College Football Picks: Another ‘Game of Century’ looms
Two weeks and two wins away from the next iteration of the Game of the Century.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU both play Saturday and then take a week off before their Nov. 9 showdown in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide should be fine to get to the big day as No. 1 in the country.
At least you’d think so.
Alabama faces Arkansas at home Saturday. The intrigue is not so much who will win but how the Tide will play with Mac Jones filling in for Tua Tagovailoa, whose injured right ankle is the currently the most important body part in college football. Alabama is a 32-point favorite. It should be noted that Illinois was a 30½-point underdog last week when it beat Wisconsin. It should also be noted Alabama has won 87 straight games against unranked teams and Arkansas has not won a Southeastern Conference game under second-year coach Chad Morris.
Of course, teams can win and still drop in the Top 25. Just ask Clemson, which has slipped from preseason No. 1 to No. 4 while winning its first six games — most with ease. A messy performance by ’Bama, especially with Ohio State facing No. 13 Wisconsin, could cost the Tide a spot or two in the rankings.
LSU has a very different weekend ahead. The Tigers host No. 9 Auburn as a 10½-point favorite and are looking for their third straight victory in the series that has been one of the most consistently competitive in the SEC. The last three games have been decided by five points or fewer. There was a spate of blowouts in the three games before that, but the two Tigers played seven one-score games from 2004-12.
The last regular-season No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup was the 2011 LSU-Alabama game. Can the Tigers and Tide take care of business this weekend to set up another one?
No. 16 SMU (minus 13½) at Houston
Cougars get QB Clayton Tune back this week, but the question is whether they have checked out on this season. ... SMU 45-35.
Arkansas (plus 32) at No. 1 Alabama
Mac Jones was a three-star recruit out of Florida. He redshirted as a freshman at Alabama and has thrown 45 passes the past two seasons for the Tide. Now you’re caught up ... ALABAMA 49-14, BEST BET.
No. 9 Auburn (plus 10½) at No. 2 LSU
Auburn is out to put an end to all that Game of the Century hype ... LSU 34-21.
No. 13 Wisconsin (plus 14) at No. 3 Ohio State
Despite the Badgers’ loss last week, this is still the Buckeyes’ toughest test to date ... OHIO STATE 28-16.
Boston College (plus 33½) at No. 4 Clemson
RB AJ Dillon and the Eagles ran for more than 400 yards last week to lighten the load for a new starting quarterback. Good luck with that this week ... CLEMSON 52-14.
No. 5 Oklahoma (minus 23½) at Kansas State
Sooners might be due for a sluggish performance heading into an off week ... OKLAHOMA 38-17.
Penn State (minus 6½) at Michigan State
Spartans have won five of the last six meetings, including the last two with fourth-quarter comebacks ... PENN STATE 21-13.
No. 8 Notre Dame (minus 1) at No. 19 Michigan
Wolverines need this more than the Irish ... MICHIGAN 23-20.
Washington State (plus 14) at No. 11 Oregon
Wazzu has owned the Ducks recently, winning four straight ... OREGON 35-17.
California (plus 21½) at No. 12 Utah
Cal LB Evan Weaver is averaging 15 tackle per game, which would match the FBS record ... UTAH 27-3.
No. 15 Texas (minus 1) at TCU
Yep, that point spread is telling ... TEXAS 28-24.
Maryland (plus 17) at No. 17 Minnesota
Gophers have the most productive receiver duo in the Big Ten with Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson combining for 1,194 yards and 11 touchdowns ... MINNESOTA 35-20.
No. 20 Iowa (minus 10½) at Northwestern
Lots of punts ... IOWA 21-7.
No. 21 Appalachian State (minus 26½) at South Alabama
Mountaineers will be big favorites against all their Sun Belt Conference opponents ... APPALACHIAN STATE 42-14.
Oklahoma State (plus 10½) at No. 23 Iowa State
Cyclones snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cowboys last year ... IOWA STATE 31-24.
No. 24 Arizona State (minus 4) at UCLA
Bruins have already lost to Arizona and have not been swept by the Grand Canyon State schools since 2010 ... UCLA 24-21, UPSET SPECIAL
Tulane (plus 3) at Navy — @BrandonOCook
Midshipmen can double last year’s win total and get bowl-eligible ... TULANE 24-23.
Syracuse (plus 10½) at Florida State — @R_Barnes407
Loser here is going to have one heck of a time getting bowl eligible; won’t be easy for the winner either ... FLORIDA STATE 31-23.
Indiana (minus 1½) at Nebraska — @atruebluehusker
If Indiana being favored at Nebraska is hard to believe know that from 1941-59 the Hoosiers went 9-0-1 against the Huskers. See, totally normal ... INDIANA 35-31.
South Carolina (minus 4) at Tennessee — @TideintheNW
Vols could be on third-string QB ... SOUTH CAROLINA 27-21.
Last week: 20-4 straight; 12-11-1 against the spread.
Season: 144-40 straight; 99-79-5 against the spread.
Upset specials: 2-6 (straight up).
Best bets: 2-5-1 (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/
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25