November got off to a very positive start, but it really should've been better. Baylor was in control of Kansas State before surviving a late push by the Wildcats. The same can be said for Ohio State, who was up 21-0 before Minnesota scored a couple touchdowns to keep things close. This week's schedule isn't quite as attractive as last week, but I'm confident there are some diamonds in the rough out there.
Last week ATS: 8-5 (4-2 National, 4-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 69-66-3 (26-25-2 National, 43-41-1 B1G)
#2 Alabama (-8) v. #17 Mississippi State - 3:30 p.m. - CBS
To any normal team this would feel like a prime spot for a letdown, but Alabama isn't any normal team. The Crimson Tide have Charleston Southern next week, so you know they'll be focused to slow down a Mississippi State team that has won four straight games. Derrick Henry was even better than I imagined he would be on Saturday against LSU, rushing for 210 yards. Even more impressive lately for Alabama has been their defense, who has only surrender more than 20 points once since losing to Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs may have won four straight games, but two of those contests were against weaker non-conference foes, and the other two coming against Kentucky and Missouri. Alabama still can't sleep on Dak Prescott though, who has passed for at least 300 yards in the last three games. I don't think Prescott and the Bulldogs will be able to find a rhythm in this contest, as Alabama has only given up a combined 17 points in their last three trips to Starkvegas. The Crimson Tide keep rolling along with a double-digit victory.
Alabama 30 Mississippi State 17
#21 Memphis v. #24 Houston (-7) - 7:00 p.m. - ESPN2
I figured Memphis would have some problems with Navy's triple-option offense last week, but I wasn't expecting the Tigers to get blown out by the Midshipmen. Navy was able to roll up 374 yards and five touchdowns on the ground against Memphis to end any hopes the Tigers had of a perfect season. Now Memphis will have to hope the arm of Paxton Lynch will help lead them to spoiling the hopes of the last undefeated team in the AAC.
Greg Ward Jr. has been just as good as Lynch has this year, throwing for 13 touchdowns and running for 16. What Houston does best though is create turnovers, as the 25 turnovers the Cougars have forced are best in the country. Houston might have a little harder time forcing Memphis into mistakes since Lynch has only thrown two interceptions in 327 passing attempts. Last week Houston allowed Gunner Kiel to throw for 523 yards and four touchdowns, and I could see Saturday night's game against Memphis playing out the same way. Houston stays undefeated but this one comes down to the wire.
Houston 45 Memphis 42
Arkansas v. #9 LSU (-8) - 7:15 p.m. - ESPN
I'm still not exactly sure how Arkansas beat Ole Miss on Saturday, but for the second time in three games the Razorbacks were able to earn a victory in overtime. Brandon Allen was incredible in springing the upset in Oxford, passing for 442 yards and six touchdowns. After relying on the run so much last year, it has been quite a pleasant surprise to see Allen having so much success through the air. With teams having to respect Allen's ability to pass so much, it opens up the running game for Alex Collins, who surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the year on Saturday.
I'm sure LSU wants to burn the tapes of what happened on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. Leonard Fournette looked human against Alabama, only being able to muster 31 yards on the ground. Quarterback Brandon Harris was even worse, only connecting on six passes. While I wouldn't be surprised to see LSU come out with a spirited effort since they are still alive in the CFP discussion (even though they'll likely need a lot of help), I think Arkansas keeps this within a touchdown.
LSU 27 Arkansas 20
Oregon v. #7 Stanford (-10) - 7:30 p.m. - FOX
After it felt like Oregon was dead and buried after their loss in overtime to Washington State last month, the Ducks are now playing their best football of the season. Oregon has won three straight and is coming off a 44-28 win over California where they set as school-record with 777 total yards. Royce Freeman has been a beast on the ground pretty much all year, and Vernon Adams Jr. is finally playing at the level everyone expected him to when it was announced he was transferring from Eastern Washington, passing for 887 yards and accounting for 11 touchdowns during Oregon's winning streak.
With a win on Saturday night, not only will Stanford keep their hopes of earning a CFP spot alive, but they'll also clinch the Pac-12 North. With 147 yards rushing in last week's win at Colorado, Christian McCaffery went over 100 yards on the ground for the seventh straight game. Where Stanford is best is controlling the football, with the 35:17 in time of possession they average a game being best in the country. After spoiling Oregon's high hopes in 2012 and 2013, Stanford has to be weary of the shoe being on the other foot in this one and Oregon getting a bit of payback. Oregon will give the Cardinal a game much like Washington State did a few weeks ago, but in the end Stanford will pull out the victory.
Stanford 34 Oregon 30
#12 Oklahoma v. #6 Baylor (-3) - 8:00 p.m. - ABC
Imagine where Oklahoma might be right now had it not been for that loss to Texas in early October. Since losing to the Longhorns, Oklahoma has been playing great football, winning their last four games by a combined 182 points. Even though the competition the Sooners have been playing hasn't been that great, it's hard to find fault in a team that has scored 50 points or more in their last four games. A big performance from quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has thrown 28 touchdowns this year, could enter him into the discussion for the Heisman Trophy.
Even though Baylor is undefeated, it feels like a matter of time before the Bears finally drop a game. Jarrett Stidham was impressive in his first start last Thursday, throwing for 419 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Kansas State. Still the Baylor defense leaves a lot to be desired, and Saturday night they'll be taking on an Oklahoma team that is the most complete team they've seen this year. The Bears do have the luxury of home-field advantage, where the 20 straight games they've won is the longest active FBS streak, but I don't think it'll be enough. Oklahoma gets some revenge for dropping three of the last four to Baylor.
Oklahoma 48 Baylor 38