The success of two weeks ago was short-lived, as all the gains made a couple weeks ago were erased by a 4-8 record last week. Yet again Ohio State fell short of covering another big spread, and there were some other trends that I keep get bitten by. Another Nebraska loss late, picking against Bill Snyder and Kansas State at home, and trusting Oklahoma too much are just a few of the mistakes I made. Hopefully I can put the pieces back together in what is the biggest week of the college football season so far this year.
Last week ATS: 4-8 (1-4 National, 3-4 B1G)
Season ATS: 41-47-3 (13-14-2 National, 28-33-1 B1G)
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
#18 UCLA v. #15 Stanford (-6.5) - Thursday 10:30 p.m. - ESPN
Right now it feels like these two teams are headed in different directions. After losing their season opener to Northwestern, Stanford has found their offense and scored at least 40 points in their last three games. Not only have the Cardinals rushed for 834 yards in their past three games, but Kevin Hogan has completed 79% of his passes during that span. Running back Christian McCaffrey has been a beast so far this year for Stanford, and currently ranks second in the nation with 229.8 all-purpose yards per game.
UCLA has had a little time to recover from their first loss of the season, but that time won't bring back the three starters on defense they lost for the year. Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen has been just as good as advertised, but it might be hard to get something going against a tough Stanford defense. With Jim Mora's UCLA teams being 5-0 off a bye and Stanford winning the last seven against the Bruins, something has to give in this matchup. This game might be close for the majority but in the end, I think Stanford's great balance on offense right now will be the difference.
Stanford 38 UCLA 28
#13 Ole Miss (-10.5) v. Memphis - 12:00 p.m. - ABC/ESPN2
A few weeks ago this matchup was looking like it'd be a tilt between undefeated teams, but then Ole Miss got their doors blown off by Florida in Gainesville. While this game may have lost a little bit of its luster, it still should be exciting since it features two of the most exciting offenses in the country. Ole Miss is averaging 46.8 points per game, while Memphis is averaging 47.8 points per game. Ole Miss got a chance to get well last week after their loss to Florida, trouncing New Mexico State 52-3 behind a career-high 384 yards passing from quarterback Chad Kelly.
It might surprise you to hear Memphis has the third-longest active winning streak in the country at 12 games, but they have also lost 12 straight games against the SEC. Last year when these two teams squared off in Oxford, Memphis kept things tight through three quarters, only trailing 7-3 before Ole Miss scored 17 points in the final 15 minutes. I don't think Ole Miss keeps Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, who has thrown for 300 yards in four straight games, down in this one, but I also don't think Lynch and company have quite enough to end their losing streak against SEC teams. This game comes down to the wire, but Ole Miss is just a little too much and prevents Memphis from pulling the upset.
Ole Miss 41 Memphis 34
#10 Alabama (-4) v. #9 Texas A&M - 3:30 p.m. - CBS
It seems like years ago when Alabama gave up 43 points in a loss to Ole Miss, but the Crimson Tide have rebounded by allowing just 24 points in the last three games. Jacob Coker hasn't exactly been spectacular for Alabama, but when you have a running back like Derrick Henry, who has scored at least one touchdown in all six games this year, you don't need to be. Now Henry and Coker will try and crack Myles Garrett and the rest of John Chavis' revamped Texas A&M defense.
The Aggies have to be smart after the 59-0 embarrassment they suffered at the hands of Alabama in Tuscaloosa last season. Kyle Allen has passed for 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions this year, and has found a favorite receiver in explosive freshman Christian Kirk. Chavis is definitely familiar with Alabama after spending six years as the defensive coordinator at LSU. This isn't exactly the same situation as a few weeks ago when Alabama went to Georgia, since the Crimson Tide were an underdog in that one, but I think we see another Alabama victory. The A&M up-tempo offense will keep proceedings a little closer than when Alabama went to Athens, but the Crimson Tide stay in the thick of the College Football Playoff race.
Alabama 34 Texas A&M 24
#8 Florida v. #6 LSU (-9.5) - 7:00 p.m. - ESPN
Florida may be undefeated so far this year, but it has been quite a roller coaster ride through six games. Jim McElwain's sideline tantrum, a crazy comeback against Tennessee, a destruction of Ole Miss, and now the suspension of starting quarterback Will Grier. At least Florida does have Treon Harris, who started the last six games of last season and this year's season opener, to fill in for Grier. What the Gators need is their stingy defense to keep forcing turnovers to put their offense in favorable scoring positions.
What Leonard Fournette is doing right now is unbelievable. In just five games the sophomore running back already has 1,022 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. The one thing South Carolina did do well last week against the Tigers was hold Fournette in check for the most part. Take away Fournette's 87-yard touchdown scamper and he only had 71 yards on 19 carries. Too bad South Carolina didn't account for freshman Derrius Guice, who rushed for 161 yards. I could see Florida's defense to be able to keep LSU from breaking some big runs, putting the pressure on quarterback Brandon Harris, who doesn't strike fear in me against the Florida secondary. LSU may win this one, but I think Florida rallies around their recent turmoil to keep it close.
LSU 23 Florida 20
USC v. #14 Notre Dame (-6.5) - 7:30 p.m. - NBC
After a week of turmoil, USC will be able to get back on the field and I'm sure for their players kickoff can't come soon enough. We shouldn't forget that USC still has a ton of talent, and while they won't be in the mix for the College Football Playoff, they can still play spoiler for those who still have hopes of making the playoff. The wide receiver duel in this game could turn out to be outstanding, with USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster and Notre Dame's Will Fuller capable of breaking open the game with every catch they make.
DeShone Kizer and C.J. Prosise have done phenomenal jobs at stepping up after Malik Zaire and Tarean Folston were injured early in the year. Having said that, I still like the USC offensive core to step up big in this game, mostly on the arm of Cody Kessler, who will be looking to make up for a dreadful performance against Washington last week. I have a feeling that USC will finish the season strong after all they have dealth with early in the year, and that run starts on Saturday night in South Bend.
USC 28 Notre Dame 24
Arizona State v. #4 Utah (-6.5) - 10:00 p.m. - ESPN
Utah was able to force Cal into turning the football over six times last week, but didn't use those gifts to put the Golden Bears away, only winning 30-24. Had it not been for Devontae Booker's 222 yards rushing, Utah could have very well lost to Cal. I'm still not totally sure what to make of this Utah team. They are solid on both offense and defense, but not spectacular. What they are is opportunistic, having forced 17 turnovers on the year. Their season opening win is looking more impressive by the week but on the other side of the coin, their destruction of Oregon is losing its luster with the Ducks struggling mightily.
Arizona State was talked about as a possible dark horse for the College Football Playoff, but a 2-2 start quickly erased those hopes. The Sun Devils looked to have gotten back on track with a couple of big wins following their loss to USC. Mike Bercovici is putting up big numbers, passing for 1,604 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this year. A couple weeks ago Arizona State ruined UCLA's undefeated season in Los Angeles, and for some reason I keep seeing them doing the same to Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. The Pac-12's lone undefeated team gets upset at home.
Arizona State 37 Utah 30