(5) Louisville (9 - 1) 38 @ Houston (8 - 2) 40: While Louisville prematurely whines about being left out of the top four, even though number two Michigan and number three Ohio State still have to play, they have to prepare for a short week against a still dangerous Houston team. Early in the season this game had the potential to be a very big game on the national scene. It still is, at least from Louisville's perspective. Going on the road with a short week is always tough, as evidenced by North Carolina's sluggish loss to Duke last week, and the Tar Heels only had to travel seven miles to a stadium filled primarily with their own fans. But I digress, or perhaps just putting off having to make a pick in this match-up. My record in the ACC has been horrendous this season, so I might as well continue the train wreck by going with what I think will be a very inspired Houston team that could get out early against the Cardinals, who have been slow to get up to speed in recent weeks. If I'm wrong, the committee has made it clear that Louisville will be in the mix come the end of the season, even though they have a very slim chance to win the ACC.
UNLV (4 - 6) 17 @ (20) Boise State (9 - 1) 30: Boise is still in the running to be the representative from the Group of Five in a New Years Day bowl, ranked just ahead of Western Michigan in the College Football Playoff rankings. UNLV shouldn't pose a big problem for them, especially at home, but crazy things have been happening in college football the last week. I don't expect the Broncos to stumble here, though. The blue turf is their friend!
Texas San Antonio (5 - 5) 27 @ (25) Texas A&M (7 - 3) 41: This is the annual breather weekend for a number of SEC teams. The Aggies need a break, losers of two close games since debuting at number four in the playoff rankings. This game should give them a break before having to face a resurgent LSU team next week. But the Roadrunners can be dangerous, losing by just four points to Arizona State earlier in the season.
(11) Oklahoma State (8 - 2) 38 @ TCU (5 - 4) 34: Despite winning six games in a row and needing just a win over TCU to set up a potential quasi-championship game against Oklahoma in a couple of weeks, the Cowboys haven't been that impressive outside of their win over West Virginia. A forgiving defense has forced quarterback Mason Rudolph to make plays to outscore their opponents. TCU has struggled at times, but they could give Oklahoma State some problems. Could this be a trap game that they can't afford to lose?
(2) Ohio State (9 - 1) 34 @ Michigan State (3 - 7) 20: Ohio State is, in the opinion of the playoff committee the second best team in the country, but unless Penn State somehow loses to Rutgers (no chance) or Michigan State (some chance), they won't even win their division in the Big Ten. There are just too many possibilities to try to project a result, but the committee has made it pretty clear that the Buckeyes will probably be in the playoff mix if they win out. After a pretty poor season, I don't see Michigan State giving up, but despite a 49 - 0 win over Rutgers, I'm not sure they have enough to stay with the team they shocked last year on their way to the playoffs.
Maryland (5 - 5) 27 @ (18) Nebraska (8 - 2) 31: Nebraska still has an outside shot at the Big Ten West crown, but they'll need Minnesota to take down Wisconsin next week while the 'Huskers continue to win. They're coming off a tough stretch of games, and while Maryland isn't the caliber of Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota, the Terps can still be dangerous.
(7) Wisconsin (8 - 2) 27 @ Purdue (3 - 7) 10: Still in the hunt for a playoff spot, Wisconsin's defense should be able to throttle Purdue, who is in the process of looking for a new coach. But the Badgers don't put a lot of points on the board so if Purdue can keep it close, they might be able to make this a game into the fourth quarter.
(23) Florida (7 - 2) 13 @ (16) LSU (6 - 3) 24: Florida is a bit depleted on defense and LSU is coming off a big win over Arkansas. The Gators will have early enthusiasm as they're still miffed at having to cancel a home game and travel to Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Matthew and what they perceive as unwillingness by LSU to work out a different solution to the postponement of the game. Despite that energy, what Florida lacks is offensive firepower.
Oregon (3 - 7) 34 @ (12) Utah (8 - 2) 37: Oregon coach Mark Helfrich is on the hot seat after his team has lost seven of eight games, many of them in blowouts. Utah needs to keep from looking ahead to next week's game at Colorado that could be for the Pac-12 South title. Despite a poor season, Oregon is still dangerous on offense and Utah hadn't really blown anyone out until last week's 23 point win over Arizona State.
Missouri (3 - 7) 20 @ (19) Tennessee (7 - 3) 30: With a Florida loss at LSU, Tennessee can get to the SEC championship game with wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt, which are both pretty likely. Missouri pulled off a pretty good win against Vanderbilt last week, but the Volunteers are probably a cut above.
(22) Washington State (8 - 2) 38 @ (10) Colorado (8 - 2) 34: I've been on the Washington State bandwagon for several weeks now and I'm not abandoning the six point underdogs now. I think the Cougars can overwhelm a team that is the darling of the sports media due to the resurgence of a good football program. This is probably one of the best games to view this weekend.
Indiana (5 - 5) 16 @ (3) Michigan (9 - 1) 20: Michigan got surprised by Iowa last week, but still stayed in the top four of the playoff rankings. Indiana's a decent team and could give the Wolverines some problems if Michigan can't the offense going behind their backup quarterback.
Buffalo (2 - 8) 13 @ (21) Western Michigan (10 - 0) 38: Western Michigan trails Boise State in the battle for a spot in one of the New Year's six bowl games. This game won't necessarily help them, since Buffalo is pretty bad.
(17) Florida State (7 - 3) 31 @ Syracuse (4 - 6) 20: Florida State has had a mediocre season by their standards and can eliminate Syracuse from bowl consideration today. After wins over Virginia Tech and Boston College, Syracuse had some momentum that was quickly blunted by two losses by a combined 89 - 20.
(24) Stanford (7 - 3) 34 @ California (4 - 6) 27: Stanford was left for dead after blowout losses to Washington and Washington State, but they're 4 - 1 since, with the only loss by five points to Colorado. California just doesn't have the defense to win consistently, even in a rivalry game.
Chattanooga (8 - 2) 13 @ (1) Alabama (10 - 0) 41: I don't have much to say about this one.
(4) Clemson (9 - 1) 27 @ Wake Forest (6 - 4) 16: In order to stay in the playoff hunt, Clemson has to rebound from an upset loss to Pittsburgh last week. Wake has a pretty good defense, but I don't see the Tigers dropping two in a row.
Alabama A&M (4 - 6) 10 @ (15) Auburn (7 - 3) 38: See the Alabama pick above.
Arizona State (5 - 5) 20 @ (6) Washington (9 - 1) 31: Arizona State's defense just can't make enough stops to beat quality teams. I'm not sure that Todd Graham isn't on the coaching hot seat. Washington needs to win out to get a playoff spot, but they can't afford to look ahead to next week's Apple Bowl game against Washington State.
(9) Oklahoma (8 - 2) 27 @ (14) West Virginia (8 - 1) 20: Neither of these teams has a win against a ranked team. West Virginia was exposed by Oklahoma State and I think this one will look a lot like that game. The Sooners just have too many weapons.
(8) Penn State (8 - 2) 41 @ Rutgers (2 - 8) 13: Rutgers just isn't very good.
(13) USC (7 - 3) 17 @ UCLA (4 - 6) 31: USC doesn't control their own destiny in the Pac-12 and needs a lot of help, even if they defeat UCLA, which they should in the cross-town rivalry. The Trojans might be playing the best football in the country, but a playoff spot is highly unlikely. UCLA has just had a lot go wrong, ruining a promising season.
Virginia Tech (7 - 3) 34 @ Notre Dame (4 - 6) 27: The Hokies travel to South Bend for the first time and as far as I can tell, so have a lot of Virginia Tech fans. Notre Dame is favored by a couple of points, and this shapes up to be a close game. The weather might be a factor as the Irish try to keep their bowl hopes alive. Tech is one win against Virginia away from the ACC Coastal crown. I like my Hokies to bounce back from the Ga. Tech loss.
Arkansas (6 - 4) 37 @ Mississippi State (4 - 6) 28: The Razorbacks are one the most inconsistent teams in the SEC, with some big wins and a four blowout losses. Mississippi State took down Texas A&M, but Arkansas should be able to shake off the LSU loss.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.