Every conference seems to have at least one big game this weekend, with the Pac -12 and Big 12 having more than their share. Stanford, coming off its big win over Oregon, must travel to Los Angeles to take on a suddenly resurgent USC. Oregon hosts a dangerous Utah team, while Arizona State tries to stay hot in the desert against tough Oregon State. Meanwhile, UCLA tries to stay alive in the Pac-12 South, hosting Washington in the Rose Bowl. In the Big 12, Baylor tries to keep their season on a roll against struggling Texas Tech. Texas hosts Oklahoma State in a game where a Cowboys loss probably eliminates them from consideration for the conference crown. In the ACC, Miami travels to Duke in an attempt to derail the surprising Blue Devils as both teams try to stay even with Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division, assuming Georgia Tech can't upset Clemson. The Tigers are hoping to win out, keeping a BCS at-large berth alive. In the Big Ten, Nebraska hosts very surprising Michigan State, who with a win would take control of the Legends Division. A Cornhusker win would keep more than one team alive, including Minnesota. The SEC West appears to be coming down to a showdown between Auburn and Alabama on Nov. 30, as long as the Tigers can hold off Georgia this week. So you better fire up the DVR and fill up the cooler, because it's going to be a long day of football.
Overall: 155 - 47
Georgia Tech (6-3) 24 @ (8) Clemson (8-1) 37: Somehow, after losing three games in a row earlier in the season, then following that up with three wins, the Yellow Jackets head to Clemson still in contention in the ACC Coastal. The Tigers' only stumble was against Florida State, not exactly embarrassing, considering how the Seminoles have rolled through their schedule. I'll take Clemson to end Georgia Tech's title hopes.
Washington (6-3) 27 @ (13) UCLA (7-2) 31: The Bruins control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, but can't afford a loss Friday night. If they end up looking ahead to next week's game against Arizona State, the Huskies could pull the upset.
(1) Alabama (9-0) 31 @ Mississippi State (4-5) 13: Alabama just keeps winning, and one more on Saturday will set up a winner take all game with Auburn on November 30. That Crimson Tide defense is absolutely stifling, leading the nation on points against, despite giving up 42 to Texas A&M earlier in the season. The Bulldogs don't have the firepower necessary to challenge them.
Syracuse (5-4) 17 @ (2) Florida State (9-0) 41: There may be some distraction in the Seminole locker room around the sexual assault incident that somehow is involving redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston. But Florida State should have way too much for Syracuse to contend with, especially in Tallahassee.
(3) Ohio State (9-0) 38 @ Illinois (3-6) 13: The Illini are winless in the Big Ten and that won't change this week. The Buckeyes are currently on the outside looking in as far as the BCS Championship is concerned, but history would illustrate that if they keep winning, there is a very good chance of playing for a national championship.
(4) Stanford (8-1) 27 @ USC (7-3) 28: What a great game! USC has totally turned it around under interim coach Ed Orgeron. I would have to put the Pac-12 ahead of the SEC this season in terms of difficulty, mainly because Florida and Georgia are down a bit and with the Trojans' resurgence. Despite Stanford's win over Oregon, I like USC in this one.
Texas Tech (7-3) 20 @ (5) Baylor (8-0) 37: Baylor is definitely for real and Texas Tech is reeling. I can't go against the Bears, especially at home. I don't see Florida State and Ohio losing a game down the stretch, but Alabama could be surprised and Stanford has a difficult road to navigate, as does Baylor. But just like Ohio State, there's only one scoreboard they need to be looking at, and that's theirs.
Utah (4-5) 17 @ (6) Oregon (8-1) 37: The Ducks should be able to rebound against the Utes, whose only victory in the conference is against the team that beat Oregon. That won't matter in this one.
(25) Georgia (6-3) 30 @ (7) Auburn (9-1) 34: I'm not sure how Georgia is ranked in the top 25, but that will surely come to an end this week. Auburn is hitting on all cylinders and get a week off before facing Alabama in a huge Iron Bowl game on November 30. Georgia is physical and can pose some problems for Auburn, but I'm not sure the Bulldogs can score enough to stay with the Tigers.
Florida (4-5) 20 @ (10) South Carolina (7-2) 28: South Carolina doesn't have to leave Columbia for the rest of the season and is still in the hunt for the SEC East title, especially since they hold the tiebreaker over Missouri. This is the Gamecocks' last conference game, while Missouri still has to travel to Ole Miss and host Texas A&M after an open date this week. Florida is having a horrendous season, but their standards. I wouldn't count the Gamecocks out of taking on Alabama or Auburn in the SEC championship game.
(12) Oklahoma State (8-1) 35 @ (24) Texas (7-2) 31: This should be a good game that will either help clarify the Big 12 race or make it more of a dogfight. A loss by Oklahoma State would all but eliminate them from consideration, while a Cowboy win keeps them in the hunt. This is a coin flip for me, but for some reason, I think Texas is ready for a stumble after their six wins in a row.
(16) Michigan State (8-1) 24 @ Nebraska (7-2) 20: Michigan State's defense is about as good as any in the country aside from Alabama. Nebraska has had to win some close ones. Defense usually travels better than offense. I really like the Spartans on the road.
(17) UCF (7-1) 51 @ Temple (1-8) 10: UCF is the class of their conference and should definitely be ranked ahead of Louisville in the human polls. Maybe after Houston beats Louisville this week, that will happen.
Iowa State (1-8) 10 @ (18) Oklahoma (7-2) 38: Not much of a contest here as Oklahoma tries to somehow stay mathematically eligible in the Big 12.
Oregon State (6-3) 30 @ (19) Arizona State (7-2) 38: This should be a very good football game, with both teams being able to put points on the board. However, I'm going to take the Sun Devils at home.
Houston (7-2) 31 @ (20) Louisville (8-1) 27: Both of these teams lost to UCF. I don't think Louisville is anywhere close to being the 20th best team in the country, but I think Houston might be.
Indiana (4-5) 13 @ (22) Wisconsin (7-2) 30: It'll take a miraculous collapse by Ohio State for Wisconsin to have a chance in the Leaders division of the Big Ten. But all the Badgers can do is take care of business and hope that miracle occurs.
(23) Miami, FL (7-2) 30 @ Duke (7-2) 27: So Duke beat Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech beat Miami, therefore...Miami beats Duke. Duke's below standard facilities offer no home field advantage for the Blue Devils. I think the Hurricanes' defense will be somewhat motivated by their dismal performance against the Hokies last week. No real logic here.
Maryland (5-4) 12 @ Virginia Tech (7-3) 27: Maryland has looked great at times this season and Virginia Tech has struggled on offense for much of the year. If those things occur Saturday, the Terrapins can pull the upset in Blacksburg. I don't see it. The Hokie defense should be too much for the Maryland offense. I'll be in Lane Stadium for the first time in fifteen years to witness it.
TCU (4-6) 20 @ Kansas State (5-4) 27: This is a down season for the Horned Frogs and K-State's defense has kept the Wildcats in bowl contention. I like the home team to prevail.
Michigan (6-3) 23 @ Northwestern (4-5) 27: I think Northwestern is too good to lose six in a row, and Michigan is just not consistent on the road. I'll take the Wildcats to hold serve in Evanston.
Washington State (4-5) 31 @ Arizona (6-3) 34: Okay, so we have three games in a row with a Wildcat team. I might as well make it three for three. I like the Wildcats from Arizona, especially at home.
Kentucky (2-7) 17 @ Vanderbilt (5-4) 26: The Commodores are looking to become bowl eligible. They should get it done against a pretty lousy Kentucky team. Mark Stoops' first year as head coach has been pretty dismal. Is that such a surprise? When was the last time the Wildcats (really, another Wildcat team?) were relevant in football? It won't improve much on Saturday.