I got both of my upset specials last week, but I could hardly miss. There were upsets galore in the Top 25, starting with the two games played on Friday night — both defending national champion Clemson and Washington State bit the dust, and there were even more upsets the following day.
As you would expect, that led to a considerable shakeup in the rankings. Alabama remained on top, of course, but everything was shuffled after that. Yes, sir, there was a major makeover in the rankings this week, and it is quite possible we will see even more of a shakeup this week.
It might be a good week for a team to have off — and, as it turns out, six of the Top 25 teams are idle this week — including a couple of teams that fell victim to upsets last week.
Idle: #3 Georgia, #6 Ohio State, #7 Clemson, #12 Washington, #16 North Carolina State, #22 Stanford
- #25 Memphis at Houston, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: I advise the student newspaper at one of the local community colleges. A fellow who advises with me is a native of Memphis, and he's proud of the Tigers' performance in football so far this year.
Remarkably, Memphis comes into this game a 2½–point underdog, but that's OK. I'll go with Memphis as an upset special.
- Tennessee at #1 Alabama, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS: Tennessee has lost 10 in a row to Alabama and hasn't won at Tuscaloosa since 2003.
The oddsmakers don't think the Vols are likely to win this one, either. They have made Tennessee a 36–point underdog.
Yep. I pick Alabama.
- #19 Michigan at #2 Penn State, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC: This has to be the marquee matchup of the week.
Common sense tells you that the winner of the Big Ten is likely to end up in the national championship playoff in January — unless that champion has two losses. The Wolverines already have one loss (to Michigan State) with confrontations with Wisconsin and Ohio State still on the schedule. Penn State is undefeated, but the Nittany Lions must face Michigan State and Ohio State in the weeks immediately after their game with the Wolverines.
Clearly, neither team can afford to lose this one — but just as clearly someone will.
Penn State is favored by 10, but I'm thinking that Michigan will win this one in an upset special.
- Kansas at #4 TCU, 7 p.m. (Central) on Fox: It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Horned Frogs are favored by 37½ points in this game.
And it shouldn't be a surprise when TCU wins this game handily.
- Maryland at #5 Wisconsin, 11 a.m. (Central) on Fox: This is only the third time these schools have faced each other. Wisconsin won the first two meetings by impressive margins.
The oddsmakers think the same thing will happen this time. They have made Wisconsin a 24½–point favorite. Sounds right. I pick Wisconsin.
- Syracuse at #8 Miami (Fla.), 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Miami has won 13 of 15 meetings with Syracuse since 1990, and the oddsmakers expect Miami to win again.
Now, Syracuse did defeat the defending national champion Clemson Tigers last week, but I just don't think the Orange can beat two Top 10 teams in a row. My choice is Miami.
- #9 Oklahoma at Kansas State, 3 p.m. (Central) on Fox: Since Kansas State beat Oklahoma 35–7 in the 2003 Big 12 championship game, the Sooners have beaten Kansas State in eight of 10 meetings.
They're favored to win this time by two touchdowns. OK. I take Oklahoma.
- #10 Oklahoma State at Texas, 11 a.m. (Central) on ABC: Until fairly recently Texas dominated this series.
But the Cowboys have won five of the last seven meetings, and they have won four in a row in Austin.
Oklahoma State is favored to win this one, too — by 6½ points. I think that is being generous. I expect Oklahoma State to win by a wider margin.
- #11 Southern Cal at #13 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC: There are many rivalries in college football, but only a handful stand as the elite rivalries, the ones that define what a Saturday in the autumn months is all about.
The Southern Cal–Notre Dame rivalry is one of those rivalries — with roots in the Knute Rockne era.
Historically the home field favors the home team. Southern Cal was at home last year and beat Notre Dame by nearly three touchdowns. But Notre Dame has won the last two at South Bend and is favored to win again, this time by 3½ points. I hope that means it will be a good game.
I expect Notre Dame to win.
- North Carolina at #14 Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: I expect this to be a good game.
Virginia Tech has roughly a 2–to–1 advantage in the all–time series, but they're knotted at 4–4 in games played at Virginia Tech.
The oddsmakers don't think it will be so good. They pick Tech by 21 points. And I have to admit that, even though their all–time record in Blacksburg isn't bad, I don't think the Tar Heels have the horses to stay with Tech for 60 minutes.
My pick is Virginia Tech.
- Colorado at #15 Washington State, 9:45 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: The pattern of the last six games in this series has been that the teams alternate as the winner.
Colorado won last season's meeting so that should mean that Washington State will win this time, right? The oddsmakers think so, too. They have established Washington State as a 10–point favorite.
I also think Washington State will win.
- #16 South Florida at Tulane, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: These schools have never faced each other before, but I have the feeling it could be a bit one–sided.
So do the oddsmakers. They have made South Florida an 11½–point favorite. Good enough for me. I take South Florida.
- Indiana at #18 Michigan State, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC: Until last year, Indiana had lost 11 of the last 12 meetings with Michigan State. But the Hoosiers won, 24–21.
That game, though, was played at home. This game will be played in East Lansing, where Indiana hasn't won since Nov. 10, 2001.
The oddsmakers don't think the Hoosiers will win this time, either. The Spartans are favored by 6½ points. While it is tempting to pick the Hoosiers to beat the Spartans for the second straight time, which they haven't done since the late '60s, my choice is Michigan State.
- #20 Central Florida at Navy, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBSSN: This is the first–ever meeting between these schools.
Central Florida is favored by a touchdown, but Navy was in the Top 25 before losing to Memphis last week.
I like Navy as an upset special.
- #21 Auburn at Arkansas, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Auburn is favored by 15½ points.
As much as I would like to see the Razorbacks turn things around, they won't do it this week. My pick is Auburn.
- #23 West Virginia at Baylor, 7 p.m. (Central): These teams have met five times since becoming conference rivals, and each time they have played, the home team has been the winner.
But winless Baylor really doesn't seem likely to beat West Virginia — unless the Mountaineers get caught looking ahead to Oklahoma State next week. West Virginia is favored by 9 points. I'll take West Virginia.
- #24 LSU at Ole Miss, 6:15 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: LSU has the upper hand in the all–time series, and the Tigers are favored to win this one by 6½ points.
But the Rebels have beaten the Tigers three of the last four times LSU has visited Ole Miss.
I think it could be close — maybe even closer than the spread — but I think LSU will prevail.
Postponed by Hurricane Irma: 4
Last week's upset specials: 2–0
Overall upset specials: 4–12