How fitting it is that this year's record is 61-61-3 heading into November. MC&J is hoping for a strong start to a month where the pressure is turned way up.
Last week ATS: 7-5 (4-3 National, 3-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 61-61-3 (22-23-2 National, 39-38-1 B1G)
National Games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
#6 Baylor (-17) v. Kansas State - Thursday 7:30 p.m. - Fox Sports 1
After being ranked just sixth in the first CFP rankings of the season, Baylor will undoubtedly have something to prove when they travel to Manhattan to take on Kansas State on Thursday night. Even though the Bears are scoring 61 points per game so far this season, there are questions if they'll be able to keep scoring at that rate now that quarterback Seth Russell has been lost for the season due to a neck injury. Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham has been impressive in limited duty this year, throwing six touchdowns. At least Stidham will have the luxury of throwing the football to wide receiver Corey Coleman, who has already caught 18 touchdown passes this season.
There is always the danger of picking against Bill Snyder teams at home, but covering against this Baylor offense might be asking a little too much. I was burned earlier this year when I thought TCU would roll Kansas State in Manhattan, but I just don't see the Wildcats keeping pace in this one. During their four-game losing streak, quarterback Joe Hubener has really struggled, throwing just one touchdown and five interceptions. Baylor wins big to give Kansas State just their second 0-5 conference start under Snyder, with the other one coming in Snyder's first year with the Wildcats in 1989.
Baylor 55 Kansas State 24
#5 Notre Dame (-8.5) v. Pittsburgh - 12:00 p.m. - ABC
After barely squeaking by Temple in Philadelphia on Saturday night, now the Fighting Irish will be hoping to stay alive in the College Football Playoff race with a win in Western Pennsylvania. Notre Dame should be focused for this contest, since if they win they have a couple winnable games against Wake Forest and Boston College before closing out the regular season against Stanford. The Fighting Irish can't afford to have DeShone Kizer make red zone mistakes like he did last week, throwing two interceptions in the first half which kept the game closer than it probably should have been.
Pittsburgh will have to regroup quickly after last Thursday's loss to North Carolina if they want to have a shot at playing spoiler. The Panthers did show some fight, rallying to at least make the game close, but they can't fall behind early against Notre Dame. The last six games Pittsburgh has played have been decided by a touchdown or less, but I think that streak comes to an end on Saturday. The Fighting Irish win by double-digits.
Notre Dame 31 Pittsburgh 17
#8 TCU (-5) v. #14 Oklahoma State - 3:30 p.m. - Fox
TCU rolled West Virginia last week, and has had a few extra days to prepare for the trip to Stillwater. The Horned Frogs are getting healthier as the season moves on, and coincidentally they are looking more impressive with each week. Earlier in the year TCU's defense was an area of concern, but they haven't allowed more than 21 points in three of their last four games. If the Horned Frogs can keep their defense rolling, they'll be hard to take down since they have Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson on offense.
A lot of people have been impressed by what Oklahoma State has done this season. I'm not one of those people. If Texas Tech had anything close to a defense, the Cowboys would've lost last week. Even though they'll be at home this week, I really do think Oklahoma State comes back down to earth. Mike Gundy has been able to use both Mason Rudolph and J.W. Walsh at quarterback and highlight the strengths of both, but I think TCU slows them down enough to win by at least a touchdown.
TCU 44 Oklahoma State 34
#16 Florida State v. #1 Clemson (-12) - 3:30 p.m. - ABC
Not only did Florida State lose to Georgia Tech a few weeks ago, but they went into the Syracuse game without Everett Golson and Dalvin Cook. Sean Maguire was more than capable of filling in for Golson, throwing for 349 yards and three touchdowns. Golson will be back for Saturday's game, but the possibility of Jimbo Fisher also using Maguire will give Clemson just another thing to plan for. Along with Golson, Cook will be back, and will be hoping to hit some big plays against a Clemson defense that is one of the best in the country.
Clemson topped the CFP rankings this week and it's easy to see why. After destroying Miami two weeks ago, all Deshaun Watson did last week against North Carolina State was throw five touchdowns to five different receivers, and add a sixth touchdown on the ground. The Tigers always seem to have trouble with Florida State though, and I think this is just too many points in a heated rivalry. Clemson wins, and essentially clinches the ACC Atlantic, but Florida State stays within double-digits.
Clemson 27 Florida State 20
Navy v. #13 Memphis (-8) - 7:00 p.m. - ESPN2
For the 12th time in 13 years Navy is bowl eligible, and unless they win the AAC, they are probably headed to the Military Bowl. The Midshipmen still do have a very real chance to make some noise in the American, coming into this week's matchup at 4-0. Keenan Reynolds tied Montee Ball's NCAA record last week with 77 career rushing touchdowns. Navy did put a scare into Notre Dame earlier in the year, heading into halftime trailing just 24-21 before the Fighting Irish went on to win 41-24.
Last week Memphis fell behind Tulane 13-0 early, but scored 41 unanswered points to cruise to a win. Falling behind early isn't a new thing for the Tigers, as they trailed by double-digits against Kansas, Bowling Green, and Ole Miss earlier this year. Paxton Lynch continues to put up incredible numbers, but I don't know if he'll be able to do that if he doesn't have the football. Memphis has been pretty good against the run this year, but Navy can make good rushing defenses look bad with the triple-option. I can see Navy controlling the clock with the triple-option attack to keep the game within a touchdown, but Memphis pulling out the win in the end to setup next week's huge showdown with Houston.
Memphis 38 Navy 34
#2 LSU v. #4 Alabama (-6.5) - 8:00 p.m. - CBS
The yearly contest between these two teams has lately been a title eliminator, and it wasn't even that in 2011 when they met again in the BCS National Championship Game. LSU sits just behind Clemson in the CFP rankings, thanks mostly to Leonard Fournette. The sophomore leads the nation with 1,352 yards rushing and is second in the country with 15 rushing touchdowns. While Fournette has been outstanding, quarterback Brandon Harris has quietly been good, throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions on the year.
Some might wonder why Alabama is ranked above a number of undefeated teams, but I feel the CFP committee got it right ranking the Crimson Tide fourth. The matchup between Fournette and Alabama's rushing defense will be great to watch. Alabama is only allowing 78.5 yards rushing per game, and since 2005 have only allowed 16 100-yard rushers. Derrick Henry has also been strong this year, rushing for 1,044 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide may have allowed 43 points in the loss to Ole Miss earlier in the year, but I don't see that happening again on Saturday night. Alabama has 10 interceptions over the last five games, and they'll get Harris to throw his first couple of the season. Many think this game will be close, but I think Alabama ends up winning by at least a touchdown.
Alabama 24 LSU 13