With Penn State off this weekend, you have plenty of time to catch up on your honey-do list, visit with non-football friends, and enjoy a crisp weekend of fall weather. Or, you can do the rational thing, and lock yourself in the basement (or wherever your largest television machine is located) and watch a fantastic slate of intercollegiate college football action.
After a couple of weeks where finding the best games was something of a challenge, there are no such issues this week. Apologies for the SEC focus, but well, they have lots of good teams playing each other.
Stanford (-2) at Notre Dame
Welcome to Notre Dame's first actual test of the year. Sure, that Michigan game was supposed to be legitimate, but well, Brady Hoke. Stanford enters at 3-1, and one may argue they failed their only test of the year, losing 13-10 to USC last month. Although, their 20-13 victory a week ago in Seattle is not bad at all.
I have already been burnt once this season going against the Fighting Irish, but I blame Brady Hoke for that. And probably the 17 turnovers his offense committed. Stanford is always a tough team to figure out, but I think they're better than Notre Dame, and it's only 2 points. GO TREES!
Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-2)
Show of hands, who had this as a top-12 matchup going in the season? Now everyone put down your hands, because you're all liars. Dirty liars. Anyway, the Aggies have not missed a beat replacing Jonathan Pigskin and Mike Evans en route to a 5-0 start and the 2nd best scoring offense in the nation. The Bulldogs sit at 4-0, with a massive road win in Baton Rouge vaulting them to 12th in the country.
As impressive as MSU's win in Death Valley was, I have a hard time taking them seriously. I'm sure the Starkville crowd will be nuts, but after seeing what A&M did to South Carolina to open the year on the road, I don't think much rattles them at all. I'll gladly take the 2 points I'm getting to go with the visitors.
Alabama (-6.5) at Ole Miss
Has there every been a bigger weekend of football in Mississippi? Two top 10 teams visiting the local schools, including the juggernaut Crimson Tide. Neither team boasts a huge win, although Alabama's victories over West Virginia and, arguably Florida, are more impressive than Ole Miss' triumphs over the powers of Boise State, Vanderbilt, Louisiana Lafayette, and Memphis.
I know Ole Miss has brought in some impressive recruiting classes under Hugh Freeze, but the only impressive win of the last 2-plus seasons came a year ago against LSU. On top of that, Alabama has outscored them 58-14 the last 2 seasons. It's another road team, but I think Alabama wins this by at least the touchdown they need to cover, and probably more.
Oklahoma (-5) at TCU
With all the other top-25 matchups this weekend, the Sooners' trip to Fort Worth has flown a bit under the radar. This surprises me a little, but only because I'm very intrigued by this game. Oklahoma traveled out to Morgantown 2 weeks ago for a tough win over the Mountaineers, while the Horned Frogs are 3-0, but face the Sooners and Baylor in back to back weeks.
Oklahoma is a very good team, while TCU has yet to prove much with wins over SMU, Minnesota, and Samford. However, I can't shake this feeling that TCU is going to be right in this. The 5 point spread would seem to agree. I will definitely take those 5 points, but I will not be shocked to see the Horned Frogs pull the upset.
Nebraska at Michigan State (-7.5)
I know it's fashionable to pick on the Big 10, and with good reason, but this game ought to be a dandy in East Lansing Saturday night, in what could be a preview of the title game in December. MSU needs to win out impressively to have any hope to head to the playoff, and don't look now, but a Huskers win would put them in position to potentially do the same.
Ameer Abdullah is every bit the Heisman candidate Nebraska is hyping him up to be, but MSU's defense is a few levels above anything they have seen to date. Meanwhile, the Blackshirts on defense will be tested by an underrated Sparty offense. I think this is a pretty good Nebraska team, but MSU, at home, is just too much. Sparty pulls away late for a comfortable win.
AROUND THE B1G
Purdue at Illinois (-11)
Ohio State (-9) at Maryland
North Texas at Indiana (-14)
Wisconsin (-9) at Northwestern
Michigan at BTPR (-3)