Last week saw a number of close losses against the spread sully what should've been a good week. While MC&J was on the right side of a one-point Wisconsin cover, Penn State won by six (-6.5 favorite) Michigan's one-point win (-1.5 favorite), and Alabama's miraculous half-point overtime cover really hurt. The slate for this week's game isn't quite as attractive as last week's but there are still some meaty matchups that will not only affect the Big Ten race, but also the College Football Playoff hunt.
Last week ATS: 4-6 (2-3 National, 2-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 65-71-1 (28-29-1 National, 37-42 B1G)
#1 Mississippi State v. #5 Alabama (-8.5) - 3:30 PM - CBS
Back in 2012 Mississippi State came in Tuscaloosa undefeated but didn't leave with a zero in the loss column. The difference is this year Mississippi State is the number one ranked team in the country. Alabama isn't quite the team they were in 2012 when they were more than a three touchdown favorite against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State hasn't had to venture out on the road that much, but do sport a win in Death Valley. Alabama also earned a road win against LSU last week where they snatched victory from the hands of defeat. How much did Nick Saban's crew expend last week though in earning that victory? Meanwhile the Bulldogs were able to get healthy against something called a Tennessee-Martin. A Crimson Tide loss would greatly help the playoff chances of the Buckeyes but I don't see them losing at home, but Dak Prescott will help to keep it within a touchdown.
Alabama 24 Mississippi State 21
#9 Auburn v. #15 Georgia (-2.5) - 7:15 PM - ESPN
Whatever the Over/Under is in this matchup is it probably isn't high enough. Neither team plays any sort of defense so we could be looking at a game that hits the 70s or 80s in terms of the total. Georgia will get Todd Gurley back from suspension, but how much rust will he have after sitting out more than a month. Nick Chubb has filled in nicely for Gurley, so the combination of the two should give Auburn's running defense fits. Last year Auburn got lucky to beat Georgia and judging by last week's game against Texas A&M, the incredible run of luck for the Tigers may have just run out. Georgia needs a win and a Missouri loss to win the SEC East so there might be a little more motivation on their side after Auburn's playoff hopes were crushed in the upset loss to the Aggies.
Georgia 44 Auburn 37
#3 Florida State (-3) v. Miami, FL - 8:00 PM - ABC
When I first saw this line released I was beyond puzzled. Yeah Miami has been playing pretty good lately, but against who? The Seminoles have had struggles in contests recently, but they keep finding ways to win. It isn't like Miami is going to have the type of home-field advantage that even Louisville had when they played Florida State. Miami's defense has been strong of late, but are they really going to be able to put the clamps on Winston, Nick O'Leary, and Rashad Greene? I'm not buying it. Florida State's defense will find a way to get to Brad Kaaya and force some turnovers and the Seminoles end up winning this by double-digits.
Florida State 31 Miami, FL 21
#6 Arizona State (-10) v. Oregon State - 10:45 PM - ESPN
After their dominating win over Notre Dame last week, Arizona State shot up to the sixth spot in the College Football Playoff rankings and will look to stay in the mix when they travel to Corvallis on Saturday night. The Beavers are really struggling right now, having lost their last four games. Oregon State can't run the football and might have a lot of trouble protecting Sean Mannion. Resler Stadium hasn't been friendly to opponents coming in with title hopes in recent years, but Oregon State is just too banged up to notch another upset. Taylor Kelly, D.J. Foster, and Jaelen Strong will just be too much for the Beavers in the end.
Arizona State 38 Oregon State 23
#8 Ohio State (-13) v. #25 Minnesota - 12:00 PM - ABC
Bet you guys didn't hear it was going to be cold in Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon? Well it is, but will it be enough to ice the hot Ohio State offense? I don't see it. The Golden Gophers have to be hoping that last week's huge win for the Buckeyes sets up for letdown situation. The Ohio State offense took a hit with the loss of Dontre Wilson to injury, but with the talent the Buckeyes have they should be able to fill the void left by Wilson. With the win against Michigan State last week, Urban Meyer now knows that the Buckeyes need impressive wins to state their case for the College Football Playoff, so you know Ohio State wants to lay the woodshed to the Golden Gophers. With the way J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott are playing, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see that happen either. Minnesota's defense is good, but aside from TCU they haven't played anyone with anything close to a competent offense.
Speaking of letdowns, could Minnesota be in for one after obliterating Iowa last week? The Golden Gophers ran for almost 300 yards, and surprisingly only 74 of them came from David Cobb. Mitch Leidner completed 10 passes last week with four of them being touchdowns, but the passing game of Minnesota doesn't strike fear in anybody. While the Buckeyes have had some issues giving up the big play this year, they've been better in the secondary of late, Tight end Maxx Williams is the best threat in the passing game for Minnesota but he isn't exactly a receiver that is going to stretch the field. The best gameplan for Minnesota is to control the clock and keep the Ohio State offense off the field, but the Buckeyes have been good against the run so it's hard to imagine Minnesota being successful with that strategy.
To follow up what they did last Saturday, the Buckeyes could use a big win against a ranked (for now) team. Meyer will have his team focused to go and ready for destruction. Maybe Minnesota keeps it close for the first part of the game, but the Ohio State offense is too talented to be held down for long in this one. I just don't see the Golden Gophers having enough on offense to be able to stay within two touchdowns of the Buckeyes here.
Ohio State 38 Minnesota 17
Temple v. Penn State (-11) - 12:00 PM - ESPN2
Aside from these teams being separate by just over 150 miles, there isn't too much intrigue in this match. Since the beginning of October, Temple and Penn State have combined for two wins. The Nittany Lions are coming off an ugly 13-7 win over Indiana, while Temple followed up their win against East Carolina with a 16-13 loss as time expired against Memphis. The Nittany Lions will have a little extra motivation as a win secures bowl eligibility for them this year. While it's hard to have any confidence with Penn State laying double-digits to anyone right now, I have even less confidence with Temple's nearly non-existent offense to do much of anything against the Nittany Lion defense.
Penn State 27 Temple 10
Iowa (-6) v. Illinois - 12:00 PM - Big Ten Network
I thought coming into the season that Iowa could be a sleeper in the Big Ten West with a shot to head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. So much for that. After beating up on Northwestern two weeks ago, Iowa got a taste of their own medicine last week by getting steamrolled by Minnesota. Illinois is coming off their second bye week of the season, with the last one being before their upset of Minnesota. The Fighting Illini will get some much needed help when quarterback Wes Lunt returns from injury. Illinois was showing some promise on offense under Lunt, and I think the Oklahoma State transfer will help his team keep it close at home.
Iowa 28 Illinois 24
Northwestern v. #18 Notre Dame (-18) - 3:30 PM - NBC
Not much of the season has been kind to Northwestern, but November has been especially rough so far, with the Wildcats only scoring 16 points so far this month. The Fighting Irish are coming off a ugly loss to Arizona State which ended any hopes they had at the College Football Playoff. Everett Golson has been extremely generous lately, turning the football over 17 times in his last six games. The Wildcats are just what the Fighting Irish need right now to restore a little confidence with matchups against Louisville and USC on the horizon. Northwestern loses their fifth straight game and it's not close for very long.
Notre Dame 37 Northwestern 14
Indiana v. Rutgers (-7.5) - 3:30 PM - Big Ten Network
Apparently some team has to win this matchup, but I'm not convinced that is true. Indiana has lost four straight, while Rutgers has lost three in a row. Granted, the losses for the Scarlet Knights came to Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The Hoosiers are really struggling on offense with quarterback Zander Diamont, letting opposing defenses focus on stopping running backs Tevin Coleman and D'Angelo Roberts. The good news for Indiana is Rutgers can't really stop the run. Rutgers has had a week off to try and recover from their recent losses, and a win earns them bowl eligibility. With road games against Michigan State and Maryland left, I think the Scarlet Knights put a lot into this game to get that sixth win.
Rutgers 30 Indiana 20
#16 Nebraska v. #20 Wisconsin (-6) - 3:30 PM - ABC
With how much both of these teams love to run the football, this might be the quickest game we'll see in college football this year. The running back matchup between Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon should be quite entertaining, with the winner not only helping his team get a leg-up in the Big Ten West race, but also try to gain an edge in Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year race. Abdullah suffered a knee injury in the Purdue game, but did have a week off to recover for this matchup. Gordon is coming off his third 200-yard game of the season, and it's scary to think of where the Wisconsin offense would be without him. Statistically Wisconsin has one of the best defenses in the country, but they haven't faced many offenses that have as much punch as Nebraska. With so much on the line I think the game is close till the end, but in the end Nebraska finds a way to pull it out in the end.
Nebraska 31 Wisconsin 28
#12 Michigan State (-13) v. Maryland - 8:00 PM - Big Ten Network
I am so glad I'm not a Maryland fan because things could get mighty ugly in College Park on Saturday night. Michigan State is coming off the loss to Ohio State last week and have to be eager to get back out on the football field to exercise some of their frustrations. After trying to defend the Ohio State offense last week, the Maryland offense will probably look like it is moving in slow motion to the Spartans. Add in that Stefon Diggs is out for the season and the task is even tougher for the Terps. Maryland is allowing over 190 yards/game rushing to opponents so Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill should find holes in the defense early and ofter on Saturday night.
Michigan State 38 Maryland 20