After a couple weeks full of compelling games matching top-25 teams against each other, we are left with only two* such contests this weekend (*-not really, LSU shouldn't be ranked. At all). But then again, these are the weeks that often seem to produce some of the crazier results of the year. With that said...
Alabama -17 at Tennessee
There are two very specific reasons I'm including this game. One, it really isn't a great week schedule wise. But the second is much more important. Lane Kiffin is back in Knoxville. If you aren't one,or don't know a Vols fan, I'm not sure you can fully comprehend just how much they really do not like that guy. The signs around Neyland will be must see TV on their own.
As for the game, I do think Tennessee keeps it close. Folks are back on the Alabama bandwagon after the 59-0 dismantling of Texas A&M, but as I said last week, the Aggies are not very good, especially on the defensive side. Tennessee will struggle to do much against a very good Alabama defense, but their defense is capable of keeping them close. I'll take those 17 points, as well as the over on Lane Kiffin TV shots.
Michigan at Michigan State (-17)
I bet I could have made a pretty penny if I would have bet someone 5 years ago that Sparty would be a 3 score favorite against Michigan. Apparently little brother does eventually grow up. A year ago, MSU held their in-state rivals to -48 yards rushing, including 7 sacks of Devin Gardner. The MSU defense may not be as dominant as a season ago, but they are still plenty good enough to make life miserable for Hoke...again.
17 is a lot of points in a rivalry game, but despite their win against PSU two weeks ago, it's hard to get excited about Michigan doing much on offense. Michigan State is on a mission to run the table, and not even a date against Ohio State in two weeks will distract them. I like Sparty big.
Ole Miss (-3) at LSU
I wrote last week about SEC poll bias with Texas A&M, who was promptly run out of Tuscaloosa. This week, LSU somehow reappeared in the top-25, despite no win of note, and two ugly losses against the only quality teams they have faced. Meanwhile, my #1 team, Ole Miss comes to Death Valley this weekend, in the continuing saga of "Mississippi Dominates College Football".
I know the first rule of gambling is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. But I cannot help but look at Ole Miss only giving 3 points against what seems to be a terribly overrated LSU team, and wonder what is going on. I would say the Tiger Stadium home field accounts for it, but well, Mississippi State thoroughly dominated the Tigers there last month. I'll probably regret it, but I love Ole Miss here.
USC -1 at Utah
Ahh, the other (and only real) top-25 contest of the weekend! This feels like one of those games where if either team played more games at not 10:00 on Saturday nights, they might be more highly regarded. USC is a bizarre loss at BC and a hail mary vs. Arizona State away from being 7-0, while the Utes are just 1 point away from 6-0. Yet, they're both borderline top-20 teams.
Utah has hardly been impressive in their wins, although I did enjoy their dominance in Ann Arbor last month. They are just a tough team, that finds ways to win, and does not beat themselves. It's only 1 point, but I love them getting it at home.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State (-1)
Have the couch fires gone out in Morgantown yet? A week after knocking off Baylor in rather impressive fashion, Holgo's crew heads to Stillwater, to face a reeling Oklahoma State team that was completely dominated by TCU in a 42-9 thrashing in Ft. Worth.
This game comes down to one thing for me: WVU has played well all season, even in their losses. Oklahoma State played FSU close a month and a half ago, but has not done much since. It's a long road trip, coming off a big win, but I'll take WVU here.
AROUND THE B1G
Maryland at Wisconsin (-11)
Rutgers at Nebraska (-17.5)
Minnesota (-6.5) at Illinois