The college football season is quickly drawing to a close, but fear not, fans, we’ve got plenty of good matchups to tide us over until bowl season. With Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State each playing teams of consequence and finally getting to the backloaded schedules of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor, we should have some College Football Playoff elimination answers, or at least a clearer view of what potential chaos is left.
|Day||Time||Home Team||Away Team||Spread|
|Wed||05:00 PM||Kent State||Central Michigan||10.5|
|Wed||05:00 PM||Northern Illinois||Western Michigan||-7.5|
|Thu||04:30 PM||Central Florida||East Carolina||13.5|
|Thu||06:30 PM||Texas State||Louisiana-Monroe||-1|
|Fri||05:00 PM||South Florida||Cincinnati||-2.5|
|Fri||06:30 PM||Boise State||Air Force||-17.5|
|Sat||02:00 PM||Louisiana-Lafayette||New Mexico State||-7|
|Sat||02:30 PM||New Mexico||Colorado State||2|
|Sat||03:00 PM||Oregon State||Washington||15.5|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Arkansas||Mississippi State||-17|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Georgia||Georgia Southern||-17|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Texas-San Antonio||Rice||-7.5|
|Sat||04:30 PM||Oklahoma State||Baylor||-3|
|Sat||04:30 PM||Vanderbilt||Texas A&M||-5.5|
|Sat||05:00 PM||Oklahoma||Texas Christian||-6|
|Sat||05:00 PM||Southern Methodist||Tulane||-3|
|Sat||07:30 PM||Nevada-Las Vegas||San Diego State||6|
|Sat||07:45 PM||Washington State||Colorado||-17.5|
|Sat||08:00 PM||Hawaii||San Jose State||8.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Florida||Florida Atlantic||-20.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Kansas||West Virginia||19|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Kansas State||Iowa State||7.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Penn State||Michigan||-4|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Virginia Tech||North Carolina||3.5|
|Sat||09:30 AM||Miami (Florida)||Georgia Tech||-2.5|
|Sat||09:30 AM||North Carolina State||Syracuse||-16.5|
|Sat||10:00 AM||Massachusetts||Miami (Ohio)||-18|
|Sat||11:00 AM||Georgia State||South Alabama||-15.5|
|Sat||11:30 AM||Florida International||Western Kentucky||14|
|Sat||12:00 PM||Brigham Young||Fresno State||-20|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Arizona State||Arizona||-16.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Clemson||Wake Forest||-20.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Mississippi||Louisiana State||-5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Ohio State||Michigan State||-4|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Oregon||Southern California||4|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Southern Mississippi||Old Dominion||-19|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Texas-El Paso||Louisiana Tech||17.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Utah State||Nevada||-12.5|
|NA||03:00 PM||Bowling Green State||Toledo||-16.5|
|NA||04:00 PM||Ohio||Ball State||-14.5|
Now that you’ve seen our predictions, here are some matchups to keep an eye on this weekend:
No. 9 Michigan State at No. 3 Ohio State (Spread: -4)
In the Big Ten, Michigan State heads to Columbus this weekend for what is essentially the Big 10 Championship semifinal (the winner of this matchup will be in prime position to face the Big Ten West winner). Ohio State comes in with a 23-game win streak versus Michigan State, but hasn’t faced a ranked opponent all season. Michigan State’s two wins over ranked teams this year looks marginally better, though both wins were very close (A win against Oregon while Vernon Adams was injured and, of course, the win against Michigan on blocked punt).
Both teams have looked very impressive and unimpressive at times this season. The Buckeyes’ 28-3 road win at Illinois wasn’t an extremely dominant performance, but a win’s a win. Ohio State’s season has been defined by moments of greatness thanks in large part to spectacular individual players. Buckeye running back Ezekiel Elliott has racked up 15 straight games with over 100 yards rushing. But if last season is any indication, this team is definitely capable of a lot more. For Ohio State to keep its playoff dreams alive, they’re going to have to show that they’re the real deal this weekend.
Michigan State has had a similar kind of season, although their dreams of a perfect season have been dashed thanks in large part to a call that went in Nebraska’s favor. The Spartans were able to bounce back against Maryland, but it may have come at a price. Quarterback Connor Cook suffered a shoulder injury. It didn’t look good at first, but he’s cleared to play this weekend. It will be interesting to see if his injury will have a significant impact on the game.
Our model has Ohio State slightly favored but this one really could go either way.
No. 10 Baylor at No. 6 Oklahoma State (Spread: -3)
This week in Pac-12 schadenfreude: by the end of the weekend, every team in the Big 12 could have a loss. Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s take a look at this matchup.
Oklahoma State’s dream of an undefeated season almost came undone last weekend against Iowa State. Trailing throughout the game, Oklahoma State was able to rally in the fourth-quarter to keep their dream of a playoff spot alive.
That’s no longer the case for Baylor after last week’s loss to Oklahoma. After two solid games, Baylor freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham struggled against Oklahoma and threw two interceptions. Granted, he was playing with a back injury for most of a game that clearly limited his mobility and the playbook.
Fortunately for Baylor fans, Stidham is expected to play this weekend, which means Baylor is very much still in this game. Baylor and Oklahoma State have similar defensive stats (around 400 yards allowed per game, 230 passing/170 rushing), but Baylor runs a much more potent offense, averaging 638 yards per game to Oklahoma State’s 500 yards. The Bears defense has struggled in past weeks, but if Baylor can get going offensively they have a shot at showing that they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Our model favors Oklahoma but ESPN’s FPI gives Baylor a 61.6 percent chance to win. Long story short, if you like points, you’ll like this matchup.
No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma (Spread: -6 )
It goes without saying that this Big 12 matchup also has playoff implications, but it also is a perfect example of how teams can quickly rise and fall throughout the season. After spending the better part of the year near the top of the rankings, TCU is now trying to just stay afloat. While Oklahoma, after dropping a game against Texas, has come roaring back.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has been playing lights-out this season. Last weekend against Baylor, Mayfield threw for 270 yards, ran for 76 yards and scored four touchdowns (If fist pumps were a statistic, he would also be leading the league).
Quarterback Trevone Boykin and wideout Josh Doctson — two of the nation’s most exceptional talents — are both questionable with injuries. We have some breaking news coming in… Oh, what’s that? Doctson is out for the season?! Ouch, things are looking quite grim for TCU. This bad news is even worse when you account for the fact that TCU squeaked past Kansas last week as more than a 40-point favorite.
With TCU missing Doctson and Boykin still injured, it looks like Oklahoma is going to have an easy win against TCU. To continue with the schadenfreude theme, a blowout win for Oklahoma could end up hurting the Big 12’s chances of getting into the college football playoffs. Well, at least the Pac-12 isn’t the only conference cannibalizing itself.
No. 24 USC at No. 23 Oregon (Spread: 4)
It is rather strange to think that only a few weeks ago this matchup, between two Pac-12 heavyweights, would have been ignored by many. Welcome to the weird and wild Pac-12 — a conference seemingly determined to eat itself alive. But hey, at least we’re ranked again, right?
With their upset of Stanford, it appears Oregon is starting to return to its normal self. After missing two games in the beginning of October due to injury, quarterback Vernon Adams has led Oregon to four-straight wins. Against Stanford, Adams put on a clinic, throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns on only 12 pass attempts. But despite Oregon’s offensive prowess, their defense is still incredibly porous. The Oregon defense has allowed almost 500 yards and 37 points per game. While the Oregon defense is extremely porous, USC’s defense is also looking pretty thin at this point in the season. Starting middle linebacker Cameron Smith, a true freshman, and senior middle linebacker Lamar Dawson each will miss the rest of the season due to injuries suffered against Colorado, while guard Viane Talamaivao is questionable with a torn meniscus. USC’s secondary needs to be able to cover Oregon’s wide receivers with minimal safety help, as the injury-stricken front seven need to be able to stop Oregon’s run game that has averaged almost 300 yards per game. Our model has us as a slight favorite, which matches ESPN’S FPI predictions but differs from Vegas. I wish I could tell you what this means but either way, expect a high-scoring game this weekend.