31.7  –  ‘cuse 21.5  71.85%


Late Afternoon

Tennessee at No. 8 Alabama(-15.5)
3:30 p.m., CBS

The rivalry known as the Third Saturday of October will once again taken place on the month’s fourth Saturday, and it hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately either. Alabama has won eight in a row, covering the entire Nick Saban era, with only one game staying within one score. Tennessee was hoping to AltX.Logo.whitefinally turn things around and compete with the Crimson Tide again, but it enters Saturday just 3-3, thanks to three blown leads against Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee. The Vols have been inconsistent on offense under new coordinator Mike DeBord, and the defense ranks 88th in yards per play allowed. Neither is good news against Alabama, which has possibly the most terrifying defense in the country, and one of the most terrifying offensive players in tailback Derrick Henry. Alabama’s defensive front should dominate the game, and Henry can wear down what has been a beatable Vols defense. There still isn’t a good reason to pick Tennessee to win in this series.

‘Bama 31.5  –  UT 17.3  81.75%


Texas Tech at No. 17 Oklahoma(-14)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Baker Mayfield walked on and started right away at Texas Tech as a freshman in 2013, and now, in his debut season at Oklahoma, few quarterbacks are playing better. Oklahoma bounced back from its loss to Texas by blowing away Kansas State 55-0, behind a five-touchdown outing from Mayfield. He’s fourth in the nation in passer rating, and he has a solid core of skill players at his disposal, led by receiver Sterling Shepard. We know Oklahoma will be able to score here. The big test is its defense, which ranks ninth in yards per play and is coming off a shutout. The Sooners have yet to be tested by an offense like the Red Raiders’ unit, and this will be an interesting measuring stick before we get to November with their back-to-back games against Baylor and TCU.

OU 43.35  –  TT 24.05  87.35%


Indiana at No. 7 Michigan State(-16.5)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Every game feels like a trap for Michigan State, who beat Purdue by three and Rutgers by seven. Now, it has to re-focus after one of the most improbable wins in football history, against its archrival, hosting an Indiana team that nearly upset Ohio State. The Hoosiers are still waiting on the return of tailback Jordan Howard from an ankle injury, and on Saturday they’ll surely be relying plenty on the arm of quarterback Nate Sudfeld against a somewhat depleted Michigan State back seven. The Spartans are mediocre defensively, compared with past seasons, and thus Indiana is the type of team that can put a scare into them. The problem, as always, is that Indiana can’t cover anyone. Connor Cook and receiver Aaron Burbridge have formed a fantastic pairing this year, and they’ll keep rolling against the Hoosiers, even if it won’t be surprising if the Spartans get off to a slow start.

MichSt 37.9  –  Indiana 21.5  83.25%


Washington State at Arizona(-7.5)
4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington State has back-to-back Pac-12 wins after sweeping the state of Oregon, as Luke Falk has hit his stride in Mike Leach’s offense. Falk is averaging 395.2 yards per game, leading the Cougars to 45 points against Oregon and 52 against Oregon State. Arizona’s defense is certainly beatable, as the Wildcats continue to play without star linebacker Scooby Wright. Of course, it works both ways. Washington State’s defense has issues, like always, and Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon has yet to throw an interception. While Arizona is at home, injuries could shift this one in Wazzu’s favor. Wright is out, and tailback Nick Wilson, cornerback DaVonte’ Neal and safety Tellas Jones are all questionable.

Wazzu 35.1  –  ‘Zona 29.65  67.25%


No. 23 Duke at Virginia Tech(-2.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPNU

Virginia Tech was supposed to rebound this year and perhaps take control of the ACC Coastal again — it dominated the division most of last decade — but instead the Blue Devils go to Blacksburg with a 5-1 record, while the Hokies are just 3-4, with questions swirling about Frank Beamer’s future. Virginia Tech does at least get back quarterback Michael Brewer, who has been out since his injury in the opener against Ohio State. Duke has been excellent defensively, but the question is whether its passing game can do enough on the road against Virginia Tech’s pass rush. This feels like a game that comes down to whichever team makes a big play on defense or special teams.

Duke 23.3  –  VaTech 17.85  62.5%


Virginia at North Carolina(-17.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPN3

North Carolina joins Duke and Pitt in the ACC Coastal’s surprising one-loss club. The Tar Heels blew their opening game vs. South Carolina with red-zone turnovers, but the offense has started to roll behind a stout offensive line and the running game, led by Elijah Hood. And while Will Muschamp’s presence at Auburn hasn’t made an immediate difference in the Tigers’ defense, North Carolina has improved from 117th to 32nd in yards per play allowed under Gene Chizik. UNC’s best wins right now are Illinois and a struggling Georgia Tech, but this team may be the best in the division.

UNC 41.25  –  18.15  90.75%


Penn State vs. Maryland(+6.5) (at Baltimore)
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Congratulations to Randy Edsall, who at least finished his tenure as Maryland coach with a perfect 1-0 record against Penn State. Every other Maryland coach in history has a combined record of 1-35-1 against the Nittany Lions. This is the debut of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as interim coach, but we have seen Locksley as a head coach before: He went 2-26 at New Mexico. So, Locksley has two career wins as a head coach, and Maryland has two wins against Penn State in the history of what the Terrapins really want to be a rivalry — see the refusal to shake hands last year. Penn State has plenty of issues, but its defensive line may dominate this game, and the Terps will have to slow down star Nittany Lions freshman Saquon Barkley, who has 389 rushing yards in two games against Big Ten opponents.

PennSt 31.55  –  Maryland 16.2  82.55%


Wisconsin at Illinois(+6.5)
3:30 p.m., BTN

Iowa controls the Big Ten West with a perfect record, while Wisconsin and Illinois are tying to keep pace at one loss each. The Fighting Illini have had a solid season under interim coach Bill Cubit, and they need only two more wins to get to bowl eligibility. There’s a good chance they’ll do it, although Saturday will be a tough challenge to consistently move the ball against the Badgers defense. Wisconsin is still waiting for the return of running back Corey Clement from sports hernia surgery, but here it might be able to keep winning with that defense, led by linebacker Joe Schobert, who has 9 ½ sacks.

Illinois 21.3  – Wiscy 20.05  52.45%


Prime Time

No. 3 Utah at USC(-3.5)
7:30 p.m., Fox

USC began the season ranked eighth in the AP poll. Now it’s 3-3 with an interim coach. And yet… the Trojans are three-point favorites against the undefeated, third-ranked Utes, who have beaten Michigan, California, Oregon and Arizona State. Utah has played better football than USC this year, but it’s not surprising to see the Trojans considered favorites. They’re still talented, especially on offense, where they actually rank fifth in yards per play. They actually averaged over seven yards per play in the losses to Notre Dame and Stanford, which means defense has been the problem — run defense in particular. Utah will attack the Trojans as much as possible with versatile tailback Devontae Booker, who continues to be the overwhelming focal point of the Utes offense. It might be enough, especially if the Utes can continue to force turnovers. But despite the disappointment it has faced this year, this is the type of game where USC might be able to re-group and pull of a much-needed win, because it still has the individual talent to compete with anybody.

Utah 29.75  –  SoCal 26.05  71%


No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 24 Ole Miss(-6)
7 p.m., ESPN

This is Week 8’s only game between ranked opponents, but it lost its luster last week thanks to losses by both teams: Texas A&M to Alabama and Ole Miss to Memphis. Both stand at one loss within the SEC, meaning this might as well be considered an SEC West elimination game. It AltX.Logo.whitewill feature one of the best matchups of the season, as Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett — arguably the nation’s best defensive player — squares off against Ole Miss offensive tackle — arguably the nation’s best offensive lineman — who returns at just the right time after sitting out the first half of the season for improper benefits. While the Rebels get one star back, they might be without defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a concussion while playing running back against Memphis. This game will be won on the perimeter, as neither team cares much about establishing the run and both are loaded with weapons at receiver, headlined by Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk. Ole Miss has the better defense, so it’s tough to pick against the Rebels at home, but last Saturday’s loss to Memphis didn’t look like an accident. Look for a bounce-back game from Texas A&M Kyle Allen.

OleMiss 28.15  –  Texas a+m 27.5  68.5%


No. 9 Florida State at Georgia Tech(+6.5)
7 p.m., ESPN2

This looked like a potential ACC title game preview in the preseason. Now, Georgia Tech is desperately trying to stop the bleeding. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s Orange Bowl and began this season with two blowouts of overmatched opponents, but now they’ve dropped five straight games, plummeting to 2-5. Even with a difficult schedule, this team was hoping for another major bowl bid. Now it’s just trying to get to the postseason, which is an unlikely proposition. Florida State continues to quietly roll along undefeated, with Everett Golson committing zero turnovers and Dalvin Cook averaging 8.7 yards per carry as he tries to make a case for the Heisman. Maybe Georgia Tech can finally turn things around. Maybe it can start converting third downs (it has dropped from first to 114th in that category) and get the option moving against a team it ran well against last year. It is a bit of a trap possibility for Florida State. But as long as Cook stays healthy (he’s battled a hamstring injury), the Seminoles should be fine against a team that has struggled to replicate last year’s offensive efficiency.

FSU 34.4  –  GaTech 23.4  74.5%


No. 1 Ohio State at Rutgers(-21)
8 p.m., ABC

Rutgers finally has something going for itself, as Kyle Flood returned from suspension in time for the Scarlet Knights to beat Indiana 55-52, erasing a 52-27 second-half deficit, tying the game with 6:29 left but having the extra point blocked and the winning on a field goal as time expired. It was a nice comeback for Rutgers, who is now 3-3, but reality is about to hit. Last year, the Buckeyes beat the Knights 56-17, and this starts a tough string of games with Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska next for Rutgers. Ohio State is turning to J.T. Barrett as starting quarterback, a wise decision, and Barrett should keep the Buckeyes rolling against one of the nation’s worst defenses. To make matters worse for Rutgers, standout receiver Leonte Carroo is questionable with an ankle injury.

OhSt 38.5  –  Rutgers 18.25  89.05%


Western Kentucky at No. 5 LSU(-17)
7 p.m., ESPNU

There is a high probability that Leonard Fournette trounces the Hilltoppers for 200 yards, and that this isn’t much of a game. Safety Jalen Mills is returning to the LSU secondary after missing the first half of the season, re-joining a talented group led by Tre’Davious White, and while Western Kentucky has a ridiculously prolific passing offense, it was held to 14 points (in a win) at Vanderbilt. Western Kentucky is a fun team, and this matchup does have some intrigue, because the Hilltoppers are capable of scaring anyone. Since the Vandy game, Brandon Doughty has thrown for at least 350 yards every week, completing 74 percent for 2,709 yards and 24 touchdowns overall. So perhaps the Hilltoppers can put a scare into LSU after its tight win vs. Florida last week. But this WKU defense can’t slow down Fournette.

LSU 39.05  –  WKU 26.55  76.7%


Kentucky at Mississippi State(-11.5)
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Kentucky had not won an SEC road game since 2009, until it won at South Carolina on Sept. 12. This is actually its first road game since then, as the Wildcats continue to push for their first bowl bid since 2010. They’re 4-2, with their only losses coming by a total of eight points to Florida and Auburn. Winning in Starkville is a steep challenge, though. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t the national superstar he was a year ago — Mississippi State was No. 1 when these teams met last October — but he has yet to throw an interception and continues to produce for a team that’s flying under the radar because of its two SEC losses. Mississippi State isn’t the team it was last year, but it’s still a competitive squad that will be chasing eight or nine wins.

MissSt 35.55  –  ‘Tucky 19.25  84.3%


Late Night

Washington at No. 10 Stanford(-1)
10:30 p.m., ESPN

Back in Week 1, this would have looked like a possible 6-3 struggle in which both teams struggled to cross midfield. Now, Stanford is playing the best football in the country. The Cardinal offense has looked terrific, with Christian McCaffrey emerging as one of the nation’s top playmakers behind a sturdy line, while Kevin Hogan has made strides at quarterback. The Stanford offense is actually well ahead of the defense, which bucks recent trends. The opposite is true for the Huskies, who have played really well on defense despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL. Freshman quarterback Jake Browning — who may not be 100 percent with a shoulder injury — has struggled against top competition, and the Huskies are going to need the hot streak of freshman running back Myles Gaskin to continue to hang with the Cardinal on the road. Stanford’s playing too well right now for it to happen.

Stanford 31  –  UW 21.6  72.05%

pablo (10)

 

Weekend Update: #MondayMotivation

name of site - hunter thompson style

1. Sark-cano

It’s no longer funny. Steve has a problem and so does USC.  Word is, Steve was drunk on the sideline against Arizona State and furthermore the pep rally incident was not the first time – so where was the leadership Pat Haden?  This should have been handled by you, at the beginning – not by Cody Kessler and other seniors making him do “up-downs” and other penalties if he was late to meetings, etc…The writing apparently was on the wall and no one took it seriously until a 5-star recruit decommitted.

Steve has a long road ahead and sobriety is his only way back if he ever wants to be a Big-Time coach again.  Parents will avoid sending their kids to a man who has a substance abuse problem, but more so, to a program that fails in its responsibilities to do the right thing, again.

But this is more about substance abuse, this is about money and afterall USC has had a license to print.  No one is saying a few drinks is an issue, but Sark seems to have gone from functioning alcoholic to dysfunctional in a swirling vortex of dumb.  A drunk ruins recruiting and at the University of Spoiled Children, that, can’t, happen.  If they truly were concerned about Sark’s drinking problem today, then why did they hire him?  They knew before, his prowess for being loaded; it was witnessed on the sidelines and bars with Pete and as a head coach up in Seattle.

Maybe USC should have kept coach O, but maybe the administration should send Pat Haden on an indefinite leave of absence too.  Pat, hired and fired Lame Kitten, and he personally selected a mediocre coach with a drinking problem.  It’s not funny anymore.


2. Duck-nado

What took a decade to build, has taken 5 weeks to crumble.  Say goodbye to the Pac-12 North bully – the Oregon Ducks.  We should have noticed earlier when Oregon had to go shopping for a QB at the Graduate-Transfer bargain bin.  Who knew Oregon was so thin on talent.  That’s an indictment on the coaching staff.  Once again, Vernon Adams was out with a broken finger, and again Oregon had to use 2 other guys to move an offense that looked more like #TheWalkingDead and lost to Washington State, 45-38 in double O.T.

That tells me, the staff has not recruited well, nor have they developed anyone neither.  Gone is the hallmark of Oregon’s success – player development.  Helfrich can say all he wants about the success of the “team”…win-or-lose…it’s not one guy…blah blah blah.  I’m sure they are all working their tails off,  but someone has to do something about that secondary – woof.


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Chris Morris/ESPN

3. More Goose-Eggs sir

Michigan got another convincing win by recording their third shutout over Northwestern.  TCU escapes Manhattan, Michigan State survives a ridiculous 4th down spike against Rutgers, Charlie Strong ambushes Oklahoma and Utah survives California – in what was a very entertaining Saturday.  If I were to be on the committee this is who I would have in my tournament as of today:

  1. Utah: The Utes should have done more with the five interceptions of Jared Goff, but they still held on for a win against a previously undefeated opponent. And in the wacky Pac-12 – home teams are 5–11 in conference games – surviving at home is enough. Remember that 24–17 win over Michigan on Sept. 3?  It looks better and better each week.
  2. Baylor:  I still need to see Baylor play a few more decent opponents – Kansas was no challenge in a 66–7 beatdown on Saturday – but a visit from West Virginia this weekend should provide a challenge and a better glimpse. The difference between Baylor and just about everyone else at the top – Baylor has absolutely destroyed inferior competition instead of farting around.
  3. Clemson:  The Tigers kept the hammer down after an emotional win over Notre Dame. Georgia Tech isn’t the same team it was last year, but any team that can hold the Yellow Jackets to 71 rushing yards and a 1.7 yards-per-carry average is playing excellent defense.
  4. ???: Ohio State is sleep-walking and does not have the same fire as last year.  It’s always dangerous in sports to think you can just flip-a-switch and dominate any opponent.  That thinking takes away from your preparation and makes you vulnerable, and that means this:  Ohio State will run into a team that is hungrier and will not run out of gas – Ohio State is no Baylor – but until they lose…

Game Recaps:

Florida State 29, Miami 24
TCU 52, Kansas State 45
Michigan State 31, Rutgers 24
Washington State 45, Oregon 38
Texas 24, Oklahoma 17
Tennessee 38, Georgia 31
Michigan 38, Northwestern 0
Wake Forest 3, Boston College 0
Ohio State 49, Maryland 28

What You Need To Know for #CollegeGameDay This Weekend

name of site - hunter thompson style

USATSI_8849584

Since the days of Agamemnon – the Trojans always lose

1. More ‘Cutty’ Sark?

He is who we thought he was!  At least some of us thought that.  Others thought that he would be more Pete than Lane.  They never listened when the handful of us told USC fan, this guy is not your answer to returned-glory.  The Trojans lost again, at home, and to Sark’s former program that now employs Chris Petersen.  Of the two coaches, who would USC fan rather have now?

The game started in the twilight (omen?) with a sparse crowd that watched a double-digit underdog upset USC 17-12.  The Huskies of U-Dub looked enthusiastic and the USC offense never just ran the DAMN ball.  Does Steve drink on the sidelines?  How does Tre Madden average 7.1 ypc and Ronald Jones II averages 8.1 ypc, but you only give them the ball 25 times?  Reads like a repeat of the game against Texas in the Rose Bowl a few years ago when he was the O.C.

SoCal fan had a lot of Hot Takes after the game and they are correct – he is doing turrable, (said ina Charles Barkley voice) with all this perceived talent.  We have seen all we need to see of ‘Cutty’ Sark – from his sophmorish behavior at a pep rally, to choosing to throw the ball on second and third downs – to then settle for a 45yd FG on 4th down, to trying to get the crowd fired up on the sideline – that’s what those nice girls in the white sweaters are for!  Sark will not make it at USC and the program will sink to pre-Pete levels.  Although, I bet Terry Saban wouldn’t mind living in Palm Springs – it beats Tuscaloosa!

2. You Better You Bet

In year’s past, all we would hear about this week, is OU v. Texas, or Miami v. FSU – but right now I’d hedge that more people are interested in Northwestern-Michigan, and Utah-California – at least I am, along with a few other games that are slated this Saturday – all times EASTERN.  So Let’s Get It On!

Morning Games

  • (10) Oklahoma v. Texas (@Dallas) noon ABC – OU -17.5
    • There is no reason for Texas to keep this close. Oklahoma is a legitimate Big 12 contender. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is averaging 10.2 yards per attempt, proving to be an effective fit for Lincoln Riley’s system, but also a dangerous improviser. Beyond struggles against Tulsa’s Baylor-influenced offense, Oklahoma’s defense has been excellent too. Simply put, the Sooners are a much better, more complete team than the Longhorns. Texas’ offense is a mess, its defense ranks 110th in yards per play and the team is suffering social media meltdowns.
      • Oklahoma 41 – Texas 14—94.85%

  • Maryland @ (1) Ohio St – noon Big (not)10 Network – OSU -33
    • Ohio State may put an end to the Randy Edsall era. On Thursday, 247Sports reported that Maryland is planning to fire Edsall, perhaps after the Terrapins inevitably lose to the Buckeyes. They have a bye week next, so the timing would make sense if they’re planning to cut him loose during the season. Maryland has been awful thus far, getting off to a 2-3 start with a blowout home loss to Bowling Green, and a total of six points scored the last two weeks in embarrassments at the hands of West Virginia and Michigan.
      • Maryland 7 – Ohio St 39—93.3%

  • Illinois @ (22) Iowa – noon ESPN2 – Iowa -11
    • Raise your hand if you had these teams a combined 9-1 at this stage in the season. The Fighting Illini will likely fall off a bit, but Iowa might be the best bet in the Big Ten West right now. The Hawkeyes won 10-6 on the road vs. Wisconsin last week, and they play Maryland and Indiana in their two cross-division games. They won that game despite the fact that quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sharp in September, completed just 9 of 21 passes for 77 yards. The Hawkeyes are doing what the best Kirk Ferentz teams have done.
      • Illinois 16.45 – Iowa 27.55—73.9%

  • No. 3 Baylor at Kansas – noon, FS1 – Kansas +44
    • Last week, Baylor scored seven first-half touchdowns in a 63-35 win over Texas Tech. The 63 total points merely matched the Bears’ season average. Kansas, meanwhile, is well on its way to losing every game this season. It can reasonably be assumed that Baylor can name its point total in this one. It’s a 44-point favorite on the road in a conference game, and in the last three matchups Baylor has won by a total score of 160-42. Unless Baylor shows up completely uninterested, this will get out of hand in a hurry.
      • Baylor 54.1 – Kansas 16.3—97.05%

  • Indiana at Penn State – Noon, ESPN – PSU -6.5
    • The Hoosiers, who have never won in Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions are a combined 8-2, but their wins have come against Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State and Army. There hasn’t been a whole lot proved here, with Indiana coming close to an upset of Ohio State and Penn State’s offense, despite the presence of touted quarterback Christian Hackenberg, seeming to rely solely on the health of stud freshman tailback Saquon Barkley, who averages nearly nine yards per carry despite playing behind a suspect O-line.
      • Indiana 20.35 – PennSt 30.3—73.15%

Afternoon

  • No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan – 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network – Michigan -7.5
    • Last year, Michigan beat Northwestern in the infamous M00N game. It took more than 38 minutes for either team to score. They each turned the ball over three times. And Northwestern out-gained Michigan 264 to 256. There was a lot of bad offense, between two mediocre teams. This year … well, the result could be very similar, even if both teams have now played their way into the top 20. That’s because both defenses have been excellent.
      • Northwestern 13.15 – Michigan 20.9—67.25%

  • Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Clemson -7
    • This would seem to be the perfect opportunity for Clemson to fall victim to a trap or hangover or whatever you want to call it. The Tigers just vaulted into the playoff frontrunner discussion by holding off Notre Dame for a key win at home. Now, they welcome in Georgia Tech and its option offense. This was supposed to be one of the biggest games of the ACC season, but Georgia Tech has faltered, losing to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina for a puzzling three-game losing streak.
      • GaTech 16.95 – Clemson 32.05—82.35%

  • No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee – 3:30 p.m., CBS – Tennessee +3
    • The same thing could be said about last week’s Tennessee-Arkansas game: Both of these teams desperately need a win here. Georgia needs to rebound from its embarrassment at the hands of Alabama. Tennessee, after losing yet another close game to Arkansas, has to finally win a big game. The Vols, expected to be SEC East contenders, are sitting at 2-3, and now both teams are staring up at Florida in the division. Tennessee has had a chance to win every game, while Georgia simply failed to show-up against Alabama last week.
      • Georgia 28.15 – Tennessee 26.05—61.95%

  • South Carolina at No. 7 LSU – 3:30 p.m., ESPN – LSU -15
    • This game was supposed to be played at South Carolina, but the devastating flooding there has forced a move to Baton Rouge. LSU is admirably doing everything it can to make South Carolina feel at home, with all the revenue going to South Carolina.
      • SCAR 18.25 – LSU 38.6—87.95%

  • Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame – 3:30 p.m., NBC – Notre Dame -14.5
    • Notre Dame has to respond to a heartbreaking road loss at Clemson by stopping another option team. The Fighting Irish did it against Georgia Tech three weeks ago, and now they’ll take a shot at containing Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who is four touchdowns away from tying Montee Ball’s FBS career rushing touchdowns record. Last year, Reynolds didn’t run for a touchdown against the Irish, but Navy still pushed them in a 49-39 Notre Dame win.
      • Navy 24.1 – Notre Dame 36.95—76.65%
  • Wisconsin at Nebraska – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Nebraska -1
    • So much for this being the Big Ten West game of the year. Wisconsin can’t run without Corey Clement. Nebraska can’t stop its run of agonizing losses. What Wisconsin can do, however, is play suffocating defense. Linebacker Joe Schobert leads the nation with nine sacks, and only Alabama has moved the ball on the Badgers at all. If their defense can frustrate the inconsistent Tommy Armstrong and force Nebraska to make mistakes, the Badgers might be able to do enough to win a key game on the road and stay near the top of the division race.
      • Wisconsin 24.3 – Nebraska 24.8—57%
  • Minnesota at Purdue – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU – Purdue +3
    • Minnesota, expected by many to be a Big Ten West contender this season, has not been impressive. Its highlight thus far was holding TCU to 23 points in the opener. Since then, the Golden Gophers have beat Ohio, Kent State and Colorado State by three points each, and they’ve been blown out 27-0 by Northwestern.
      • Minnesota 26.75 – Purdue 19.8—66.05%

Prime Time

  • Miami at No. 12 Florida State – 8 p.m., ABC – FSU -9
    • Miami has become known for getting up for the Florida State game, before losing and having its season spiral out of control. Al Golden has yet to beat the rival Seminoles, and his tenure in Coral Gables appears to be careening toward its end. The Hurricanes didn’t bother to wait for the FSU game to start losing; they looked disinterested in a 34-23 loss at Cincinnati last Thursday. Florida State hasn’t exactly been impressive this season either — it won 24-16 at Wake Forest last week.
      • Miami 17.6 – FSU 35.7—86.95%

  • No. 2 TCU at Kansas State – 7:30 p.m., Fox – KState +9.5
    • Last week, Kansas State nearly beat Oklahoma State on the road despite playing most of the game with fifth-string quarterback Kody Cook, primarily a wide receiver, taking snaps because of injuries. Now, it appears that Joe Hubener is ready to return — he passed concussion tests — meaning the former walk-on should be starting at quarterback. (Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury now.) Based on all of the above, this is truly a Bill Snyder team.
      • TCU 29.85 – KState 28.9—52.65%

  • Arkansas at No. 8 Alabama – 7 p.m., ESPN – Alabama -17
    • The best bet for beating Alabama is challenging the Crimson Tide on the perimeter with tempo. This is not what Arkansas does best. The Arkansas offensive line may be big and powerful, but it’s not enough to overwhelm the Crimson Tide. And given that Jake Coker played well against Georgia and Arkansas’ defense has taken a step back from last year, this should be an opportunity for Alabama to earn another decisive win before a huge trip to Texas A&M next week.
      • Arkansas 15.1 – Alabama 39.8—93.2%

  • No. 11 Florida at Missouri – 7:30 p.m., SEC Network – Missouri +6
    • Nobody in Florida wants to ever speak of last year’s Missouri-Florida game ever again, but we’re going to have to quickly do so now. Missouri won 42-13, despite the fact that quarterback Maty Mauk went 6 of 18 for 20 yards and led the team with 38 rushing yards. Missouri won by 29 points despite the fact that it had 119 total yards. It did so because it returned a punt, kickoff, interception and fumble for touchdowns. There were many miserable losses for Florida in the Will Muschamp era, but this was one of the most miserable losses by anybody ever.
      • FU 28.4 – Mizzou 15.8—78.95%

  • No. 21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia – 7 p.m., ESPN2 – West Virginia -7
    • Oklahoma State is off to a 5-0 start, and it visits a West Virginia team that has just lost to Oklahoma by 20 and lost its best player, safety Karl Joseph, to a season-ending knee injury. Maybe this is a good opportunity for a conference road win for the Cowboys. But then again, not all 5-0 records are made equally.
      • OkSt 22.35 – WV 30.05—76.8%

  • No. 4 Michigan State at Rutgers – 8 p.m., Big Ten Network – Rutgers +14.5
    • We have reached the third and final game of the Kyle Flood suspension, and Rutgers may have star receiver Leonte Carroo back after he was reinstated this week. Maybe it will matter, because the Spartans have hardly been impressive this season, even with their win over Oregon (which has since been diminished a bit). Last week, Michigan State nearly choked away a home game against Purdue, winning just 24-21.
      • MichiganSt 40.6 – Rutgers 15.85—92.45%

  • Washington State at Oregon – 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – Oregon -17
    • With Vernon Adams still dealing with his broken finger, Oregon used both Jeff Lockie and Taylor Allie in last week’s win over Colorado. The Ducks were far from perfect, but they at least bounced back from the Utah debacle with a road win over the Buffaloes. They racked up 361 yards on the ground, with Royce Freeman and Taj Griffin both breaking 100 yards, and it’s likely that we’ll see a similar strategy at home against Washington State.
      • Wazzu 21.75 – Oregon 41.35—87.45%

Late night

  • No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah – 10 p.m., ESPN – Utah -7.5
    • These two are the only undefeated teams left in the Pac-12. California has the nation’s top NFL draft quarterback prospect in Jared Goff. Utah owns wins over Michigan and Oregon and has gotten improved play out of quarterback Travis Wilson, on top of its stellar defense. The Utes are unbeaten despite the fact that their defense ranks 75th in yards per play and star tailback Devontae Booker is averaging just 4.2 yards per carry, so they still have some things to prove, no matter how impressive their demolition of Oregon was, especially on the road.
      • Cal 20.2 – Utah 37.15—83.35%

  • CU at Arizona State – 10 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – ASU -15
    • After a tough September featuring a loss to Texas A&M and a blowout home loss to USC, Arizona State finally snapped out of its funk last week, upsetting UCLA on the road. Now, it returns home to face a sandwich game against the Buffaloes, before big games against Utah and Oregon. Arizona State is not above disappointing losses — last year, it lost at Oregon State a week after blowing out Notre Dame — but the Sun Devils should hopefully use the UCLA win as a springboard. This offense still lacks explosiveness, but Arizona State should be able to effectively utilize its running backs and short passing game to sustain drives against a beatable Colorado defense.
      • CU 13.15 – ASU 39.7—93.2%
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