College Football Picks: Week 11 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2014

College Football Picks: Week 11 Predictions for Every Game

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    For years we've clamored for a playoff in college football, something to help spice up the season beyond just figuring out who would be the top two teams in the country. We've got it, with the four-team College Football Playoff, and it's turning the final weeks of the 2014 season into a heck of a finish.

    This week might be the best yet of this campaign, with six matchups of teams both ranked in the CFP Top 25. All of them remain in contention for their conference titles while fighting for a spot either in the playoffs or one of the major bowls that the rankings help fill.

    The Week 11 slate also includes some notable stinkers, including battles for the bottom of the Big 12 and American Athletic conferences, but we can't have them all be classics.

    Check out our predictions for Week 11's games, as well as our experts' picks for the top games on Saturday. Then give us your thoughts on who will win this weekend in the comments section.

    Last week: 42-16 (.724)

    Season: 453-145 (.758)

    NOTE: Team rankings are based on the College Football Playoff Top 25.

No. 21 Clemson at Wake Forest

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    When: Thursday, Nov. 6; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tajh Boyd had 380 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in Clemson's 56-7 home win over Wake Forest in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Clemson (6-2, 5-1 ACC) brings a five-game win streak off its bye week, a stretch fueled by the Tigers' second-ranked defense that has allowed 268.6 yards per game. They've allowed only 36 points over the last four games, most of which were played without standout freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson because of a broken hand.

    Coach Dabo Swinney told Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports that Watson will dress for this game, but senior Cole Stoudt will be the starter. If the Tigers struggle offensively, don't be surprised if Watson gets in there to get things going.

    Wake Forest (2-6, 0-4) hasn't done anything on offense all season, ranking last in the country with only 213.5 yards per game. The Demon Deacons' run game is somehow gaining only 1.11 yards per carry and has contributed only three touchdowns, with quarterback John Wolford carrying the offense via his 1,377 passing yards and seven TDs.

    The atmosphere of a Thursday night could make for trouble for Clemson, but it has shown the ability to win close and low-scoring games since falling to Florida State in September. Don't expect that to change.

    Prediction: Clemson 24, Wake Forest 13

    Final: Clemson 34, Wake Forest 20

Memphis at Temple

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    When: Friday, Nov. 7; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: P.J. Walker threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns in Temple's 41-21 win at Memphis in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    A pair of teams that tied for last in the American Athletic Conference last season are in the thick of the title race this fall. They both appear to be headed for their first bowl game in a while.

    Memphis (5-3, 3-1 American) could be 7-1 if it could have made one more play against UCLA and Houston, but overall the Tigers have looked good this season. Part of the five-way tie for first place in the American, they've ridden a defense that is 15th in the country in scoring allowed at 19.4 points per game.

    Temple (5-3, 3-2) is a half-game behind the large pack in first. It picked up a huge win last week by upsetting East Carolina despite minimal offense. The Owls are 11th in scoring defense, at 18.4 points per game, and have forced 24 turnovers this season.

    Points will be at a premium, with Temple moving closer to the top with a close win.

    Prediction: Temple 17, Memphis 16

    Final: Memphis 16, Temple 13

Utah State at Wyoming

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    When: Friday, Nov. 8; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Utah State clinched the Mountain West's Mountain Division title with a 35-7 home win over Wyoming in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Utah State (6-3, 3-1 Mountain West) has put together another strong season through smoke and mirrors, overcoming a rash of injuries that has the Aggies on their fourth starting quarterback. True freshman Kent Myers completed 14 of his 15 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns at Hawaii last week, and combined with a defense that hasn't allowed more than 24 points since August, they've qualified for a bowl for the fourth year in a row.

    Wyoming (4-5, 2-3) ended a four-game losing streak in impressive fashion, finding a star in the process with freshman running back Brian Hill amassing a school-record 387 total yards (breaking the all-purpose yards record, too) in a 28-point win at Fresno State. The Cowboys have a tough go of it to become bowl-eligible, but with back-to-back games against division powers Utah State and Boise State, they'll have a hand in who wins it.

    Utah State is the more balanced team and will earn a close victory.

    Prediction: Utah State 27, Wyoming 24

    Final: Utah State 20, Wyoming 3

Louisiana Tech at UAB

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Louisiana Tech beat UAB 41-20 in November 1999.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana Tech (6-3, 5-0 Conference USA) has been on a roll of late, winning four straight behind the offensive combination of quarterback Cody Sokol and running back Kenneth Dixon as well as a defense that has limited its last four opponents to 13.3 points per game. Sokol has 22 touchdown passes, including 12 during the Bulldogs' recent run.

    UAB (5-4, 3-2) is a game away from being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004, the only time the Blazers have ever played in a bowl. First-year coach Bill Clark has put together a fun offense that averages more than 200 passing and rushing yards, but his defense has allowed 33.4 points per game over the last five.

    Tech appears destined for a season-ending clash with Rice for the West Division title. It will continue its run with a solid road victory.

    Prediction: Louisiana Tech 38, UAB 28

    Final: Louisiana Tech 40, UAB 24

UTSA at Rice

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    UTSA (2-6, 1-3 Conference USA) has lost six of seven and, despite a senior-heavy roster, is headed for a losing season. The Roadrunners have scored only 45 points over their last four games, getting shut out at home by UTEP two weeks ago.

    Rice (5-3, 3-1) has won five straight since starting 0-3, and the defending C-USA champions have won those five games by an average of 17.2 points. The Owls haven't allowed more than 21 points in a game since September.

    Teams headed in opposite directions will continue to move away from each other.

    Prediction: Rice 34, UTSA 13

    Final: Rice 17, UTSA 7

SMU at Tulsa

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Zach Line ran for three touchdowns in SMU's 35-27 home win over Tulsa in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    SMU (0-7, 0-3 American) has lost nine in a row and this season has put together one of the worst offensive runs in recent FBS history. The Mustangs average seven points per game, failing to hit double digits in five different games, and they're second worst in the country in total offense at 249.4 yards per game.

    Tulsa (1-7, 1-3) hasn't had trouble scoring or moving the ball thanks to the pass-catching combo of quarterback Dane Evans and receiver Keevan Lucas. The Golden Hurricanes' problem is keeping opponents off the scoreboard, as they've allowed at least 31 points in every game. They've lost seven in a row, blowing a 20-point halftime lead in their last home game.

    The rules say someone has to win this game. The edge goes to Tulsa only because of its ability to score consistently.

    Prediction: Tulsa 44, SMU 24

    Final: Tulsa 38, SMU 28

Penn State at Indiana

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Nate Sudfeld threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns as Indiana snapped a 16-game losing streak to Penn State, winning 44-24 at home in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Penn State (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) has lost four straight and has one of the more lethargic offenses in the country, one that can't run the ball (77.1 yards per game) and can't protect its talented young quarterback (30 sacks allowed). The Nittany Lions defense has been good, though, particularly against the run, yet it has not faced a running back as good as Indiana's Tevin Coleman.

    Indiana (3-5, 0-4) lost any chance of this season being a good one when quarterback Nate Sudfeld went down for the year in mid-October with a shoulder injury. Coleman leads the nation in rushing yards per game, at 162.5, but he can't do it alone, and the Hoosiers' defense has given up 45 points per game during an 0-3 skid.

    Coleman will do enough to get Indiana the win, though this will be a high-scoring game overall.

    Prediction: Indiana 35, Penn State 31

    Final: Penn State 13, Indiana 7

Iowa at Minnesota

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Mark Weisman ran for 147 yards in Iowa's 23-7 win at Minnesota in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Iowa (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) has heated up on offense as the temperatures have dipped, averaging 41.3 points per game over its last three. Once the Hawkeyes get to the red zone, Mark Weisman takes over. He has rushed for 13 touchdowns.

    Minnesota (6-2, 3-1) lost at Illinois the last time out and now begins a stretch against teams that are 27-6 and collectively are far better than most of the teams the Golden Gophers have faced. David Cobb has run for 1,131 yards and seven touchdowns, but overall the offense ranks 108th in total yardage.

    With both teams still having to face Nebraska and Wisconsin, neither can afford a loss here if they want to hang in the race for the West Division title. Minnesota is 5-0 at home and will reclaim the coveted Floyd of Rosedale trophy.

    Prediction: Minnesota 26, Iowa 23

    Final: Minnesota 51, Iowa 14

No. 12 Baylor at No. 15 Oklahoma

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Bryce Petty threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more in Baylor's 41-12 home win over Oklahoma in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Baylor (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) had this trip to Norman circled on its calendar from the outset, not just because the Bears have never won there but because it would also be the game that was to make or break their playoff run. But after losing to West Virginia earlier, the Bears might not even be able to use a victory against Oklahoma as a semifinal springboard, based on how low they're rated in the College Football Playoff standings despite just the one loss.

    "The Bears will have to be on top of their game to come home with a rare win in the state of Oklahoma," wrote John Werner of the Waco Tribune-Herald. "[Baylor coach Art] Briles' program has accomplished a lot of firsts in seven years, and a win over the Sooners on their turf would rank near the top of the list."

    To win there, though, Baylor will need to avoid the costly mistakes that have come up all season, namely with penalties. The Bears are last in the country in penalty yards per game, at 98.3, but last week against Kansas had only six flags for 54 yards.

    Oklahoma (6-2, 3-2) is coming off its most impressive win in a while, demolishing Iowa State on the road behind 100-yard rushing games from quarterback Trevor Knight as well as running backs Alex Ross and Samaje Perine. The Sooners' 510 rushing yards were their most in 25 years, and being able to control the game on the ground bodes well when facing a quick-strike opponent like Baylor.

    The Sooners lost their last home game but do have a distinct advantage playing there. Though likely out of the conference race, they can meddle with who wins and still have a lot to play for.

    Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Baylor 35

    Final: Baylor 48, Oklahoma 14

No. 25 Wisconsin at Purdue

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Melvin Gordon ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns in Wisconsin's 41-10 home win over Purdue in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) continues to be a run-first and -second team behind a multifaceted attack that's much more than Melvin Gordon. Gordon is the main piece, with 1,296 yards and 18 touchdowns, but along with Corey Clement and part-time quarterback Tanner McEvoy the Badgers are third nationally in rushing at 333.4 yards per game.

    McEvoy and Joel Stave have combined for only 143.6 passing yards per game, but with a defense that has allowed only 14.1 points per game and is No. 1 in the country in yards allowed (253.8), Wisconsin hasn't needed to throw much.

    Purdue (3-6, 1-4) is vastly improved from a year ago and has been competitive in nearly every game this season. The Boilermakers' 240 points is 61 more than they accumulated in 12 games in 2013, with Akeem Hunt leading a run game that's averaging 174.6 yards per game. Defense remains an issue, though, as Purdue has allowed 119 points during its three-game losing streak and for the year has yielded 31.7 points per game.

    Purdue will put up a fight, but its run defense isn't good enough to force Wisconsin to the air.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 34, Purdue 17

    Final: Wisconsin 34, Purdue 16

No. 20 Georgia at Kentucky

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes before going down with a season-ending knee injury in Georgia's 59-17 home win over Kentucky in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Georgia (6-2, 4-2 SEC) had its improved defense crash and burn last week in Jacksonville against Florida, and now the Bulldogs have gone from an outside playoff contender to likely not winning their division. They're also facing a hungry Kentucky team looking to jump on a vulnerable opponent, something that seems more doable after how Florida attacked Georgia on the ground.

    The Bulldogs remain 21st overall in total defense, even after allowing 418 yards on the ground, but must shore up its run defense before hosting Auburn next week and Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale.

    Kentucky (5-4, 2-4) doesn't pose that much of a rushing threat, but what the Wildcats do have going for them is a sense of urgency and a little desperation. They have lost three straight, stuck at a win short of bowl eligibility for a month, and this is their last home game before finishing at Tennessee and Louisville.

    "We cannot wait for our moment," coach Mark Stoops told Jennifer Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader. "We've got to train to go take it and make our moment. Right now we're in that mode of hoping, hoping things happen."

    Kentucky has been outscored 106-44 during its skid, losing 20-10 at Missouri last week. A reverse of that could happen, but odds are Georgia gets its issues fixed quicker.

    Prediction: Georgia 31, Kentucky 21

    Final: Georgia 63, Kentucky 31

Presbyterian at No. 11 Ole Miss

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; noon ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Presbyterian (5-4) is playing its third game against an FBS team this season, having lost 55-3 at Northern Illinois in August and 42-0 at North Carolina State in September. The Blue Hose are 0-8 all time against FBS opponents, their most notable achievement being a sweet bounce-pass touchdown against Wake Forest in 2010.

    Ole Miss (7-2) has dropped two straight to fall out of the playoff race, and late in its 35-31 home loss to Auburn the Rebels also saw star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell go down with a season-ending leg injury as he fumbled just short of the goal line. The harrowing injury has cast a gloom over what's been a great season for Ole Miss, which still has the top-ranked scoring defense and is on pace for its first 10-win season since 2003.

    The Rebels need a laugher after the last two rough games in SEC play, and both their offense and defense will dominate.

    Prediction: Ole Miss 44, Presbyterian 10

    Final: Ole Miss 48, Presbyterian 0

No. 22 Duke at Syracuse

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Duke beat Syracuse 33-6 back in October 1939.

    What to watch for

    Duke (7-1, 3-1 ACC) has a one-game lead in the loss column over its challengers for the Coastal Division crown, and with a win over Georgia Tech the Blue Devils control their own destiny. It's been a matter of keeping the mistakes to a minimum, with their five turnovers tied for fewest in FBS.

    The Devils are also one of the least penalized teams in the country, committing 4.9 infractions for just 39.3 yards per game.

    "We have that mentality that even in practice, a penalty can affect the outcome of a game," tight end David Reeves told Aaron Beard of The Associated Press.

    The offense is efficient, if not flashy, averaging more than 200 yards apiece in passing and rushing. That's not translated into controlling the clock, as Duke ranks 101st in time of possession, but it does avoid giving it away too easily.

    Syracuse (3-6, 1-4) hasn't been anywhere near as balanced or effective on offense, averaging only 20.1 points per game. It has scored just 23 total during back-to-back losses. The Orange have lost five straight at the Carrier Dome, their only home win coming in overtime after Villanova went for two instead of forcing a third OT.

    Duke has been very consistent this year and should continue to control its division.

    Prediction: Duke 25, Syracuse 14

    Final: Duke 27, Syracuse 10

No. 24 Georgia Tech at North Carolina State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Orwin Smith ran for three touchdowns in Georgia Tech's 45-35 win at North Carolina State in October 2011.

    What to watch for

    Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC) ranks fourth in the country in rushing, averaging 319.7 yards per game, yet the biggest improvement for the Yellow Jackets this season has been how well quarterback Justin Thomas has handled throwing the ball. Thomas has 1,247 yards and 14 touchdown passes, two more than Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight.

    With a balanced attack, the Yellow Jackets have played in shootouts and came from behind when needed, which has been needed a few times with a defense that allows 26.2 points per game.

    North Carolina State (5-4, 1-4) ended a four-game losing streak with a win at Syracuse last week, but the Wolfpack continue to struggle of late on offense. They've managed only 56 points over their last four games, with quarterback Jacoby Brissett averaging 154.5 passing yards during that stretch compared to 272.8 in NC State's first five.

    Brissett's production is down, but he's also avoided making too many mistakes, with only three interceptions in 279 attempts. NC State has only 11 turnovers this season.

    Holding on to the ball and sustaining drives is key to slowing down Tech, which is adept at forcing turnovers and will look to flip the field and capitalize with the option run. NC State will prevent that and get bowl-eligible.

    Prediction: North Carolina State 34, Georgia Tech 30

    Final: Georgia Tech 56, North Carolina State 23

South Alabama at Arkansas State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Sirgregory Thornton's three-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter gave Arkansas State a 17-16 win at South Alabama in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    The Sun Belt Conference gets only three automatic bids to bowl games, so being among the first to become eligible for one is huge in this conference. The winner of this clash will get to the coveted six-win mark, and for South Alabama it might help lock up its first-ever bowl appearance.

    South Alabama (5-3, 4-2 Sun Belt) played hard but lost by 10 at defending champ Louisiana-Lafayette. The Jaguars managed only nine points, meaning they've scored 18 points in their three losses and averaged 32.2 points in their wins.

    Arkansas State (5-3, 3-1) got five rushing touchdowns from Michael Gordon to pace a comeback win at Idaho last week, giving him nine TDs on the season and four straight 100-yard rushing games. The Red Wolves are 3-0 at home this year and finish with three of four in Jonesboro.

    Arkansas State gets eligible for a fourth straight bowl game.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 27, South Alabama 20

    Final: Arkansas State 45, South Alabama 10

Georgia State at Troy

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Corey Robinson's 54-yard touchdown pass to Chris Williams with 3:17 left gave Troy a 35-28 win at Georgia State in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Georgia State (1-8, 0-6 Sun Belt) has dropped eight in a row since winning its opener and remains without a victory over an FBS team in two seasons since moving up from the FCS level. Last week the Panthers hit a low, managing only 62 yards in a 44-0 loss at Appalachian State.

    Troy (1-8, 1-4) is playing out the string in the final season of coach Larry Blakeney's 24-year career with the Trojans. They have averaged only 17.8 points per game, a total that drops to 14.9 outside of their lone victory over New Mexico State.

    Any chance for Troy to win another one for Blakeney will be jumped on by this struggling team.

    Prediction: Troy 40, Georgia State 30

    Final: Troy 45, Georgia State 21

Louisiana-Monroe at Appalachian State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Monroe (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) has lost four straight, but the Warhawks earned points for their play in a 21-16 loss at Texas A&M last week. The Warhawks average 2.71 yards per rush but have gotten solid play most of the season from quarterback Pete Thomas.

    Appalachian State (3-5, 2-2) has won two straight, posting its second shutout victory of the season last week over Georgia State as its run game starts to get in motion. The Mountaineers rank 15th in rushing offense, at 258 yards per game, averaging 455 yards on the ground during their last two victories.

    Monroe tries to keep the score low, but Appalachian State will still control the tempo with its run game for a third straight win.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 34, Louisiana-Monroe 17

    Final: Appalachian State 31, Louisiana-Monroe 29

Texas A&M at No. 3 Auburn

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tre Mason ran for 178 yards, and his five-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left gave Auburn a 45-41 win at Texas A&M in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Texas A&M (6-3, 2-3 SEC) ended its three-game losing streak but at the same time looked about as bad as a team could in victory in a 21-16 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Freshman quarterback Kyle Allen's first start was nothing to be bragging about, with only 106 yards on 13-of-28 passing, and the Aggies' run game managed just 137 yards.

    The game did help A&M's defense regain some confidence after getting blitzed for 170 points over the previous four games, as Myles Garrett registered 3.5 sacks to set the SEC freshman sack record at 11. Most of those have come against inferior competition, though, and now he and his teammates have to tangle with an offensive line that's allowed just six sacks all season.

    Auburn (7-1, 4-1) got incredibly lucky in the final moments of its win at Ole Miss, recovering a fumble in the end zone to thwart a go-ahead touchdown. Lucky breaks and bounces have been part of the Tigers' way the past two seasons, but that shouldn't overshadow what was a great offensive performance against Ole Miss' vaunted defense.

    Nick Marshall had his best passing game of the season last week, and now facing an A&M team that allows seven yards per attempt, he could put up even bigger numbers. But Auburn is apt to run the ball just as much, with Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne pacing a ground game that's now up to No. 9 nationally at 277.5 yards per game.

    What looked at the beginning of the season to be one of Auburn's toughest matchups may be among its easiest, especially considering it has remaining trips to Georgia and Alabama.

    Prediction: Auburn 40, Texas A&M 23

    Final: Texas A&M 41, Auburn 38

No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 9 Arizona State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tommy Rees threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns in Notre Dame's 37-34 win over Arizona State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Notre Dame (7-1) has now seen what the playoff selection committee thinks of it through two different rankings, neither of which were very favorable. But with a final stretch that's full of strong competition, the Fighting Irish still have a chance to play their way into the semifinals if they win out, starting with a challenging trip to play a team it tried to take off the schedule last year.

    If the Sun Devils weren't on the slate at this point, though, there's even less chance Notre Dame would make it into the final four. It's a quality opponent that will help its strength of schedule, something coach Brian Kelly acknowledged this week while also throwing shade at some of the higher-ranked SEC teams and their late-season scheduling.

    "In 2012 I think we started the season with the No. 1 schedule in the country. I think we started that way this year, too," Kelly told Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune. "That's all we can do. We go into this putting together the toughest schedule in the country, right? Nobody else does it that way. They put on teams that are clearly glorified byes."

    Arizona State (7-1) made one of the biggest jumps in the latest standings, moving from 14th to ninth after beating Utah in overtime. The Sun Devils have won four straightall against teams with winning recordssince losing at home to UCLA, a game they played without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly.

    Kelly has since returned from what coach Todd Graham has now revealed was a broken foot that required surgery. Details of the injury had been minimal before that, but Graham said this in response to questions about Kelly looking rusty since his return and ASU's offense not being as explosive.

    Both ASU and Notre Dame have the ability to score a lot, and to play strong defense, though Notre Dame's defense wasn't there much last week against Navy. This will come down to quarterback play, and even though Kelly might not be 100 percent, he isn't as mistake-prone as Everett Golson. That will give the Sun Devils the edge.

    Prediction: Arizona State 30, Notre Dame 23

    Final: Arizona State 55, Notre Dame 31

Connecticut vs. Army (at Bronx, New York)

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Connecticut beat Army 21-7 in October 2006.

    What to watch for

    Connecticut (2-6) ended a five-game losing streak with its best offensive outing of the season last week, winning 37-29 at home against defending American Athletic Conference champ UCF. The Huskies have averaged 29 points per game during their last two, but for the season still rank fourth worst in FBS in total offense.

    Army (2-6) has lost three straight and had its run game stifled at home by Air Force last week. Being able to control the clock has been the Black Knights' only hope this season, as their defense gives up 6.35 yards per play.

    Connecticut is 27th against the run. Now with the confidence of a big win, it has the momentum to start a win streak.

    Prediction: Connecticut 26, Army 19

    Final: Army 35, Connecticut 21

Tulane at Houston

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Crawford Jones threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in Houston's 40-17 home win over Tulane in November 2012.

    What to watch for

    Tulane (2-6, 1-3 American) remains in a season-long funk that will prevent it from getting to a second straight bowl game. The Green Wave have managed to score only 58 points during their last five games, losing four, and their 12 interceptions thrown have offset a defense that has forced 21 turnovers. 

    Houston (5-3, 3-1) has won four of five and has the most momentum of any of the American's contending teams thanks to a defense that ranks fifth in scoring (16 points per game) and 14th in yards allowed (314.4 per game). The Cougars' offense has also picked up speed since Greg Ward Jr. took over as quarterback, and with no opponents above .500 until December, they have a chance to go on a big run.

    Houston is on a roll, and that will continue here.

    Prediction: Houston 30, Tulane 13

    Final: Tulane 31, Houston 24

Florida International at Old Dominion

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Florida International (3-6, 2-3 Conference USA) has dropped three straight, as its offense continues to struggle. The Golden Panthers are no longer forcing turnovers and converting them into quick scores. Defense is still FIU's best offense, as that unit's 25 takeaways is tied for second in FBS.

    Old Dominion (3-6, 1-4) hung around for three quarters at Vanderbilt before ultimately losing its fifth straight. Shoddy defense has doomed the Monarchs in their first full season of FBS play, as they've allowed 49.4 points per game during the losing streak. Taylor Heinicke has thrown for 2,577 yards and 23 touchdowns this season and has more than 14,000 yards for his collegiate career.

    Look for ODU to get back in the win column and Heinicke to pad his career stats.

    Prediction: Old Dominion 41, Florida International 31

    Final: Old Dominion 38, Florida International 35

No. 23 West Virginia at Texas

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Alex de la Torre caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Case McCoy in overtime to give Texas a 47-40 win at West Virginia in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    West Virginia (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) has to head west for a tough game still feeling the sting of its last-second loss to TCU, a game it could have won if not for five turnovers and various other missed opportunities. According to Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, reporters were instructed not to ask Mountaineers players about that game this week, a sign of how much the setback is lingering.

    As painful as that loss was, West Virginia's season isn't over and it should finish in the top half of a very strong league if it plays hard down the stretch. Clint Trickett had his first bad game of the season, throwing for only 162 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but for the year he's been superb and a big reason the Mountaineers are 13th in total offense.

    Texas (4-5, 3-3) is making a late push, winning two of three (bookending a shutout loss to Kansas State) to remain in contention for a bowl bid in this transition year under Charlie Strong. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is coming along slowly, but it's the Longhorns' defense that has shown the most growth by moving up to 37th in yards allowed.

    While West Virginia has the better schemes and players, Texas is in position to play spoiler and will catch a reeling Mountaineers team on a bad afternoon.

    Prediction: Texas 27, West Virginia 20

    Final: Texas 33, West Virginia 16

Michigan at Northwestern

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Devin Gardner's five-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion gave Michigan a 27-19 win in triple overtime at Northwestern in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Michigan (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten) had an offensive outburst, by Wolverines-against-power-conference-opponents standards, scoring 34 points against Indiana last week to keep faint bowl hopes alive. The emergence of sophomore running back Drake Johnson helped keep Devin Gardner from having to do it all, and with better balance the Wolverines have a chance to compete.

    Northwestern (3-5, 2-3) has lost three straight, with each defeat getting worse. Since the Wildcats upset Wisconsin, they've been outscored by 23.7 points per game. They average only 19.1 points for the season.

    Both teams average 330 yards per game, which ranks 116th in the country. It will come down to preventing big plays, with Michigan pulling off a few more than Northwestern to get the road win.

    Prediction: Michigan 24, Northwestern 20

    Final: Michigan 10, Northwestern 9

Iowa State at Kansas

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Grant Rohach threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in Iowa State's 34-0 home win over Kansas in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Iowa State (2-6, 0-5 Big 12) is headed toward a second consecutive losing season, but the Cyclones have at least been competitive in a handful of their games and had chances to win against Texas and Kansas State. Their defense has been the biggest problem, allowing 38.3 points per game and ranking 118th in yards allowed.

    Kansas (2-6, 0-5) will end its season without a bowl for the sixth straight year, and outside of this contest likely won't have another chance to win in Big 12 play this season. The Jayhawks haven't been any better since Charlie Weis was fired, losing four straight since the coaching change behind an offense that averages 16.3 points per game.

    Despite their records, both teams will likely fight harder than in any other game this season as they try to capitalize on their best opportunity to avoid a winless conference record.

    Prediction: Iowa State 35, Kansas 27

    Final: Kansas 34, Iowa State 14

UTEP at Western Kentucky

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    UTEP (5-3, 3-1 Conference USA) is a game away from a shot at its first bowl game since 2010, averaging 37 points during a three-game win streak. The Miners' plus-nine turnover margin is tied for 10th in the country.

    Western Kentucky (3-5, 1-4) was torched 59-10 at Louisiana Tech last week, the Hilltoppers' third loss in four but the first where their offense didn't compete. Brandon Doughty has thrown for 3,005 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, pacing an attack that averages 41.1 points per game. But with a defense that gives up 43.4 points per game, third worst in FBS, the losses have mounted.

    UTEP has been living a charmed life of late but might be running into a buzz saw.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 48, UTEP 23

    Final: Western Kentucky 35, UTEP 27

Air Force at UNLV

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tim Cornett ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns in UNLV's 41-21 win at Air Force in November 2013 to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2000.

    What to watch for

    Air Force (6-2, 2-2 Mountain West) turned up the defensive effort last week in a win at Army. It has already tripled last season's two-win tally while locking up bowl eligibility. The Falcons rank 12th in the country in rushing, but unlike most option teams they have offensive balance with quarterback Kale Pearson throwing for nine touchdowns.

    UNLV (2-7, 1-4) lost for the sixth time in seven games last week, falling at home to New Mexico, but the offense is starting to come around. Over their last three games, the Rebels have averaged 26 points, compared to 16.8 points per game during the first six.

    UNLV doesn't have the talent to compete in this game, so look for Air Force to pick apart the Rebels' poor run defense for tons of yardage.

    Prediction: Air Force 34, UNLV 17

    Final: Air Force 48, UNLV 21

Washington State at Oregon State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Sean Mannion threw for 493 yards and four touchdowns in Oregon State's 52-24 win at Washington State in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Washington State (2-7, 1-5 Pac-12) has dropped four straight and saw its already rough season take a major downward turn last week when prolific quarterback Connor Halliday was lost for the year with a broken ankle. On pace to shatter numerous season FBS passing records, Halliday's production now must come from freshman Luke Falk.

    Oregon State (4-4, 1-4) has dropped three in a row, two at home, including a 45-31 setback against California last week. Sean Mannion became the Pac-12's career passing yards leader during the game, with 12,454, but this season his production is way down, and he's thrown only nine touchdown passes after 37 a year ago.

    Falk put up decent numbers after replacing Halliday, but much of his production was during garbage time. Oregon State won't give him a chance to get comfortable, and both teams will put out all the stops to get this one.

    Prediction: Oregon State 41, Washington State 33

    Final: Washington State 39, Oregon State 32

UT-Martin at No. 1 Mississippi State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Vick Ballard ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns in Mississippi State's 55-17 home win over UT-Martin in November 2011.

    What to watch for

    UT-Martin (5-5) has won four straight games since a 1-5 start, which included a season-opening 59-14 victory at Kentucky. The Skyhawks are 1-17 all time against FBS competition, upsetting Memphis in 2012.

    Mississippi State (8-0) survived a major threat from Arkansas last week, needing a pair of late defensive stops to avoid the upset. The Bulldogs have won 11 straight but haven't looked as sharp since moving up to No. 1 in the country, though quarterback Dak Prescott remains a strong Heisman candidate with 2,750 yards of total offense and 26 total touchdowns.

    Look for MSU to romp but also use the game as a chance to tinker with things and rest key players ahead of a grueling stretch run that includes trips to Alabama and Ole Miss.

    Prediction: Mississippi State 47, UT-Martin 17

    Final: Mississippi State 45, UT-Martin 16

Georgia Southern at Texas State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Texas State beat visiting Georgia Southern 50-35 in November 2005 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

    What to watch for

    Georgia Southern (7-2, 6-0 Sun Belt) has won six straight since a 1-2 start that included narrow losses at North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. The Eagles have dominated on the ground behind the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation. They average 402.7 yards per game and 7.32 yards per carry and have scored 46 rushing TDs this season.

    Texas State (5-3, 3-1) is the No. 23 rushing team, averaging 238.6 yards per game, though in its last home game three weeks ago the Bobcats' run game was shut down in a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Coach Dennis Franchione has a chance to lead a fifth different program to a bowl game, and the first such game for Texas State, but needs to get as many more wins as possible with the Sun Belt having only three guaranteed bids.

    This won't be the game that the Bobcats become eligible, though, unless they suddenly improve their run defense.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 31, Texas State 23

    Final: Georgia Southern 28, Texas State 25

Idaho at San Diego State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 6:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: DeMaundray Woolridge had two touchdown runs in Idaho's 34-20 home win over San Diego State in September 2009.

    What to watch for

    Idaho (1-7) was declared ineligible for a bowl game by the NCAA before the season for low academic progress scores and has slugged through a schedule that featured a canceled game in Florida and plenty of other long road trips. The Vandals play better at home, but last week they blew a lead to Arkansas State.

    San Diego State (4-4) has struggled on offense this season, partly because of injuries at quarterback but also without the consistent running the Aztecs had in 2013. They average 282.8 rushing yards per game in wins and 149.5 yards per game on the ground in losses.

    Idaho is seventh worst against the run, so look for SDSU to grind it out and dominate.

    Prediction: San Diego State 40, Idaho 21

    Final: San Diego State 35, Idaho 21

Virginia at No. 2 Florida State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 6:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kevin Parks scored on a 10-yard run with 1:16 left to give Virginia a 14-13 win at Florida State in November 2011.

    What to watch for

    Virginia (4-5, 2-3 ACC) has dropped three in a row after a promising start. The Cavaliers are still 28th in total defense, but last week Georgia Tech ran and threw all over them without much resistance. With only 50 points in their last three losses, and a schedule that has no remaining gimmes, the Cavaliers may be headed for a third straight bowl-less season.

    Florida State (8-0, 5-0) pulled off its latest magic act on Oct. 30 at Louisville, spotting a team with a highly rated defense a 21-0 lead because of its own mistakes, then romping in the second half to make the game seem not close. Jameis Winston threw for 401 yards with three touchdowns but also had his first three-interception game. He got a lot of the Seminoles' young stars involved during the comeback.

    The breakouts of running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph bode well for both the future and present, as the defending national champions are looking more and more likely to run the table heading into the College Football Playoff.

    Look for FSU to jump on Virginia early and not let up.

    Prediction: Florida State 45, Virginia 16

    Final: Florida State 34, Virginia 20

Florida Atlantic at North Texas

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: North Texas used two interception return touchdowns to build a 31-0 lead in a 31-17 home win over Florida Atlantic in October 2011, when both teams were in the Sun Belt.

    What to watch for

    Florida Atlantic (3-6, 2-3 Conference USA) fell for the first time at home last week. It now heads out on the road where it has gone 0-5 this season and lost by an average of 27.4 points per game. The Owls led in the second half at C-USA leader Marshall two weeks ago but couldn't hold on, lacking a defense to make big stops late.

    North Texas (2-6, 0-4) is in full rebuilding mode after it won a bowl game last season. The Mean Green have lost four straight, and if their 43-6 win over winless SMU and 77-3 win against FCS Nicholls State are taken out they've allowed 42.7 points per game and lost by more than 23 points per outing.

    Neither team is going to make a bowl this season, but North Texas will still be in contention next week. 

    Prediction: North Texas 27, Florida Atlantic 21

    Final: North Texas 31, Florida Atlantic 10

Marshall at Southern Mississippi

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Rakeem Cato threw five touchdown passes in Marshall's 61-13 home win over Southern Mississippi in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Marshall (8-0, 4-0 Conference USA) is not in the College Football Playoff Top 25 despite having the best record of any group-of-five team and with East Carolina having lost. The Thundering Herd's weak schedule hasn't done them any favors, likely discounting the production they've gotten from the nation's No. 2 offense (571.3 yards per game).

    Southern Mississippi (3-6, 1-4) has shown progress from a year ago by beating the teams on its schedule that it should, but the Golden Eagles haven't broken through against a better opponent. Allowing 33.9 points per game and topping 26 only twice has contributed to Southern Miss' struggles.

    Marshall rolls again, possibly trying to run up the score in hopes of getting noticed.

    Prediction: Marshall 44, Southern Mississippi 21

    Final: Marshall 63, Southern Mississippi 17

Boise State at New Mexico

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Matt Miller caught three touchdown passes in Boise State's 45-17 home win over New Mexico in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Boise State (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West) has averaged 47.7 points per game during a three-game win streak. Grant Hedrick has thrown for seven touchdowns and just two interceptions over the past three games, while Jay Ajayi has run for 985 yards and 12 TDs on the season.

    New Mexico (3-5, 1-3) has played amazingly well on the road (3-1) and horribly bad at home (0-4), and the home trend might continue Saturday. The Lobos' run game averages 304 yards, fifth best in the country, but they have allowed at least 420 yards in all but one game this season.

    A win over Boise State would be a major shocker, but New Mexico will fall short. 

    Prediction: Boise State 33, New Mexico 20

    Final: Boise State 60, New Mexico 49

Hawaii at Colorado State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kapri Bibbs ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns in Colorado State's 35-28 win at Hawaii in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Hawaii (2-7, 1-3 Mountain West) remains a completely different team when playing on the mainland as opposed to on the island. Though the Warriors lost by 21 to Utah State at home last week, their offense clicks better there and is nonexistent on the road, as it's averaged 13.3 points in three trips to the States this season.

    Colorado State (8-1, 4-1) has won seven straight since a 13-point loss at Boise State, but that loss might keep the Rams out of contention for a major bowl bid if they can't win the conference. They're also banged up right now, with both quarterback Garrett Grayson and stud receiver Rashard Higgins getting hurt last week in the win at San Jose State.

    Coach Jim McElwain said Grayson should play this game despite a groin pull, but Higgins is doubtful because of a shoulder injury, according to Terry Frei of The Denver Post. If there's any game the Rams could win without those players, though, it's this one.

    Prediction: Colorado State 30, Hawaii 17

    Final: Colorado State 49, Hawaii 22

No. 18 UCLA at Washington

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Myles Jack ran for four touchdowns in UCLA's 41-31 home win over Washington in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) showed off its defensive muscle for the first time in a while last week against Arizona, holding the Wildcats to only 255 yards in a 17-7 win. It was the kind of performance that unit was expected to put on throughout the season, but that hadn't materialized much.

    Instead, it's been a lot of Brett Hundley having to do it all on offense, which the quarterback did again in tandem with Paul Perkins' underrated running.

    UCLA has quietly moved up to 29th in rushing offense, at 220.4 yards per game, thanks to 1,071 yards from Perkins and another 546 from Hundley. In this game, though, we may see much more of the Myles Jack experience after he crushed Washington on the ground last season.

    Washington (6-3, 2-3) will counter with its own version of Jack, junior Shaq Thompson, who besides having four defensive touchdowns has become the Huskies' most dependable rusher. Against Colorado last week he ran for 174 yards and a TD on just 15 carries and is the team's second-leading rusher despite spending most of the season on defense. 

    The dynamic of having these converted defenders run the ball will make for exciting viewing, but for Washington it will come down to being able to contain and get to Hundley. He's been sacked 28 times this season, and the Huskies have the nation's leading sack man in Hau'oli Kikaha (15.5) as well as massive defensive lineman Danny Shelton (7.5).

    UCLA is unbeaten on the road, but the last two have been by a combined five points and included two overtimes. This will come down to the wire as well, but the road team takes it.

    Prediction: UCLA 27, Washington 21

    Final: UCLA 44, Washington 30

Louisville at Boston College

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7:15 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Louisville beat Boston College 52-28 in September 1998.

    What to watch for

    Louisville (6-3, 4-3 ACC) got punched in the mouth during the second half of its 42-31 loss at home to Florida State, failing to hold a 21-0 lead because of missed opportunities on offense and a defense that got exposed unlike any other time this season. The Cardinals still rank seventh in yards allowed, at 282.2 per game, but have to make sure they can score to make up for any future deficiencies on that end.

    Boston College (6-3, 3-2) has used Tyler Murphy's elusiveness as a running quarterback and a solid defense to become bowl-eligible in a year that looked to be a rebuilding one with so many seniors lost from last season's team. Murphy paces a run game that averages 274.9 yards per game, 10th-best in the country.

    BC is decidedly less impressive at home, having lost three times in Alumni Stadium. Look for that trend to get reversed, though.

    Prediction: Boston College 24, Louisville 20

    Final: Louisville 38, Boston College 19

No. 7 Kansas State at No. 6 TCU

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jack Cantele hit a 41-yard field goal with three seconds left to give Kansas State a 33-31 home win over TCU in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Kansas State (7-1, 5-0 Big 12) is in control of its destiny as the lone unbeaten team in conference play. It's has also risen to a bubble spot in the playoff standings with a month left in the season. But the Wildcats face one of the toughest remaining schedules in the country, with three of four away from home and all of those road opponents in the College Football Playoff's Top 25.

    K-State has already handled playing at Oklahoma, winning by a point, and rallied to win at Iowa State in early September. Those are its only two trips outside Manhattan. The home schedule hasn't been tough outside of the six-point loss to Auburn that was very winnable if not for missed opportunities.

    TCU (7-1, 4-1) has also shown its mettle on the road, but in victory and defeat. It won last week at West Virginia in a mistake-filled game, but there's also its infamous late collapse at Baylor that overshadowed a dominant three quarters of effort.

    Trevone Boykin's play this season has been the catalyst to the Horned Frogs' surge toward the top of the rankings. One of the most improved players in the country, he's accounted for 2,895 yards and 26 touchdowns to pace an offense that ranks third in FBS at 550 yards per game.

    On the same day of the presumed Big 12 game of the year (Baylor at Oklahoma), the two highest-rated teams in the conference will give us a thriller in Fort Worth. TCU is the better all-around team and the far more battle-tested, and this win will put it in control of the league. It will also give the Frogs the best chance to represent the Big 12 in the playoffs.

    Prediction: TCU 33, Kansas State 21

    Final: TCU 41, Kansas State 20

Florida at Vanderbilt

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jerron Seymour ran for three touchdowns in Vanderbilt's 34-17 win at Florida in November 2013, the Commodores' first victory in Gainesville since 1945.

    What to watch for

    Florida (4-3, 3-3 SEC) dominated Georgia last week to suddenly give its season some hope while also briefly pushing back the masses calling for coach Will Muschamp's firing. A stellar run attack gained 418 yards after averaging only 130.3 during a 1-3 stretch, and now comes a string of winnable games that could get the Gators into a bowl game despite all the turmoil.

    Vanderbilt (3-6, 0-5) scored a season-high 42 points to beat Old Dominion last week, performing far better than in previous nonconference games despite going 3-1 outside of league play. The Commodores need to find a way to carry that over to the SEC slate, as they've averaged only 215.6 yards in their five conference outings while losing by an average of 19.8 points.

    The way Florida's season has gone, it wouldn't be surprising if it loses this game like it did at home in 2013. But Muschamp might still have some life left in his career with the Gators and will get this one on the road.

    Prediction: Florida 30, Vanderbilt 17

    Final: Florida 34, Vanderbilt 10

No. 5 Alabama at No. 16 LSU

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: T.J. Yeldon ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama's 38-17 home win over LSU in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) plays its last road game of the season in yet another hostile environment, but one where it's been able to succeed in the past. In a year when seemingly every team in the SEC West is a national title contender, this has almost become just a run-of-the-mill game for the Crimson Tide, considering they still have to face Auburn and Mississippi State before the month is through.

    Quarterback Blake Sims looked great in his last road test, at Tennessee, far better than he did when Alabama went to Ole Miss and Arkansas. Having him composed is key for the Tide to be able to keep LSU's crowd out of the game and to take pressure off its defense by getting points early.

    LSU (7-2, 3-2) hasn't shown the ability to score in bunches, so it needs to control the game's tempo and keep the score down. It did that last time out against Ole Miss, then went in for the kill late with a season-defining 13-play drive that featured 12 straight runs before a goal-line pass for the game-winner.

    This isn't a vintage Tigers team, either on offense or defense. But it's one that's gaining momentum and one that remains a major player in how the West is won and who from the SEC gets into the playoffs.

    With the Tigers already losing at home to Mississippi State, it's hard to envision LSU dropping a second game in Death Valley. As capable as Alabama is of winning there, it won't happen this time.

    Prediction: LSU 23, Alabama 17

    Final: Alabama 20, LSU 13 (OT)

Louisiana-Lafayette at New Mexico State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Alonzo Harris ran for 106 yards and five touchdowns in Louisiana-Lafayette's 49-35 home win over New Mexico State in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3, 4-0 Sun Belt) has won four straight since a tough nonconference slate, and during that streak the Ragin' Cajuns have had both overwhelming offensive performances and a pair of strong defensive efforts in their quest to repeat as conference champs. The two-headed monster of Harris and Elijah McGuire have each run for nine touchdowns, leading ULL to the No. 27 rushing offense in the nation.

    New Mexico State (2-7, 1-4) has lost seven in a row, its defense showing no ability to stop anyone. The Aggies allow 36.3 points per game, and they give up an FBS-worst 324.7 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Tyler Rogers is coming off a career-best 404 passing yards, but he's thrown 17 interceptions this season and has been picked off at least twice in every game during the losing streak.

    This is going to be a major blowout win for ULL.

    Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 52, New Mexico State 20

    Final: Louisiana-Lafayette 44, New Mexico State 16

No. 14 Ohio State at No. 8 Michigan State

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Connor Cook threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns as Michigan State knocked off unbeaten Ohio State, 34-24, in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis in December 2013.

    What to watch for

    With the College Football Playoff selection committee showing little love for the Big Ten, this de facto East Division title game also serves as a play-in (or play-out) contest for both teams in their hopes of staying in the conversation for a semifinal berth.

    "Everyone just sort of admits this week marks the Big Ten's Last Stand in the first year of the playoff era," wrote Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. "The 14th-ranked Buckeyes travel to No. 8 Michigan State, with the only promise being the winner can continue dreaming of a playoff berth."

    Ohio State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) has won six in a row in mostly impressive fashion since its home loss to Virginia Tech, a setback that's looking worse and worse on paper now that the victor in that game has fallen to 4-5. The Buckeyes' offensive woes from then have disappeared, as quarterback J.T. Barrett has put up big numbers while getting strong running from Ezekiel Elliott.

    Michigan State (7-1, 4-0) has been just as dominant during its six-game win streak, albeit against a slightly stronger lineup than OSU because it faced West Division contender Nebraska during that stretch. The Spartans have won by an average of 30.5 points per game (compared to 33.8 for the Buckeyes) since losing at Oregon, with both quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford matching the level of improvement they had as the 2013 season went along.

    Both teams sport strong defenses, which will likely have more impact than the explosive offenses that have dominated to this point for each. With so much on the line, neither team can afford to give up a big play, and both teams rank in the top 11 in number of plays of 10 or more yards allowed this season.

    An MSU win is the better scenario for the Big Ten from a playoff standpoint and is also the most likely one here.

    Prediction: Michigan State 30, Ohio State 24

    Final: Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37

Colorado at No. 19 Arizona

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ka'Deem Carey ran for four touchdowns in Arizona's 44-20 win at Colorado in October 2013.

    What to watch for

    Colorado (2-7, 0-6 Pac-12) has lost five straight. In four of those last five losses, the Buffaloes led at least once but couldn't hold the lead because of a combination of mistakes and shoddy defense. Four turnovers led to last week's home loss to Washington, contributing to a minus-five turnover margin on the year.

    Arizona (6-2, 3-2) didn't give the ball away but couldn't hold on to it when thrown during last week's 17-7 loss at UCLA. Anu Solomon completed only 18 of 48 passes, but many incompletions were a result of dropped balls by a normally solid receiving corps. Combined with a run game that has fallen far off course, the Wildcats' potent offense fell flat for its worst point total since getting shut out at Oregon in October 2012.

    No longer a major contender for the South Division title, though it plays two more of the teams in the race in Utah and Arizona State, Arizona will turn its focus toward getting into a bowl. Winnable games here and against Washington next week make it very possible to match the eight-win mark of Rich Rodriguez's first two seasons much earlier than in those years.

    Colorado has come close a lot this season, but this one looks to be more of a frustration-fueled blowout for Arizona.

    Prediction: Arizona 44, Colorado 21

    Final: Arizona 38, Colorado 20

No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 Utah

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    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 10 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Marcus Mariota threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon's 44-21 home win over Utah in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) has such a large lead in the North Division that it could stand to lose a couple games and still have a spot in the Pac-12 final in December. But now that the Ducks have moved into the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, there's far more to be concerned with than making a conference final.

    The Ducks have been very impressive since losing at home to Arizona. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders, and the defense is no longer giving up as many big plays. But with a reoccurrence of offensive line injuries, they head into a difficult test trying to keep Utah's sack-happy front seven from getting to Mariota.

    Right tackle Matt Pierson got hurt late in the win over Stanford, according to Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press, continuing a season-long trend of injuries up front:

    Pierson would be the fourth tackle to miss time for the Ducks if he can't go against Utah. Tyler Johnstone was penciled in to start at left tackle before he blew out his knee in the preseason. (Jake) Fisher moved over from right tackle to take Johnstone's spot and junior Andre Yruretagoyena took over at right tackle. That is until Yruretagoyena injured his foot against Michigan State in Week 2.

    Then Fisher hurt his knee against Wyoming the next week, leaving Pierson and freshman Tyrell Crosby as the tackles for Washington State and Arizona.

    Mariota has been sacked 19 times this season, compared to 18 in all of 2013.

    Utah (6-2, 3-2) has 21 alone from teammates Nate Orchard (12) and Hunter Dimick (nine), part of an FBS-leading 39 sacks for the Utes. Quarterback pressure has been essential to this team's success, because Utah's offense has been far from crisp.

    Neither quarterback—Travis Wilson nor Kendal Thompson—has been able to do much, leaving most of the offensive work to running back Devontae Booker. He's rushed for 990 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 30.4 carries and 162.2 yards per game over his last five.

    If Utah can't get to Mariota, he'll dominate. Even when he's been sacked he's still put up good numbers, and he will again this time.

    Prediction: Oregon 31, Utah 21

    Final: Oregon 51, Utah 27

San Jose State at Fresno State

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    TONY AVELAR/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Nov. 8; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: David Fales threw for 547 yards and six touchdowns in San Jose State's 62-52 home win over Fresno State in November 2013, ending Fresno's unbeaten run.

    What to watch for

    San Jose State (3-5, 2-2 Mountain West) missed out a great chance to pick up a big win last week, losing at home to Colorado State despite big games from quarterback Joe Gray and running back Tyler Ervin. The Spartans feature the top-rated pass defense in the country, allowing only 114.1 yards per game with two touchdowns.

    Fresno State (3-6, 2-3) got blown out at home by Wyoming last week, another in a series of bad losses where the Bulldogs defense has been incapable of making the stop. They rank 119th in the country in total defense, allowing 497.2 yards per game, and have given up 46.3 points per game in their losses.

    Neither team can afford a loss here if they want to keep slim bowl hopes alive, with Fresno holding off elimination for one more week behind Marteze Waller's hard running.

    Prediction: Fresno State 33, San Jose State 27

    Final: Fresno State 38, San Jose State 24

Akron at Buffalo

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    When: Tuesday, Nov. 11; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Branden Oliver ran for 235 yards and two touchdowns in Buffalo's 51-41 home win over Akron in November 2011.

    What to watch for

    Akron (4-5, 2-3 Mid-American) has lost three in a row, putting in jeopardy what seemed a month ago like a very strong chance of making its first bowl game since 2005. The Zips committed five turnovers in a 27-10 home loss to Bowling Green on Tuesday, and they've committed 13 of their 20 giveaways during the losing streak.

    Buffalo (3-6, 1-4) has lost four straight, the last two under interim coach Alex Wood since Jeff Quinn was fired in mid-October. The Bulls only managed 134 yards in their 37-14 loss at Ohio this past week, far below their average of 449.6 yards per game.

    Neither team faces another opponent that currently has a winning record, so bowl eligibility is still realistic for each. Buffalo has more offensive playmakers and will end its streak.

    Prediction: Buffalo 33, Akron 28

    Final: Buffalo 55, Akron 24

Toledo at Northern Illinois

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Tuesday, Nov. 11; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jordan Lynch had 365 yards of total offense and ran for three touchdowns in Northern Illinois' 35-17 win at Toledo in November 2013.

    What to watch for

    Toledo (6-3, 5-0 Mid-American) cannot clinch the West Division title here, but a win over the defending division champs combined with an existing victory over Western Michigan would give the Rockets the tiebreaker over their main competition with only two games left. Running back Kareem Hunt has rushed for 100-plus yards in all six games he's played this season, and he averages 8.4 yards per carry.

    Northern Illinois (7-2, 4-1) has its own bruising rusher in Cameron Stingily, a 6'1", 235-pound senior who ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns this past week in a 35-21 win at Ball State. He's scored six times during the Huskies' three-game win streak, part of their 265.7 rushing yards per game average.

    Passing will be at a minimum in this game, with each team trying to ram it down the others' throats. Northern Illinois is still the class of the MAC until it's dethroned, and it will win this one.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 27, Toledo 24

    Final: Northern Illinois 27, Toledo 24

Ball State at Massachusetts

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Wednesday, Nov. 12; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Ball State beat Massachusetts 44-17 in September 1998.

    What to watch for

    Ball State (3-6, 2-3 Mid-American) hung with Northern Illinois for most of its last game before falling 35-21 at home, ending a two-game win streak. The Cardinals have fared better since sophomore Jack Milas took over as quarterback, but he was intercepted three times by NIU and they had no other offense to turn to.

    Massachusetts (2-7, 2-3) has been led by strong quarterback play as well, with senior Blake Frohnapfel ranking ninth in FBS at 324.6 passing yards per game with 23 touchdowns. The Minutemen have averaged 38.8 points per game over their last five, but during that same stretch have allowed 32.4points per game. 

    UMass' debut on weeknight MAC football will be a fun one for the team and its fans.

    Prediction: Massachusetts 41, Ball State 30

    Final: Massachusetts 24, Ball State 10



Kent State at Bowling Green

50 of 50

    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    When: Wednesday, Nov. 12; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Matt Johnson threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns in Bowling Green's 41-22 win at Kent State in September 2013.

    What to watch for

    Kent State (1-8, 0-5 Mid-American) scored 20 points in its last game, a 10-point loss to visiting Toledo that represented its second-highest scoring output of the season. The Golden Flashes average only 303.6 yards per game and have matched their most losses since 2008.

    Bowling Green (6-3, 4-1) can clinch the East Division with a win here, coming in holding a two-game lead in the loss column on three schools it has already beaten. The Falcons have fixed many of their defensive issues recently, while their offense remains among the more potent in the country with a 447.4 yards-per-game average.

    The Falcons will represent the East in the MAC title game for the second year in a row.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 50, Kent State 13

    Final: Bowling Green 30, Kent State 20

    All statistical information courtesy of CFBStats.com.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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