Let’s get these College Football Playoff grievances out of the way now.
Alabama No. 2 with a loss to Texas A&M? Cincinnati on the outside looking in as they continue their second consecutive undefeated regular season? Undefeated Oklahoma and Wake Forest seemingly forever away from a birth? AND WHERE THE HELL IS UTSA?!?!?!
Luckily in college football, these things find a way to work themselves out in November.
* checks calendar *
Well would you look at that... It’s time to separate contenders from pretenders and we’ll get our first crack at it this weekend with a lot of the top contenders going on the road against unranked opponents. You want to fall out of contention? Lose to an unranked team... unless you’re Alabama.
I’ve been a pretender the last few weeks with below .500 weeks and then I turned in my worst weekend of the season in Week 9, 3-7. That means — with my 42-53 record — even a 10-0 week won’t push me above it. Yikes.
But we pick anyway.
The King Commenter this week is OhNoleHeDidnt who rattled off a perfect week going 10-0 in the most modest fashion possible. Just a “Imma try this week...” and laid out a perfect weekend. Kudos to you.
Let’s see if anybody can match that number this weekend.
Reminder that all lines comes from Tallysight.com.
- No. 9 Wake Forest (+2.5) at North Carolina (Noon ET, ABC)
Wake Forest is the first of our CFP contenders facing a road test this week. The committee slighted the unbeaten Demon Deacons to the backend of the top ten. Clearly they’re not impressed with the No. 5 offense in the sport. To be fair, the toughest opponents on the schedule (UNC, NC State and Clemson) are all still ahead of them plus two of those contests come on the road. North Carolina is one of those teams that just can’t get it together this year despite the preseason hype. I am skeptical of North Carolina being favored in this one. Wake feels like the better team to me and Vegas has smacked me in the face before because they know the future. But I’m going to stick to my guns.
Prediction: Wake Forest +2.5
- No. 5 Ohio State (-14.5) at Nebraska (Noon ET, FOX)
I mentioned Wake having a top-5 offense, but, if you look at the top of that list, you’ll notice nobody has been better than Ohio State. The Buckeyes are averaging more than 47(!!!) points per game. Ryan Day’s team was one of the many whose ranking fans questioned because they have a home loss to Oregon — another team we’ll get to in a second. I pounced on Nebraska early in the year for a few wins, but they’ve been better lately. Yes, those games have been losses but close losses. The key is keeping it close and they’ll get the chance to do it at home. I can’t take that chance though.
Prediction: Ohio State -14.5
- No. 13 Auburn (+4.5) at No. 14 Texas A&M (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Don’t look now, but the Auburn Tigers control their own destiny in the SEC West. They have two losses — those to Georgia and Penn State — so I don’t expect them to make a run at the CFP, but running the table would have them with closing wins against four ranked teams including Alabama and then Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. This committee’s love for Power-5 programs and the “what have you done for me lately” attitude gives them a chance to get there and Bo Nix has been playing the elite brand of football that can do it. On the other sideline, the Aggies have screamed frauds to me all season. They lost their QB early and struggled. Then somehow beat Bama and got anointed one of college football’s elite teams again. I’ll take the Bama victory as a fluke and take War Eagle over Gig Em.
(Side note: This game is a big one in my household as my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law are Aggie grads while my wife is an Auburn alum. I get to sit back and have fun with it before watching my school get buried six-feet-under in Tuscaloosa a few hours later.
Prediction: Auburn +4.5
- No. 3 Michigan State (-2.5) at Purdue (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Talk about lines that jump off the page. Michigan State coming off its biggest win of the season (and maybe in years) over rival Michigan. Sparty finds itself securely fixed in the College Football Playoff picture if they just take care of their own business. That’s easier said than done with a road trip to Ohio State coming up, but they don’t want to look any further than this weekend. Purdue already has a top-5 win under its belt this season trouncing Iowa in Iowa City. The Spartans and their Heisman hopeful running back have answered the call ever week this season, but don’t doubt Purdue in pulling off the shocker.
Prediction: Michigan State -2.5
- No. 11 Oklahoma State (-3.5) at West Virginia (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
I’m not sure Oklahoma State has a path to the CFP as the committee sent the message that they don’t care for the Big 12 loud and clear. Unbeaten Oklahoma sits at No. 8, which is the best opponent left on the Cowboys schedule. I have respect for the Mountaineers so this win would mean something to me, but I’m probably alone in that. And it’s a shame because OSU has a really strong defense this season and their offense is still plenty good like we’re used to. This is a potential playoff team as long as West Virginia doesn’t get in the way, which I think they will.
Prediction: West Virginia +3.5
- No. 12 Baylor (-6.5) at TCU (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX)
Speaking of Big 12 teams without a shot at the playoff, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the Baylor Bears. Head coach Dave Aranda has picked up right where Matt Rhule left off with this program as they are among the elite teams in their conference. They showed it again last week in knocking off Texas and the week before against BYU. They’ve got great wins the past five weeks so this is a bit of a step down in competition to TCU now without Gary Patterson. I’m a believer in Baylor and think they get it done this week.
Prediction: Baylor -6.5
- No. 19 NC State (-2.5) at Florida State (4:00 p.m. ET, ACCN)
I’ve told you guys plenty of times before I know nothing about NC State. I correctly picked them to lose to Mississippi State and since then don’t think I’ve gotten one of their games right. Their calling card has been a stout defense. The Wolfpack rank No. 6 in scoring offense allowing an average of 16.3 points per game. And the offense has been consistently around 30 points in their ACC games. FSU will have to find a way to break through that defense to have a chance, but I really believe they can. The one place NC State has struggled is on the road and FSU is capable of beating everybody left on the schedule including NC State so why not pick the Noles.
Prediction: Florida State +2.5
- No. 4 Oregon (-6.5) at Washington (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Hello to the Mighty Ducks. Riding on the shoulders of their victory at Ohio State, Oregon checks into the final spot of the CFP’s big four. But not without flaws of their own. Their resume has a loss to unranked Stanford on it and on top of that they’ve had some key injuries in recent weeks. Despite those injuries, they’ve kept winning. But after a terrible start Washington is starting to play better in recent weeks. If this line was over that 7 point mark, I’d take it. But 6.5 just isn’t enough.
Prediction: Oregon -6.5
- Clemson (-3.5) at Louisville (7:30 p.m. ET, ACCN)
I’m done with Clemson despite their win last week on the shoulders of Will Shipley. No further explanation needed.
Prediction: Louisville +3.5
- UTSA (-11.5) at UTEP (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
FINALLY, time for me to be outraged on behalf of the Road Runners. BEEP BEEP. UTSA is 8-0 with wins at Illinois and Memphis but aren’t worthy of any ranking in the top 25?!?! Can the committee be more insulting to the Group of 5? I mean come on man. Any unbeaten team in college football belongs in the top 25 at this point of the season, especially one that has a victory against a power five opponent. UTSA absolutely belongs in there and I expect them to prove it this weekend on national television.
Prediction: UTSA -11.5