College Football Picks: Scoreboard watching for CFP hopefuls
Pac-12 powers No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah are on the road this weekend, trying to continue their march to a mega-meeting with huge playoff ramifications in the conference championship game next month.
They should also both be keeping an eye on the Big 12, where No. 8 Oklahoma is looming. And, of course, the Ducks, Utes, Sooners and other playoff hopefuls will be scoreboard watching the Southeastern Conference to see if No. 4 Georgia stumbles against Texas A&M.
Big 12 fans rooting for the Aggies?
The whole point of the College Football Playoff was to connect the country and get fans interested in games involving teams from outside their regions. Who knows how many Sooners fans will have the Ducks’ game against Arizona State and the Utes’ meeting with Arizona on a second (or third) screen Saturday night, but the CFP has at least provided the motivation.
The Ducks (No. 6 CFP) and Utes (No. 7 CFP) are both more than two-touchdown favorites Saturday night. Same goes for the Sooners (No. 8 CFP) at home against TCU. No. 13 Baylor (No. 14 CFP) is still in the mix in the Big 12, too. The Bears host Texas in what looks like the most competitive game involving Pac-12/Big 12 contenders.
Arkansas (plus 43½) at No. 1 LSU
The 175-pound Golden Boot Trophy has been in LSU’s possession for the last three years and no moving vans will be required this year either ... LSU 56-10.
No. 9 Penn State (plus 18) at No. 2 Ohio State
Last three meetings have been decided by five points total, including two one-point victories by the Buckeyes ... OHIO STATE 35-14.
No. 24 Texas A&M (plus 13½) at No. 4 Georgia
Aggies first trip to Athens since joining the SEC in 2012 ... GEORGIA 27-14.
No. 6 Oregon (minus 14½) at Arizona State
Sun Devils won four one-score games earlier in the season, but during their current four-game losing streak they have lost three games decided by 10 points or fewer; Score another one for regression to the mean ... OREGON 28-17.
No. 7 Utah (minus 22) at Arizona
Wildcats have lost six straight and it is hard to believe this team at one point was 4-1 ... UTAH 42-10, BEST BET.
TCU (plus 18) at No. 8 Oklahoma
Sooners’ last three games have featured a combined 237 points and in each one, second-half leads of at least 21 points were whittled down to one score ... OKLAHOMA 42-28.
No. 11 Minnesota (minus 13½) at Northwestern
Gophers could be without QB Tanner Morgan (concussion) ... MINNESOTA 24-7.
No. 12 Michigan (minus 8½) at Indiana
Wolverines have won 23 straight meetings since last Hoosiers’ victory in 1987 ... MICHIGAN 31-24.
Texas (plus 5½) at No. 13 Baylor
Bears have lost four straight to the Longhorns ... TEXAS 28-24.
Purdue (plus 24) at No. 14 Wisconsin
Since being held to 50 yards rushing by Ohio State, Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor had run for 454 in two games ... WISCONSIN 42-14.
Boston College (plus 18½) at No. 15 Notre Dame
Eagles RB AJ. Dillon leads nation in carries with 272 including four games of at least 32 ... NOTRE DAME 42-21.
Temple (plus 10½) at No. 17 Cincinnati
Bearcats clinch AAC East with a victory ... CINCINNATI 24-17.
No. 18 Memphis (minus 14) at South Florida
Tigers have scored at least 42 points in four straight games ... MEMPHIS 48-24.
Illinois (plus 15½) at No. 19 Iowa
Illini come in on a four-game winning streak, their longest since 2011 ... IOWA 24-13.
No. 20 Boise State (minus 7½) at Utah State
Lots of QB intrigue with both starters, Hank Bachmeier for Boise State and Jordan Love for Utah State, missing games recently ... UTAH STATE 28-23, UPSET SPECIAL.
No. 21 SMU (plus 3½) at Navy
Winner still has a chance to win the AAC West; loser would be eliminated with a Memphis victory ... NAVY 35-31.
No. 22 Oklahoma State (minus 7) at West Virginia
Cowboys can still reach the Big 12 championship game by winning out and getting a little help ... OKLAHOMA STATE 38-23.
Texas State (plus 29½) at No. 23 Appalachian State
Victory gives App State a fifth straight season with at least nine victories ... APPALACHIAN STATE 45-17.
Pittsburgh (plus 4) at No. 25 Virginia Tech
Pivotal ACC Coastal matchup, but aren’t they all? ... VIRGINIA TECH 24-17.
Oregon State (plus 10½) at Washington State — @Kyle_Nishida
Winner reaches bowl eligibility ... WASHINGTON STATE 45-31.
Nebraska (minus 4) at Maryland — @GBR1995
Huskers have lost four straight; Nebraska has had a losing streak of at least four games each of the last three seasons after having one that long from 1962-2016 ... NEBRASKA 28-21.
Tennessee (plus 4) at Missouri — @DarrylKerr
Vols have won three straight and the Tigers have lost four in a row ... MISSOURI 23-17.
Kansas State (plus 2½) Texas Tech — @tbaum15
Wildcats have won four straight and seven of eight meetings ... KANSAS STATE 28-27.
Last week: 21-2 straight; 14-8-1 against the spread.
Season: 208-59 straight; 148-109-7 against the spread.
Upset specials: 3-9 (straight up).
Best bets: 4-6-1 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
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