There’s some BIG games this week, so let’s get right to it.
(rankings reflect the College Football Playoff poll)
9 Michigan State (9-1) at 3 Ohio State (10-0) – Saturday, 2:30, ABC
This game has been talked about for months, but as it finally arrives, it seems like these Big Ten powerhouses are flying under the radar a little bit. Despite winning the national title last year and a 10-0 start this season, Ohio State is behind Clemson and Alabama in the playoff rankings. Michigan State has to be feeling disrespected as well. Four one-loss teams are ranked ahead of the Spartans, whose lone slip-up came at Nebraska a few weeks ago.
Urban Meyer has only lost one B1G game, the Big Ten Championship game to Sparty. He is also undefeated in regular season conference play, that streak will continue. Ohio State is getting 13.5 points here. I like Sparty to cover that spread, but the Buckeyes will hang on at home.
Prediction: 31-24 Ohio State
15 LSU (7-2) at 22 Ole Miss (7-3) – Saturday, 2:30, CBS
After starting 7-0 and climbing to No. 2 in the polls, LSU has dropped two straight; at Alabama is excusable, but at home to Arkansas last week, by 17? That was bad. The Tigers better not let two losses turn into three, or their chances at a New Year’s bowl will really take a hit. Ole Miss was also bitten by the Hogs, falling to Arkansas 53-52 in an overtime classic a couple weeks ago. At 7-3, the Rebels need to right the ship to make a major bowl game.
Last time I picked Ole Miss to win by double digits, they got blown out at Florida. I still like the Rebels at home here coming off a bye week. Leonard Fournette might have something to say about that, though.
Prediction: 34-23 Ole Miss
10 Baylor (8-1) at 6 Oklahoma State (10-0) – Saturday, 6:30, FOX
You had one job, Baylor, beat Oklahoma to set up an undefeated showdown in Stillwater this week. Baker Mayfield had other ideas, as the Sooners handed Baylor its first loss. Oklahoma State nearly had its dream season ruined in Ames last week, but the Pokes came back to beat Iowa State, taking its first lead in the final minute of the game. OSU is the Big 12’s best shot at getting a playoff team right now. They get Baylor at home this week, then OU at home next week. Easier said than done, but if they win those two and finish 12-0, it’ll be hard to keep them out of the playoff.
With Baylor’s Seth Russell out, I like the Cowboys at home here.
Prediction: 45-41 Oklahoma State
18 TCU (9-1) at 7 Oklahoma (9-1) – Saturday, 7:00, ABC
I hate to say it, but it looks like the wheels might be falling off for TCU. After a blowout loss at Oklahoma State, followed by a narrow 6-point win over KU, the Horned Frogs look shaky to say the least. Trevonne Boykin is the straw that stirs the drink. As long as he’s banged up, TCU is in big trouble. Add in a 3-year starter at center that is out as well as star WR Josh Doctson. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has looked very strong since their horrible loss to Texas. If the Sooners win out and a couple teams ahead of them get knocked off, they have a great shot at making the playoff.
OU takes care of business here, setting up a huge game at Oklahoma State next week. BEDLAM!
Prediction: 41-30 Oklahoma
17 North Carolina (9-1) at Virginia Tech (5-5) – Saturday, 11am, ESPN
UNC is quietly playing as well as anyone in the country right now, but Virginia Tech will be fired up in Frank Beamer’s last home game.
19 Houston (10-0) at UConn (5-5) – Saturday, 2:30, ESPNU
Connecticut (fresh off a thrilling 7-3 win over Tulane!) is good enough defensively to keep this game close and ugly it up. Plus Houston could be looking ahead to Navy next week. That’s what happened to Oklahoma State last week and they nearly got beat by Iowa State.
Other Games to Watch
- Memphis at Temple – Both teams coming off losses, trying to keep their great seasons alive.
- UCLA at Utah – This game could be for the PAC-12 South.Northwestern at Wisconsin-The B1G has been surprisingly entertaining this season.
- Northwestern at Wisconsin – The B1G has been surprisingly entertaining this season, but these two 8-2 teams have flown under the radar for most of it.
- Boston College at Notre Dame – The Eagles do not have enough to stop the Irish in the first football game at Fenway in 50 years. Strangely BC is the “away” team, here.
- Michigan at Penn State – This game should always be a big game, and for the first time in a while, it is. Michigan still has a shot at winning their division in the B1G, but will have to win in Happy Valley in the annual “white out” game, where the Lions are undefeated at home this year.
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