The SEC is holding its annual before-the-rivalry-games dud weekend, but the landscape is much better across the rest of college football.
While the home conference is providing us duds like Florida vs. Florida Atlantic, Georgia vs. Georgia Southern, Alabama vs. Charleston Southern, etc., the Big Ten and Big 12 are filling in the gap with actual quality games.
The best of the bunch is Michigan State at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won 23 straight games. They haven’t lost since Sept. 6 of last year when they fell 35-21 to Virginia Tech, and they’re three more wins away from another spot in the College Football Playoff. Those wins won’t come easy, though.
The Buckeyes are 14-point favorites against Michigan State, but this won’t be a walkover. The Spartans are operating on the same level of the Spartan teams of previous years, but this is a scary game for Urban Meyer, who has Michigan next week and then the Big Ten championship game against Iowa.
Straight: Ohio State
ATS: Michigan State
North Carolina (minus-5 1/2) at Virginia Tech
Frank Beamer’s last home game as the Hokies coach comes against one of the hottest teams in the nation.
Straight: North Carolina
ATS: North Carolina
Michigan (minus-3) at Penn State
The Wolverines (8-2, 5-1) have put together an impressive season in Jim Harbaugh’s first year, and they’ve still got a shot at the Big Ten championship game.
LSU at Ole Miss (minus-6 1/2)
Two teams with SEC championship hopes not long ago are now trying to save their respective seasons. Les Miles might be coaching to save his job.
Wake Forest at Clemson (minus-29)
The Tigers are at a dangerous part of their schedule, being huge favorites in their final two games with the ACC title game looming. It won’t matter this week, though.
ATS: Wake Forest
Southern Cal at Oregon (minus-4 1/2)
Trojans coach Clay Helton is fighting to have his interim tag removed and probably will get that if he can beat the Ducks and UCLA to end the season.
ATS: Southern Cal
Mississippi State at Arkansas (minus-5)
If Arkansas could ever get the first half of the season figured out under Bret Bielema, they’d be on to something. The Hogs have won four straight.
UCLA at Utah (minus-1 1/2)
The Pac-12 race is a logjam. Both of these teams are playing for the South Division title.
Tennessee (minus-7) at Missouri
Missouri rallied the troops for coach Gary Pinkel last week to beat BYU. Now the team will play its final home game under the retiring Pinkel. The Vols have won four of five.
Northwestern at Wisconsin (minus-10)
The Wildcats are the higher-ranked team but haven’t gotten much love from Las Vegas all season.
Baylor at Oklahoma State
You can find either team as a one-point favorite in this game, so I’m going to pick it as a pick ’em. If the Cowboys are going to get into the playoff, they’ll have to earn it by beating the Bears and Oklahoma in the final two weeks.
Straight: Oklahoma State
ATS: Oklahoma State
TCU at Oklahoma (minus-11)
There’s uncertainty about injured quarterback TCU Trevone Boykin, but the Frogs know they’ll be without star wide receiver Josh Doctson.