There are three games between ranked opponents this weekend and at least four other games that feature ranked teams playing on the road against opponents who could pull a Lovie if people aren’t careful.
ESPN Gameday is in one of the Dakotas this weekend, but that’s mostly because they didn’t want to go to the big FOX game of Wisconsin at Ohio State, or the big CBS game of Auburn at LSU.
Just as ESPN has rooting interests, so do you, and there is plenty for you to root for.
And that also includes perhaps rooting for teams you’d prefer to see in the playoffs.
But that might be putting the cart before the horse.
Saturday October 26
Teams: #13 Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1) at #3 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Ohio State
If Big Ten football was a cake, this game would be fit for a wedding. The meal served at this wedding would be seven different kinds of sausage and 18 different kinds of microbrews. The music would be half polka, half Dead Schembechlers. Right before the vows, one side of the pews would shake with Hang on Sloopy, and the other with Jump Around. And with their faces pressed up against the stained glass windows, staring in from the outside, would be the Michigan Wolverines and the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Minnesota Gophers have somehow snuck in and they are hammering the open bar, which means they won’t be here for the long haul. Should be a fun one this weekend, however.
Ohio State 34 – Wisconsin 13
Teams: #5 Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) at Kansas State (4-2, 1-2)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Kansas State
Oklahoma probably has too much offense for Kansas State. The Wildcats are scoring 44 points per game out of conference, but just 16.3 points per game in conference. So, since the Sooners are still a conference opponent for another couple of years before they join the Big Ten and Rutgers gets buried in the Pine Barrens, things aren’t going to go well for Kansas State.
Oklahoma 38 – Kansas State 13
Teams: #20 Iowa (5-2, 2-2) at Northwestern (1-5, 0-4)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Iowa
You’re cheering for Iowa because Northwestern is a lost cause. Iowa has much better truck stops, anyway. They will let you put cheese sauce on anything. Anything. Food, clothes, a car charger. Doesn’t matter. And it’s only 35 cents. You can’t afford NOT to get those new sunglasses doused in cheese sauce! The Hawkeyes are a 9.5-point favorites here, which seems like plenty.
Iowa 24 – Northwestern 13
Teams: Illinois (3-4, 1-3) at Purdue (2-5, 1-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Illinois
Illinois comes into this game off of the huge win over Wisconsin. Can they win two in a row for the first time since they beat Penn State and Northwestern in consecutive weeks in 2014? Purdue, meanwhile, comes into this game following a “Wolverine Win” last week that saw them lose a close game on the road against a team that was better than them. It was a quality moral victory for the Boilermakers. This is a game that they need to win, however. When you lay out the schedule at the start of the season, this was one of those games that was supposed to be a win for Jeff Brohm and Purdue. I think he’s found something with quarterback Jack Plummer.
Purdue 34 – Illinois 27
Teams: Liberty (5-2) at Rutgers (1-6)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Rutgers
You are cheering for Rutgers, but you probably shouldn’t be. Liberty — a team that lost by three touchdowns at Louisiana — is favored by 7.5 points over the Scarlet Knights. The Big Ten Network has to air this monstrosity and they may even have to show some highlights. Rutgers is averaging 2.8 points per game in conference play. Fortunately, they aren’t playing a conference opponent this week, so they may just hit that 3-point mark! Amazingly, you would still have to pay upwards of eight dollars to watch this game in person.
Liberty 27 – Rutgers 16
Teams: #9 Auburn (6-1, 3-1) at #2 LSU (7-0, 3-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Auburn
LSU is favored by 10.5 points over Auburn, and as much as you should be shouting War Damn Evil, I just don’t think they have the offense to keep up with Joe Burrow and the LSU offense. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix has faced two good defenses this season and has five interceptions to show for it. LSU is probably a good defense, but Auburn isn’t the best decider. Don’t tell anybody I’ve downplayed the talent of the SEC West. I would never be able to live it down and I don’t need letters hitting my mailbox with misspelled threats. You want Auburn to win because with an LSU loss and a Buckeye win, you could see Ohio State ranked No. 1 in the initial College Football Playoff poll in a couple of weeks.
LSU 34 – Auburn 20
Teams: #6 Penn State (7-0, 4-0) at Michigan State (4-3, 2-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Penn State
I just don’t see Michigan State having enough offense to score the necessary 24 points to win this game. Rain could make this an interesting situation, however. The Nittany Lions are only favored by 5.0 points, so Vegas has some concerns. Where those concerns may lie is with Penn State’s offense, which isn’t as good as some would have you believe. They failed to hit 300 yards of total offense against Iowa and Michigan the last two weeks. Provided the Spartans haven’t quit, I don’t know how much better the Nits will do against the Spartans’ defense. This one could come down to James Franklin trying not to blow it, while Sparty also tries not to blow it. The team that blows it the least will come out on top.
Penn State 24 – Michigan State 20
Teams: Maryland (3-4, 1-3) at #17 Minnesota (7-0, 4-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Minnesota
Against Howard, Syracuse, and Rutgers this season, Maryland is 3-0 and averaging 63.3 points per game. Against everybody else, however, they are 0-4 and scoring just 14.8 points per game. The Terps gave up over 180 yards rushing in a 34-28 loss to Indiana last week. The Gophers are rushing for 284 yards per game in their last three outings, all against teams comparable to Maryland. And Minnesota isn’t just a running team, as quarterback Tanner Morgan has thrown for more than 200 yards in four of the Gophers’ seven games this season. Somehow, some way, Minnesota is going to be 8-0 when they host Penn State in two weeks. There is nothing better than college football. Plus, watching the Nittany Lions lose at Minnesota would be pretty funny.
Minnesota 41 – Maryland 20
Teams: Indiana (5-2, 2-2) at Nebraska (4-3, 2-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Indiana
The only reason you’re cheering for Indiana is because they have fewer losses and therefor can finish with more wins. That being said, Scott Frost needs this win for his Huskers. Adrian Martinez and Wan’Dale Robinson are both “hopeful” this weekend, which would help things immensely. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix practiced this week but is apparently a game-time decision. Last week, Penix went down, but veteran QB Peyton Ramsey saved the day for the Hoosiers against Maryland. All of these questions makes me wonder exactly how I’m supposed to pick this game. And then I wonder how it came to be that I’m putting pressure on myself to correctly predict a game between Indiana and Nebraska. How did it come to this and how could I have avoided it? Should I have studied harder in school? Should I not have set fire to the library? Should I not have framed the librarian and testified against her? Should I have then also not dedicated my life to smearing her reputation prior to each subsequent parole hearing even after the statute of limitations on my crime expired? Who is to say.
Nebraska 52 – Indiana 49 (3 OT)
Teams: South Carolina (3-4, 2-3) at Tennessee (2-5, 1-3)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (SECN)
Cheer For: Tennessee
The only reason I have this game in here is to make fun of Tennessee. The problem is that I have no more jokes to make. I’m all out. So, instead of talking football here or removing this preview altogether, I’m going to go grab a random Tennessee preview from a Tip Sheet back in 2009. Give me one second so I can go find one on the Wayback Machine. Ah, here we go… I think having a rivalry with Tennessee would be pretty cool because after the game, no matter the score, everybody could just go back to their vans and shoot off some fireworks and talk about their dogs. (It’s been my experience that all Tennesseans own vans, dogs and fireworks.)
South Carolina 27 – Tennessee 20
Teams: Arkansas (2-5, 0-4) at #1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Arkansas
For the first time in Nick Saban’s Alabama tenure, he must start a backup quarterback. One could credit that to an offense that doesn’t ask a quarterback to run the ball. Others could credit it to bagmen some how. The Tide will go with Mac Jones at quarterback and they should be just fine because they’re only playing Arkansas, and Arkansas is contractually obligated to be terrible.
Alabama 42 – Arkansas 14
Teams: Boston College (4-3, 2-2) at #4 Clemson (7-0, 5-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ACCN)
Cheer For: Boston College
The ACC is just horrific. Take a stroll through the standings. It’s like walking through a condemned slaughterhouse. Virginia and Pittsburgh are contending to win the Coastal division and both of those teams have a pair of losses. Boston College may be able to score 17 or so, but they’re going to give up at least twice that. Trevor Lawrence will have a decent game, throwing no more than two interceptions in this one. They will be incredible throws, however.
Clemson 42 – Boston College 17
Teams: #8 Notre Dame (5-1) at #19 Michigan (5-2)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Michigan
Call me an idiot. Or call me stupid. Or call me asinine. Or call me brainless. Or call me a Michigan fan, but I like the Wolverines in this one. The weather could be an issue, which I think helps Michigan. I like the Wolverine defense against an unimpressive Irish offense. I don’t know how Michigan is going to run the ball, so that’s kind of a huge problem with my plan. A loss for Notre Dame completely eliminates them from playoff contention and it also makes Georgia’s best win look less impressive. A win for Michigan will be a pleasant surprise for Jim Harbaugh who is always a classy winner.
Michigan 24 – Notre Dame 20
Teams: California (4-3, 1-3) at #12 Utah (6-1, 3-1)
Time (TV): 10:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Utah
I mention this below (I don’t always write these in order), but let’s go ahead and root for a Pac 12 team to make the College Football Playoffs. It’s fun to watch them try to show how good they are against the best in the nation. And really this week there’s no point in rooting for California. They’re not very good. Utah, on the other hand, still has playoff hopes. Their lone loss was on the road at USC and none of their other games have been closer than 18 points. Gosh, now that I’ve gotten a fuller picture here, this almost feels like a mortal lock Cal win because Pac 12.
Utah 38 – California 20
Teams: Washington State (4-3, 1-3) at #11 Oregon (6-1, 4-0)
Time (TV): 10:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Oregon
As I mentioned last week, I think I’m going to move you into the camp of rooting for Oregon in order to keep a second SEC team out of the CFP. At least for the time being. This being the Pac 12, anything can happen because the seriousness levels of the programs aren’t all that different from one another. The Cougars stopped their three-game losing streak last week with a blowout win over a bad Colorado team. Wazzu is leading the nation in passing, averaging 440.7 yards per game (they are 125th in the nation in rushing). The Ducks have the No. 5 pass efficiency defense, so we’ll probably see Washington State throw it 60 times for about 350 yards and none of it will mean anything.
Oregon 41 – Washington State 24