Several big games dot the schedule this weekend across the country, but none bigger than #1 Alabama traveling to rocky top. Many of this weeks top ranked teams are on the road facing upset minded squads. When the dust settles, I believe at least one of these squads will hit the loss column. A quick look inside this weeks poll shows us that the BIG 10 has four schools ranked in the top 10. That is the first time this has happened since 1960. Western Michigan #23 is ranked for the first time in team history! Head coach P.J. Fleck and his “Row the Boat” crew are in line for a New Years day bowl game.
A QUICK LOOK BACK AT WEEK FIVE
The fall of Oregon, Michigan State, Texas, and Notre Dame continued last weekend. The four teams are now a combined 8-18 on the year. All four are in serious jeopardy of not making the post season. Oregon is in a complete freefall. The Defense has been atrocious allowing 197 points during the current four game losing streak. The offense has also hit the skids, as head coach Mark Helfrich looks for answers. The Ducks turned to freshman quarterback Justin Herbert last weekend against a hungry Washington team. A move that I thought was very curious considering Dakota Prukop had been effective. It was almost like Helfrich was conceding a loss. The heat is on in Eugene! The loss of offensive coordinator Scott Frost is now becoming more and more evident each week.
The meltdown at Notre Dame could be even more serious. Head coach Brian Kelly continues to make decisions on the field that leave me scratching my head. His game plan in the rain at Raleigh was astounding. Kelly continues to blame the recent losses on everyone but himself. It’s time to look in the mirror. He was totally outcoached this past weekend. In fact the announcers of the game, were questioning nearly everything Notre Dame did during the game. Many, including myself had Notre Dame a 10 win team at the start of the season. One has to wonder if Kelly will be around at the end of the current campaign.
The situation at Texas is reaching a boiling point as well. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit called Texas a “Cesspool”. I firmly believe that head coach Charlie Strong should be given a pass here. He has a young team, and some top talent to work with. They will bounce back and finish with at least seven wins. Next year will be even better. He is the right man for the job in Austin.
Michigan State sits at 2-3 with three straight losses since defeating Notre Dame. Head coach Mark Dantonio has been taking heat over the slow start. People forget that Dantonio is the guy that brought this program back from the depths of the BIG 10. In the last five years he has simply gone 54-14. Quarterback play is the culprit here. People forget what good leaders that the Spartans have had With Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook. If any coach deserves a pass for an off season, it’s Dantonio.
WHAT TO WATCH IN WEEK SEVEN
#20 WEST VIRGINIA 4-0 AT TEXAS TECH 3-2 West Virginia and Baylor are the only remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12. This is actually a huge game for Texas Tech. The schedule for the Red Raiders is about to get real tough. In order to secure the six wins needed for a bowl, they will need a win here. The Mountaineers have won the last two games in this series. Quarterbacks Skyler Howard and Patrick Mahomes will surely light up the scoreboard in this one. The Mounties will have a big edge on defense, while I give the Red Raiders the advantage on special teams. THE TEAM THAT HAS THE BALL LAST WILL WIN THIS GAME, RAIDERS 48-44.
#12 OLE MISS 3-2 AT #22 ARKANSAS 4-2 My favorite game of the weekend. I am billing this as the sequel to last season epic game. Arkansas defeated Ole Miss 53-52 in overtime, in a game that featured several unbelievable plays down the stretch. The loss by the Rebels still stings! The Rebels are coming off a well needed bye week, while Arkansas is coming off a drubbing by Alabama. Chad Kelly will be the difference in this game. REVENGE WILL BE SWEET, REBELS GET PAYBACK 41-28.
#1 ALABAMA 6-0 AT #9 TENNESSEE 5-1 Alabama has won nine straight in this series. The Tide have yet to be really tested this season, but should get one here. Tennessee tailback Jalen Hurd should be back after missing last weeks game. He and quarterback Joshua Dobbs will have to be lights out, in order for the Vols to pull the upset. The Vols have fumbled the ball 21 times this season tops in the country! The tide have turned turnovers into points with several defensive scores. Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to play impressive football. At some point the freshman quarterback will play like a freshman. I’m not sure this is the week. DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS ARE THE DIFFERENCE, MAKE IT TEN IN A ROW 34-24.
#2 OHIO STATE 5-0 AT #8 WISCONSIN 4-1 Camp Randall will be rocking Saturday night when these top ten heavyweights collide. The Badgers have already knocked off two top ten opponents this season, can they get a third? The Badgers rely on a solid ground game and a short passing game to chew up yards and clock. They also feature a tough physical defense that limits their opponents. Just two weeks ago they traveled to Michigan and held the Wolverines to 14 points. The Badgers are fresh off a bye week and still remember the last time these two schools meet, when the Buckeyes dealt them a 59-0 loss. I believe this game goes to the fourth quarter. The difference will be the ability of Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett to make plays on his own. BRUTUS OUT WRESTLES BUCKY 23-20.
#24 WESTERN MICHIGAN 6-0 AT AKRON 4-2 There are only two potential trouble spots left on the Broncos schedule in the regular season. Akron is one of them. The Zips have an explosive offense sitting at number three in the conference. The Broncos are ranked for the first time in school history. Quarterback Zach Terrell is hitting on 70% of his passes, good for fourth in the nation. He also has tailback Jarvion Franklin in the back field who has 34 career touchdowns. The Broncos are the only team in the FBS who have not turned the ball over this season. That is a remarkable stat at this point of the season. I expect fireworks in this game, as the Zips will be sky high. BRONCOS LASSO ZIPS, 49-42.
NEVADA 3-3 AT SAN JOSE STATE 1-5 When I make picks for the upset express, I always look for an underdog that I think will win straight up. Typically I like to choose from the power five conferences, but this week looked bleak. What we have here is clearly the better team on the road facing a weak opponent in San Jose. The Spartans defense resembles a couple of slices of Swiss cheese, full of holes! The Wolfpack have won seven straight in this series. MAKE IT EIGHT, PACK 42-21.
SUPER SIX PACK: SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
MISSISSIPPI STATE 2-3 AT BYU 3-3 Altitude will be the difference, COUGARS 31-21.
ARIZONA STATE 5-1 AT COLORADO 4-2 Winner moves into top 25, RALPHIE 38-30.
UCLA 3-3 AT WASHINGTON STATE 3-2 Leach has his boys believing, COUGARS 33-28.
NORTH CAROLINA 4-2 AT #16 MIAMI 4-1 Heels won last year 59-21, REVENGE IS SWEET 44-38.
#10 NEBRASKA 5-0 AT INDIANA 3-2 First meeting since 1978, HUSKERS FRESH OFF A BYE 41-31.
WESTERN KENTUCKY 3-3 AT MIDDLE TENNESSEE 4-1 Battle for CUSA East supremacy. BLUE RAIDERS 36-35.
LAST WEEKS RESULTS
FEATURED GAMES 5-0
UPSET EXPRESS 0-1
SUPER SIX PACK 3-2