The Big 12 race should become much clearer by Saturday night, as the conference features two huge games involving four Top 25 teams! The two games basically become playoff games themselves, as the losers will have very little shot to make the college football playoff. The latest college football playoff rankings have TCU sitting at No.7 and Kansas State at No. 8 and they’ll face off Saturday night in Ft. Worth. Baylor, ranked No.12 in the poll, will travel to Oklahoma who sits at No.15.
No.10 NOTRE DAME (7-1) AT No.9 ARIZONA STATE (7-1) “I don’t have to give our players any motivational speeches this week; they’re going to be pretty fired up to play,” said Arizona State’s Todd Graham. The Sun Devils’ head coach angered Pac-12 coaches early in the week when he talked about Notre Dame being better than Pac-12 opponents. “This is arguably the best football team we’ve seen all year and with that comes great opportunity.” Taylor Kelly will make his third straight start since returning from injury. He has led the Sun Devils two consecutive victories over Washington and Utah. He’ll face an Irish defense that has allowed 113 points in the last three games. The only defeat in that span was 31-27 against defending BCS National Champion Florida State. The difference in this game will be the quarterback play of Everett Golson. SUNDOWN SHOWDOWN IN THE DESERT, IRISH CONVERT DEVILS TO LOSERS, 33-30.
No. 4 OREGON (8-1) AT No. 17 UTAH (6-2) Oregon moved into one of the all-important top four spots of the College Football Playoff rankings this week. The Duck’s path to the playoff is laid in front of them now — win out and they will be in the playoff. The Ducks will be without right offensive tackle Matt Pierson, who sprained his knee in the win over Stanford. The loss of Pierson could be huge as the Ducks have had difficulty protecting quarterback Marcus Mariota all season! Utah leads the FBS in sacks with 39. The Utes will slow the “Quack Attack”, but will it be enough? NO, DUCKS FLY HOME WITH A “W”, 31-21.
No. 5 ALABAMA (7-1) AT No. 16 LSU (7-2) If you like physical, smash mouth football, this game is for you! Alabama sits at No.5 in the college football playoff poll, and a convincing win here could push them past Auburn. The Tide has run off three straight wins since dropping a 23-17 decision to Mississippi, as the defense has risen to the occasion, allowing only 33 points in those victories! Meanwhile LSU has rebounded with three straight wins that included a 10-7 victory over those same Rebels. I expect a classic knockdown, drag-out fight between the Tide and the Tigers on Saturday. Blake Sims gives the Tide a definite advantage at quarterback in this game and I think that makes the difference. ALABAMA TAMES TIGERS, TIDE 20-13.
No. 12 BAYLOR (7-1) AT NO. 15 OKLAHOMA (6-2) This may be the most exciting game this weekend as both teams want to make a statement to the playoff committee. The Bears have the top-ranked offense in the country, scoring 50 points per game! Bryce Petty is having another outstanding season, throwing for 2,034 yards and 20 touchdowns. A look inside the numbers has me concerned about the decline in his completion percentage. Last season Petty was hitting on 62-percent of his passes versus just 54-percent this year. When you face a quality defense like the Sooners, that could be a big factor. I think the Sooners are going to rely on their running game to limit the Bear offense. The Sooners lost to a pair of Top-7 teams by a combined five points. Baylor has not beaten a ranked opponent on the road since 1991. That’s the longest active drought among Power 5 teams against ranked opponents on the road. The Bears have never beaten the Sooners in Norman (0-11) and Oklahoma is playing with revenge on their mind, after getting blasted 41-12 in Waco last year! BOOM! SOONERS CIRCLE THE WAGONS, 41-40.
No. 7 KANSAS STATE (7-1) AT No. 6 TCU (7-1) What a season it has been for TCU, as they are three points away from a perfect season! The Horned Frog offense is ranked second in the country scoring 48 points per contest. Quarterback Trevone Boykin, a converted wide receiver, is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Boykin has had a remarkable season, throwing for 22 TDs with only four interceptions. Boykin is also second on the team in rushing yards with 423 rushing yards. Receivers Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee have become top flight playmakers. The Horned Frogs will face a Kansas State team that sits in first place in the conference at 5-0, and the Wildcats are 2-0 against TCU since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12. The Frogs lead the country with 26 forced turnovers and have just too many weapons on offense. TCU WINS BIG 36-24
No. 14 OHIO STATE (7-1) AT No. 8 MICHIGAN STATE (7-1) The winner of this contest is the Big 10’s best chance to make the College Football Playoff. When looking at these two teams you almost see mirror images of one another. Ohio State is fourth in the nation in scoring average at 45.6 points. Michigan State is fifth at 45.5. Both teams give up essentially 20 points per game. I think this game comes down to, the battle between Connor Cook and J. T. Barrett. Barrett’s ability to run the football and buy extra time in the pocket have me leaning to the Buckeyes. Sparty hasn’t defeated the Buckeyes in East Lansing since 1999, dropping four in a row. MAKE IT FIVE, BUCKEYES SLIP PAST SPARTANS 31-27.
PICK-SIX SPECIALS, SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS
- PENN STATE AT INDIANA……Hoosiers somehow keep bowl hopes alive, LIONS 34-30.
- IOWA AT MINNESOTA…… Floyd of Rosedale stays in Iowa, HAWKEYES 24-20.
- LOUISVILLE AT BOSTON COLLEGE……Little redbirds get one over Eagles, CARDINALS 36-27.
- WASHINGTON STATE AT OREGON STATE……Beavers remain in-charge of Cougars, BEAVERS 39-30.
- MEMPHIS AT TEMPLE……Too many cheese steaks for Tigers, OWLS 23-20.
- TULANE AT HOUSTON……Cougars ride the Wave, going bowling, HOUSTON 44-20.
SEASON RECORDS PICKING WINNERS
WHAT I’M WATCHING 33-12
PICK SIX PACK 24-12
UPSET EXPRESS 7-3