College Football Picks: Elite teams rolling, nary an upset
The top six teams from The Associated Press preseason poll are still the top six teams as the calendar turns to October.
The order is a little different, but it has been a chalky start to the college football season.
No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 LSU and No. 6 Oklahoma have an average margin of victory of 35 points. Among them, they have played a total of three games decided by less than two touchdowns, including Georgia’s six-point victory against No. 9 Notre Dame and LSU’s seven-point win at No. 11 Texas.
Maybe Clemson’s one-point escape against unranked North Carolina seemed like such a big deal because the highly ranked teams have barely been tested. There hasn’t been a truly stunning upset.
Three preseason top 10 teams (Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas) have lost, but to other ranked teams. Only the Wolverines lost to a team ranked behind them; by roughing up Michigan, Wisconsin essentially swapped spots with the Wolverines in the rankings, taking Michigan’s place in the top 10. Notre Dame sits at No. 9, where it started. Texas has dropped a spot from 10th to 11th.
Auburn is the other team to climb into the top 10. The Tigers have gone from No. 16 to No. 7 _ bolstered by a victory against No. 13 Oregon _ as they prepare to face No. 10 Florida.
This week, Alabama and Clemson aren’t playing and the other members of the top six are favored by an average of 26½ points.
The season really doesn’t start until we get a real stunner _ like Ohio State falling at Purdue last October. Maybe this is the week it happens, but it doesn’t look particularly promising.
No. 18 UCF (minus 4) at Cincinnati
Knights are still working on a 17-game American Athletic Conference winning streak ... UCF 31-24.
No. 3 Georgia (minus 25) at Tennessee
A little less than three years ago, the Vols beat the Bulldogs on a last-second TD pass and it seems like Tennessee football has not had a good day since ... GEORGIA 45-14.
No. 25 Michigan State (plus 19½) at No. 4 Ohio State
Can the Spartans be more than a speed bump for the Buckeye Express? ... OHIO STATE 35-17.
Utah State (plus 28) at No. 5 LSU
Even if the Aggies can’t pull off the monumental upset, QB Jordan Love can do wonders for his draft stock with a big game against the Tigers ... LSU 52-21.
No. 6 Oklahoma (minus 33½) at Kansas
Back when Jayhawks coach Les Miles was head coach at Oklahoma State, he split four games against OU, twice beating ranked Sooners teams with unranked teams ... OKLAHOMA 49-20.
No. 7 Auburn (minus 3) at No. 10 Florida
The Tigers and Gators have not played since 2011 and have met just once since 2007; the SEC schedule is broken ... AUBURN 23-18.
Kent State (plus 37) at No. 8 Wisconsin
Badgers have allowed only nine third-down conversions in 58 attempts (15.62%), the lowest rate in the nation ... WISCONSIN 54-10.
Bowling Green (plus 45½) at No. 9 Notre Dame
Check out Irish S Kyle Hamilton, who has been one of the best freshman defensive players in the country ... NOTRE DAME 52-7.
No. 11 Texas (minus 11) at West Virginia
Longhorns have lost three of four against the Mountaineers ... TEXAS 34-17, BEST BET.
Purdue (plus 28) at No. 12 Penn State
Boilermakers lost All-America WR Rondale Moore (left leg) and QB Elijah Sindelar (collarbone) on the same play last week ... PENN STATE 45-14.
California (plus 17½) at No. 13 Oregon
Bears will try to piece together an offense without injured QB Chase Garbers ... OREGON 24-7.
No. 14 Iowa (plus 3½) at No. 19 Michigan
Does this qualify as a big game? For some Jim Harbaugh critics, it’s only a big game if Michigan loses? ... MICHIGAN 28-21.
No. 15 Washington (minus 16½) at Stanford
It appears that for the first time in more than a decade, Stanford just isn’t good ... WASHINGTON 35-14.
No. 16 Boise State (minus 22½) at UNLV
Broncos have won all four meetings since they joined the Mountain West by an average of 44-20 ... BOISE STATE 44-20.
No. 21 Oklahoma State (minus 10) at Texas Tech
Red Raiders snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Cowboys last year in a series that usually produces lots of points ... OKLAHOMA STATE 35-28.
Tulsa (plus 11½) at No. 24 SMU
Mustangs can improve to 6-0 for the first time since 1982, when they went unbeaten behind Eric Dickerson and Craig James ... SMU 34-21.
Arizona (plus 4) at Colorado _ @EngelKRichard
Winner takes over sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South. Wait, what? ... COLORADO 24-21.
Northwestern (plus 7½) at Nebraska _ @PAndres2001
Huskers fans probably don’t want to hear this, but these are the true measuring stick games for Nebraska now. Start routinely handling the Big Ten West middle class and then work on hanging with Ohio State ... NEBRASKA 31-21.
Air Force (minus 3) at Navy _ @scott_callihan
Falcons and Middies have alternated wins and losses over the last five meetings; Navy’s turn ... NAVY 28-27.
Baylor (plus 2) at Kansas State _ @wade_barrow
Bears look to go 5-0 with a second straight Big 12 upset ... BAYLOR 24-21, UPSET SPECIAL.
South Florida (minus 10½) at Connecticut _ popular demand
USF has lost nine straight against FBS opponents since beating UConn last year; UConn has lost 19 straight vs. FBS. Woof ... USF 35-28.
Last week: 19-3 straight; 12-10 against the spread.
Season: 88-28 straight; 64-49-2 against the spread.
Upset specials: 1-4 (straight up).
Best bets: 2-3 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25