College Football Picks: Texas and A&M try to win the breakup
Texas and Texas A&M don’t play anymore. The best their fans can do is compare resumes since the split, gloating about their team’s successes and basking in the failures of their rival.
There has been more basking then gloating.
This weekend, the Aggies and Longhorns play in college football’s biggest games. No. 12 Texas A&M visits No. 1 Clemson and No. 9 Texas hosts No. 6 LSU. It’s a prime opportunity for fans of the estranged rivals (who are so over each other!) to assess which program is winning the breakup.
Since the Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference, leaving the Big 12 and Longhorns behind, they are 60-31, peaking in Year 1 with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel leading A&M to an 11-2 season that included a victory at Alabama, a Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma and a final ranking of No. 5.
The Aggies have not broken nine wins since, but optimism is high in coach Jimbo Fisher’s second season.
That’s an OK run, but compared to Texas, it has been high times in College Station.
The Longhorns are 50-40, with three losing seasons since A&M left. Last year’s 10-4 breakthrough season under coach Tom Herman was the high point, including a Sugar Bowl victory against Georgia and a final ranking of No. 9.
Advantage, Aggies. Both programs seem to be trending in the right direction, but Saturday’s games will be measuring sticks — in part against each other.
Marshall (plus 10½) at No. 24 Boise State
Excluding a couple losses to independent BYU, the Broncos have not lost a regular-season nonconference game to a team outside a Power Five conference since 1999 ... BOISE STATE 35-21, BEST BET.
No. 12 Texas A&M (plus 17) at No. 1 Clemson
When they played last year in College Station, QB Trevor Lawrence did not start for Clemson and WR Justyn Ross hardly played ... CLEMSON 42-21.
New Mexico State (plus 54½) at No. 2 Alabama
Fifty-four and a half!?! ... ALABAMA 56-7.
Cincinnati (plus 16) at No. 5 Ohio State
Bearcats coach Luke Fickell, a longtime Buckeye as player and coach, returns to Columbus ... OHIO STATE 31-14.
No. 6 LSU (minus 5½) at No. 9 Texas
Longhorns coach Tom Herman’s teams are 13-2-1 against the spread as an underdog since 2015; more importantly, Herman’s teams have won 10 games (five with Texas and five with Houston) as an underdog ... LSU 24-17.
Army (plus 23) at No. 7 Michigan
Cadets and Wolverines have not played since 1962, the last of nine meetings from 1945-62; Army won the first five and Michigan the last four ... MICHIGAN 38-14.
Tulane (plus 18) at No. 10 Auburn
The Green Wave is not quite a walkover for the Tigers after an emotional victory ... AUBURN 41-17.
Northern Illinois (plus 21½) at No. 13 Utah
The Huskies averaged 2.6 yards on 35 rushes last week against Illinois State. Good luck moving the Utes ... UTAH 31-6.
California (plus 14) at No. 14 Washington
The Bears upset the Huskies in a defensive struggle last year ... WASHINGTON 27-10.
Buffalo (plus 29½) at No. 15 Penn State
The Nittany Lions probably won’t go for 79 against the Bulls ... PENN STATE 48-17.
Nevada (plus 23½) at No. 16 Oregon
The Wolf Pack will be greeted by an angry flock of Ducks ... OREGON 45-20.
Central Michigan (plus 35) at No. 17 Wisconsin
Could be another stat stuffer for Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor ... WISCONSIN 45-7.
No. 18 UCF (minus 10) at FAU
The Knights have scored at least 30 points in 27 straight games ... UCF 38-24.
Western Michigan (plus 16½) at No. 19 Michigan State
The Spartans will need to muster a little more offense against a WMU team that can move the ball ... MICHIGAN STATE 34-20.
Rutgers (plus 19) at No. 20 Iowa
With Texas Tech transfer McLane Carter at QB, Scarlet Knights have potential for a competent offense ... IOWA 42-17.
No. 21 Syracuse (plus 2) at Maryland
This has looked like it could be a tricky spot for the Orange and odds makers obviously agree ... SYRACUSE 28-27.
No. 23 Stanford (plus 1) at Southern California
Possible battle of backup quarterbacks in the annual early Pac-12 tone-setter for Cardinal and Trojans ... USC 23-20.
No. 25 Nebraska (minus 3½) at Colorado
Tommie Frazier and Kordell Stewart aren’t walking through that tunnel, but the former Big 8 and Big 12 rivals played a thriller last year in Lincoln. Maybe they can repeat it in Boulder ... COLORADO 31-28.
BYU (plus 3½) at Tennessee — @BrandonOCook
No way the Vols play that poorly again ... TENNESSEE 24-16.
Miami (minus 4½) at North Carolina — @JeffMiles9
Turnover chain vs. Dancing Mack ... MIAMI 28-20.
Minnesota (minus 3) at Fresno State — @JEMicklos
The Gophers handed the Bulldogs one of only two losses last season ... MINNESOTA 24-23.
Arkansas (plus 6½) at Mississippi — @ARKgolfguy3
It’s early, but this could decide last in the SEC West ... ARKANSAS 21-17, UPSET SPECIAL.
North Texas (plus 3½) at SMU — @markwnorris
Points. Lots of points ... SMU 42-35.
Season: 21-4 straight; 10-14 against the spread.
Upset specials: 0-1 (straight up).
Best bets: 0-1 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast