Last week was much like the week before, pretty much splitting the games of the week. This week’s national games are pretty ugly for the most part, aside from Alabama-LSU so there are a few that in a normal week I wouldn’t touch, but had to this week due to the lack of quality games.
Last week ATS: 5-6 (1-4 National, 4-2 B1G)
Season ATS: 55-61-3 (21-28-1 National, 34-33-2 B1G)
No. 4 Texas A&M (-14) v. Mississippi State - 12:00 PM EST - SEC Network
Texas A&M was surprisingly ranked fourth in the first College Football Playoff rankings, and now they’ll be looking for a big performance to sway the committee to keep them ranked ahead of Washington. The Aggies have to have designs on a big game after seeing what Samford was able to do to Mississippi State last week. That’s right, I said Samford. Not Stanford. The Bulldogs just gave up 41 points and 627 yards to Samford in the 56-41 victory. With Texas A&M averaging 38 points and nearly 500 yards of offense per game, the Aggie offense has to be excited to head to Starkville.
Mississippi State is still trying to adjust to life without quarterback Dak Prescott, but they have gotten solid production at times from sophomore Nick Fitzgerald, who has thrown for 14 touchdowns and added another seven touchdowns on the ground. Fitzgerald has been about the only bright spot for the Bulldogs this year, who are just 3-5 heading into this matchup.
Of course this is usually the time of year when Texas A&M falls on its face, but if it’s going to happen this year the slide won’t start until next week. Trevor Knight and Trayveon Williams gash Mississippi State’s defense on the ground and the Aggies win by three touchdowns.
Texas A&M 45, Mississippi State 24
No. 11 Florida (-5) v. Arkansas - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Arkansas got a much needed week off after suffering a 56-3 drubbing at the hands of Auburn a couple weeks ago. The Razorbacks now have three losses on the season, but a little bit of silver lining for Arkansas fans is those losses have come to Auburn, Alabama, and Texas A&M, which are three of the strongest teams in the country. Now Arkansas is hoping the extra week can help quarterback Austin Allen and running back Rawleigh Williams III try and find some holes against a very tough Florida defense.
Last week Florida got back to work and had little trouble in shutting down Georgia. There are still concerns about Florida’s offense, but so far this season a lot of those worries have been alleviated by the play of the Gator defense. Florida is allowing opponents just 240 yards per game, and just once this season has allowed more than 14 points. Luke Del Rio has been serviceable at quarterback, but it remains to be seen how he’d respond if the Florida defense ends up giving up some points in a game.
If there was a team that can test Florida, this Arkansas team might just be the team to do it, especially in front of their home crowd. Austin Allen is capable of making some plays and if he does it could put some pressure on the Florida offense, which is something they haven’t had a whole lot of this season. I like the unranked home underdog to pull the upset here.
Arkansas 23, Florida 20
TCU v. No. 17 Baylor (-7.5) - 3:30 PM EST - FOX
Baylor is going to have quite the chip on their shoulder when they take the field in Waco on Saturday against TCU. The Bears lost to Texas last week, which pretty much erased any shot Baylor had of making the College Football Playoff. Now the Bears will have to try and secure a Big 12 championship, and a New Year’s Six bowl game. Quarterback Seth Russell was exhibiting concussion-like symptoms after the Texas game, but it sounds as if Russell will be good to go on Saturday against the Horned Frogs.
Things are really falling apart for TCU right now, with the Horned Frogs coming into Saturday’s game having lost three of their last four. Quarterback Kenny Hill was benched during last week’s double overtime loss to Texas Tech in favor of sophomore Foster Sawyer, but Hill should be back starting this week. The Texas A&M transfer started off the season with a few big games, but has been pretty bad of late. Hill has thrown 10 interceptions already this season.
If there is a team for Baylor to rebound against, TCU might be the perfect team for that right now. The Bears are averaging 260 yards per game through the air, and 299 yards per game on the ground. TCU not only won’t be able to slow down the Baylor offense, but they’ll see their defense have little success in stopping Baylor’s balanced offense.
Baylor 41, TCU 28
No. 1 Alabama (-7.5) v. No. 13 LSU - 8:00 PM EST - CBS
This matchup is always one of the most anticipated games of the year in college football, and this year is no different. Early in the year it looked as if this game lost some of its luster after the Tigers started the season 2-2 and responded by firing head coach Les Miles. Since taking over for Miles, interim head coach Ed Orgeron has led the Tigers to three straight wins. In LSU’s last game a couple weeks ago, Leonard Fournette went crazy, setting a school record by rushing for 284 yards on just 16 carries against Ole Miss. Fournette will find the sledding a little tougher this week against a Alabama defense that is giving up just 70 yards per game. Fournette hasn’t had a lot of success against the Crimson Tide in the past, last year rushing for just 31 yards on 19 carries.
Alabama got a little bit of a scare from Texas A&M two weeks ago, as the Aggies took a 14-13 lead over the Crimson Tide early in the third quarter. Alabama responded by scoring the last 20 points of the game. LSU’s defense will certainly have their hands full trying to slow down quarterback Jalen Hurts, who can give defenses problems not only with his arm, but also with the work he can do with his legs.
LSU has not only been playing better football since Orgeron took over, but they have gotten solid play at quarterback from Purdue transfer Danny Etling. If LSU can get Etling to make a few plays, as well as finally find a way to get Fournette some space against the Alabama defense, they just might have a shot at snapping a five-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide. Even if the Tigers don’t win, they’ll keep things within a touchdown against Alabama.
Alabama 23, LSU 17
No. 5 Washington (-16.5) v. California - 10:30 PM EST - ESPN
Had it not been for a Dante Pettis punt return late in the fourth quarter, Washington might have joined the list of undefeated teams to fall last week. The Huskies were able to avoid the upset, but now have to hit the road for the second straight week, this time to take on a Cal team that can really put up some points.
Davis Webb has already thrown 415 passes this year, racking up 2,914 yards and 29 touchdown passes. A big reason why Webb has been able to accumulate such high numbers is because the California defense is putrid and usually gives up scores as quickly as the Cal offense puts up scores. Six of their last seven opponents have scored at least 40 points against the Golden Bears.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning has thrown 223 less passes than Webb, but nearly has Webb matched in touchdowns, throwing 28 so far this year. Add in running back Myles Gaskin topping 100 yards rushing in each of his last four games, and it will likely be a long night for the California defense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington a little sluggish with their second road game in a row, so that’s why I like the Golden Bears to keep it within the number.
Washington 48, California 37