(12) West Virginia vs (25) Texas Tech, Noon ET, ESPN2
I was really surprised with Texas Tech’s dismantling of Oklahoma State last weekend, mostly the fact they only gave up 17 points to what’s been a pretty high-powered offense this season. This week they’ll face an even more high-powered offense, headed by Heisman candidate Will Grier as the Mountaineers come to town. I think last week for the Texas Tech defense was an outlier and they won’t be able to carry that performance over to this week. I do however think they can score points to keep up with West Virginia, but ultimately West Virginia is the better team and I’m not sure about the Red Raiders actually being one of the top-25 teams in the country, but they have a huge chance here at home.
Pick: West Virginia
Army vs Buffalo, Noon ET, CBS Sports Net
Army nearly went to Norman last week and beat Oklahoma. They’re a very good team and I’m expecting them to make things tough on Tyree Jackson in this one. They can do this because they have a good defense, but also because of the offense they run. They tend to dominate time of possession and that can make a player as good as Jackson try and do too much when he’s on the field because he feels the pressure of having less chances with the ball than normal. I think this will be a tight game that comes down to the wire.
Virginia vs NC State, 12:20 PM ET, ACC Network
I can’t lie. I didn’t think I’d be writing anything about the Virginia football team at this point in the season because I was expecting them to be pretty bad, but here we are. They dominated Louisville last week and even though this isn’t a normal Louisville team we’ve seen in the past, they still took good care of them. The Cavaliers look like a better team than people thought they would be and now they have a huge chance on the road against a quality conference opponent. I’m going to side with NC State here because they’re at home, I like their defense and most importantly Ryan Finley will be the best player on the field. I think UVA can hang, but NC State will separate themselves as the game goes on.
Pick: NC State
(18) Texas vs Kansas State, 3:30 PM ET, Fox Sports One
I wasn’t going to overreact to Texas beating USC two weeks ago, because I don’t think USC is very good, but they did beat TCU by two touchdowns last week and they deserve a ton of credit for that, because TCU is good. The most impressive part of it is they held a good TCU offense to only 16 points. Texas is starting to look like they might have the best defense in the conference and that’ll help a lot in a conference so dominated by offense. They have had their last two games at home and now they’ll have to go on the road to Kansas State, a place that’s not the easiest to play. I could see them struggling their way through this game a little bit, but they look to be a good amount better than Kansas State at this point and if they want to keep building national buzz, this is a game the Longhorns have to take care of, especially with Oklahoma looming next week.
Florida vs (23) Mississippi State, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN
I couldn’t believe it last week when Mississippi State lost to Kentucky 28-7. It didn’t surprise me too much that they lost, but what did surprise me was the way it happened. Seeing their offense get shutdown like that was pretty surprising and doesn’t bode well against a pretty good Florida defense. On the surface this game has the makings of a low-scoring defensive battle. This will also be a huge test for new Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead after suffering his first defeat in ugly fashion and having a capable team coming into their place. It’ll be interesting to see if the Kentucky game lingers for them
Pick: Mississippi State
Utah vs Washington State, 6:00 PM ET, Pac-12 Network
This is a game that could go a number of different ways in my opinion. Utah is very good on the defensive side of things, but have what has been a pretty terrible offense to this point. They are coming off of a bye, so maybe they were able to get some things dialed in during the bye week offensively and they’ll come out looking better, but I don’t have the most confidence in that. Gardner Minshew on the other hand has fit in perfectly to Mike Leach’s air raid offense and with them being at home, I think Utah will have to score a little bit to win this game and I’m not sure they’re capable of doing that.
Pick: Washington State
Iowa State vs TCU, 7:00 PM ET, ESPNU
TCU will be looking to bounce back from a really tough loss that they took in Austin last week at the hands of the Longhorns. Luckily for them they’re at home, because Iowa State is a capable team and if TCU has a hangover effect at all, the Cyclones could definitely win this game. Gary Patterson is a very good coach so I’m expecting his team to bounce back, but this is a game to watch as an upset this week.
Virginia Tech vs Duke, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2
The Hokies suffered the upset of the season last week when they lost to Old Dominion. Maybe even worse than the loss was that their quarterback Joshua Jackson suffered what’s been described as a fairly serious leg injury and he’s out indefinitely. That won’t be helpful at all as they travel to Duke to play a really well-coached team. David Cutcliffe has his team playing really good football this season.
South Carolina vs (17) Kentucky, 7:30 PM ET, SEC Network
I love what Terry Wilson and Kentucky have done this season and they really took things to the next level with last weekends 28-7 win over Mississippi State. South Carolina looked really good last week too in a game that a lot of people thought they could lose against Vanderbilt, but they dominated. Kentucky hasn’t been in this situation in who knows how long and this is a classic set up for a let down game. We’ll see how well Mike Stoops is able to keep his team focused.
Pick: South Carolina
(7) Stanford vs (8) Notre Dame, 7:30 PM ET, NBC
Stanford is coming off of a tough overtime win over Oregon and now they’ll have to travel all the way to South Bend, Indiana to take on a top-10 opponent. This will not be an easy challenge for either team as both teams provide challenges for the other. Ian Book has stepped in at quarterback for Notre Dame and the passing offense seems to be a lot more dynamic and that could be problematic for Stanford as they struggled to stop Justin Herbert last week. For Notre Dame, trying to deal with the balance of the Stanford offense will be tough. The Cardinal have always been able to run the ball, and this season they actually aren’t running the ball as well as they have in the past, despite the presence of Bryce Love, but K.J. Costello and those big targets have given Stanford an element in the passing game they haven’t really had since Andrew Luck was the teams quarterback. I’m expecting more points in this game than you would think in a matchup of these two programs.
Pick: Notre Dame
(4) Ohio State vs (9) Penn State, 7:30 PM ET, ABC
I couldn’t be more excited for this game. Both teams have been as dynamic as anyone in college football this season on the offensive side of things, so offense should be plentiful in this game and it will also be a “white out” game in Happy Valley, which means this will be a crazy atmosphere. Dwayne Haskins hasn’t really been challenged this season with the exception of them being tested by TCU a couple of weeks ago, but this is going to be a different level of a test. Ever since struggling to beat Appalachian State in week one, Penn State has been dominant, albeit against lesser competition. Both sides will be tested in this game and I’m excited to watch both of these quarterbacks go against both of these defenses.
Pick: Penn State
Louisiana Tech vs North Texas, 7:30 PM ET
This game has the potential to be interesting, but North Texas is beginning to look like a team that could definitely win Conference USA, lead by Mason Fine, who if you haven’t seen him, he’s the North Texas quarterback and you need to watch him play because he can spin it. North Texas should ultimately be able to pull away in this game but it wouldn’t be surprising in the least to see Louisiana Tech push them.
Pick: North Texas
(20) BYU vs (11) Washington, 8:30 PM ET, FOX
I’m still not a huge believer in BYU, but they did beat Wisconsin on the road earlier this season and they’ve definitely earned the right to be in the top-25. Much like against Wisconsin, Washington has some qualities that could lead to a BYU win. The main thing being they’re limited on offense. Now I do think the Washington defense is better than the Wisconsin defense so I’m not seeing the Cougars putting up a lot of points in Seattle, but seeing this game be close going into the fourth quarter wouldn’t be a shock at all to me.
Ole Miss vs (5) LSU, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN
I’ve only included this game because Ole Miss does have some players and with the style of play that LSU plays, I could see Ole Miss going to Baton Rouge and hanging tight in this game. Ultimately, I really like the way LSU has looked this season. They’ve seemed to be pretty well-coached and have done a better job of avoiding the bad mistakes they’ve made in the past that have cost them games. With this being at home, they should still be able to take care of business against a team they are better than.
USC vs Arizona, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Did either of these teams have a breakthrough last week? USC found a way to win a tough game at home against Washington State last Friday and Arizona went into Corvallis and won 35-14 over a team that a lot of people thought could beat them. I’m still not sure how much of a believer I am in either of these teams, but Arizona was dominant on the ground last week and J.T. Daniels looked much more comfortable than he did in either of his first three starts. I don’t think Arizona will be able to run the ball this week as well as they did last week and USC will have enough talent to get a road win.
(19) Oregon vs (24) Cal, 10:30 PM ET, Fox Sports One
Oregon is of course coming off of a devastating loss in which they blew multiple chances to finish the game against Stanford. Now they will have to find a way to bounce back with a young team making their first road trip of the season against a ranked opponent. Nobody will accuse the Cal offense of being explosive, but what they will say about Cal is that the defense is very aggressive and has been able to force turnovers so far this season. The Bears are also coming off of a bye so they’ve had extra time to watch film on Justin Herbert and that Oregon offense. I think if the Ducks show up to play and have put the Stanford game behind them they will win because they have more talent and have a huge edge on paper at quarterback. But that Cal defense could definitely keep them in the game and if they’re able to do that going all the way to the fourth quarter they can definitely win this game if it’s lower-scoring.