By Brad Carroll
This week's slate of college football games promised to shake up the rankings and make serious waves as teams jockey for position in the first-ever College Football Playoff. But nobody thought the first shock wave would come Thursday night, as it did when Arizona upset No. 2 Oregon in Eugene.
If that huge upset is a precursor to what is going to happen Saturday, then get ready for what will be one of the best day's of college football in recent memory. There are a whopping six games that feature ranked teams, and even those that don't, upset possibilities reside at every turn.
No. 6 Texas A&M is at No. 12 Mississippi State early, with No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 4 Oklahoma at No. 25 TCU and No. 14 Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame following, and then No. 15 LSU is at No. 5 Auburn and No. 19 Nebraska is at No. 10 Michigan State later. Florida State, Baylor, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin and Ohio State are also in action.
We preview each of those games, 12 in total, and our college football experts (all at least three games over .500 to start the week) pick them against the spread. As always, follow us on Twitter for all of our college football coverage and picks by clicking here.
No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State, 12 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Texas A&M +2.5; Mississippi State -2.5
Brad's Breakdown: Nobody has jumped into the national spotlight quicker than Mississippi State. The Bulldogs beat then-No. 8 LSU two weeks ago, 34-29, as an unranked team, leading into a current ranking of 12 coming off a bye week. Texas A&M is 5-0 for the first time since 2001, surviving last week's battle with Arkansas in overtime. The spotlight will be on the quarterbacks here, as Kenny Hill leads the Aggies, while Dak Prescott charges the Bulldogs. Hill has 17 touchdown passes against two interceptions, leading Texas A&M from the pocket. Prescott has 11 touchdown passes, but makes his biggest plays on the ground, as he has three straight 100-yard rushing games. Last year, Prescott rushed for 154 yards against A&M, but the Aggies won at home 51-41. Texas A&M has to be better than it was against Arkansas last week to win this game, and it won't be easy with Mississippi State having two weeks to prepare. Still, the Aggies have the better talent and will prevail in a small upset.
Brad's Score: Texas A&M 35, Mississippi State 28 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Mississippi State 34, Texas A&M 31
Glenn's Score: Texas A&M 45, Mississippi State 38 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Texas A&M 38, Mississippi State 35 (upset pick)
No. 20 Ohio State at Maryland, 12 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Ohio State -8.5; Maryland +8.5
Brad's Breakdown: Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett finally found his way after taking over for Braxton Miller before the season started. Barrett has thrown 10 touchdowns and one interception over his last two games, both wins. In his first two games, including a loss to Virginia Tech at home, he threw three touchdown passes and four interceptions. He threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-28 win over Cincinnati last week. Ohio State's biggest problem is its defense, which allowed 422 yards to the Bearcats. Maryland defeated Indiana in its Big Ten opener last week 37-15 and average over 300 passing yards on the season, which could give the Buckeyes problems. C.J. Brown is a question mark at quarterback, however, after spraining his left wrist last week. He brings a running threat to the position that his backup, Caleb Rowe, doesn't. It's the Big Ten home opener for Maryland, so it should have a solid crowd behind it. The motivation should keep Maryland in the game until the end, but will fall short of the upset.
Brad's Score: Ohio State 27, Maryland 23
Craig's Score: Maryland 28, Ohio State 24 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Ohio State 24, Maryland 21 (OT)
Matt's Score: Ohio State 24, Maryland 20
Wake Forest at No. 1 Florida State, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Wake Forest +38; Florida State -38
Brad's Breakdown: This matchup is all about the big spread, as Florida State is going to win easily. Thirty-eight points is a gigantic number, even for a team like the Seminoles, that can put up 50 in a heartbeat. But this version of Florida State has been nowhere near as explosive as last year's title squad. The Seminoles were nearly upset by NC State last week, needing a big comeback by Jameis Winston and company to win. So, can Wake Forest make this game relatively close? The Demon Deacons do have the 30th-ranked defense in the country, which will give Winston a challenge. But turnovers are a problem, with Wake Forest throwing 10 interceptions in five games. On top of that is history, as Florida State has won the last two meetings by a combined score of 111-3. Wake Forest has lost its last two games at Florida State by a combined score of 83-0. Thirty-eight points suddenly doesn't feel like too much to give anymore.
Brad's Score: Florida State 56, Wake Forest 14
Craig's Score: Florida State 45, Wake Forest 14
Glenn's Score: Florida State 70, Wake Forest 20
Matt's Score: Florida State 51, Wake Forest 10
No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Alabama -7; Ole Miss +7
Brad's Breakdown: Lane Kiffin is a horrible head coach, there's no doubt about that, but he's pretty darn good as an offensive coordinator. Alabama is reaping those benefits, becoming a team that can suddenly pass the ball all over the field. Forget about the Crimson Tide being a run first, second and third team, they are now a legitimate threat to put up 50 points a game. It starts with wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has 43 receptions for 655 yards and five touchdowns in four games. Quarterback Blake Sims has been great as well, leading an offense that is averaging nearly 336 passing yards per game. Alabama is averaging 42 points. The defense isn't as good as it has been recently, however, allowing 14 points per game. Ole Miss is off to a 4-0 start, averaging 39 points per game on offense and 8.5 points on defense. The Rebels have a good quarterback in Bo Wallace, but he has thrown six interceptions this season. This is by far the biggest challenge Ole Miss has faced to date, and Alabama is going to give it a big wake-up call.
Brad's Score: Alabama 42, Ole Miss 24
Craig's Score: Alabama 30, Ole Miss 21
Glenn's Score: Ole Miss 35, Alabama 28 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Alabama 34, Ole Miss 21
No. 4 Oklahoma at No. 25 TCU, 3:30 p.m., FOX
The Spread: Oklahoma -5.5; TCU +5.5
Brad's Breakdown: The most impressive team this season has been Oklahoma, without a doubt. The Sooners have answered every challenge put in front of them and come out looking like championship contenders. Still, the Sooners haven't gotten the respect they deserve from the public. That may or may not change in the coming weeks, but for now, it's working out for us who realize Oklahoma is a great team. Oklahoma giving just 5.5 points against TCU is another easy selection. Yes, TCU has given Oklahoma a serious challenge recently, losing by three last year and seven the year before that. But this Oklahoma team is on a different level than those squads. The Sooners are 4-0 and come off an impressive, 45-33, win over West Virginia on the road two weeks ago. The Sooners had a bye last week. TCU has beaten Samford, Minnesota and SMU this season, all in blowouts that were expected. The Horned Frogs will be tough at home, and will make Oklahoma work for this victory, but the Sooners will add another double-digit win to their resume.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 33, TCU 23
Craig's Score: Oklahoma 38, TCU 28
Glenn's Score: TCU 28, Oklahoma 14 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Oklahoma 30, TCU 20
No. 7 Baylor at Texas, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Baylor -15; Texas +15
Brad's Breakdown: Texas wide receiver John Harris had this to say about the Bears before this game: "They're still Baylor. Just because they started playing better, that's good for them. But we're still Texas." It sure seems like someone doesn't understand what the current state of college football is. Baylor is one of the best programs in the country, while Texas is a mess, losing to BYU and UCLA this season. Harris should look in the mirror at himself and the offense as a whole, which is one of the worst in the nation. The Longhorns are 100th in passing yards, 105th in rushing yards and 106th in points scored. Baylor is fourth in passing, 24th in rushing and first in points per game. Texas is eighth against the pass, so it has that going for it. But nobody has been able to stop Baylor from scoring, and Texas should be no different. The Longhorns just can't put points on the board, so that makes this a play on Baylor.
Brad's Score: Baylor 40, Texas 20
Craig's Score: Baylor 56, Texas 27
Glenn's Score: Baylor 42, Texas 20
Matt's Score: Baylor 35, Texas 21
No. 14 Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC
The Spread: Stanford -1.5; Notre Dame +1.5
Brad's Breakdown: This Notre Dame team is better than the one that went to the national championship two years ago. The Irish have raced to a 4-0 record, averaging 35 points per game and allowing 11.5 on defense. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has worked his way into the Heisman conversation, throwing for 11 touchdowns against two interceptions. But this game against Stanford is by far the biggest challenge of the season. Stanford has the best defense in the nation, allowing just 6.5 points per game. Its offense isn't nearly as impressive, however, averaging 27.5 points per game overall, but just 15 points against USC and Washington, the two good teams on its schedule. Stanford lost to the Trojans, 13-10, and beat the Huskies, 20-13. This game won't see much scoring, but Notre Dame will do more of it, pulling the upset at home.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 23, Stanford 20 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 24, Stanford 21 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 35, Stanford 20 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 21
No. 17 Wisconsin at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
The Spread: Wisconsin -8.5; Northwestern +8.5
Brad's Breakdown: Wisconsin has running back Melvin Gordon, but little else on offense. Gordon rushed for 434 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two games. Quarterback Tanner McEvoy is pedestrian at best, and makes you wonder how a big-time program like Wisconsin can't get a big-time quarterback into the system. Last week, Wisconsin scored 27, with 24 coming in the second half, in a victory over South Florida. In the season-opener against LSU, the Badgers lost 28-24 when they could barely complete a pass in the second half. It's Gordon or bust for Wisconsin. Northwestern allows just 2.9 yards per rush on defense and held Penn State to 50 yards on 25 carries in a 29-6 victory. Northwestern opened its season with losses to California and Northern Illinois, then defeated Western Illinois and Penn State. There is a big chance for an upset here, but Gordon should do just enough on the ground for Wisconsin to slip out of town with a win.
Brad's Score: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 24
Craig's Score: Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 17
Glenn's Score: Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 14
Matt's Score: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 17
No. 15 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, 7 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: LSU +7.5; Auburn -7.5
Brad's Breakdown: It will be nearly impossible for Auburn to survive this season undefeated. It might even be impossible for the Tigers not to lose twice. Auburn has No. 15 LSU Saturday, then No. 12 Mississippi State next week, South Carolina the week after, and then No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 13 Georgia and No. 3 Alabama to finish out, not counting a cupcake before the Alabama matchup. Auburn defeated then-No. 20 Kansas State 20-14 two weeks ago and Arkansas by 24 in the opener, LSU was stunned by Mississippi State two weeks ago, losing 34-29. LSU has won three straight against Auburn, including last year when Auburn made the national championship game, and seven of the last eight. LSU will have a new quarterback in freshman Brandon Harris, who came in relief last week and led the Tigers on seven straight touchdown drives against New Mexico State. Auburn, however, should have just enough offense to get past LSU and survive for one week in its stretch of death.
Brad's Score: Auburn 33, LSU 28
Craig's Score: Auburn 24, LSU 20
Glenn's Score: Auburn 35, LSU 14
Matt's Score: Auburn 35, LSU 27
Arizona State at No. 16 USC, 7:30 p.m., FOX
The Spread: Arizona State +12; USC -12
Brad's Breakdown: Arizona State most likely will have backup quarterback Mike Bercovici starting for the second straight week, as starter Taylor Kelly is still suffering from injury. Last week, Arizona State lost to UCLA, 62-27, with Bercovici under center. Southern Cal has lost just once this season, to an emotionally-charged Boston College team that was honoring a former lacrosse player that died in the Sept. 11 attacks. USC rebounded after a bye to beat Oregon State 35-10 last week. That's more of what the Trojans are all about. Remember, too, USC beat Stanford this season. There will be no question mark at quarterback for the Trojans, as Cody Kessler has thrown 10 touchdowns and no interceptions this year. USC won't put up 62 points against Arizona State, but it will win this game going away.
Brad's Score: USC 38, Arizona State 21
Craig's Score: USC 31, Arizona State 20
Glenn's Score: USC 28, Arizona State 20
Matt's Score: USC 38, Arizona State 24
No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State, 8 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Nebraska +7.5; Michigan -7.5
Brad's Breakdown: After Oregon, the biggest loser from Arizona's upset of the Ducks Thursday night was Michigan State. The Spartans lost to Oregon in the season opener, but was getting a lot of credit for playing the game close on the road. But now that the unranked Wildcats went into Eugene and won, Michigan State may take a big hit from the voters and those that chose the College Football Playoff after those turn of events. It also gives the Spartans some added motivation to put on a big show against a ranked team in primetime on national television. Michigan State is averaging over 50 points per game, while allowing 20.3 on defense. Nebraska is 5-0 with victories over Fresno State, Miami and Illinois the last three weeks. The Cornhuskers are averaging nearly 355 yards per game on the ground, third best in the nation, and 45.4 points per game, sixth best. But this is a statement game for Michigan State, and the Spartans will accomplish that goal.
Brad's Score: Michigan State 38, Nebraska 28
Craig's Score: Michigan State 35, Nebraska 17
Glenn's Score: Michigan State 24, Nebraska 10
Matt's Score: Michigan State 31, Nebraska 24
Utah at No. 8 UCLA, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Utah +13.5; UCLA -13.5
Brad's Breakdown: UCLA finally broke through with a huge performance, beating Arizona State 62-27 last week. Before that game, the Bruins were anything but impressive, winning close games against Virginia, Memphis and Texas. UCLA had national title aspirations coming into the season, so that win over the Sun Devils give those hopes life again. Quarterback Brett Hundley had his first big game, going 18-of-23 for 355 yards and four touchdowns. Utah is 3-1 this season. losing to Washington State last week. In that game, Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns. UCLA is on a different level than Washington State, which means the Bruins will roll to their second straight easy victory to close out Week 6.
Brad's Score: UCLA 45, Utah 28
Craig's Score: UCLA 42, Utah 24
Glenn's Score: UCLA 48, Utah 17
Matt's Score: UCLA 40, Utah 20
Brad Last Week: 4-6 (spread), 8-2 (straight-up), 0-1 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 32-27 (spread), 46-13 (straight-up), 2-2 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 5-5 (spread), 9-1 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 31-28 (spread), 45-14 (straight-up), 3-4 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 3-7 (spread), 9-1 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 35-24 (spread), 48-11 (straight-up), 3-1 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 6-4 (spread), 9-1 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 33-26 (spread), 46-13 (straight-up), 3-3 (upsets)