Friday, October 7, 2016

The Best Is Yet to Come

If you're a college football fan, it's hard to imagine how the season can get much better than it has been in just the first five weeks.

But, for the most part, that was the nonconference part of the schedule. By and large, the remaining games will be conference clashes.

There have been some really exciting games up to this point, but I truly believe the best is yet to come. This season is only going to get better.

Stay tuned.

Idle: #7 Louisville, #11 Wisconsin, #12 Nebraska, #13 Baylor, #14 Ole Miss, #22 West Virginia

  • #3 Clemson at Boston College, 6:30p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Clemson has won seven of its last eight games with Boston College, but Boston College plays Clemson tougher when the game is at home. If Boston College can win this game, the series will be tied in Boston.

    I don't think it will happen, though. I expect Clemson to win its eighth of nine against Boston College.
  • #19 Boise State at New Mexico, 8 p.m. (Central) on CBSSN: New Mexico beat Boise State for the first time last year, but New Mexico is still looking for its first home win against the Broncos.

    I think the Lobos will still be looking when the game is over. I pick Boise State.
  • #1 Alabama at #16 Arkansas, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Alabama has beaten Arkansas nine straight times.

    And, as much as I would like to see my alma mater win this game, I know it probably won't happen, even though the game is being played in Fayetteville. I pick Alabama.
  • Indiana at #2 Ohio State, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: In their last 23 meetings, Ohio State has beaten Indiana all but once — and that exception was a tie. The Hoosiers haven't beaten the Buckeyes since 1988 — and they haven't won at Columbus since 1987.

    Ohio State should roll in this one.
  • #4 Michigan at Rutgers, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: These teams have played twice since Rutgers joined the Big Ten. The home team has won both times.

    That should make Rutgers the favorite in this game, but I don't think Rutgers can beat Michigan, especially with the memory of Rutgers' drubbing at the hands of Ohio State still fresh. I pick Michigan.
  • #5 Washington at Oregon, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on Fox: Oregon has beaten Washington 12 straight times.

    Washington was once more competitive against Oregon — and looked to be closing the gap last year when the Huskies lost by six to the Ducks. It was the first time since Washington's last win in the series (in 2003) that Oregon didn't win by at least 17 points (and usually much more than that).

    Washington can be forgiven for believing that last week's rout of Stanford is indicative of much better things to come this season. Perhaps it will be. If it is, it needs to start here with a win over Oregon.

    I'm still not sold, though. Based on the rankings, my selection of Oregon qualifies as an upset special.
  • #6 Houston at Navy, 2 p.m. (Central) on CBSSN: In their previous meetings, Houston is 2–0 — but one of those wins came in the 1980 Garden State Bowl. Houston blanked Navy on that occasion.

    They met again last year, and Houston prevailed by 21 points. Navy did score that time, but so did Houston — a lot.

    Both teams are 2–0 in American Athletic Conference play. I'll take Houston.
  • #9 Tennessee at #8 Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS: As an Arkansas graduate, the game of the week for me is Arkansas–Alabama, but for the rest of the Southeastern Conference, the Vols–Aggies game is clearly the game of the week.

    Both teams are 5:ndash;0 overall, and they have met only twice before. Tennessee won both times, the first time in the 1957 Gator Bowl, the second time in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day 2005. Most of the guys on the current rosters were in elementary school the last time these teams faced off.

    They compete in different divisions so a loss in this game won't necessarily prevent either from being in the conference championship game, but Tennessee probably has the advantage with wins over divisional rivals Florida and Georgia.

    Alabama will be waiting for Tennessee next week, but all the rest of the Volunteers' SEC East foes have at least two conference losses. The Aggies have three SEC wins, but they still must play Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU.

    Both teams are good, and I expect a close game. But the Vols have shown that it truly isn't over until it's over, even on the road. I pick Tennessee.
  • #23 Florida State at #10 Miami (Fla.), 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC: Florida State has won this game nine of the last 11 times the teams have met.

    But Miami's last win over Florida State came at home on Sept. 7, 2009.

    Florida State is sure to be smarting after last week's loss to North Carolina. Can the Seminoles put things together and get a bounce–back win at Miami?

    I think they can. Based on the rankings, Florida State over Miami is an upset special.
  • Washington State at #15 Stanford, 9:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Stanford has beaten Washington State eight straight times.

    Washington State is 1–0 in the Pac–12 North while Stanford is 2–1, but Stanford is unbeaten at home while WSU is winless on the road.

    I pick Stanford to extend its streak.
  • #25 Virginia Tech at #17 North Carolina: Virginia Tech leads the all–time series, but North Carolina won the game they played last season.

    A lot of attention is being given to North Carolina's quarterback after he led the Tar Heels to a victory at Florida State last weekend.

    That wasn't just any victory, by the way. In case you haven't heard, that was Florida State's first conference loss at home since 2011.

    Virginia Tech, however, is 5–1 at North Carolina since Tech joined the ACC in 2004. The lone exception was North Carolina's 48–34 win in 2012.

    The winner will remain in contention for the ACC's Coastal Division crown. If Miami loses to Florida State, the winner will be in the divisional driver's seat. This would be a great game to watch. I can't understand why no one is televising it. I pick North Carolina.
  • LSU at #18 Florida, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN: These teams have been annual opponents for more than 40 years. It is considered a rivalry, although if you play in the SEC, you are rivals with everyone — and that seems especially true of LSU.

    The LSU–Florida winner has gone on to win five national titles and 11 SEC championships in the last couple of decades.

    LSU probably doesn't consider itself a national contender this year, considering all the chaos that has surrounded the program.

    So I will take Florida even though LSU has won five of the last six encounters.

    Update: Due to Hurricane Matthew, the LSU–Florida game was postponed. Southeastern Conference officials are trying to reschedule it.
  • Texas vs. #20 Oklahoma, 11 a.m. (Central)on FS1: When I was growing up, this game nearly always featured ranked teams — and I'm talking about Top 5 rankings — on both sides of the ball.

    It was a game that almost always had national championship implications. More often than not, it was called the game of the year — and not lightly, either. It wasn't merely an advertising gimmick.

    It isn't that way, anymore. But it is still a rivalry, which means anything can happen. In a lifetime of watching these games, I have seen the underdog win as often as the favorite. I taught at the University of Oklahoma during a period when the Sooners probably had their worst football teams in memory, but OU still managed to beat Texas a couple of times — even when Texas had the better team.

    OU has had the upper hand of late. While Texas has won two of the last three, the Sooners' record against Texas since Bob Stoops has been coach is 10–7.

    I pick Oklahoma.
  • #21 Colorado at Southern Cal, 3 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: The Pac–12 hasn't been as predictable as it once was.

    Based on the rankings, I suppose one would expect Colorado to win this game. But Southern Cal has never lost to Colorado, not even once, in 10 previous meetings.

    Historically, this wouldn't be an upset, but because of the rankings make Southern Cal an upset special in this one.
  • Arizona at #24 Utah, 9 p.m. (Central) on FS1: Arizona has seized the series lead with victories in the last four meetings, and the Wildcats have won four of the last five games at Utah.

    More often than not, though, the games have been close. Might not be so close this time. I pick Utah.
Last week: 17–4

Overall: 79–23

Last week's upset specials: 1–1

Overall upset specials: 3–7

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