This is the last weekend of games before the College Football Playoff committee meets on Monday. There’s a lot of football left but it will be interesting to see the mindset of the committee, especially when in it comes to strength of schedule. Unless Texas Tech knocks off Oklahoma State, I don’t think we’ll get much clarity in the Big 12. There aren’t any big games in the SEC West, but in the east Florida can solidify their position with a win over Georgia. Surprisingly, Notre Dame finds itself in a tough game at Temple, something no one would have predicted at the beginning of the season.
Thursday Night (from an earlier post):
Last Week: 16 - 6
Overall: 142 - 42
Last Week: 16 - 6
Overall: 142 - 42
North Carolina (6 – 1) 27 @ (23) Pittsburgh (6 – 1) 24: This is a big game in the ACC Coastal, with the winner setting up a big date with Duke for a possible division-deciding game. Carolina has the Blue Devils next week and Pitt gets them the following Saturday. Pittsburgh’s defense has been great, but eventually the Panthers will be forced to score some points to pull out a big win. I like the Tar Heels to be able to run the ball tonight and come away with a huge victory.
West Virginia (3 – 3) 38 @ (5) TCU (7 – 0) 47: This one is likely to be a shootout, but it’s likely the Mountaineers won’t be able to contain TCU well enough to win. These teams are pretty even defensively, but the Horned Frogs have a lot more offensive weapons, especially against a pass defense ranked 77th in the nation.
Oregon (4 – 3) 34 @ Arizona State (4 – 3) 37: These teams are fairly evenly matched overall, but there are a couple of match-up issues, especially for Oregon. Arizona State can pass the ball, something that everyone has been able to do against the Ducks. Oregon would prefer to run, but the Sun Devils have been decent stopping teams on the ground. This is a virtual tossup, so I’ll go with the home team in a close, high scoring game that could even go into overtime.
(19) Ole Miss (6 – 2) 34 @ Auburn (4 – 3) 24: Auburn didn’t look great last week in its four overtime loss at Arkansas, but Ole Miss was impressive as it drubbed Texas A&M. Of course the Aggies were suffering from the post-Alabama syndrome after getting beaten up by the Crimson Tide. I just don’t see the Auburn offense being productive enough to stay with a tough Ole Miss passing attack.
Syracuse (3 – 4) 14 @ (17) Florida State (6 – 1) 23: We’ll see if Florida State can bounce back after a stunning loss to Georgia Tech. However, the ‘Noles still control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic and face Clemson next week. I don’t think the Orange can generate enough offense against a stingy FSU D, so I’ll give the home team the nod to get the victory.
Virginia Tech (3 – 5) 20 @ Boston College (3 – 5) 17: Virginia Tech seems to be making a habit of having to make late season runs to preserve its twenty-three consecutive bowl streak, the longest active one in the nation. But if it’s going to start Saturday, then the Hokies will need to find a way to gain yardage on one of the toughest defenses in the country. If they can, Tech has a chance since the Eagles can’t move the ball very effectively.
Colorado (4 – 4) 23 @ (24) UCLA (5 – 2) 30: Utah is still in control of the Pac-12 South, but if UCLA wins out, they will represent the division in the conference championship game. Colorado is showing improvement but the Bruins seem to have solved some problems after consecutive losses to Arizona State and Stanford.
USC (4 – 3) 34 @ California (5 – 2) 27: Cal will face the same problem they had last week against UCLA, namely stopping a potent passing attack. In this game however, Cal will be facing a pass defense almost as porous as theirs. I just don’t think the Golden Bears are as good a team as USC especially since the Trojans seem to have regained some focus under Clay Helton.
Georgia (5 – 2) 13 vs. (11) Florida (6 – 1) 17 (Jacksonville, Florida): Florida really only has one impressive victory as far as I’m concerned, while Georgia’s loss to Tennessee came a week after their game with Alabama. Do we see a trend developing here? I liked Georgia early in the season, but QB Greyson Lambert has been struggling and will be replaced by Faton Bauta for Saturday’s World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Combine that with the loss of starting running back Nick Chubb and you have a lot of questions on offense for the Bulldogs. But Florida also has issues on offense, so this is a tossup for me. I’m tempted to take Georgia, but just can’t make myself do it.
(3) Clemson (7 – 0) 24 @ NC State (5 – 2) 16: Clemson has Florida State looming next week and NC State is a tough place to play. Both defenses are among the nation’s best, but the Tigers are more potent on offense. I like Clemson to get out with a win, but it could be very close if they don’t take the Wolfpack seriously.
(14) Oklahoma (6 – 1) 51 @ Kansas (0 – 7) 6: If the Sooners need some window dressing for style points with the playoff committee, they couldn’t pick a better opponent to run it up on than the inept Jayhawks.
(12) Oklahoma State (6 – 1) 45 @ Texas Tech (5 – 3) 37: Texas Tech, despite some good performances, is still on the outside looking in when it comes to the elite level of the Big 12. A poor pass defense combined with Oklahoma State’s good passing attack will make it difficult for the Red Raiders to keep pace with the Cowboys. However, Oklahoma State can’t sleep on this one if they intend to make a run for the Big 12 title. Their non-conference schedule was a joke, so if they lose a conference game on their way to the title, there’s a good chance the Big 12 will be left out of the playoffs.
Maryland (2 – 5) 17 @ (10) Iowa (7 – 0) 38: The only thing that Maryland is decent at is running the football, something Iowa is very good at defending. The Hawkeyes are rolling toward a Big Ten title game and it doesn’t look like the Terps will offer much resistance.
UT-Martin (4 – 2) 20 @ Arkansas (3 – 4) 37: FCS member Tennessee-Martin lost to Ole Miss 76 – 3 earlier in the season in their only other meeting with an FBS team. The Skyhawks can score, so the Hogs need to pay attention to business to get their record to .500 before a season-ending run at Ole Miss, at LSU, then home to Mississippi State and Missouri.
(15) Michigan (5 – 2) 24 @ Minnesota (4 – 3) 13: Minnesota’s head coach, Jerry Kill retired for health reasons earlier this week. The Golden Golphers have been winning with defense this season and they’re a less accomplished version of Michigan. Minnesota just won’t be able to get enough yardage to sustain drives and beat the Wolverines.
Tulane (2 – 5) 24 @ (16) Memphis (7 – 0) 52: If you plan on watching this one, you might want to make sure you see it from the beginning, because the drama might be out of the game by the end of the first quarter. This is a nightmare of a match-up for Tulane.
Texas (3 – 4) 27 @ Iowa State (2 – 5) 20: The stats are bit misleading for Texas, as they’ve had a couple of poor defensive showings against California and TCU. Ames can be a tough place to play, but Charlie Strong seems to have his team headed in the right direction after a rough start to the season. Look for the Longhorns to establish the running game early.
Miami (4 – 3) 17 @ (22) Duke (6 – 1) 27: After a 58 – 0 drubbing by Clemson last week, Miami parted ways with head coach Al Golden. The Hurricanes’ program is in disarray, attendance is abysmal and the team needs to make massive improvements if they are ever going to regain national relevance. On the other hand, Duke escaped Lane Stadium last week with a four-overtime win at Virginia Tech. Miami can compete with the Blue Devils, but in the end the Duke defense will make the difference.
Vanderbilt (3 – 4) 20 @ (18) Houston (7 – 0) 28: Houston takes aim at an SEC team, albeit the weakest in the otherwise strong league. Vanderbilt will need it’s tough run defense to make some big negative plays to stay in the game. The concern for the Commodores is getting on the scoreboard. Their best chance will be through the air. The Cougars are looking, along with Memphis and Toledo, to break into the playoff conversation by continuing to go undefeated.
Tennessee (3 – 4) 16 @ Kentucky (4 – 3) 20: The Vol’s followed up a big win over Georgia by playing Alabama to the end in a 19 – 14 loss. The biggest problem teams have had following their games with the Tide is that their beaten up. I’m taking Kentucky in this one for that reason only.
Oregon State (2 – 5) 17 @ (13) Utah (6 – 1) 40: This is a good game for the Utes to rebound from the beat down by USC. Oregon State’s run oriented attack doesn’t match up well against a Utah team that is tough on the ground.
(9) Notre Dame (6 – 1) 23 @ (21) Temple (7 – 0) 14: In what is surprisingly the game of the week, at least nationally, Temple hopes its defense can make some big plays and turnovers to keep the game close. It’s going to be difficult for the Owls to put a lot of points on the board without some help from the Irish. Notre Dame can’t afford another loss if they hope to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.
(8) Stanford (6 – 1) 37 @ Washington State (5 – 2) 31: I'd love to pick Washington State, but I just don’t see how the Cougars can stop Christian McCaffery on the ground. They’ll stretch Stanford’s slightly above average pass defense, but the Cardinal will be able to control the ball and limit Washington State’s possessions.