There are several potential playoff elimination games this week, with two of them coming in the SEC and another three in the Big Ten. I held my own last week after missing a couple of upset picks. Let's see if I keep it going with some close games on the slate.
Last Week: 15 - 4
Overall: 111 - 30
Auburn (3 - 2) 23 @ Kentucky (4 - 1) 28: The Wildcats are much improved under Mike Stoops and they can make it tough for Auburn to find a path to bowl eligibility with a win tonight. The Tigers' defense has been terrible, while Kentucky has looked pretty good so far. Gus Malzahn needs a win, but I don't think he'll get it in Lexington.
(18) UCLA (4 - 1) 27 @ (15) Stanford (4 -1) 30 : UCLA has had issues defending the rush. That doesn't bode well for the Bruins as they face a back in Christian McCaffery who is averaging over 120 yards a game and almost six yards a carry. After an opening loss at Northwestern, the Cardinal has been on a roll and I don't see that coming to an end tonight, especially if they can get their ground game going and play good enough defense to confuse freshman QB Josh Rosen.
(24) Houston (5 - 0) 45 @ Tulane (2 - 3) 28: Houston has a powerhouse offense and they'll be attacking the 94th ranked team in total defense. This one won't be pretty at all for the Green Wave.
(21) Boise State (5 - 1) 27 @ Utah State (3 - 2) 13: Boise is ranked in the top twenty in both offense (19) and defense (5). Utah State's defense is just as good, but they'll struggle to score points against the Broncos, who are only giving up 12 points a game. The Aggies would prefer to run the football, but that will be difficult against Boise. At least the field isn't blue in Logan!
Eastern Michigan (1 - 5) 27 @ (22) Toledo (5 - 0) 38: Eastern Michigan can't stop anyone on the ground, so their only chance at pulling off a huge upset is to throw the ball successfully against the Rockets. The Eagles can score, but not enough to overcome Toledo.
(17) Iowa (6 - 0) 24 @ (20) Northwestern (5 - 1) 16: Iowa is playing very solid football, while Northwestern is coming off a drubbing by Michigan. The Wildcats' defense is stout, but they have difficulty scoring points. With Northwestern wanting the run the ball, it's not a good match-up, as Iowa is allowing the fifth fewest yards on the ground nationally. I've been picking the Hawkeyes, and I'll stay with them here, even on the road.
West Virginia (3 - 2) 24 @ (2) Baylor (5 - 0) 37: I've gone with the Mountaineers the last two weeks, but there's no way I can do it again. They took Oklahoma State to overtime last week, but I don't see this one being that close. Baylor is hitting on all cylinders, scoring at a ridiculous pace while still playing pretty good defense. Their defensive numbers are a bit deceiving, since they haven't been challenged and teams are getting some garbage yardage as the clock winds down.
(13) Ole Miss (5 - 1) 48 @ Memphis (5 - 0) 27:There will be plenty of Ole Miss fans in attendance at the Liberty Bowl
in Memphis. Offensively the teams are pretty close, but the Rebels enjoy
a big advantage on the other side of the ball. I look for a lot of
points, but more of them will be scored by Ole Miss.
Louisville (2 - 3) 20 @ (11) Florida State (5 - 0) 24: Defensively, the undefeated Seminoles have been playing at a high level, bailing out their offense that's still struggling behind Notre Dame transfer Everett Golston. I'd picked Louisville to win the ACC, so I wouldn't be surprised by a Cardinal upset, especially if the 'Noles have a letdown following a comeback win over rival Miami. Louisville just isn't clicking on offense, so I'll stay with the home team.
(10) Alabama (5 - 1) 27 @ (9) Texas A&M (5 - 0) 24: This is truly a must game for the Crimson Tide, who don't control their own destiny in the SEC West due to an earlier loss to Ole Miss. Based on the numbers, the Aggies will need to throw effectively to win the game. Kyle Field is a tough place for visitors, but the Tide isn't generally affected too much by hostile environments. I believe Alabama to be the better team and should prevail, unless they go on a turnover binge like they did against Ole Miss.
(19) Oklahoma (4 - 1) 30 @ Kansas State (3 -2) 20: Both of these teams are coming off tough losses. K-State had TCU on the ropes and didn't manage the clock effectively, letting the Horned Frogs escape with a win. A reeling Texas team shocked the Sooners in the Red River Rivalry, putting a big dent in Oklahoma's chances of making the playoffs. I see Bob Stoops getting his Sooners ready to play against a team they should be able to beat.
(7) Michigan State (6 - 0) 17 @ (12) Michigan (5 - 1) 24: There are still a lot of people on the Michigan State bandwagon, but I'm predicting that number will decrease after this week. It's hard for me to believe that the Spartans, after a sluggish season and an escape against Rutgers, will be able to flip a switch and all of a sudden raise their game a couple of notches offensively. Jim Harbaugh's defense is playing at a level, and against good competition, that hasn't been seen in recent memory.
Boston College (3 -3) 13 @ (5) Clemson (5 - 0) 20:BC has a shut down defense, but has a lot of trouble scoring. If this game was in Boston, I'd be tempted to give the Eagles the nod, but I think Clemson will keep their season rolling with a win. However, it might be a lot closer than most of the nation thinks it will be. The Tigers better bring their A game on defense to keep from getting surprised.
(8) Florida (6 - 0) 17 @ (6) LSU (5 -0) 21:Everyone is talking about Florida's defense, but statistically, LSU's is almost identical and even a little better against the pass. The Gators, who rely almost entirely on their defense to win games, is going to be without starting QB Will Grier for a year and will turn to backup Treon Harris. Death Valley in the evening is tough under ideal circumstances, so Florida will be sorely tested. If they stop Leonard Fournette, they have a great shot at a win.
(3) TCU (6 - 0) 57 @ Iowa State (2 - 3) 27: Iowa State's defense isn't even in the top 100 nationally. That's about all you need to know about how this game is likely to go.
USC (3 -2) 27 @ (14) Notre Dame (5 - 1) 31: This isn't a great matchup for the USC offense. They really want to pass the ball and the Irish do a good job of stopping the run. Despite all of the hype about the Trojans perhaps rallying around their interim coach following the firing of Steve Sarkisian earlier in the week. I don't see it happening, at least not on the road against a very good Irish squad.
Penn State (5 - 1) 14 @ (1) Ohio State (6 - 0) 37: Penn State's anemic offense has been aided by a solid defense against a disgustingly weak schedule. The gig's up Saturday. It's time for the Buckeyes to stop sleepwalking, and unfortunately for Nittany Lions it's likely to happen Saturday in Columbus.
Arizona State (4 - 2) 34 @ (4) Utah (5 - 0) 30: The Utes are in the college playoff picture, but there's just this feeling I have that they might have trouble maintaining their winning ways through the season. The Sun Devils are a dangerous team that matches up very will with Utah. Look for Arizona State to be able to pass the ball on the Utes. I like the upset here.
Virginia Tech (3 - 3) 27 @ Miami (3 - 2) 24: Here's another matchup mismatch and it goes in the Hokies favor. The Hurricanes have more success passing the ball, but Tech has the 11th ranked passing defense in the nation, partially because opponents have been able to run the ball. This rivalry goes back to when both teams were independents, then in the Big East. The winner stays alive in the very competitive ACC Coastal. The loser probably falls out of contention.
Missouri (4 - 2) 13 @ Georgia (4 - 2) 30: Both of these SEC East teams have seen their title hopes diminished, if not dashed in the last couple of weeks. Missouri's offensive woes were totally exposed by Florida last week. I look for the Bulldogs to win, and win big between the hedges.
Pittsburgh (4 - 1) 24 @ Georgia Tech (2 - 4) 17: The Yellow Jackets are a mess, while Pittsburgh is thinking it has a legitimate shot at an ACC Coastal crown. The way the Panthers are playing defense, I believe as well. This should be a decent game, but in the end, Pittsburgh's just playing better football on offense and defense, and the last time I checked, that usually results in a win.