Before we get to the picks, I have some comments on the national rankings. I include the rankings next to the teams because I use them to decide what games to make predictions on. But this week's polls are ridiculous. It seems odd that Oregon loses to an unbeaten team and falls to 12. UCLA falls to a team that was highly regarded prior to the season, and plunges to 18. Yet Alabama loses and drops ...if you can call it a drop, to 7. Yet Michigan State, the team Oregon beat, and soundly, is at number 8. Arizona, who beat the number two team in the country, gets ranked at number 10, behind a team that Oregon beat. There is no doubt in my mind that the polls have a distinctly east coast bias, except when it comes to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have defeated Virginia Tech, who beat Ohio State, who is ranked 15th. They also beat Miami. who beat a really good Duke team, yet are only at number 22. There are 13 teams with a loss ranked ahead of Georgia Tech. Really? If Ohio State is 15, and Georgia Tech beat the only team to defeat the Buckeyes, how do the pollsters vote the way they do? It's simple. Either they don't know anything about college football, they don't watch the games or they don't take it seriously. In all cases, they don't deserve to have a vote. It's about time the polls have participants that know a pick six from a six pack.
Washington State (2 - 4) 27 @ (25) Stanford 31 (3 - 2): As good as Stanford's defense is, they'll be tested by the Cougars. The Cardinal are coming off a very tough loss at Notre Dame, while Washington State scored 59 points in regulation last week and still lost by a point to Cal.
(13) Georgia (4 - 1) 30 @ (23) Missouri (4 - 1) 28: The SEC East is as compelling as the West, but for different reasons. The West has four teams ranked in the top 7 and the East has two in the top 23. Missouri has been tough to figure out, but so has Georgia.
(1) Florida State (5 - 0) 34 @ Syracuse (2 - 3) 23: The Seminoles have a history of stubbing their toe at the most unpredictable time. I would love to go with the upset, but Syracuse just hasn't shown me enough to think they can pull it off.
Texas (2 - 3) 17 @ (11) Oklahoma (4 - 1) 27 (in Dallas): The Sooners let the game and possibly a chance at the playoffs slip away last week against TCU. This rivalry has lost a little of its luster on the national level, but not with the teams and the fans of these programs.
Duke (4 - 1) 21 @ (22) Ga. Tech (5 - 0) 27: This is a critical game in the ACC Coastal. Georgia Tech can keep up with Virginia and take a big step with a victory, after already defeating Virginia Tech and Miami. I think the Yellow Jackets are the real deal.
(12) Oregon (4 - 1) 31 @ (18) UCLA (4 - 1) 28 : This is really an elimination game for the playoffs.. I still like the Ducks, despite their loss last week. The Bruins weren't impressive early n the season, until a big win over Arizona State jumped them into the top ten.
(2) Auburn (5 - 0) 27 @ (3) Mississippi State (5 - 0) 24: The SEC West is so wide open, it's almost impossible to predict week to week what will happen. However, I'm going to stay with what has been a very impressive Auburn team. They've been here before, whereas it's new territory for the Bulldogs.
North Carolina (2 - 3) 16 @ (6) Notre Dame (5 - 0) 37: The Tar Heels haven't been able to stop anyone. Virginia Tech's young offense even put up 34 on them last week. I don't see Notre Dame stumbling, but this is a bit of a trap game, given the difficulty of the Irish's schedule.
(9) TCU (4 - 0) 27 @ (5) Baylor (5 - 0) 30: I guess I'm missing something, but a lot of people seem to have fallen in love with TCU. Not me. but then again, I'm wrong a lot. I'll stay with a very impressive Baylor team at home.
(8) Michigan State (4 - 1) 24 @ Purdue (3 - 3) 13: With all of the upsets, Michigan State suddenly has life in the hunt for the playoffs. Their schedule will work against them and it didn't help that Oregon lost last week. I'm not sure Purdue has enough to overcome the Spartans' tough defense.
(16) Oklahoma State (4 - 1) 30 @ Kansas (2 - 3) 17: The Cowboys have one loss, and that was to the top-ranked Seminoles. Obviously, there isn't much respect for them as they are only ranked 16th. They should roll today.
(7) Alabama (4 - 1) 27 @ Arkansas (3 - 2) 24: The Razorbacks are much improved, but Alabama is coming off a rare loss in the Saban era. Bret Bielema's squad had Texas A&M on the ropes two weeks ago but couldn't finish the deal. The Tide is beaten up and is without a couple of key players, but I still think Arkansas is a couple of players short on defense from being able to cover the entire field.
(19) East Carolina (4 - 1) 38 @ South Florida (2 - 3) 20: The Pirates are probably the surprise of the non-power conference teams. South Florida doesn't have quite the team they had a few years ago. ECU has a lot of motivation to get to a big New Year's Day bowl game.
(3) Ole Miss (5 - 0) 31 @ (14) Texas A&M (5 - 1) 30: The Aggies return home after a couple of tough games against Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss rolls in with a team that is their best in a couple of generations. A&M's defense just isn't very good, and Ole Miss can play on both sides of the ball. Another coin toss. Heads, it's Ole Miss close.
USC (3 - 2) 30 @ (10) Arizona (5 - 0) 28: Who would have thought that the team in the top ten would be the Wildcats? I'm not convinced that Arizona is that good. USC beat Stanford and their losses both came on last second plays. The gig's up for the home team.
West Virginia (3 - 2) 35 @ Texas Tec (2 - 3) 31: The Mountaineers are probably better than their record would indicate. Those losses are to Alabama and Oklahoma. Texas Tech just can't stop anyone, which puts a lot of pressure on their offense.
Louisville (5 - 1) 23 @ Clemson (3 - 2) 31: The Tigers are really coming around on offense and then last week shut down N.C. State. I expect them to keep it going against a tough Louisville team.
LSU (4 - 2) 20 @ Florida (3 - 1) 23: Neither of these teams is among the elite in the SEC, but I think Florida has a better chance of competing for a division title. It's hard to tell, though, since the Gators really haven't played a lot of games. Their only game against an elite team was a blowout loss to Alabama.
Washington (4 - 1) 40 @ California (4 - 1) 42: I know that Cal's defense is horrible, but for some reason I jumped on the Golden Bear bandwagon a few weeks ago and I'm picking them today. It's going to be a shootout, though.
Penn State (4 - 1) 27 @ Michigan (2 - 4) 24: Brady Hoke is probably already gone, but his team has a chance to give him a big victory over a quality opponent. The problem is, Michigan just isn't all that good this season, and after Northwestern beat Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions' lone loss looks a lot better.