The most exciting game of the week may have already happened Wednesday night in Boone, NC as App State took down Coastal Carolina in a thriller. While there are no ranked-vs-ranked showdowns, this week features many ranked teams playing as an underdog and we could see a big shakeup to those rankings, if perhaps not at the very top.
#10 Oregon at UCLA (-2) – October 23, 2:30 PM ABC
A tipping point game in the Pac 12 race and potentially the Pac 12’s influence on the national stage going forward. Two teams that picked up major surprise wins in the non-con: Oregon taking down Ohio State and UCLA beginning the demise of Ed Orgeron at LSU; but then both fell off with losses in conference and now will need a strong 2nd half of the season to keep pace in the Pac 12. Despite its loss to Stanford, the Ducks are still very much in the Playoff picture, as winning in the Horseshoe will continue to be one of the most powerful wins on the season. However, dropping a 2nd game would leave Oregon on the outside hoping for complete chaos to remove all other Playoff contenders. The Bruins have finally been living up to the promise that comes with Chip Kelly, but this season could still fall off a cliff. I tend to think UCLA being favored here is due to some homefield advantage assumption that perhaps the Rose Bowl doesn’t really provide the Bruins, while Oregon still has more talent at most positions and a defense certainly capable of controlling Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet.
My pick: Oregon wins (+105); Oregon covers (+2); Total Under 60.5
#8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-7) - October 23, 2:30 PM, FOX
The poor Cowboys just can’t get any respect. Even after defeating the “mighty” Longhorns and earning a top-10 ranking, OSU is still a TD underdog against an unranked two-loss opponent. The Cyclones have been quietly strong if you only look at the metrics but haven’t been able to get the job done against the better teams on their schedule. There has already been talk about Bedlam being between undefeated teams to close the season and then repeated the next week in Arlington – although that’s looking way ahead, if OSU wins in Ames it’ll be big favorites in every game (yes, including vs. TCU) until the Sooners come to town. This ISU defense is the best squad that OK State has seen this season and can do enough to slow Jaylen Warren on the ground, forcing Spencer Sanders to win the game. He fights valiantly, but Good Brock Purdy shows up to put the Cyclones back into the Big 12 race.
My pick: ISU wins (-260); OK State covers (+7); Total Over 47
Clemson (+135) at #23 Pittsburgh (-3.5) – October 23, 2:30 PM, ESPN
I mean c’mon, really? The Heisman candidate in this game is Kenny Pickett, really? The team that lost at home to Western Michigan at home and was ready to run its coach out of town is favored over the team that has made the Playoff each of the last six seasons, really? I get that Clemson has looked rough sneaking out victories vs. Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Boston College and the DJ U-led offense has been terrible, but still I just can’t fathom the Tigers falling out of the ACC Atlantic race this early. It looks like superstar Freshman Will Shipley could return from injury this week and provide a needed spark to the offense, which will be enough while the Clemson defense shuts down Pickett and the Panthers offense.
My pick: Clemson wins (+135); Clemson covers (+3.5); Total Under 48
#22 San Diego State at Air Force (-3.5) – October 23, 6:00 PM, CBS Sports Net
In what is very likely to be a Mountain West Title preview and one of the best G5 games of the season, the undefeated Aztecs will storm into Colorado Springs with the best non-Georgia defense in the country. That defense is #2 overall in EPA/rush but now will take on one of the most prolific rushing teams, as the Falcons post a cool 336 yards per game on the ground. This will be a physical grind-you down beat-you-up game to prove top dog in the MWC. While Air Force has impressed in those types of games and the high-scoring affairs haven’t been as pretty, the Aztecs have been elite, even when the offense doesn’t show up. San Diego State keeps the dream season alive.
My pick: SDSU wins (+145); SDSU covers (+3.5); Total Over 39
Others Receiving Votes
- USC at #13 Notre Dame (-6.5) – The Trojans got embarrassed at home vs. Utah last week despite Kedon Slovis putting up over 400 passing yards, and it’s clear they will not be retaining the interim coach. The Irish will look to pile on their long-distance rivals.
- #16 Wake Forest (-3) at Army – A wonderful fight of differing styles – the high-flying pace of the Deacons vs. the plodding control of Army. Sam Hartman has been stellar for Wake and will need to keep it rolling to survive this test.
- LSU at #12 Ole Miss (-9) – The Tigers come off a big-time upset win over Florida despite the announcement confirming Coach O’s lame duck status. The Rebels return to friendlier confines after getting pelted with mustard bottles and beer cans and golf balls and various trash by the lovely fans in Knoxville. Will the Lane Train keep rolling through the possible land mines on the schedule ahead?
- Nevada at Fresno State (-3.5) – Oh this will be fun – explosive dynamic offenses and high stakes as these two jockey for position behind SDSU to maybe sneak into the MWC championship. Jake Haener vs. Carson Strong, sit back and enjoy.
- Wisconsin (-3) at #25 Purdue – Coming off a massive upset at what was #2 Iowa, the Boilermakers are riding high and are now a home underdog vs. this disappointing Badgers team? Interesting, but with David Bell at WR, all things are possible for Purdue.