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: 17-4, 11-10 ATS; Overall: 69-19, 48-39 ATS
Game of the Week: #8 Penn State (9-1) at #2 Ohio State (10-0)
What a game we have on tap for Saturday! The Buckeyes have been arguably the most dominant team in all of college football this year, and it shows this week as they have an insanely high spread for a top 10 matchup. It’s easy to see why: they are currently averaging 51.5 points per game and are giving up less than 10 a game to opponents. They have one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the nation (541 yards per game, nearly split down the middle) and their 2nd ranked defense is loaded with talent, even without star DE Chase Young. Good news for Ohio State, Young will be back from suspension just in time to face #8 Penn State for a pivotal Big 10 matchup. A win and Ohio State is in the conference championship. It’s the toughest challenge this team has faced all year, however they have more than enough fire power to get the job done.
Pick: Ohio State (-18.5)
West Carolina (3-8) at #5 Alabama (9-10)
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa suffered a season ending — and hopefully not career ending — hip injury in the 38-7 win over Ole Miss, and the feeling is that Alabama might not be a sure thing for the playoffs anymore. Back up Mac Jones is a serviceable quarterback and it helps that he has pro-caliber weapons on his team like WR Jerry Jeudy and RB Najee Harris (4 TDs last week). It also helps that they’re playing a home game against a three win Western Carolina that they are projected to beat by 56 (!!!) points. That spread might be too big but there’s no way Bama is losing this game.
Pick: Alabama (-56)
#10 Minnesota (9-1) at Northwestern (2-8)
After suffering their first loss of the season last week at Iowa, Minnesota has a chance to bounce back and stay atop the Big 10 West. A loss from Wisconsin and they clinch a spot in the Big 10 Championship game, but first they’ll have to beat last place Northwestern on the road. It shouldn’t be that hard of a task, considering the Wildcats are only averaging 14 a game and giving up nearly twice as many. The Gophers faced a tough defense last time out and put up their lowest score of the year, but my guess is they will get back to putting up big numbers on offense (35 points per game, 432 yards per game).
Pick: Minnesota (-14)
Samford (5-6) at #15 Auburn (7-3)
Another tough loss for Auburn, their third against a top ten SEC team. They put up a fight in all three of those losses and are still a very talented team despite their record. This week they should dominate Samford at home, where freshman QB Bo Nix plays relatively well (aside from last week’s game against the Bulldogs). The run game was non-existent last week against Georgia, so expect them to break off some big runs and prepare for their annual Iron Bowl game with Alabama.
Pick: Auburn (-48.5)
Potential Upset: Illinois (6-4) at #17 Iowa (7-3)
The Hawkeye’s may not have a sexy team, but they have a stellar defense and they showed as much in last week’s 23-19 upset of #8 Minnesota. They sport at top 5 defense in terms of scoring per game (12 points) and it is the one thing that keeps them in games. Illinois has won four straight, including upsetting then undefeated Wisconsin, and have scored 30 points a game over that span. I think this game will be closer than the spread says, but it should be noted that Illinois has only beat Iowa once since 2000 and last year lost this matchup 63-0. It’s a different year, different team, so maybe it could be a different outcome. I like Iowa to win, but I like Illinois to cover.
Pick Illinois (+15.5)
#21 Oklahoma State (7-3) at West Virginia (4-6)
The Moutaineers knocked Kansas State out of the top 25 and this week they have a chance to knock out another Big 12 team. However, that team is led by the nation’s leading rusher Chuba Hubbard (1726 yards, 20 TDs) and is on a current three game win streak. This is a must win game for the Cowboys, who still have a shot at the Big 12 Championship if Baylor were to fall apart down the stretch. West Virginia is giving up 167 rushing yards a game, so Hubbard should have no problem finding holes and even the endzone a couple of times.
Pick: Oklahoma State (-5.5)
Kansas (3-7) at #22 Iowa State (6-4)
The Cyclones are back in the top 25 after two pretty impressive weeks, one of which was a 45-44 loss to Oklahoma. QB Brock Purdy is averaging 326 yards per game through the air and is putting together one of the best seasons in Iowa State history, having already set the school record for touchdowns in a season. This week the sophomore QB has a chance to add a few more: four more completions for most completed passes, 43 yards for most passing yards and 221 yards for most total offensive yards on a season. Kansas, for what it’s worth, is giving up 470 yards of offense a game and are losers of 6 of their last 7. Rock Chalk a loss for the Jayhawks.
Pick: Iowa State (-25)
Boston College (5-5) at #16 Notre Dame (8-2)
The Irish had a huge win against run heavy Navy last Saturday, slowing down the Midshipmen and winning 52-20. This week they’ll face a similar style when they take on Boston College and their run heavy offense led by RB AJ Dillon (1451 yards, 13 TDs). The Eagles average 282 yards on the ground and will try to attack the Irish defense better than Navy did, but with the way QB Ian Book looked last week (284 yards, 5 TDs) it’s going to take a lot more to beat this Notre Dame team, especially when your defense is giving up 32 a game.
Pick: Notre Dame (-21)
#24 Appalachian State (9-1)
Texas State (3-7) at #24 Appalachian State (9-1)
Once again, I failed at picking an Appalachian State game correctly. The Mountaineers throttled Georgia State 56-27 in a game that seemed like a must win game for both teams. I’m not even going to begin to act like I know anything about Texas State but I do know that they aren’t very good at running the ball (83 yards a game) and they are giving up 415 yards of total offense. App State has found their groove again on offense and should continue that trend this Saturday with a win. Unless I’m wrong about that one, too.
Pick: Appalachian State (-28.5)
Texas A&M (7-3) at #4 Georgia (9-1)
The Bulldogs won their biggest game of the year, going on the road and beating Auburn to clinch a spot in the SEC Championship game. QB Jake Fromm threw for three touchdowns last week against Auburn, but it was on 110 yards and sported a 45% completion rating. Even though their safe for the conference championship, this next game should be treated like one, as they face a Texas A&M team that has won four straight and can put points on the board. The Aggies can keep this one close but Georgia’s defense is capable of shutting down teams much better than them.
Pick: Georgia (-13)
#13 Michigan (8-2) at Indiana (7-3)
Indiana gave Penn State a fair showing last week and almost pulled off the upset. Prior to the loss, the Hoosiers had won four straight games by an average of 35 a game. Likewise, Michigan is also experiencing a bit of a surge after three impressive outings since the loss to Penn State a month ago. This is a battle of two teams who are playing their best football of the year and it will come down to the Wolverine’s defense, who have been allowing just over 10 points to opponents over their win streak. They’ll need a similar performance on Saturday if they want to go into their Ohio State matchup a little more battle tested.
Pick: Michigan (-9.5)
Potential Upset: Texas (6-4) at #14 Baylor (9-1)
For half of a game, Baylor looked like a top 8 team that had a serious shot at the playoffs. Then they let Oklahoma blast their way back in the game and finally lost a close one. It was a tough blow for the Bears, who now host Texas, also fresh off a close loss to Iowa State. Baylor’s defense proved it could make plays last week against the Sooners and they should be fine against a Longhorns team that has been struggling recently, but the way they allow teams to stay in close games should be a little concerning.
Pick: Texas (+5.5)
UCLA (4-6) at #23 USC (7-4)
USC is back in the top 25 and in a position to finish the season on a strong note. The Trojans are technically still in the hunt for the PAC-12 Championship, if Utah were to lose either of their next two games. Still, USC first needs to win against their LA rivals, UCLA. Both of these teams have terrible defenses and high powered offenses, but USC freshman QB Kedon Slovis has been on a roll lately, throwing for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns in his two previous games each. The Bruins are giving up nearly 300 yards to quarterbacks this season, and nothing suggests to me that that will change on Saturday.
Pick: USC (-13.5)
#25 SMU (9-1) at Navy (7-2)
Simply put, SMU is electric on offense (45 points, 522 yards a game) but absolutely dreadful on defense (32 points, 425 yards a game). The one area you can attack the Mustangs most effectively is the pass, as they are giving up well over 300 passing yards a game. However, Navy doesn’t throw the ball often and average less than 100 passing yards a game to their 350 rushing yards per game. QB Malcolm Perry is more effective on the ground (1159 rush yards, 16 rush TDs) and Navy should be able to slow down the pace of the game, which is the only way they are going to beat SMU at home. After seeing the Mustangs give up 51 to ECU last week, I think they’re vulnerable.
Pick: Navy (-3.5)
Purdue (4-6) at #12 Wisconsin (8-2)
Wisconsin is back to looking like their old selves thanks to back to back stellar performances out of their star running back. Jonathon Taylor posted his second consecutive 200 yard game last week and looks to have field day against Purdue this Saturday. The Boilermakers are giving up 172 yards to opposing backfields and while they are effective throwing the ball (nearly 300 yards a game passing), they face a Badgers defense that is one of the best in the country at stopping the pass (150 yards allowed per game). With a huge Big 10 matchup waiting next week at Minnesota, Wisconsin should take care of business in their final home game.
Pick: Wisconsin (-24.5)
#18 Memphis (9-1) at South Florida (4-6)
The Tigers are playing lights out on offense lately, averaging 47 a game over their last four wins. QB Brady White has been sensational over that span, averaging 331 passing yards and throwing for 15 touchdowns, including 5 last week in a win over Houston. The issue for Memphis has been their defense, which has been vulnerable over the last three games (35 points per game average). USF has a decent offense and gave Cincinnati a scare last week in a 20-17 loss, but the Bulls don’t have enough to shut down this surging Tigers team that is looking ahead to next week’s matchup with Cincy for the AAC regular season crown.
Pick: Memphis (-14.5)
Arkansas (2-8) at #1 LSU (10-0)
LSU has all but wrapped up the SEC West and a win this weekend would be the final nail in the coffin. The Tigers put on an offensive clinic last week in their win against Ole Miss, but they allowed the Rebels to put up 37 against their defense. Defensive woes aside, however, that shouldn’t matter that much as they host a Razorbacks team that has lost seven straight, including a 45-19 loss to Western Kentucky that was also the final straw for their head coach. Arkansas is rolling into Death Valley with an interim coach against the best team in the country. That’s recipe for a loss.
Pick: LSU (-43)
Potential Upset: Temple (7-3) at #19 Cincinnati (9-1)
The Bearcats had a tasty matchup last week against South Florida but they almost lost that game and their shot at the AAC regular season crown. They’ve been tested quite a few times this year, and this week’s matchup against Temple is another stout one before a big game against Memphis that could decide the fate of their postseason. The Owls have been been a pesky team for ranked opponents this year, knocking off then #21 Maryland in the beginning of the year and handing #18 Memphis their only loss of the year. Cincinnati has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and RB Michael Warren will be a big factor in this game as Temple gives up 160 yards per game on the ground, but this one could be closer than it looks.
Pick: Cincinnati (-10.5)
Rock Solid Lock of the Week: #6 Oregon at Arizona State (5-5)
The Ducks have locked up a spot in the PAC-12 Championship Game but still have some work to do if they want to impress the committee. The offense has looked solid over their last five games, averaging 41 points per game over that span. The defense is capable of making big plays, as evidenced by their performance against Arizona last week (230 yards allowed with 6 sacks) but they face a Sun Devils team that, despite their four game losing streak, have capable player makers on offense that can at least make it interesting. However, that’s about all they can do against this surging Oregon squad.
Pick: Oregon (-13.5)
TCU (5-5) at #9 Oklahoma (9-1)
Oklahoma had their biggest win of the year, and the biggest comeback win of the college football season, as they clawed their way down 25 to top Baylor on the road. The defense had looked non-existent over their last few games, but the second half of their last game showed they are capable of making big stops in crucial moments. QB Jalen Hurts is going to ball no matter what, but he has been turning the ball over a little more than usual (4 in the last two games). The spread might be a little high for this game, but it helps that the Sooners are playing at home against at TCU squad that is equally as bad on defense as they are. If this turns into a shootout, which all signs point in that direction, it helps that the guy doing the shooting is a sure fire Heisman candidate.
Pick: Oklahoma (-18)
#7 Utah (9-1) at Arizona (4-6)
The Utes take their balanced attack to Arizona in a pivotal game for their playoff hopes. Not out of the weeds yet, Utah needs a win and a USC loss to clinch their spot in the PAC-12 title against Oregon. The Wildcats have lost five in a row and it doesn’t feel like the slide will stop this Saturday at home. Arizona is giving up 480 yards of total offense, including 165 on the ground and that’s an area where Utah thrives (207 rush yards a game). The other area? An NCAA leading 55 rush yards allowed per game. After their 52-3 thrashing of UCLA, all signs point to a big win for Utah and a potential championship berth.
Pick: Utah (-22.5)
#20 Boise State (9-1) at Utah State (6-4)
It’s been a challenging month for Boise State who, despite having a 9-1 record, have had to face a lot of adversity. Once again, it’s unclear who will be under center for the Broncos, as both Hank Bachmeier and his back up Chase Cord are both hampered with injuries. Third string QB Jaylon Henderson did a fine job last week in the 42-9 blowout, throwing for nearly 300 yards and three scores, and he might be asked to fill in again versus Utah State, who might also be without their starting QB Jordan Love after sustaining a leg injury last week. The big difference maker could be on the ground, as the Aggies surrender 180 yards a game while the Broncos average 173 a game. With one win left to clinch the Mountain West regular season title, expect Boise State to hold on for one more week.
Pick: Boise State (-9)
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