Here are our staff picks for this week’s top college football games, which are listed in standard Vegas rotational order.
Last week and year-to-date standings are at the bottom.
The home team has won — and covered — all five meetings in this series. The over has landed in Temple’s last three games and five of USF’s last six.
Hurricanes defensive end Gregory Rousseau has seven sacks in the last two weeks and is tied for second in the nation with 12 for the season. Not bad for a redshirt freshman. Three of Miami’s four losses this season have been when they were favored. The 'Canes lost safety Bubba Bolden for the year with an apparent leg injury he suffered when he was drilled by teammate Gurvan Hall while celebrating an interception last week. Whatever happened to a smack on the helmet?
The Irish are on an 0-3 skid against the spread, and Duke is 0-2-2 ATS since September. Their last meeting was in 2016 when the Blue Devils won at Notre Dame on a late field goal. Duke was idle last week, so the campus will be stoked for a night game. Hope you have the ACC Network.
Wake is 7-1 for just the third time in school history and first since 2006. The total for Deacons games is routinely in the 60s, but the under has hit in five of the last six. The exception was a 62-59 loss to Louisville. Beware the look-ahead factor. Wake is second in the ACC Atlantic and will play at division-leading Clemson next week.
This is Saturday’s other game between undefeated teams.
Minnesota is 8-0 for the first time since 1941, which led them to give coach P.J. Fleck a seven-year contract extension and increase his salary from $3.6 million to $4.6 million next season, according to the Associated Press. The Gophers have also been money against the spread, covering five in a row.
The run game is Minnesota’s strength; the Gophers average more than 200 yards. Stopping the run is what Penn State’s defense does best. The Lions are second in the nation, allowing fewer than 70 per game.
Matt Rhule has Baylor at 8-0 and 12th in the playoff rankings, but this is the first of three stiff tests. The Bears’ next two will be home games against Oklahoma and Texas. If he gets through this stretch with two wins, Baylor could be headed to a New Year’s bowl. If he goes 3-0, he’ll get national-coach-of-the-year (and NFL) consideration. Baylor was 1-11 two years ago.
“It is all unchartered territory for our team, so I keep going out and saying my way is to not pay attention to any of that,” said Rhule, who coached Temple from 2013-16. “It is to just focus on this week and us. We have a lot of older guys who are doing that. And thankfully we are playing TCU, because that is a team our players know.”
The Horned Frogs have won four in a row against Baylor, going 2-2 against the spread.
LSU and Alabama are 1-2 in the AP poll and 2-3 in the playoff rankings, respectively. Biggest regular-season game so far as both teams are 8-0.
“The SEC West, going to the SEC championship, having a chance to be in the College Football Playoff, having a chance to win the national championship,” lovable LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We know what’s at stake but we don’t talk about that. ... I want our guys loose and relaxed and go play our football game.”
This game also could go a long way toward deciding the Heisman as quarterbacks Joe Burrow (LSU) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) are among the front-runners. Tagovailoa is dealing with an ankle injury, which caused him to miss ‘Bama’s most recent game, a 48-7 throttling of Arkansas. Both teams were off last week in fine example of schedule managing.
Alabama has won eight in a row against LSU, a run that started with the BCS title game after the 2011 season, covering six and holding the Tigers to fewer than 20 points each time. LSU is 5-2-1 against the spread this season, while the Tide are 4-4.
So what’s life been like for the Sooners, who had a bye last week after their stunning loss at Kansas State?
“A lot of sense of urgency, to be honest,” linebacker Kenneth Murray said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us — that sense of urgency. Getting back to being who we are and getting back to basics. Just really focusing on what we need to do as a defense to be successful. If I can put one term on what the practices have been like, it’s urgency.”
Iowa State has covered the last three against Oklahoma, including a win in Norman in 2017 as 31-point underdogs. The Cyclones also are coming off a loss/bye, falling to Oklahoma State on Oct. 26 as an 11-point favorite.
Kansas State has won three in a row and covered three in a row. Its defense has given up just four passing touchdowns all season. If not for a last-second field goal to beat lowly Kansas, Texas would be on a three-game losing streak.
Four of the nation’s five stingiest defenses live in the Big 10, including these two.
“I’ve seen the numbers,” Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia said. “If we clean it up a little bit, we can be that much better. There’s always room for improvement. But the focus is to be the best. You don’t want to be top-five. You want to be number one."
(Fewest average points per game allowed: Ohio State 7.9, Penn State 9.6, Iowa 10.1, Georgia 11.4, Wisconsin 11.4.)
Wisky has won and covered three in a row against the Hawkeyes. This season, the under has hit in five straight for Wisconsin, four straight for Iowa.
The Associated Press and VegasInsider.com contributed to this report.