Josh Kendall

SEC schedule’s a dud but plenty of other big games

Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes are a 14-point favorite over Big Ten rival Michigan State.
Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes are a 14-point favorite over Big Ten rival Michigan State. AP

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.

Straight: Michigan

ATS: Michigan

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.

Straight: LSU

ATS: LSU

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.

Straight: Clemson

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.

Straight: Oregon

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.

Straight: Arkansas

ATS: Arkansas

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.

Straight: UCLA

ATS: UCLA

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.

Straight: Tennessee

ATS: Tennessee

Northwestern at Wisconsin (minus-10)

The Wildcats are the higher-ranked team but haven’t gotten much love from Las Vegas all season.

Straight: Wisconsin

ATS: Northwestern

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.

Straight: Oklahoma

ATS: Oklahoma

Last week

Straight: 7-5

ATS: 6-6

Season

Straight: 91-40

ATS: 68-61

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