If you’ve been following along for the past six weeks, you know that we’ve talked about how chaotic this season has been. After this past week Trojan fans can attest to the fact that this season has been far from your typical season. But then again, is there ever a typical season in college football?
There are 16 remaining undefeated teams in FBS, but with matchups like Florida-LSU, Texas A&M-Alabama, Michigan-Michigan State, Northwestern-Iowa, the top 25 is going to look quite different once the dust settles Saturday night. It’s gonna be a chaotic weekend, but as my favorite football commentator John Madden likes to say, “usually the team that scores the most points wins the game”. Alright, let’s get to the games!
|Day||Time||Home Team||Away Team||Spread|
|Thu||04:30 PM||North Texas||Western Kentucky||19.5|
|Fri||05:00 PM||Brigham Young||Cincinnati||-16.5|
|Fri||06:00 PM||Utah State||Boise State||7|
|Fri||07:30 PM||Fresno State||Nevada-Las Vegas||11|
|Sat||01:00 PM||South Carolina||Vanderbilt||6|
|Sat||01:00 PM||Washington State||Oregon State||-19|
|Sat||03:00 PM||Georgia Southern||New Mexico State||-19.5|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Clemson||Boston College||3|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Iowa State||Texas Christian||13.5|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Louisiana State||Florida||-19|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Louisiana-Monroe||Appalachian State||19.5|
|Sat||04:00 PM||New Mexico||Hawaii||-15.5|
|Sat||04:00 PM||North Carolina||Wake Forest||-18|
|Sat||04:00 PM||Southern Mississippi||Texas-San Antonio||-9.5|
|Sat||04:30 PM||Notre Dame||Southern California||-15|
|Sat||04:30 PM||Temple||Central Florida||-19.5|
|Sat||05:00 PM||Ohio State||Penn State||-13.5|
|Sat||07:00 PM||Utah||Arizona State||-8.5|
|Sat||07:30 PM||San Jose State||San Diego State||3|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Baylor||West Virginia||-20.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Connecticut||South Florida||-3|
|Sat||09:00 AM||East Carolina||Tulsa||-1.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Florida State||Louisville||-17.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Kansas||Texas Tech||15.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Mississippi State||Louisiana Tech||6.5|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Ohio||Western Michigan||-19|
|Sat||09:00 AM||Toledo||Eastern Michigan||-20.5|
|Sat||09:30 AM||Georgia Tech||Pittsburgh||-6.5|
|Sat||10:00 AM||Central Michigan||Buffalo||-12|
|Sat||11:30 AM||Miami (Ohio)||Northern Illinois||17|
|Sat||12:00 PM||Ball State||Georgia State||-12.5|
|Sat||12:00 PM||Bowling Green State||Akron||-18.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Colorado State||Air Force||14.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Kansas State||Oklahoma||-1|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Massachusetts||Kent State||1|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Miami (Florida)||Virginia Tech||-17.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Michigan||Michigan State||-10.5|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Old Dominion||Charlotte||-6|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Texas A&M||Alabama||6|
|Tue||05:00 PM||South Alabama||Arkansas State||-5.5|
No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Stanford (Spread: -16.5)
Stanford has had UCLA’s number, winning seven consecutive games in the series. Both teams have lost key players on defense and in particular, UCLA has had difficulty stopping the run, allowing 197 rushing yards per game. Stanford quarterback, Kevin Hogan, is 4-0 against UCLA and each time he’s beaten the Bruins, they’ve been ranked. It’s going to be a big game for Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen because Stanford’s front seven are going to make it tough for running back Paul Perkins to bail out UCLA’s offense, despite his solid performances throughout this season.
Our model favors Stanford, but with roughly equal teams like these two, as Trojan fans know, weird things can happen on Thursday nights.
No. 10 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M (Spread: 6)
Alabama beat Texas A&M by 59 points last season, and that score doesn’t accurately reflect how lopsided that matchup was last year.
But that was last year. This year Texas A&M is off to it’s second consecutive 5-0 start under head coach Kevin Sumlin. Texas A&M easily handled Mississippi State two weeks ago, had a bye week to prepare for a game they have been waiting for since the offseason (Interesting note: Alabama’s next three opponents will be teams coming off of bye weeks). Meanwhile Alabama is coming off a tough game versus Arkansas that was only decided in the fourth quarter.
Will Texas A&M’s front seven under defensive coordinator John Chavis be tough enough to stop Alabama’s running game? Our model favors Alabama to win, but this game is going to be a battle of the big guys with A&M’s front seven facing off against Alabama’s big, fast offensive line.
No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan (Spread: -10.5)
Michigan State is 6-0 but didn’t score the winning touchdown until the final minute against Rutgers. Michigan State better believe that Michigan isn’t going to spike the ball at the end of the game to give them the win like Rutgers. No, folks, this one is going to be a tough one for Michigan State.
The Wolverines have posted three consecutive shutouts, and two of those games came against teams that were ranked. The last score allowed was to UNLV in garbage time when they were already up by four touchdowns. Michigan’s dominant defense is why both our model and Vegas have lower-ranked, one-loss Michigan as the favorite for this game.
Meanwhile, Michigan State’s only quality win was against Oregon, who’s not looking so hot right now, whereas Michigan’s only loss was against Utah who, in case you forgot, tore apart Oregon 62-20. It’s worth noting that three of the five teams Michigan has dominated defensively started freshman quarterbacks, and the other two were UNLV and Maryland. Spartan quarterback Connor Cook has put up 1334 passing yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, showing he is definitely no stranger to having big games. And if Michigan State is going to beat Michigan, he’s is going to need to have an amazing game against arguably the best defense in the country.
No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU (Spread: -19)
This one is going to be a tough one for Florida with freshman quarterback Will Grier suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. LSU will be facing yet another backup quarterback, but ultimately it will be Florida’s defense that keeps them in this game. LSU running back Leonard Fournette will be facing a Gators run defense that has allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game. Against South Carolina, LSU was able to move the ball through the air because their receivers were able to get open against South Carolina’s corners. This weekend is going to be a very different story against Florida’s suffocating defense. If Florida can stack the box and stop Fournette and keep LSU from developing a passing game, they will likely be the guaranteed winner of the SEC East.
USC at No. 14 Notre Dame (Spread: -15)
The firing of Trojan head coach Steve Sarkisian has undoubtedly sent a jolt through the school and football program. This could either galvanize the team or deflate the team, and there’s no good way to tell which one it will be until Saturday.
On the bright side, the last time USC played for interim coach Clay Helton, we won against Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. And USC’s first game after firing Lane Kiffin two years ago was a seven-point win over Arizona. It’s clear we are a program that knows how to respond to coaching adversity. If we are to continue this new-coach winning spree, Helton needs to let the Trojans run the ball, especially against Notre Dame’s defense, which has allowed 180 rushing yards per game. The Trojans’ defense is going to have to work extra hard with offensive lineman Max Tuerk out for the season.
This game will be a good game to watch (hopefully) as both teams are well-matched on paper, even if our model favors Notre Dame. Regardless of what happens this weekend at South Bend, I’ll be cheering our players on (definitely not booing) and I hope you all will be too.
Data provided by cfbstats.com
Team logos courtesy of sportslogos.net
Patrick Vossler is a senior majoring in economics. His column, “College Football Pick’em,” runs every week.