As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
- Pennsylvania State @ Michigan State (FOX): All right Penn State, time to get off the mat because you’re going to have to get right back on the road to face a team more than happy to punch you in the mouth and dare you to do something about it. Obviously they’re favored here, but it won’t be easy.
- Wisconsin @ Indiana (ABC): Wisconsin is your darkhorse undefeated playoff team, at least until they get blown out by Ohio State or Penn State in a few weeks.
- Auburn @ Texas A&M (ESPN): Is Auburn actually, like, good? I have no idea. I’m going with TAMU.
- Florida @ Missouri (ESPN2): For a team that was all but out of it at the beginning of the year, Mizzou has rallied, by which I mean they took a two week break from playing other SEC teams. (Pro: they won by a combined score of 120-33. Con: those two teams were Idaho and UConn.) So what does that mean for this game? Well, going by the metric of “who got beat less badly by Georgia?” then Mizzou has to be a slight favorite.
- Kansas State @ Texas Tech (FS1): Yeah, the ebb of the magikal energyes* were at a definite low last week, with K-State only beating an awful Kansas team (but I repeat myself) by 10 points. This Red Raiders team isn’t anything special, but they still have sufficient offensive firepower to overpower this version of the Wildcats.
- Western Kentucky @ Vanderbilt (ESPNU): Vandy gets a reprieve from the rest of hte SEC here.
- Massachusetts @ Mississippi State (SEC): Miss State.
- Baylor @ Kansas (FSN/RSN): Ugh, Baylor?
- Illinois @ Purdue (BTN): Purdue.
12:20: Syracuse @ Florida State (ACC): This FSU team is mailing it in so hard that there is serious stuff out there about Jimbo Fisher resigning or getting fired. I like the Orange here.
3:00: Georgia Tech @ Virginia (ACC/RSN): It’s hard to win when you don’t block people, and it’s even worse when you can’t. Last week’s loss to Clemson served as a reminder of the widening gap between the us and them since that exciting pair of games in 2009. That said, even in a comfortable win for the Tigers, there were some bleak signs of progress, like actually getting over a hundred yards of offense for the first time since 2014. Yeah.
Anyway, on the Hoos. Virginia has struggled in recent weeks, losing to out-of-nowhere offensive powerhouse Boston College and then suffering a 17 point loss to a not-that-good Pitt team. It got a bit spicy during the ACC teleconference this week, wherein Bronco Mendhall declared that he “has a passion for defending option offenses” and Paul Johnson responded that he has a passion “for playing 3-4 teams”. 3-4 in this case is not UVA’s record, but the style of defense they play, and it’s not hard to see where Johnson is coming from. With Tech’s wide offensive line splits, UVA will be forced to make some tough decisions about where to put their linebackers. Keep them near the line to try to shoot the gaps in Tech’s wide offensive splits and that makes it easier for all the linebackers to get caught in the wash and for plays to break out wide; play the LBs more conservatively to take away the outside plays and that’s a recipe for a death-by-a-thousand-cuts procession of 3-5 yard runs up the gut. Of course, the best case scenario for the Cavaliers is that the linebacker’s mobility over a traditional four-man front will allow them to defeat cut blocks more easily and prevent the offensive line from getting to the second level.
On the other side of the ball, it will be interesting to see if Ted Roof comes out with guns blazing for the third week in a row. Long criticized for being too conservative, last week Roof decided essentially to bet the house. I don’t really blame him for that, since we were massive underdogs, but unfortunately it didn’t really pay off. That said, UVA is not Clemson and has not scored more than 30 points in their ACC games so far, despite having played a woeful UNC team.
Then there’s Charlottesville. I’m writing this post on November 3rd, the 27th anniversary of perhaps the biggest game in modern Georgia Tech history, a 41-38 upset of then #1 Virginia. After that, Tech lost eight straight games in Charlottesville, with the 2009 ACC champions winning decisively and breaking the streak. Since then, Tech lost in 2011, won in 2013, and lost in 2015. Any pattern is over now, but it’s hard not to think about.
- Stanford @ Washington State (FOX): So there was definitely a bit of a break between when I wrote the above and what I’m writing now, so don’t expect anything quite as, uh, elegant? Sure, let’s go with that. Anyway, Wazzu has looked less good now that they’ve actually had to, you know, play away from home, and I think this Stanford team can give them fits. Nonetheless, back in Pullman I still like them.
- South Carolina @ Georgia (CBS): My fears made manifest: yes, Georgia actually is that good.
- Wake Forest @ Notre Dame (NBC): Closer than you think, but probably still not terribly close.
- Ohio State @ Iowa (ESPN): Going into Kinnick is always tricky (ask last year’s Michigan team, for instance) but a mid-afternoon timeslot should ultimately work out in favor of the Buckeyes.
- Iowa State @ West Virginia (ESPN2): Secret best game at this timeslot? Heck yeah. How about them Cyclones this year? Of course, West Virginia doesn’t really fit the mold of the teams Iowa State has been able to beat, that is, top-10 teams at home. So I still like the ‘neers here.
- South Florida @ Connecticut (ESPNU): This is a definitely a game that will happen, and a game that USF will win.
- Northwestern @ Nebraska (BTN): Northwestern? Sure, why now.
- Army @ Air Force (CBSS): The Commander-in-Chief’s trophy is still in play, but I actually like Army’s chances here?
- Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (FS1): BEDLAM! Of course, as pointed out elsewhere, for a series named Bedlam there’s not actually that much chaos here, as the Sooners utterly dominate the serious. But you know what? I like Oklahoma State here, at home.
- Mississippi @ Kentucky (SEC): This is a game that will be on TV that you can watch, but I can’t recommend it. Uh, Kentucky should probably win though?
5:00: Oregon State @ California (Pac12): What’s happened to Cal? Well, essentially, they had to start playing other Pac-12 teams and they’re still rebuilding. They’re probably still better than the Beavers, though.
- Nevada @ Boise State (ESPNU): Boise.
- Colorado State @ Wyoming (CBSS): If none of the afternoon games pan out, feel free to tune into this one before they end. I like Wyoming at home, but this should be fun.
- Texas @ Texas Christian (ESPN): Texas is better, but I don’t think they’re good enough yet to beat TCU in Ft. Worth.
- Central Florida @ Southern Methodist (ESPN2): UCF all the way.
- Minnesota @ Michigan (FOX): Michigan still has offensive issues, but the sheer force of personality that P.J. Fleck possesses won’t be good enough to get the Gophers past Michigan.
- Southern Mississippi @ Tennessee (SEC): I, uh, like USM here? Mostly just to put Butch out of his misery.
- Texas-El Paso @ Middle Tennessee State (beIN): MTSU.
- Virginia Tech @ Miami (ABC): Hey Miami, VPI actually has a good enough defense that you won’t be able to just bullshit your way to a win in the last two minutes. I still like you to win here, but I’m not feeling especially great about it.
- Louisiana State @ Alabama (CBS): Alabama covers 21.5.
9:00: Colorado @ Arizona State (Pac12): Why not Arizona State? Well, they enjoyed a brief renaissance, but have come crashing back down in the past few games, but they should be able to take care of the Buffs at home/
10:00: Oregon @ Washington (FS1): The Ducks are back, but I think UDub is still good enough to take care of business and take the Huskies to the Pac-12 title game.
10:30: San Diego State @ San Jose State (ESPNU): San Jose State better hope the Aztecs don’t know they way to San Jose, because otherwise it’s going to be a long night.
- Arizona @ Southern California (ESPN): Late kicks, but it’s only 7:45 here! Anyway, Khalil Tate has been the other great West Coast player you’ve never heard of, and while Is still like USC, if they blink he will make them pay.
- Brigham Young @ Fresno State (ESPN2): Fresno has been sneaky good this year.
*: See last week’s Texas Tech @ Oklahoma preview.
What about Clemson @ NC State? Looks like you overlooked that one…