Think you know college sports? Brag House gives players a FREE chance to test their sports acumen to win cash and prizes. To get ready for each week, our in house expert Shea Freeman analyzes each AP Top 25 team and what to expect for the weekend; gives you his predictions on the upcoming games of the week; and follows up with takeaways to help you make sense of the crazy things that happened on Saturday. Make sure you subscribe now for Brag House launch details and to get on the right side of the week!
Last week: 11-3, 8-6 ATS; Overall: 39-12, 28-23 ATS
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0)
Game of the Week:
It’s finally here! To call this the Game of the Week is doing it a disservice. “The Game of the Year” sounds better, and also the most accurate. We’ve seen this game plenty of times and it’s practically been the same outcome every time, with Alabama winning the previous eight meetings. However, this is a totally different game as both teams are both averaging over 49 a game behind the stellar play of their quarterbacks, who are also neck and neck for the Heisman. LSU QB Joe Burrow is healthier than Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa, but it’s the latter who probably has the better playmakers including star WR Jerry Jeudy. The key to this game, however, will always be the play of the defense. The Tigers are down their best pass rusher (LB Michael Divinity) and have given up big plays at times, while the Tide once again have a talented defense that hasn’t been tested all year, especially by one as lethal as LSU’s offense. Unlike previous matchups, this is going to be a high scoring affair with one stop being the difference maker. Also unlike previous matchups, LSU finally has a QB that can make plays. I’m taking the Tigers to upset the Tide in what might go down as another instant classic.
Pick: LSU (+6)
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0)
Now that Ohio State has finally taken the top spot where it counts, the College Football Playoff Rankings, the world is beginning to take notice of their dominance. Two weeks removed from dominating #16 Wisconsin, the Buckeyes host the struggling Maryland Terrapins at home as 44 point favorites. It’s an absurd spread for a conference game, but the Buckeyes have put up eye popping numbers recently and should have no problem dismantling a Terps defense that gives up 30 points a game on 415 yards per. Their spot at the top will be safe for another week.
Pick: Ohio State (-44)
#4 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-0)
#17 Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-0)
The other game between two undefeated power conference teams might not be as exciting, but it holds the exact same amount of pressure. #4 Penn State (rightfully) entered the playoff discussion after playing dominant defense against a stout schedule, and their road to the Big 10 playoff really starts this weekend against an underrated Minnesota team. The Gophers are having their best season in several decades thanks to a run game that averages over 200 yards per contest. They are going to challenge the Nittany Lions all game, but their defense (20 points allowed per game) will have to play their best all season in order to pull of the upset at home.
Pick: Penn State (-6.5)
Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6)
The Gators struggled offensively last weekend against Georgia, especially on the ground where they were held to just 21 rushing yards on the day. The loss all but likely eliminates them from playoff contention, but the good news is they host a Commodores team that is dreadful on defense and is down to their 3rd string quarterback. QB Kyle Trask has been solid for the Gators, even in the loss last week, and he should continue his progression this Saturday in what should be a big day for the offense.
Pick: Florida (-26)
Baylor barely edged out visiting West Virginia on Halloween, a team that has been less than spectacular all season. TCU, on the other hand, poses another threat for the Bears as they average 33 points a game on 440 yards a game. The Bears are currently in the driver seat as far as the Big 12 is concerned, but this smells like a trap game. Baylor’s defense is much better than TCU’s, but they’ll have their hands full with the Hornfrogs balanced offensive attack that’s more likely to run (220 yards a game) than it is to pass (221 yards a game).
Pick: Baylor (-2.5)
East Carolina Pirates (3-6)
SMU lost a close game to conference rival Memphis last Saturday, but still dropped 48 in the process and managed to out gain the Tigers on offense. While their hope at a perfect season is over, they are still not out of the race for the AAC Title and what better way to get back on track than by hosting an East Carolina team that is atrocious on defense, allowing 30 points a game on 422 yards. 202 of those yards are on the ground and The Mustangs have a dynamic back in Xavier Jones (900 yards, 15 TDs) who should find the end zone a couple times on Saturday.
Pick: SMU (-21.5)
#16 Kansas State Wildcats (6-2)
Apparently, this is the first big test of the year for Kansas State despite their upset win of Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago. The reason? Now everyone knows this Kansas State team might be legit. It’s hard to call a road game at Texas a trap game, but that’s what Vegas seems to think as they have the Wildcats as a +7 underdog. They were put on upset alert last week at Kansas and handled the Jayhawks with ease. If they can hold the Longhorns’ offense in check, which is no easy task, they’ll have a chance to pull off another “upset”.
Pick: Kansas State (+7)
#19 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-1)
Virginia Tech Hokies (5-3)
Last week, Virginia Tech almost upset #15 Notre Dame on the road but they fell short 21-20. They held a struggling Irish offense in check, and they will need to put up a similar performance against a Wake Forest team that is looking to challenge Clemson next week. However, with junior QB Jamie Newman (2,059 yards, 20 TDs) back under center for the Demon Deacons and WR Sage Surrat (954 yards, 9 TDs) on the outside, it could be a long day for a Hokies defense that gives up 261 yards a game to opposing quarterbacks.
Pick: Wake Forest (-2.5)
#20 Cincinnati Bearcats (7-1)
There’s a lot to like about this Cincinnati team, despite the fact that they narrowly escaped an upset bid from East Carolina last week in a 46-43 win. Michael Warren (143 yards, 3TDs last week) is a solid playmaker out of the backfield and should have no problem finding holes against a UConn team that is coughing up 220 yards on the ground to opposing teams. The Bearcats are currently the best team in the AAC, while the Huskies are the worst in the conference. This outcome should be a no brainer, even if it is a five touchdown spread.
Pick: Cincinnati (-35)
#13 Wisconsin Badgers (6-2)
This is a pretty interesting matchup. On paper, Wisconsin should have no problem keeping Iowa’s (at times) mediocre offense at bay and run the ball long enough to get the win at home. However, Iowa is just as efficient on the defensive side of the ball (10 points allowed per game) as their Big 10 counterpart (11 points allowed per game). Badgers RB Jonathon Taylor had the worst game of his college career last time out against Ohio State (52 yards on 20 carries) and he’ll look to bounce back to his normal self. However, if the Hawkeyes can contain him the way that the Buckeyes did, then they sputter to their third loss of the year.
Pick: Wisconsin (-9)
#6 Georgia Bulldogs (7-1)
It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog! A week after taking care of rival Florida, this Georgia team has a lot to be excited about as they move one step closer to the SEC Championship game. This week, they face a Missouri team that has dropped it’s last two to teams with a losing record and while the Tigers only allow 18 points per game, the Bulldogs possess a huge offensive line and very productive run game (222 yards per game). QB Jake Fromm looked much better last week against Florida after two pedestrian outings, and this game should be another tune up before next week’s contest at Auburn.
Pick: Georgia (-16.5)
Rock Solid Lock of the Week:
For the first time in recent memory, Clemson is on the outside looking in at the playoffs (for now, at least). Dabo Swinney has been annoyed at the way the media has portrayed his Tigers team — they’re overrated, they play a soft schedule, etc. — but putting the fifth on the College Football Playoff Rankings, a year after winning the national title, should piss them off to no end. And with QB Trevor Lawrence and ACC Player of the Year candidate Travis Etienne getting hot at the right time, it’s gonna suck to watch this game as an NC State fan knowing Clemosn has another thing to motivate them.
Pick: Clemson (-32.5)
#15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-2)
A couple of weeks ago, it looked like Notre Dame was going to make the case to be the fourth seed in the playoff race. Now, there’s no telling which Irish team is going to show up on Saturday. While head coach Brian Kelly might be looking for a new job come January, this offense needs to find something to motivate them as they have been dismal as of late (34 total points in the last 2 games), especially on the ground. The defense is still there and can make plays when called upon, but if QB Ian Book and offense can’t get anything going, they could be looking at another very close game.
Pick: Notre Dame (-9)
Iowa State Cyclones (5-3)
#9 Oklahoma Sooners (7-1)
Oklahoma had a week off to reflect on that 48-41 loss that Kansas State handed them and after watching a handful of teams lose since that game, they should feel a little more confident in their hopes of making it to the postseason. Iowa State is no pushover, however, and with QB Brock Purdy under center (2,567 yards, 15 TD) they are capable of putting up points. However, it’s going to be hard to stop Sooners QB Jalen Hurts, who has been electrifying all season. No way will the Sooners lose two in a row under his watch.
Pick: Oklahoma (-14.5)
#22 Boise State Broncos (7-1)
I put Boise State on upset alert last week and they proved me both right and wrong. Right in that they didn’t lose because QB Hank Bachmeier had returned from injury (and San Jose State covered the spread) but wrong in the way they would win, thanks to four rushing scores from RB George Holani. Holani had only 1 TD all year, so that was a shock. Wyoming poses another big test for the Broncos. The Cowboys can run the ball (240 yards a game) just as good as they can stop it (98 yards allowed). They do give up nearly 300 yards through the air, and a healthy Bachmeier should be relied on more in this contest. I like the Broncos to get it done, but just barely.
Pick: Boise State (-14)
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