College Football Picks: Week 7 Predictions for Every Game

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2015

College Football Picks: Week 7 Predictions for Every Game

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    Florida and LSU meet up in Baton Rouge in a battle of unbeaten Top-10 teams.
    Florida and LSU meet up in Baton Rouge in a battle of unbeaten Top-10 teams.Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    Whatever you think you've learned from the first six weeks of the 2015 college football season, erase it from your memory.

    That's because the slate on tap this weekend is going to completely reshape the national landscape, not just from a playoff standpoint, but also in terms of who will be in position to take various conference and division titles.

    There are five matchups of Top 25 teams, including a key Pac-12 clash on Thursday night, as well as major non-league contests featuring national powers both new and old. Across the entire country, division and conference races will be impacted by the results of this week's 57 games, and we've got a pick for each and every one of them.

    Check out our predictions from all of the Week 7 contests, then throw your two cents (or more, if you so wish) into the comments section.

    Rankings are from the Associated Press Top 25.

    Last week: 39-18 (.684)

    Season: 313-93 (.771)

Western Michigan at Ohio

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    Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Jarvion Franklin ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns in Western Michigan's 42-21 home win over Ohio last October.

    What to watch for

    Western Michigan (2-3, 1-0 Mid-American) opened league play with a 41-39 win over Central Michigan, getting its most points and yards against an FBS opponent since November. The Broncos are best when Franklin's running matches the passing of Zach Terrell, but Franklin has averaged 49.7 yards per game in losses.

    Ohio (5-1, 2-0) has won two in a row, including last week's 34-3 home win over Miami (Ohio). The Bobcats have held four of their last five opponents to 14 points or less and haven't given up a TD since the fourth quarter of their 27-24 loss at Minnesota on Sept. 26.

    The Bobcats will get their first win against Western Michigan since 2006.

    Prediction: Ohio 26, Western Michigan 20

    FINAL: Western Michigan 49, Ohio 14

Eastern Michigan at No. 22 Toledo

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    Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Logan Woodside threw for 323 yards and five touchdowns in Toledo's 52-16 win at Eastern Michigan last November.

    What to watch for

    Eastern Michigan (1-5, 0-2 Mid-American) has lost its last four by an average of 20.3 points and given up 149 total points over the last three weeks. The Eagles are last in FBS against the run, allowing 360.3 yards per game with 24 TDs.

    Toledo (5-0, 2-0) is on an eight-game win streak dating back to last season, with this year's start including victories against Arkansas and Iowa State. The Rockets have run for 284 yards per game since getting into the MAC schedule and now have top running back Kareem Hunt in the mix after injuries slowed him in September.

    No game on the Week 7 slate is more of a mismatch than this one.

    Prediction: Toledo 57, Eastern Michigan 17

    FINAL: Toledo 63, Eastern Michigan 20

South Florida at Connecticut

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    Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: South Florida pulled out a 17-14 home win over Connecticut in September 2014 in a game that featured only 403 yards of offense.

    What to watch for

    South Florida (2-3, 0-1 American) won 45-24 at home against Syracuse last week, ending a three-game losing streak and registering its highest point total against an FBS team since September 2011. The Bulls ran for 282 yards and four touchdowns and now have the nation's No. 18 rushing attack at 224.6 yards per game.

    Connecticut (3-3, 1-1) held on to the Civil Conflict trophy it randomly created last winter for its series with UCF, posting a 40-13 road victory over the winless Knights. The Huskies have their best record at the midway point of a season since 2012, despite gaining only 323.8 yards per game.

    The last time UConn got to four wins before November was in 2010, the year the Huskies went to the Fiesta Bowl as Big East champs.

    Prediction: Connecticut 24, South Florida 17

    FINAL: South Florida 28, Connecticut 20

Tulsa at East Carolina

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Shane Carden threw for 338 yards and four touchdowns in East Carolina's 49-32 win at Tulsa last November.

    What to watch for

    Tulsa (3-2, 0-1 American) surpassed last year's win total by knocking off Louisiana-Monroe at home. The Golden Hurricane have the nation's No. 7 offense, averaging 568 yards per game, but they've only managed 14 TDs on 28 red-zone trips.

    The Hurricane have three receivers with at least 400 yards, but top target Keevan Lucas is out for the year with a knee injury.

    East Carolina (3-3, 1-1) lost 45-38 at BYU last week despite 371 passing yards from quarterback Blake Kemp. He's completing 71.6 percent of his passes, but has been benched multiple times in favor of run-first QB James Summers.

    The Pirates have won 13 of their last 14 at home, the only loss coming on a Hail Mary pass by UCF last December.

    Prediction: East Carolina 40, Tulsa 34

    FINAL: East Carolina 30, Tulsa 17

Purdue at Wisconsin

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    AJ MAST/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Melvin Gordon ran for 205 yards and a touchdown in Wisconsin's 34-16 win at Purdue last November.

    What to watch for

    Purdue (1-5, 0-2 Big Ten) has dropped four straight but somehow looked decent in a loss at unbeaten Michigan State in between falling to Virginia Tech, Bowling Green and Minnesota (all at home) by an average 20.7 points. The Boilermakers have lost 11 in a row against FBS opponents and are 1-17 in Big Ten play under Darrell Hazell.

    Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1) rallied to win at Nebraska last week on a last-second 46-yard field goal from Rafael Gaglianone, who missed a would-be go-ahead kick from roughly the same distance minutes earlier. The win prevented the Badgers from starting 0-2 in the conference for the first time since 2008.

    The Badgers allow 11.5 points per game, fifth-best in FBS, and are 12th in yards allowed. Though their offense hasn't been as productive with the run game as in years past, they'll probably get some stat-padding against another bad Purdue team.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 40, Purdue 14

    FINAL: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 7

Marshall at Florida Atlantic

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    Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Devon Johnson ran for 272 yards and four touchdowns in Marshall's 35-16 home win over Florida Atlantic last October.

    What to watch for

    Marshall (5-1, 2-0 Conference USA) has averaged 34.8 points per game during a four-game win streak, most recently logging a 31-10 home win over Southern Mississippi last Friday. The Thundering Herd have forced nine turnovers in their two C-USA games.

    Florida Atlantic (1-4, 1-1) blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead at home last week, falling 27-26 to Rice for its fifth consecutive home loss. The Owls have lost nine of their last 10 games.

    There have been 32 turnovers in Marshall's six games and 28 in ones featuring Florida Atlantic, so expect some sloppy play.

    Prediction: Marshall 33, Florida Atlantic 20

    FINAL: Marshall 33, Florida Atlantic 17

Florida International at Middle Tennessee

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Alex McGough threw three touchdown passes in Florida International's 38-28 home win over Middle Tennessee last November.

    What to watch for

    Florida International (3-3, 1-1 Conference USA) snapped a two-game skid with a 52-12 home win over UTEP last week, its highest-scoring game in nearly five years. The Golden Panthers allow 258.7 yards per game in their victories compared to 468.7 in losses.

    Middle Tennessee (2-4, 1-1) gave up 52 first-half points in a 58-28 loss at Western Kentucky last week, its third straight loss. The Blue Raiders are getting 298.5 passing yards per game from quarterback Brent Stockstill, the most from any freshman in FBS.

    The Raiders' losses have come to three power-conference teams and an offensive juggernaut in Western Kentucky. Give them a more manageable matchup and watch them flourish.

    Prediction: Middle Tennessee 33, Florida International 21

    FINAL: Middle Tennessee 42, Florida International 34

Texas Tech at Kansas

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    John Weast/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Davis Webb threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in Texas Tech's 34-21 home win over Kansas last October.

    What to watch for

    Texas Tech (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) is second nationally in scoring (52.7 points per game) and total offense (631.7 yards per game) and has scored at least 35 each week, yet it had lost two in a row before claiming a 66-31 win over Iowa State last Saturday.

    The Red Raiders have the top passing offense in the country thanks to sophomore Patrick Mahomes II and need every bit of that production thanks to a defense that gives up 39.7 points and 566.7 yards per game.

    Kansas (0-5, 0-2) lost 66-7 at home to Baylor last week, and it could have been much worse, as it trailed 52-7 at the half. The Jayhawks have been outscored 227-95 and have 34 points in their last three games, with an eight-game losing streak to boot.

    The Jayhawks have forced only 15 punts this season, and opponents have scored on 28 red-zone attempts. Tech might never go into the red zone, though, with its propensity for big plays.

    Prediction: Texas Tech 51, Kansas 21

    FINAL: Texas Tech 30, Kansas 20

Bucknell at Army

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Army claimed a 37-6 home win over Bucknell in November 1995.

    What to watch for

    Bucknell (3-2) is coming off a 21-10 loss to Lehigh to open Patriot League play. This will be the Bisons' first game against an FBS opponent since 2001, and they are winless all-time in five tries against the upper division.

    Army (1-5) was crushed 44-3 at home by Duke last week, its third home loss of the season. The Black Knights' triple-option run game was held to 113 yards, its worst performance in nearly six years, and they committed three turnovers for the third straight game.

    Because Army has struggled for several years, it scheduled two FCS teams in hopes of boosting its chances to get to six wins. It already lost at home to Fordham, though, and with another loss, it will all but guarantee a fifth straight losing season (and thus make the Poinsettia Bowl spot its target).

    Prediction: Army 27, Bucknell 20

    FINAL: Army 21, Bucknell 14

West Virginia at No. 2 Baylor

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Clint Trickett threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns in West Virginia's 41-27 home win over Baylor last October.

    What to watch for

    West Virginia (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) is playing Baylor at the absolute worst possible timeas if a good time exists. It has lost two in a row, most recently in overtime at home to Oklahoma State, and has allowed 77 points in those setbacks after giving up 23 in starting 3-0.

    Nine turnovers committed over the past two weeks have put added pressure on a Mountaineers defense whose leader, senior Karl Joseph, is out for the year with a knee injury.

    Quarterback Skyler Howard has averaged 180.5 passing yards per game with two TDs, four interceptions and a 52.2 percent completion rate during the losing streak. He's also been sacked 10 times in that span.

    Baylor (5-0, 2-0) is the national leader in scoring (64.2) and total offense (725 yards per game) by a wide margin, although this has come against some of the worst defenses in the country. That's not to take away from the Bears' production, though, as quarterback Seth Russell has thrown 22 TD passes on 130 attempts, with Corey Coleman catching 13 on 31 receptions, while the run game averages 7.36 yards per carry and 357.6 yards per game.

    The Bears may end up posting season lows in points and yards due to West Virginia's defense, but they'll still win handily.

    Prediction: Baylor 47, West Virginia 21

    FINAL: Baylor 62, West Virginia 38

No. 17 Iowa at No. 20 Northwestern

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    Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Mark Weisman ran for three touchdowns in Iowa's 48-7 home win over Northwestern last November.

    What to watch for

    Iowa (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) is off to its best start since 2009, which was the last time coach Kirk Ferentz had the kind of season that justified his $4.075 million annual salary, as noted by USA Today. Since that 11-2 campaign, his Hawkeyes teams have averaged 6.8 wins and no more than eight in any season.

    "He came into this season looking like a guy who could join Mark Richt and Bob Stoops on the Change Of Scenery Needed list," Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde wrote of Ferentz, who has been at Iowa since 1999.

    Yet this year, the Hawkeyes have managed to put together both an effective offense and a stout defense, with the former switching from wide-open during non-league play back to a more traditional smashmouth approach once the Big Ten schedule started.

    That's involved a heavy dose of running back Jordan Canzeri, a 5'9" senior who had a school-record 43 carries for 256 yards in last week's 29-20 win over Illinois.

    Iowa's defense allows 16.2 points and 310.3 yards per game, but now that senior defensive tackle Drew Ott is gone for the year with a knee injury, the front line has a major hole to fill.

    Northwestern (5-1, 1-1) was humbled last week at Michigan, losing 38-0 and allowing more points than it had during its first five games combined. Without the ability to shut opponents down, the Wildcats aren't able to rely on their offense, which has lacked punch and consistency.

    Running back Justin Jackson had only 25 yards on 12 carries last week after going for 100-plus in four of the previous five games. For the year, he's only scored once on 150 rushes. Quarterback Clayton Thorson has four TD passes and four interceptions with a 55 percent completion rate. None of his TD throws have come against power-conference teams.

    As good as Northwestern has been on defense, its weakness is against the run. Four of six opponents have rushed for more than they've thrown for, and Iowa will look to do the same.

    Prediction: Iowa 26, Northwestern 17

    FINAL: Iowa 40, Northwestern 10

No. 13 Ole Miss at Memphis

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Ole Miss held Memphis to 104 total yards in a 24-3 home win over the Tigers in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    Ole Miss (5-1) plays its second straight nonconference game and the third of four unbeaten teams it is set to face in a six-week span. The Rebels split the first two, winning at Alabama but then getting blown out at Florida in an outcome that exposed their offense as being one-dimensional without big plays.

    The Rebels have 43 plays of 20-plus yards, tied for fourth in FBS, but only 17 have come in their three SEC games.

    Memphis (5-0) has trouble preventing big plays, though, and its 104th-ranked defense is the worst among the 16 FBS teams that have yet to lose a game. Thankfully the Tigers have their own explosive offense to counter this deficiency, ranking eighth nationally in yards per game.

    Quarterback Paxton Lynch has 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions with a 70.5 percent completion rate, and Memphis has scored 17 rushing TDs on 238 carries with only 24 negative offensive plays on 395 snaps.

    Ole Miss shouldn't be overlooking Memphis based on those numbers, but it might be with a key SEC West battle looming next week against Texas A&M. The Rebels love recruiting the Memphis area—the main reason they're playing on the road against a non-power team in the middle of the year—but this isn't your run-of-the-mill opponent.

    The Tigers have won 12 straight and are in prime contention for the Group of Five's bid for a major bowl game. Winning here can further that cause in a big way.

    Prediction: Memphis 41, Ole Miss 37

    FINAL: Memphis 37, Ole Miss 24

Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Chris Relf threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to LaDarius Perkins in overtime to give Mississippi State a 26-20 home win over Louisiana Tech in September 2011.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana Tech (4-2) has won three straight since a triple-overtime loss at Kansas State on Sept. 19, and the defending Conference USA West Division champion has scored at least 33 points in five of six games this season. It's had great play from Florida transfer quarterback Jeff Driskel, who has 11 TD passes and averages 302 passing yards per game, while running back Kenneth Dixon has scored eight times this year and 69 times for his career.

    Mississippi State (4-2) is playing its second consecutive non-SEC game after winning 45-17 at home against Troy last week. That game was decided early, letting senior quarterback Dak Prescott have much of the afternoon off after he'd been banged up during the early gauntlet of facing LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M.

    Prescott is accounting for more than 62 percent of his team's offense, and his 220 rushing yards lead the team. Take away the 275 yards and five TDs MSU gained on the ground against FCS Northwestern State, and it's averaging only 4.4 yards per carry with five rushing scores.

    Driskel never got to face Mississippi State during his time at Florida, but MSU has allowed only three TD passes in 179 attempts this year, so it could be a tough afternoon for the transfer.

    Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Louisiana Tech 19

    FINAL: Mississippi State 45, Louisiana Tech 20

Louisville at No. 11 Florida State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; noon ET

    Last meeting: Florida State scored 35 second-half points to win 42-31 at Louisville last October.

    What to watch for

    Louisville (2-3, 1-1 ACC) has won two in a row, most recently knocking off previously unbeaten North Carolina State on the road. The key to the turnaround has been twofold, with the Cardinals defense forcing six turnovers and allowing 16 points in that span, while freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson has been able to minimize his mistakes and become a more complete player.

    Jackson has 315 passing yards and 305 rushing yards in the last two games with five total touchdowns.

    Florida State (5-0, 3-0) trailed in the fourth quarter last week against Miami (Florida) but pulled out a 29-24 home win for its 27th consecutive victory against ACC opponents. The Seminoles have been one of the most careful teams in the country with the ball, with one lost fumble and zero interceptions this season.

    Everett Golson has completed 66.9 percent of his throws with eight TDs, and Dalvin Cook has 792 rushing yards and eight scores with a stellar average of nine yards per carry.

    FSU struggled against the pass versus Miami, but its run defense hasn't allowed a score since the season opener, so Jackson will face some tough sledding on the ground.

    Prediction: Florida State 32, Louisville 14

    FINAL: Florida State 41, Louisville 21

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech

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    Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 12:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Tech capitalized on six Pittsburgh turnovers, including on each of the Panthers' first five possessions, to key a 56-28 road win last October.

    What to watch for

    Pittsburgh (4-1, 2-0 ACC) has quietly put together a solid start in Pat Narduzzi's first season, doing it with a defense that ranks seventh nationally in allowing 264.6 yards per game. The Panthers have only allowed opponents to get into the red zone eight times in five games, and while they've given up points each time, half of those scores have been field goals.

    Georgia Tech (2-4, 0-3) is off to its worst start in ACC play since 1994, when the Yellow Jackets went winless in the league and 1-10 overall. A complete collapse of the triple-option run game has been the biggest culprit, as the Yellow Jackets have averaged 3.44 yards per carry during their four-game losing streak.

    Giving up 36.3 points per game during that skid hasn't helped either, but at some point Tech's luck has to turn around. Paul Johnson's team was on a losing streak the last time it played Pitt, but thanks to aggressive defense it sparked the offense and the Yellow Jackets ended up winning five in a row to make the ACC title game.

    Prediction: Georgia Tech 29, Pittsburgh 21

    FINAL: Pittsburgh 31, Georgia Tech 28

Buffalo at Central Michigan

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 1 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cooper Rush threw for 231 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to give Central Michigan a 20-14 win at Buffalo last October.

    What to watch for

    Buffalo (2-3, 0-1 Mid-American) has lost its past two games by nine total points, both at home. The Bulls have lost the turnover battle in all three of their defeats in 2015.

    Central Michigan (2-4, 1-1) has lost three of four, most recently a 41-39 setback at Western Michigan. The Chippewas ran for 161 yards that game but still rank fourth-worst nationally in rushing at 93.5 yards per game.

    Look for the run improvement to continue, as Buffalo has allowed 200-plus on the ground three times this year.

    Prediction: Central Michigan 32, Buffalo 22

    FINAL: Central Michigan 51, Buffalo 14

Northern Illinois at Miami (Ohio)

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 2:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Northern Illinois ran for 433 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-41 home win over Miami in October 2014.

    What to watch for

    Northern Illinois (3-3, 1-1 Mid-American) scored 59 points in a win over Ball State last week, its most in almost two years. The Huskies average 51.3 points in their wins (all at home) and 15.3 in their losses on the road.

    Miami (1-5, 0-2) lost 34-3 at Ohio last week, its fifth straight loss since a season-opening 26-7 victory over FCS school Presbyterian. The RedHawks have lost 30 of their last 32 against FBS competition.

    Look for Northern Illinois to end its road woes with another strong offensive performance.

    Prediction: Northern Illinois 44, Miami 19

    FINAL: Northern Illinois 45, Miami 12

Akron at Bowling Green

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Fred Coppet and Andre Givens each ran for 100-plus yards in Bowling Green's 27-10 win at Akron last November.

    What to watch for

    Akron (3-3, 1-1 Mid-American) has won its last two road games, including last week's 47-21 victory at Eastern Michigan. That was the Zips' highest-scoring performance against an FBS opponent since 2012.

    Bowling Green (4-2, 2-0) has won three in a row, putting up 62 points last week against Massachusetts. Quarterback Matt Johnson leads FBS with 422.3 passing yards per game, and he has 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 275 attempts.

    The Falcons average 604.7 yards per game, fourth-best in the country, and while they probably won't get that many against Akron, they will claim another strong victory.

    Prediction: Bowling Green 37, Akron 20

    FINAL: Bowling Green 59, Akron 10

Georgia State at Ball State

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    Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Georgia State (1-4) has lost three in a row, falling 37-3 at home to Appalachian State last week. The Panthers, in their third year of FBS play, have allowed at least 30 points in 26 of 29 games.

    Ball State (2-4) has also lost three straight games, most recently giving up 59 points at Northern Illinois. The Cardinals allow 499.2 yards per game, which ranks 119th in the nation.

    After playing three teams that were unbeaten at the time as well as perennial Mid-American power Northern Illinois during the first half of the season, the Cardinals start a three-game homestand with a confidence-building victory.

    Prediction: Ball State 47, Georgia State 24

    FINAL: Georgia State 31, Ball State 19

Kent State at Massachusetts

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Blake Frohnapfel threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns in Massachusetts' 40-17 win at Kent State last October.

    What to watch for

    Kent State (2-4, 1-1 Mid-American) lost 38-7 at Toledo last week, the third time this season it's been held to single digits. The Golden Flashes are ranked 121st nationally in total offense, but thanks to their No. 16 defense, they still outgain their opponents on average.

    Massachusetts (1-4, 0-1) gave up 62 points for the second time in three weeks and for the year is allowing 522 yards per game. The Minutemen have the nation's No. 9 pass offense, gaining 358.8 yards per game through the air, with senior receiver Tajae Sharpe's 58 catches tops in the country.

    Look for the UMass pass attack to bust through with its own high-scoring assault.

    Prediction: Massachusetts 45, Kent State 34

    FINAL: Kent State 15, Massachusetts 10

Air Force at Colorado State

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Will Conant kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give Air Force a 27-24 home win over Colorado State last November.

    What to watch for

    Air Force (3-2, 2-0 Mountain West) is unbeaten at home after knocking off Wyoming last week, but in its two road games the Falcons have been held to 16 points and 352.5 yards per game. They've run for at least 204 yards every week this season, courtesy of the nation's No. 5 rushing attack.

    Colorado State (2-4, 0-2) lost 41-10 at home to Boise State last week, its worst home loss since 2011. The Rams' offensive output has decreased over each of the past four games.

    Air Force has won eight of nine in this underrated in-state series, but Colorado State gets this one after being humbled at home last week.

    Prediction: Colorado State 30, Air Force 23

    FINAL: Colorado State 38, Air Force 23

Idaho at Troy

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Brandon Silvers threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in Troy's 34-17 win at Idaho last November.

    What to watch for

    Idaho (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt) last played two weeks ago when it lost 49-35 at Arkansas State. It was the Vandals' 24th straight road loss, dating back to 2011, and they've lost eight straight against FBS opponents.

    Troy (1-4, 0-1) lost 45-17 at Mississippi State last week, its third loss in a row. The Trojans have averaged 14.8 points per game against FBS competition this season.

    As much as Troy has struggled this year, this should be an easy one.

    Prediction: Troy 33, Idaho 20

    FINAL: Idaho 19, Troy 16

Virginia Tech at Miami (Florida)

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    Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Duke Johnson ran for 249 yards and a touchdown in Miami's 30-6 win at Virginia Tech last October.

    What to watch for

    Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1 ACC) righted the ship temporarily last Friday with a 28-13 home win over North Carolina State, just its third in the last 11 at Lane Stadium against FBS competition.

    Quarterback Michael Brewer wasn't medically cleared to play, despite his quick recovery from a broken collarbone, but the Hokies got three TDs from the combination of QB Brenden Motley and receiver Isaiah Ford and benefited from a balanced rushing attack.

    Miami (3-2, 0-1) has dropped two in a row, most recently losing by five at rival Florida State. The Hurricanes took a 24-23 lead in the fourth but couldn't hold on despite a career-high 405 passing yards from Brad Kaaya.

    The Hurricanes had only 20 rushing yards in that game after averaging 174.8 in the previous four. Kaaya keeps getting better, but he can't be the only option, so expect the 'Canes to try to exploit Tech's 97th-ranked run defense.

    Prediction: Miami 27, Virginia Tech 20

    FINAL: Miami 30, Virginia Tech 20

No. 10 Alabama at No. 9 Texas A&M

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Blake Sims threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in Alabama's 59-0 home win over Texas A&M last October.

    What to watch for

    Since it joined the SEC in 2012, no matchup has been as full of drama and intrigue for Texas A&M as its games against Alabama. That first year saw the Aggies shock the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa behind Johnny Manziel, and the following year they lost a shootout at home. The 2014 matchup was most notable in that it was the first (and only) time a Kevin Sumlin-coached team has failed to score.

    What's in store for the fourth edition of this burgeoning rivalry?

    Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) has allowed 24 points in three games since yielding 43 in the home loss to Ole Miss, with its defense making major strides after an underachieving start to the season. The Tide now rank sixth in yards allowed, which is a necessary improvement since the offense continues to turn the ball over with 12 giveaways in the past five games.

    The last two SEC foes 'Bama has faced implement a straightforward, pro-style offense, something it's traditionally had no trouble stopping. Spread and uptempo teams (like Ole Miss) are a different story.

    Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0) averages 480.4 yards and 39.2 points per game despite being toward the bottom nationally in time of possession because of the speed at which it operates. Quarterback Kyle Allen has 13 TD passes and two rushing scores, while Christian Kirk has established himself as the most explosive freshman in the country with 191.6 all-purpose yards per game as a receiver and return man.

    The performance on offense isn't surprising for the Aggies, as that's been a Sumlin staple dating back to his Houston days. What has stood out, though, has been how much better the defense has looked with new coordinator John Chavis calling the plays.

    A&M is giving up seven fewer points and 76 fewer yards per game than in 2014, with its defensive line doing great work pressuring quarterbacks and stuffing runners in the backfield. It's still leaky against the run, though, which could be an issue if Alabama decides to go heavy on Derrick Henry like it did two weeks ago against Georgia.

    Prediction: Texas A&M 29, Alabama 25

    FINAL: Alabama 41, Texas A&M 23

Syracuse at Virginia

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Virginia scored a 27-24 victory over Syracuse in September 2005.

    What to watch for

    Syracuse (3-2, 1-0 ACC) has lost two in a row. The first was an understandable 10-point setback to unbeaten LSU, but last week's 45-24 defeat at South Florida was not easily explained. It was the most points the Orange had allowed since November 2013 and came against one of the worst offenses in the FBS.

    Virginia (1-4, 0-1) has lost nine of 11 games, including five straight against FBS opponents, since Mike London was told he was coming back for another season prior to last November's finale against rival Virginia Tech. With the Cavaliers set to play three of their next four on the road after this one, the time is now for London to show he has the ability to turn things around, or he could soon join the growing list of departed coaches.

    Syracuse isn't going to contend in the tough ACC Atlantic Division, but bowl eligibility is very possible, assuming it doesn't squander any more winnable games like it did last week.

    Prediction: Virginia 23, Syracuse 21

    FINAL: Virginia 44, Syracuse 33 (3 OT)

No. 19 Oklahoma at Kansas State

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    Brett Deering/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Oklahoma had the extra point blocked on its final touchdown, which turned out to be the difference in a 31-30 home loss to Kansas State last October.

    What to watch for

    Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) lost to rival Texas in last week's Red River Shootout in Dallas with its worst offensive performance of the season. The Sooners had 278 yards and allowed themselves to be pushed around after being the more assertive team in their first four games.

    The disappointing losses have become far too frequent the last few years for Oklahoma, but it hasn't lost consecutive regular-season games since 1999.

    Kansas State (3-2, 0-2) had won 49 straight games in which it held a halftime lead until losing twice in as many weeks, the last at home to TCU after leading by 18. The Wildcats' last three games have been decided by a combined 15 points, but despite a patchwork offense that has had numerous injuries at quarterback, they're scoring 36.4 points per game.

    K-State has won the last two times it played in Norman but hasn't beaten the Sooners at home since 1996, when 76-year-old Bill Snyder was a sprightly 57. He'll tap into the fountain of youth for this one.

    Prediction: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 27

    FINAL: Oklahoma 55, Kansas State 0

Rutgers at Indiana

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Robert Martin scored three rushing touchdowns in Rutgers' 45-23 home win over Indiana last November.

    What to watch for

    Rutgers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) put up a strong effort last week against Michigan State, taking an early lead and finding itself tied at home in the fourth quarter before falling 31-24. The Scarlet Knights tend to play their best at home while laying major eggs on the road, such as last season's losses by 42, 18 and 39 in Big Ten play.

    The return of top receiver Leonte Carroo from a two-game suspension was notable for the Knights, as the senior had three TD catches. Six of his 14 receptions this year have gone for scores, while the rest of Rutgers' targets have four receiving TDs on 82 catches.

    Indiana (4-2, 0-2) nearly beat defending national champion Ohio State two weeks ago, but last week it was listless in a 29-7 loss at Penn State. Not having quarterback Nate Sudfeld or running back Jordan Howard resulted in only 234 yards, compared to nearly 500 yards per game in the Hoosiers' first five contests in 2015.

    If one or both of those standouts can return from injury, Indiana will win easily. If not, the Hoosiers will struggle to avoid a third straight loss.

    Prediction: Indiana 31, Rutgers 28

    FINAL: Rutgers 55, Rutgers 52

No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jeremy Langford ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns in Michigan State's 35-11 home win over Michigan last October.

    What to watch for

    Ever since Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh this past winter, a few games on the Wolverines' 2015 schedule stood out. The clash with in-state rival Michigan State was right up there on the list, and that was before Harbaugh quickly turned his first team into a defensive juggernaut.

    Just as surprising has been how unimpressive the other team in this matchup has looked, as Michigan State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) has only won its games this season by an average of 10 points. Since conference play has begun, that average margin has dropped to five. The Spartans nearly blew a 21-0 lead at home to Purdue two weeks ago, then last week trailed early and was tied in the fourth quarter at Rutgers before pulling out a 31-24 victory.

    In that game, senior quarterback Connor Cook showed the first signs this season of being the clutch performer that we'd seen during the previous two years. He threw for 357 yards, the most in nearly a year, though it was MSU's run game that paced the game-winning drive.

    Freshmen Madre London and LJ Scott have combined for 817 yards and nine TDs, but they're going up against a run defense that ranks third in the country and which hasn't given up a rushing score since the season opener.

    Michigan (5-1, 2-0) is on an amazing defensive run, having shut out three straight opponents for the first time since 1980. Since falling at Utah in Harbaugh's opener, the Wolverines have allowed 14 points and rank first nationally in scoring defense at 6.3 points allowed per game. No opponent during their five-game win streak has topped 235 yards.

    Combined with an offense that lacks flash and flair but thanks to 201.3 rushing yards per game dictates the tempo, Michigan needs to start getting serious consideration as a national title contender in addition to being a serious player in the Big Ten.

    "It's not just the five consecutive wins," Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer wrote. "It's the way Jim Harbaugh's team has been Harbaugh-ized overnight. It's the way Michigan puts its opponents in a vice and squeezes the life out of the opposition until it inevitably taps out."

    Michigan breezed through last week's test against unbeaten Northwestern, winning 38-0, but this matchup is far bigger. MSU has won six of the past seven games in the series, moving from little brother to big bully in the state.

    The Spartans have looked far from stellar up to this point in the season, which has led to their dip in the rankings despite remaining unbeaten. Their first loss of 2015 seems inevitable here, but instead they'll put forth their best effort of the year and briefly slow the momentum that Michigan has built.

    Prediction: Michigan State 24, Michigan 21

    FINAL: Michigan State 27, Michigan 23

Nebraska at Minnesota

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Mitch Leidner scored on a two-yard run with 3:25 left to give Minnesota a 28-24 win at Nebraska last November.

    What to watch for

    Nebraska (2-4, 0-2 Big Ten) could be 5-1 if the final minute of regulation didn't count, as they've lost three times in those last seconds as well as once in overtime. According to Dave Bartoo of CFBMatrix.com, there were 21 games in 2014 when a team scored a go-ahead touchdown or field goal in the last 10 seconds to win, and it's happened six times this season, with three of those involving Nebraska on the losing end.

    First-year coach Mike Riley is seeing just how quickly the devoted Cornhuskers fans can turn on him, as all of the good will he established during the offseason after replacing Bo Pelini is long gone. The 'Huskers haven't lost three straight since 2008 but already have as many defeats as in any of Pelini's seven seasons.

    Minnesota (4-2, 1-1) erupted for 41 points last week at Purdue, its highest-scoring game since blowing out Iowa last November. Freshman Shannon Brooks ran for 176 yards and a TD, and the Golden Gophers churned out 326 rushing yards, more than double their previous average of 141.2.

    The Gophers still rank 100th in total defense, but since giving up 449 yards to TCU in their season opener, they've held opponents to 277.6 yards per game.

    Prediction: Minnesota 27, Nebraska 21

    FINAL: Nebraska 48, Minnesota 25

Charlotte at Old Dominion

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    Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Charlotte (2-3, 0-2 Conference USA) is learning the hard way just how difficult FBS football is, having lost three straight against established programs by a combined 103 points. The 49ers are careless with the ball, turning it over a national-worst 21 times.

    Old Dominion (2-3, 0-1) has also lost three in a row, outscored by 31 points per game in that span. The Monarchs are averaging 138.2 passing yards per game compared to 292.5 a year ago.

    Someone has to win, so why not the home team?

    Prediction: Old Dominion 27, Charlotte 20

    FINAL: Old Dominion 37, Charlotte 34

Vanderbilt at South Carolina

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Dylan Thompson threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in South Carolina's 48-34 win at Vanderbilt in September 2014.

    What to watch for

    The matchup of the SEC's two worst teams suddenly became newsworthy with the surprise announcement Tuesday that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was resigning immediately. The Head Ball Coach walks away with 228 career victories, but his Gamecocks (2-4, 0-4 SEC) are off to the worst start of his 11-year tenure.

    Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2) has lost 10 straight conference games but is coming off an impressive come-from-behind win at Middle Tennessee before its bye week. The Commodores are 25th nationally in defense, giving up 320.8 yards per game, but in four games this year against FBS competition, they're scoring 14.8 points and haven't topped 20 against an SEC opponent since last season's loss to South Carolina.

    South Carolina hasn't started 0-4 in the SEC since 1999, when Lou Holtz went winless in his first season with the program. The Gamecocks have had early leads the past two weeks at Missouri and against LSU, a game that was moved from Columbia because of flood-recovery efforts, but they don't have the weapons to keep up with the rest of the league.

    This was looking like South Carolina's best (and probably only) chance at an SEC win this year before Spurrier retired. That won't change now that interim coach Shawn Elliott has taken over.

    Prediction: South Carolina 27, Vanderbilt 20

    FINAL: South Carolina 19, Vanderbilt 10

Oregon State at Washington State

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Luke Falk threw for 471 yards and five touchdowns in Washington State's 39-32 win at Oregon State last November.

    What to watch for

    Oregon State (2-3, 0-2 Pac-12) has lost four straight conference games and eight of nine in the league, most recently by 37 at Arizona. The Beavers have scored 38 total points in three games this season against power-conference teams, and at 139.4 passing yards per game, they rank 119th nationally through the air.

    Washington State (3-2, 1-1) pulled off a stunning double-overtime win at Oregon last week, tying the game on a fade pass in the final seconds of regulation and then scoring TDs in both OT periods. The Cougars have the fewest rush attempts in the country at 121, but with Falk completing 71.3 percent of his passes for 392.8 yards per game and 15 TDs, there's been little need to run the ball.

    The Cougars have come a long way since opening the season with a home loss to FCS school Portland State, and with a win here they'll finish with a winning record against schools from that state.

    Prediction: Washington State 40, Oregon State 23

    FINAL: Washington State 52, Oregon State 31

Nevada at Wyoming

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    Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 4 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Devin Combs threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Bradley in overtime to give Nevada a 35-28 home win over Wyoming in October 2012.

    What to watch for

    Nevada (3-3, 1-1 Mountain West) ran for 351 yards in a 35-17 home win over New Mexico last week, getting 145-plus-yard games from both James Butler and Don Jackson. The duo has combined for 1,140 yards and eight TDs, making the Wolf Pack the only team in FBS with two 500-plus-yard rushers this season.

    Wyoming (0-6, 0-2) has lost nine in a row and 13 of 14, off to its worst start since 1939. The Cowboys have a minus-eight turnover margin and have allowed opponents to score on 15 of 16 trips into the red zone.

    Sophomore Brian Hill ranks 10th in the country at 132.8 rushing yards per game but has no help around him.

    Prediction: Nevada 30, Wyoming 23

    FINAL: Wyoming 28, Nevada 21

New Mexico State at Georgia Southern

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    Todd Bennett/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 6 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Georgia Southern ran for 419 yards and four touchdowns in Georgia Southern's 36-28 win at New Mexico State last October.

    What to watch for

    New Mexico State (0-5, 0-1 Sun Belt) makes its third of five trips this season to the Deep South, including last week's 52-3 setback at Ole Miss. That was the Aggies' 15th straight loss, the fifth in which they allowed 50 or more points.

    Georgia Southern (4-1, 2-0) was shut out in its season opener but since has averaged 46.5 points during a four-game win streak. The Eagles are back atop the national rushing chart at 377.4 yards per game, led by Matt Breida's 738 yards and 10 TDs.

    New Mexico State gives up 273.4 yards per game on the ground, so...don't expect an upset.

    Prediction: Georgia Southern 53, New Mexico State 17

    FINAL: Georgia Southern 56, New Mexico State 26

Appalachian State at Louisiana-Monroe

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Bentlee Critcher's 39-yard field goal with 29 seconds left gave Appalachian State a 31-29 home win over Louisiana-Monroe last November.

    What to watch for

    Appalachian State (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) is on a three-game win streak since its lone loss at Clemson. The Mountaineers have outscored their last three opponents by 101 points and have the No. 8 defense in the country at 267.4 yards allowed per game.

    Louisiana-Monroe (1-4, 0-1) has dropped three in a row and is winless in its last five games against FBS competition. The Warhawks have allowed at least 34 points in all four of their losses.

    Appalachian has won its last seven Sun Belt games but has to be careful not to look ahead to its nationally televised showdown with Georgia Southern on Oct. 22.

    Prediction: Appalachian State 33, Louisiana-Monroe 20

    FINAL: Appalachian State 59, Louisiana-Monroe 14

Hawaii at New Mexico

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    Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kasey Carrier ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns in New Mexico's 35-23 win at Hawaii in October 2012.

    What to watch for

    Hawaii (2-4, 0-2 Mountain West) has lost three in a row but at least found the end zone last week; twice, in fact, after getting shut out in the previous two games. The Rainbow Warriors have yet to score a point in three road games, and at 268 yards per game, they're dead last in the nation in total offense.

    New Mexico (3-3, 1-1) has the 11th-best run game in the country at 264.17 yards per game, but the 135 the Lobos ran for last week in a 35-17 loss at Nevada was their lowest ground total in more than three years. They completed 19 of 24 passes but have lost 10 in a row when having to throw 20 or more times.

    Expect New Mexico to return to its roots against a Hawaii team that has yielded 823 rushing yards and 10 TDs the past three weeks.

    Prediction: New Mexico 50, Hawaii 17

    FINAL: New Mexico 28, Hawaii 27

No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired to give LSU a 30-27 win at Florida last October.

    What to watch for

    Florida (6-0, 4-0 SEC) is well out in front of the pack in the East Division and has already matched last season's regular-season win total, but it now faces an uncertain second half with quarterback Will Grier suspended for a year after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

    The redshirt freshman's quick command of first-year coach Jim McElwain's offense had given the Gators stability for a unit that was expected to struggle, and his absence will mean having to change things up a bit as run-first Treon Harris takes over.

    The Gators' success now lies in the hands of their talented and effective defense, which held Missouri to three points last week and allows 14.3 points per game. They're best against the run, ranking 12th nationally at 99.17 yards per game, though when they faced Tennessee, they gave up 254 yards on the ground.

    LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) seems to be living a charmed life right now, catching opponents at their most vulnerable and thus being able to assert control of every game regardless of the venue. Florida will mark the fourth straight opponent the Tigers have faced that is starting a backup quarterback, and last week's "road game" against South Carolina ended up being played in Baton Rouge because of flooding in the Columbia area.

    Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee equated what LSU and coach Les Miles are experiencing this year to what happened in 2007, when upsets and chaos throughout college football helped the Tigers get into the BCS Championship Game and win their last national title: "Because all teams are flawed, the door is open wide for Miles and the Tigers."

    LSU is just as flawed, lacking much of a passing game, but with the best running back in the country in Leonard Fournette, that's yet to be an issue. The sophomore has already topped 1,000 rushing yards, and his 204.4 yards per game are nearly 60 yards better than the next guy in the national rankings.

    Fournette had the second of his 10 career 100-yard rushing games last year in the Swamp, and though Florida's defense has been strong, he'll still bust through it for a good chunk and help LSU to another victory.

    Prediction: LSU 26, Florida 14

    FINAL: LSU 35, Florida 28

Wake Forest at North Carolina

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tanner Price scored on a one-yard run with 2:09 left to give Wake Forest a 28-27 home win over North Carolina in September 2012.

    What to watch for

    Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2 ACC) has the odd distinction of going 2-1 under Dave Clawson in conference play when it fails to score a touchdown but is winless in eight tries when it does find the end zone against a league opponent. The Demon Deacons won 3-0 at Boston College last week despite only 142 yards of offense, stopping BC in the red zone four times, including twice in the final minutes.

    North Carolina (4-1, 1-0) was off last week and brings a four-game win streak into this one. The most recent was a comeback victory at Georgia Tech in the Tar Heels' only true road game of the season.

    Marquise Williams remains the Heels' top offensive weapon but doesn't have to carry the load in the ground game, as Elijah Hood and others have helped churn out 219.8 yards per game.

    Prediction: North Carolina 28, Wake Forest 16

    FINAL: North Carolina 50, Wake Forest 14

Boston College at No. 5 Clemson

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cole Stoudt threw for 285 yards in Clemson's 17-13 win at Boston College last October.

    What to watch for

    Boston College (3-3, 0-3 ACC) lost 3-0 at home to Wake Forest last week, and before that dropped a 9-7 decision at Duke. According to Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com, the Eagles are the first team since 1989 to lose consecutive games while allowing fewer than 10 points in each, and the last one to do so was also BC.

    "Nobody knows offensive futility quite like BC," Adelson wrote.

    The nation's top-rated defense, allowing 140.3 yards per game, has had very little help from BC's offense. Since scoring 100 points in wins over a pair of FCS schools, the Eagles have managed 24 points in their last four and have been shut out twice.

    Clemson (5-0, 2-0) has won eight in a row overall and 13 straight at home, including wins over Georgia Tech and Notre Dame the past two weeks. The Tigers defense is starting to give up some points, the same or more each week as the season has gone along, but at 288.8 yards allowed per game, they still rank 13th nationally.

    Prediction: Clemson 28, Boston College 10

    FINAL: Clemson 34, Boston College 17

UTSA at Southern Mississippi

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Sean Ianno kicked a 38-yard field goal with two seconds left to give UTSA a 12-10 home win over Southern Mississippi last November.

    What to watch for

    UTSA (1-5, 1-1 Conference USA) lost 34-31 at home to Louisiana Tech on a field goal with 10 seconds left last week. But despite the loss, the Roadrunners are looking a lot better than at the beginning of the season against Arizona, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. In their past three games, they're averaging 29 points, and their last two losses have been by a combined five points.

    Southern Mississippi (3-3, 1-1) lost 31-10 at Marshall last Friday, turning it over five times, including four lost fumbles. The Golden Eagles had only five giveaways in their previous five games, and the turnovers negated quarterback Nick Mullens' fifth 300-yard game of the season. 

    Mullens will add to his career-high 15 touchdown passes as Southern Miss matches its win total from the previous three seasons combined.

    Prediction: Southern Mississippi 37, UTSA 24

    FINAL: Southern Mississippi 32, UTSA 10

No. 3 TCU at Iowa State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Trevone Boykin threw for 460 yards and four touchdowns and also caught a 55-yard TD pass in TCU's 55-3 home win over Iowa State last December.

    What to watch for

    TCU (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) has had a flair for the dramatic in its road games this season, winning by a combined 16 points in three trips, including last-minute wins at Texas Tech and Kansas State in league play. Last week the Horned Frogs rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit with 35 second-half points behind the usual suspects (Boykin, running back Aaron Green and receiver Josh Doctson) on offense.

    Boykin is tied for second nationally in total offense at 411.5 yards per game, Green has 625 rushing yards with nine total TDs and Doctson has 50 catches for 877 yards and 10 TDs.

    Iowa State (2-3, 1-1) lost 66-31 at Texas Tech last week, allowing 776 yards after giving up 597 in the previous two games. The Cyclones have a rising star in freshman running back Mike Warren, who has 546 rushing yards over the last three weeks, but only 42 of their 108 pass receptions have gone for 10 or more yards.

    The Cyclones aren't going to be making many stops, so they'll need to score on every possession to have a shot.

    Prediction: TCU 56, Iowa State 33

    FINAL: TCU 45, Iowa State 21

UCF at Temple

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Justin Holman threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in UCF's 34-14 home win over Temple last October.

    What to watch for

    There's been an extreme changing of the guard in the American Athletic Conference since these teams met last year, as UCF (0-6, 0-2) is on a major plummet while Temple (5-0, 2-0) has been trending upward.

    UCF has the second-worst offense in the country at 274.5 yards per game, and following last week's 40-13 home loss to Connecticut, coach George O'Leary decided to step down from his role as interim athletic director to focus on getting the program he's built up back on track.

    Temple is off to its best start since 1974, with an historic win over Penn State to open the season and a much-anticipated home game against Notre Dame coming up. In between, the Owls have relied on defense and plenty of touches by Jahad Thomas, who ranks fifth in the nation at 182.4 all-purpose yards per game.

    Prediction: Temple 37, UCF 17

    FINAL: Temple 30, UCF 16

USC at No. 14 Notre Dame

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Cody Kessler threw for 372 yards and six touchdowns in USC's 49-14 home win over Notre Dame last November.

    What to watch for

    USC (3-2) has seen what was supposed to be a promising season devolve, closely mimicking the story arc of 2013, when Lane Kiffin was fired five games into the year. His full-time replacement, Steve Sarkisian, was fired Monday for failing to "meet the school's standards and expectations," according to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press, a day after he was sent home from a practice and made to take an indefinite leave of absence.

    This comes on the heels of a 17-12 home loss to Washington—Sarkisian's former team—that marked the Trojans' second consecutive home loss, something that hadn't happened since 2001. USC was picked to win the Pac-12 and was widely considered a national title contender with no shortage of talent, but now offensive coordinator Clay Helton marks the team's fifth coach (including his previous one-game stint as interim leader) in the past two-plus seasons.

    Notre Dame (5-1) had to deal with a visit from a turmoil-ravaged USC team two years ago as well and turned that into a 14-10 victory, its first in South Bend against the Trojans since 2001. This year's Fighting Irish squad is far more talented, and despite having to make many switches to their personnel because of injury, they've fared quite well.

    Even in their 24-22 loss at Clemson, the Irish showed their mettle by rallying from a 21-3 deficit and overcoming four second-half turnovers to have a chance to win at the end. They've also solidly handled two complicated offensive schemes in the past month in beating Georgia Tech and Navy.

    "There's a special feeling playing USC, and I know that still resonates with our players and coaches," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said, per Bleacher Report's Mike Monaco.

    Having been through this before, expect the Irish to again be able to take advantage of the distractions and get the second half of their season off to a positive start.

    Prediction: Notre Dame 30, USC 20

    FINAL: Notre Dame 41, USC 31

Missouri at Georgia

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nick Chubb ran for 143 yards and a touchdown and Georgia intercepted four passes in its 34-0 win at Missouri last October.

    What to watch for

    Missouri (4-2, 1-2 SEC) has as many conference losses as it did in the past two seasons combined, making the likelihood of a third straight East Division title unlikely. Poor offensive production remains an issue for the Tigers, even with a switch to freshman Drew Lock at quarterback, as last week he was intercepted twice and completed only 16 of 39 passes.

    The Tigers rank 122nd in FBS in total offense at 311.5 yards per game, rendering a lot of their 11th-ranked defense's efforts moot. They slowed down Florida last week but had no support from the offense.

    Georgia (4-2, 2-2) is spiraling downward in October, losing two straight and giving up 38 in each. The Bulldogs again have to deal with the loss of a major weapon on offense, with Chubb needing surgery on the left knee he injured on the first play of last week's 38-31 loss at Tennessee. His absence isn't the reason they blew a 21-point lead, though.

    It's been five years since Georgia lost three straight regular-season games. Don't expect that to happen here, not unless Missouri suddenly develops an offense.

    Prediction: Georgia 34, Missouri 17

    FINAL: Georgia 9, Missouri 6

Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: J.T. Barrett's four-yard touchdown run in the second overtime gave Ohio State a 31-24 win at Penn State last October.

    What to watch for

    Penn State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) has won five in a row, but look closer at the competition it's faced in that run, and the results aren't as impressive. Last week's opponent, Indiana, is the only team in that group with an above-.500 record, and the Hoosiers were without their two best offensive players.

    Still, the Nittany Lions offense has used that time to improve in all facets while gaining confidence. The run game is averaging 157.3 yards per game despite not having top rushers Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley the past two weeks. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg has averaged 238 yards with six passing TDs in the last three games after throwing for 124 per game with one TD and two interceptions in the first three.

    Penn State's offensive line has also improved, yielding only nine sacks over the last five weeks after allowing 10 in the season opener. 

    Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) had arguably its best offensive effort of the season last week in the 49-28 win over Maryland yet was still tied with the struggling Terrapins in the second half. But unlike many games in 2015, all of the Buckeyes' offensive stars were able to contribute without any being left out of the mix or succumbing to mistakes.

    This comes at just the right time, since Penn State's defensive line is among the best in the country and is responsible for most of the Lions' 25 sacks and 53 tackles for loss. OSU has only given up seven sacks and 27 TFLs so far.

    OSU will break out the long-rumored black uniforms for this game. If it can put up big numbers on Penn State's 10th-ranked defense while dressed that way, will it become the norm?

    Prediction: Ohio State 29, Penn State 13

    FINAL: Ohio State 38, Penn State 10

Arizona at Colorado

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    J and L Photography/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Anu Solomon threw four touchdown passes in Arizona's 38-20 home win over Colorado last November.

    What to watch for

    Arizona (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) is a far more complete team on offense with Solomon at quarterback, something it didn't have for most of the past two games after the sophomore suffered a concussion against UCLA. Without him, the Wildcats had no passing attack, and their already struggling defense was overburdened to the tune of 111 points allowed in two weeks.

    Solomon returned against Oregon State, and Arizona won 44-7, the fewest points it has allowed to a conference opponent in five years.

    Colorado (3-3, 0-2) has lost 13 straight Pac-12 games, most recently by 25 at Arizona State. In that game, the run attack that had helped the Buffaloes to a 3-1 start managed 49 yards on 28 carries.

    The Buffaloes have allowed 509.3 yards per game against their last three FBS opponents, and eight of their nine turnovers have come in losses.

    After starting the Pac-12 slate with UCLA and Stanford, Arizona is in the middle of a soft patch and should continue to take advantage.

    Prediction: Arizona 43, Colorado 27

    FINAL: Arizona 38, Colorado 31

Arizona State at No. 4 Utah

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    Ralph Freso/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 10 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Zane Gonzalez kicked four field goals, including a 36-yarder in overtime, to give Arizona State a 19-16 home win over Utah last November.

    What to watch for

    Arizona State (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) has won two in a row since slipping at home against USC, including a win two weeks ago at UCLA that gave the Sun Devils a road victory over a ranked team for the third straight year. They also squeaked out a 20-19 win at Utah two years ago, though that was before the Utes got to the level they've established the past season-and-a-half.

    Utah (5-0, 2-0) is riding a seven-game win streak and is the only unbeaten team in the Pac-12 after holding off California at home last week, 30-24. The Utes intercepted Jared Goff five times and have forced 17 turnovers, their plus-10 turnover margin tied for second in FBS.

    Devontae Booker ran for 222 yards on 34 carries last week, and for the year he has run the ball 140 times and has a team-high 19 receptions. He had a career-high 37 rushes last year at ASU, and he may very well challenge that tally unless quarterback Travis Wilson is able to get others more involved.

    Prediction: Utah 33, Arizona State 21

    FINAL: Utah 34, Arizona State 18

Oregon at Washington

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Royce Freeman ran for 169 yards and four touchdowns in Oregon's 45-20 home win over Washington last October.

    What to watch for

    Oregon (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) is a shell of the team that played in the national title game nine months ago, and not just because it doesn't have Marcus Mariota at quarterback. Even without the problems the Ducks have had at that position thanks to Vernon Adams' broken finger or a lack of efficiency (54.4 percent completion rate, six interceptions against power-conference teams), they still wouldn't be able to solve their massive defensive issues.

    The Ducks have given up 500-plus yards three times this season, including 641 last week in a double-overtime loss to Washington State. Opponents average 323.5 passing yards per game and have thrown 21 TDs. 

    Washington (3-2, 1-1) scored a 17-12 win at USC last Thursday, a result that spelled the beginning of the end for former Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian. Washington's offense remains a work in progress with true freshmen at quarterback (Jake Browning) and running back (Myles Gaskin), but the defense has allowed only 15 points per game, including 16 in a season-opening loss at Boise State.

    Oregon has won the last 11 meetings in the series, each by at least 17 points, but this is a vulnerable Ducks team, and Washington can't afford to squander this chance.

    Prediction: Washington 37, Oregon 27

    FINAL: Oregon 26, Washington 20

San Diego State at San Jose State

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    When: Saturday, Oct. 17; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Donnel Pumphrey ran for 261 yards and three touchdowns in San Diego State's 38-7 home win over San Jose State last November.

    What to watch for

    San Diego State (3-3, 2-0 Mountain West) has had some lengthy road trips this season, losing last month at Penn State but winning at Hawaii a week ago. Pumphrey had 148 rushing yards and three scores despite a bum ankle, and he'll likely pass Ronnie Hillman for third on the Aztecs' career rushing list this weekend.

    San Jose State (3-3, 2-1) ended a seven-game road losing streak by knocking off UNLV in overtime last week, riding senior Tyler Ervin down the stretch. Ervin had a season-low 73 yards passing but scored the game-winning TD, his 11th of the year, and ranks fourth in FBS with 145.67 rushing yards per game.

    Two of the most underrated rushers in the country will trade big runs late Saturday, with San Jose moving a step closer to its first division or league title since 1991.

    Prediction: San Jose State 27, San Diego State 22

    FINAL: San Diego State 30, San Jose State 7

Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    When: Tuesday, Oct. 20; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire each scored four rushing touchdowns in Louisiana-Lafayette's 55-40 home win over Arkansas State last October.

    What to watch for

    Louisiana-Lafayette (2-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) got back on track last time out with a 49-27 win over Texas State to open conference play, but the Ragin' Cajuns' season is in limbo, as the Advertiser's Tim Buckley reported the program has been accused of major NCAA violations. The Cajuns have won nine games each of the past four seasons, starting with the 2011 campaign in which the violations are alleged to have occurred.

    Arkansas State (3-3, 2-0) is playing on a Tuesday for the second week in a row, using a 29-point fourth quarter to win 49-31 at South Alabama. The Red Wolves forced five turnovers and scored twice on defense, giving them three defensive scores this year.

    Combined with the return of mobile quarterback Fredi Knighten from injury, Arkansas State is poised to make a run.

    Prediction: Arkansas State 44, Louisiana-Lafayette 21

    FINAL: Arkansas State 37, Louisiana-Lafayette 27

Cincinnati at BYU

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    Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    When: Friday, Oct. 16; 8 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: None

    What to watch for

    Cincinnati (3-2) has faced a tough schedule to this point, losing to unbeaten Memphis and Temple in American Athletic Conference play, but beating the ACC's Miami (Florida) at home last time out. The Bearcats average 39 points per game and rank fifth nationally in total offense, despite twice losing starting quarterback Gunner Kiel to head and neck injuries.

    Redshirt freshman Hayden Moore has been superb in relief, throwing for a school-record 557 yards and four touchdowns against Memphis. Cincinnati's offense is in good hands whether he or Kiel, who has been cleared for this game, gets the start.

    BYU (4-2) has won two straight, both against AAC teams, and averages 36.7 points per game in Provo compared to 18.7 on the road. True freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum has been mostly good since taking over for Taysom Hill. In the past two wins, he's thrown for 697 yards and five TDs.

    An injury-impacted rotation of running backs must produce for the Cougars to have a balanced offense. The ground game averages 136.3 yards in wins and 105.5 in losses, but overall gains less than 3.6 yards per carry.

    Neither team is particularly good on defense, but BYU does force turnovers (13 takeaways, including 10 interceptions), while Cincinnati has a woeful minus-11 turnover margin.

    Prediction: BYU 44, Cincinnati 34

    FINAL: BYU 38, Cincinnati 24

No. 24 Houston at Tulane

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    When: Friday, Oct. 16; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Tanner Lee threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns in Tulane's 31-24 win at Houston last November.

    What to watch for

    Houston (5-0, 2-0 American) has the No. 6 offense in the country, gaining 573.4 yards per game, with almost exactly the same number of rushing yards (1,436) as passing yards (1,431). Quarterback Greg Ward averages 371.2 yards of total offense, with eight passing TDs and a 72.5 percent completion rate to go with 11 rushing scores.

    Tulane (2-3, 1-1) lost 49-10 at Temple last week, giving up 42 straight points after taking a 10-7 lead on the unbeaten Owls. The Green Wave opened this season with a 37-7 home loss to Duke, their 47th straight loss against an AP-ranked opponent, according to ESPN.

    Any hope of an upset for Tulane is tempered by the absence of Lee, who suffered a concussion last week. Coach Curtis Johnson told the New Orleans Advocate's Guerry Smith that he believes the head injury happened early, but Lee wasn't evaluated until after the game.

    Prediction: Houston 38, Tulane 17

    FINAL: Houston 42, Tulane 7

No. 21 Boise State at Utah State

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    GARY KAZANJIAN/Associated Press

    When: Friday, Oct. 16; 9 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Jay Ajayi ran for 229 yards and five touchdowns in Boise State's 50-19 home win over Utah State last November.

    What to watch for

    Boise State (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West) has averaged 51 points during its four-game win streak, winning 41-10 at Colorado State last week. The Broncos have the most prolific scorer in the country in sophomore Jeremy McNichols, who has 14 total TDs, while true freshman quarterback Brett Rypien has averaged 310.3 passing yards with seven total TDs since taking over the starting job.

    Ranked fifth nationally in total defense and second against the run, Boise is on the same kind of roll that took it to the Fiesta Bowl last season.

    Utah State (3-2, 2-0) was been reinvigorated by the move to Kent Myers at quarterback. In his two starts, the Aggies have averaged 44.5 points and 458.5 yards after going for 14.3 and 292.3 during a 1-2 start. Myers has thrown for 397 yards and two TDs with 181 rushing yards and a score.

    The Aggies have run for 499 yards the last two weeks and will use the run to earn their first win over Boise since 1997.

    Prediction: Utah State 26, Boise State 24

    FINAL: Utah State 52, Boise State 26

UNLV at Fresno State

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    When: Friday, Oct. 16; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Nicolai Bornand's 33-yard field goal in overtime gave UNLV a 30-27 win over visiting Fresno State last October.

    What to watch for

    UNLV (2-4, 1-1 Mountain West) lost in overtime at home to San Jose State last week, but the Runnin' Rebels continue to show improvement under first-year coach Tony Sanchez after an 0-3 start. 

    Fresno State (1-5, 0-3) has lost five in a row, most recently by 42 at home to Utah State. The Bulldogs are giving up 42.8 points per game, and their offense ranks 126th out of 128 FBS teams.

    The loser of this game is effectively eliminated from bowl consideration, barring a major turnaround. UNLV has shown more signs of life and will keep hope alive with a second straight road victory, having won two weeks ago at rival Nevada.

    Prediction: UNLV 30, Fresno State 24

    FINAL: Fresno State 31, UNLV 28

Auburn at Kentucky

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    When: Thursday, Oct. 15; 7 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Wes Bynum kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired to give Auburn a 37-34 win at Kentucky in Oct. 2010.

      

    What to watch for

    Auburn (3-2, 0-2 SEC) has been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2015 season, from overhyped quarterback Jeremy Johnson to its still-struggling defense. Johnson was benched after throwing six interceptions in 72 attempts over the first three games, while the Tigers are allowing 209.6 rushing yards per game.

    A loss here would continue Auburn's worst start in the SEC since 2012, when it went 3-9 overall and fired Gene Chizik two years after he led it to a national title. Gus Malzahn's job isn't similarly at risk, but the perception that he's a genius gets altered with every setback, as he's gone 11-8 since starting 12-1.

    Kentucky (4-1, 2-1) has seen every game this season decided by eight points or less, including an overtime win over FCS Eastern Kentucky last time out, in which it trailed by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats have shown flashes of impressive play this year, but also plenty of instances where they're still the team that began 5-1 in 2014 and then lost six straight.

    Both of these teams have needed OT to beat an opponent from the lower division, as Auburn had to rally to top Jacksonville State in September.

    The key to this game is finishing. Auburn has scored on 13 of 17 red-zone possessions, with 10 TDs, while Kentucky is one of five FBS teams (and the only one from a power league) to have scored every time it has reached an opponent's 20-yard line.

    "That's one of the reasons why we're 4-1 and one of the reasons why we've won close games," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said, via Jon Hale of the Louisville Courier-Journal, noting that the Wildcats have scored on 27 straight red-zone trips.

    Prediction: Kentucky 27, Auburn 21

    FINAL: Auburn 30, Kentucky 27

Western Kentucky at North Texas

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    Michael Noble Jr./Associated Press

    When: Thursday, Oct. 15; 7:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Antonio Andrews scored on a 21-yard touchdown run with 3:30 left to key a 25-24 home win over North Texas in November 2012, when both teams were in the Sun Belt Conference.

    What to watch for

    Western Kentucky (5-1, 3-0 Conference USA) has averaged 54.3 points during a three-game win streak, putting up 52 in the first half last week against Middle Tennessee. The Hilltoppers have the most accurate quarterback in the country in senior Brandon Doughty, who has completed 74.7 percent of his passes for 2,359 yards and 20 TDs a year after he led FBS with 4,830 yards and 49 passing scores.

    North Texas (0-5, 0-2) lost 66-7 at home to FCS school Portland State on Saturday and almost immediately fired coach Dan McCarney. The Mean Green are giving up 547.4 yards per game and are one of four teams yet to have intercepted a pass this season.

    That does not bode well for going up against a passer like Doughty, so don't expect the coaching change to make for different results.

    Prediction: Western Kentucky 44, North Texas 14

    FINAL: Western Kentucky 55, North Texas 28

No. 18 UCLA at No. 15 Stanford

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    When: Thursday, Oct. 15; 10:30 p.m. ET

    Last meeting: Kevin Hogan threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-19 passing in Stanford's 31-10 win at UCLA last November.

    What to watch for

    UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) hasn't played since falling at home to Arizona State on Oct. 3, the Bruins' fourth home loss in conference play in the past 12 months. That came on the heels of a blowout win at Arizona that saw them looking like the class of the conference.

    Getting away from the Rose Bowl is the best thing that could happen to UCLA, which excels in road and neutral-site games with 12 straight wins. That includes last year's 62-27 win at ASU on a Thursday night, the kind of performance that contradicts coach Jim Mora's recent statement that UCLA's having to play two straight Thursday games (including Oct. 22 vs. California) is "an injustice," via Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register.

    Stanford (4-1, 3-0) might have been the hottest team in the country before its bye, having averaged 42.3 points per game during a four-game win streak following a season-opening 16-6 loss at Northwestern. The Cardinal have made some impressive in-season adjustments on offense, much of that revolving around getting Christian McCaffrey the ball in as many ways as possible.

    The sophomore's 229.8 all-purpose yards per game are second-best in FBS, and he's averaging 5.72 yards per carry along with a team-high 15 receptions. He's the kind of player that UCLA star linebacker Myles Jack would be employed to neutralize, but Jack is done for the year with a knee injury and has since withdrawn from school to prepare for the 2016 NFL draft.

    Prediction: Stanford 34, UCLA 23

    FINAL: Stanford 56, UCLA 35

    Statistics provided by CFBStats.com.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.