By Brad Carroll
It might be impossible to duplicate everything that happened last week in college football. Perhaps never again will we see the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 6 and No. 8 teams in the nation all lose as favorites in one week. It might never happen again where Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA all lose in the same week.
Week 6 in college football represented a changing of the guard on the national stage, as teams like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Baylor, TCU and Arizona all jumped in the rankings and made themselves contenders for the College Football Playoff at year's end. For those that want new blood in big games in college football, well, you've got it in droves this season.
Just look at the big games this week: No. 2 Auburn is at No. 3 Mississippi State, No. 3 Ole Miss is at No. 14 Texas A&M, No. 9 TCU travels to No. 5 Baylor and USC plays at No. 10 Arizona. All of those big-time games feature teams you wouldn't typically see in such high-profile spots. That is great for college football.
But there are the stalwarts as well this week, as No. 1 Florida State is in action, Texas and Oklahoma renew their heated rivalry, Notre Dame is at home and Alabama is a big favorite at Arkansas, plus Oregon and UCLA play to keep their seasons alive in the Pac-12.
It should all equal another great week of college football games. Here are our picks for the 11 biggest matchups this Saturday, as we preview and our four college football experts pick each game against the spread. As always, follow us on Twitter for all of our college football picks.
No. 1 Florida State at Syracuse, 12 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Florida State -24; Syracuse +24
Brad's Breakdown: One would have to believe the Seminoles will, at some point, put together a performance that would rival last year's team, something they haven't come close to doing this season. Florida State has done what others around it haven't, and that's win, but there has been no complete victories. Even against the worst team in the ACC last week, Wake Forest, the Seminoles led just 13-3 at the half. Maybe the second half of that game, however, is the springboard to that missing complete victory, as FSU outscored the Demon Deacons 30-0 over the final 30 minutes. Syracuse won its first two games of the season, but has lost three straight, to Maryland (by 14), Notre Dame (by 15) and Louisville (by 22). The Orange scored just six points last week against the Cardinals. Florida State may still not play perfect from start to finish Saturday, but will be able to do more than enough to blow away the Orange.
Brad's Score: Florida State 44, Syracuse 17
Craig's Score: Florida State 42, Syracuse 14
Glenn's Score: Florida State 48, Syracuse 20
Matt's Score: Florida State 41, Syracuse 21
Texas vs. No. 11 Oklahoma at Cotton Bowl, 12 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Texas +15; Oklahoma -15
Brad's Breakdown: If Oklahoma didn't lose last week to TCU, there would have been a better chance for Texas in this huge rivalry game to pull the upset. But after that loss, the Sooners should come into this Red River Showdown angry and ready to make a statement to get back into the top 10. But even with that, a play on Texas plus the points could be the most sensible thing to do. One would need to look no further than last year's matchup, when unranked and struggling Texas knocked off No. 11 Oklahoma in a 36-20 rout. (A game I won on with Texas plus the points). If there is one upset the still-struggling Longhorns can pull off this year, it's against Oklahoma. The Sooners' once dominate defense this season has now allowed 33 points in back-to-back games, against West Virginia and TCU. That's good news for a Texas team that has trouble scoring. Last week, Texas lost 28-7 to Baylor, but the game was 7-0 midway through the third quarter. If Texas's defense has similar success Saturday, Oklahoma won't be able to pull away. And, remember, rivalry games typically favor the underdog, especially getting more than two touchdowns.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 28, Texas 21
Craig's Score: Oklahoma 38, Texas 13
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma 38, Texas 24
Matt's Score: Oklahoma 24, Texas 10
No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Missouri, 12 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Georgia -3; Missouri +3
Brad's Breakdown: The big news in this game is obviously the indefinite suspension of Georgia running back Todd Gurley. The Heisman candidate allegedly broke NCAA rules by accepting money for autographing merchandise for a dealer. While that seems awfully unimportant compared to the trouble several other players around college football have gotten into recently for sexual assault and other much-worse crimes, it's still a big no-no with the NCAA. On the field, the loss of Gurley is huge for the Bulldogs, who have to travel to Missouri after finding out Thursday they wouldn't have their best player. Georgia struggles on the road already, losing four straight to ranked teams and five of their last nine overall. It's going to take a huge effort for the Bulldogs to overcome all that and win against a ranked Missouri squad. The Tigers are 4-1, losing to Indiana in a surprise three weeks ago and then bouncing back to beat then-No. 13 South Carolina 21-20 on the road a week later. Missouri had two weeks to prepare for this game, but most of it had to be figuring out how to stop Gurley. I would have put serious consideration into a upset pick even with Gurley in the lineup, now it's a no-brainer.
Brad's Score: Missouri 31, Georgia 28 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Missouri 31, Georgia 30 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Missouri 21, Georgia 20 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Georgia 20, Missouri 19
No. 2 Auburn at No. 3 Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Auburn -3; Mississippi State +3
Brad's Breakdown: This could be the game of the season so far, as two of the SEC's best, one everyone expected to be and the other nobody outside of Mississippi thought would be, battle it out to take a giant step closer to the College Football Playoff tournament. Auburn hasn't missed a beat since advancing to the title game last season, winning all five of its games this year, including a rout of then-No. 15 LSU at home last week. Mississippi State, however, has come out of seemingly nowhere to move into a tie for No. 3 in the polls with Ole Miss. The Bulldogs are 5-0 as well, but it was back-to-back wins over then-No. 8 LSU on the road and then-No. 6 Texas A&M at home that put them on the map. Mississippi State didn't just win those two games, they routed each one, even though LSU made it close at the end. Mississippi State has never been ranked this high, so how it handles the lofty status is an unknown. But the one thing we do know is the Bulldogs are very good. Playing at home is a huge plus, and that atmosphere will lead Mississippi State to the upset.
Brad's Score: Mississippi State 34, Auburn 31 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Auburn 27, Mississippi State 21
Glenn's Score: Auburn 31, Mississippi State 20
Matt's Score: Auburn 28, Mississippi State 20
No. 9 TCU at No. 5 Baylor, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: TCU +8; Baylor -8
Brad's Breakdown: This is another blockbuster matchup, with the two best teams in the Big 12 (who would have thought TCU would be labeled as such just a week ago?) playing to stay alive in the conference championship hunt and the College Football Playoff as well. I would put Baylor as one of the four selections in the college football tournament right now, so that should speak volumes about how good I believe it is. The Bears have one of the best offenses in the nation and their defense is pretty darn good too. Last week, Baylor beat Texas 28-7, scoring 21 points over the final 22 minutes of the game to turn to close score into an easy win. TCU made a huge leap in the rankings, from No. 25 to No. 9, after upsetting Oklahoma at home last week. The Horned Frogs are 4-0 and rank No. 12 in the nation in scoring and No. 7 in points allowed. Baylor is 5-0 and is first in scoring and fifth in points allowed. Both have outstanding quarterbacks, with Bryce Petty of the Bears and Trevone Boykins for the Horned Frogs, leading the way. This should be a close game throughout, but the Bears will be a touchdown better in the end.
Brad's Score: Baylor 42, TCU 35
Craig's Score: Baylor 48, TCU 35
Glenn's Score: Baylor 35, TCU 24
Matt's Score: Baylor 42, TCU 35
North Carolina at No. 6 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC
The Spread: North Carolina +17; Notre Dame -17
Brad's Breakdown: If Notre Dame doesn't catch itself looking ahead to next week's showdown with No. 1 Florida State, it should roll over the Tar Heels. North Carolina has lost three straight games, allowing 70 points to East Carolina, 50 points to Clemson and 34 to Virginia Tech. Only East Carolina is ranked among those three teams. Yes, North Carolina's defense is terrible. It could be a sigh of relief for Notre Dame and quarterback Everett Golson, which had trouble moving the ball and scoring against the elite defense of Stanford last week. Notre Dame won that game in dramatic fashion, as Golson completed a fourth-down pass for a 23-yard touchdown in the final minute to win 17-14. Before that game, the Irish had scored at least 30 points in each of their four victories. If Notre Dame can remain focused on the task at hand, and not the Seminoles, this should be an easy victory at home.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 40, North Carolina 17
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 38, North Carolina 10
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 56, North Carolina 14
Matt's Score: Notre Dame 49, North Carolina 14
No. 8 Michigan State at Purdue, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
The Spread: Michigan State -21.5; Purdue +21.5
Brad's Breakdown: Michigan State had perhaps the worst loss against the spread in recent memory last week, allowing a 27-3 fourth quarter lead turn into just a five-point win against Nebraska, failing to cover the 8.5-point spread. The Spartans have lost just once this season, to Oregon on the road, which looked much better at the beginning of last week than it does now. Purdue is 3-3, losing to Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Iowa. None of those losses were by more than 21 points. The Boilermakers beat Illinois 38-27 last week. The Spartans are going to win this game, but we're banking on Purdue keeping the game within three touchdowns. Purdue lost to Notre Dame 30-16 in Week 3, and this game should be in the same vicinity.
Brad's Score: Michigan State 31, Purdue 14
Craig's Score: Michigan State 41, Purdue 7
Glenn's Score: Michigan State 28, Purdue 0
Matt's Score: Michigan State 42, Purdue 13
No. 12 Oregon at No. 18 UCLA, 3:30 p.m., FOX
The Spread: Oregon -2.5; UCLA +2.5
Brad's Breakdown: One of the biggest losers from last week's upset fest was FOX, as it potentially had a matchup of No. 2 Oregon against No. 4 UCLA on its schedule Saturday. But Oregon lost to Arizona and UCLA dropped a game to Utah last week, making this game lose most of its luster. The Ducks will have at least one stinker a season, losing a game they should have won coming in, it just happened a lot sooner this year. UCLA has flirted with disaster all season, beating Virginia, Memphis and Texas all by one score, until it finally crashed against unranked Utah, which sacked quarterback Brett Hundley 10 times. This is a huge game for both teams, as the loser won't get anywhere near the College Football Playoff at year's end. Oregon is just too good to lose two games in a row, and even though the Bruins are at home, it'll be the Ducks that leave with their season still intact.
Brad's Score: Oregon 38, UCLA 35
Craig's Score: UCLA 34, Oregon 31 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Oregon 48, UCLA 20
Matt's Score: Oregon 40, UCLA 28
No. 7 Alabama at Arkansas, 6 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Alabama -10.5; Arkansas +10.5
Brad's Breakdown: Alabama is coming off a shocking loss against Ole Miss, getting shut down on offense in a 23-17 defeat. The Crimson Tide will have a tough go again this week against an Arkansas team that had two weeks to prepare for this home game. On top of that, Alabama will be without three of its better players, as running Kenyan Drake, center Ryan Kelly and linebacker Denzel Devall will miss the game with injuries. It's no secret Arkansas is going to run the ball, and if it's successful it could make this a closer-than-expected game. The Hogs lost to Auburn in Week 1 by 24 and to Texas A&M in overtime two weeks ago in its biggest games this season. Alabama should be primed for a big performance, especially on offense after scoring just one touchdown against the Running Rebels. Expect a big game offensively from quarterback Blake Sims and wide receiver Amari Cooper, and the Crimson Tide win easily.
Brad's Score: Alabama 42, Arkansas 21
Craig's Score: Alabama 31, Arkansas 17
Glenn's Score: Alabama 35, Arkansas 28
Matt's Score: Alabama 35, Arkansas 20
No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 14 Texas A&M, 9 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Ole Miss +2; Texas A&M -2
Brad's Breakdown: Ole Miss is a legitimate national title contender, a sentence I never thought I'd write. The Running Rebels are coming off one of the biggest victories in school history, besting Alabama and moving into a tie for third in the AP poll with Mississippi State. Ole Miss can score with the best of them and also has one of the best defenses in the country. The Rebels are second in the nation in scoring defense and 36th in points scored on offense. Texas A&M was absolutely hammered by Mississippi State last week, losing 48-31 in a game that wasn't even that close. That loss followed an overtime win over Arkansas where the Aggies needed to score 21 straight points to win. A&M is overrated, while Ole Miss might still be underrated, believe it or not. That will change this week, as the Running Rebels get the win and the upset.
Brad's Score: Ole Miss 38, Texas A&M 31 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Ole Miss 34, Texas A&M 24 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Texas A&M 38, Ole Miss 35
Matt's Score: Texas A&M 38, Ole Miss 30
USC at No. 10 Arizona, 10:30 p.m., ESPN2
The Spread: USC -3; Arizona +3
Brad's Breakdown: Even though I understand why, there is something crazy about an unranked team being favored to beat the 10th-ranked team in the land on the road. USC is a field goal favorite against the Wildcats in the late game Saturday night, even though Arizona is 5-0 and just beat Oregon on the road last week. Southern Cal is coming off an incomprehensible loss to Arizona State last week, where it led by nine with less than three minutes to go. But the Sun Devils scored on a 73-yard pass with 2:43 to go, forced a USC punt, then completed a Hail Mary with no time left to win in shocking fashion. It sent the Trojans to their second loss in their last three games. Obviously, nobody believes in Arizona, as if they did, the Wildcats would be favored at home. I'm going back and forth on the final score myself, as Arizona should be riding high at home, but it's tough picking USC to lose yet again. But in a year full of upsets and changing of the guard, let's go for another.
Brad's Score: Arizona 27, USC 21 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Arizona 27, USC 21 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: USC 24, Arizona 20
Matt's Score: USC 35, Arizona 28
Brad Last Week: 4-9 (spread), 6-7 (straight-up), 1-1 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 36-36 (spread), 52-20 (straight-up), 3-3 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 4-9 (spread), 6-7 (straight-up), 1-1 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 35-37 (spread), 51-21 (straight-up), 4-5 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 8-5 (spread), 8-5 (straight-up), 3-1 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 43-29 (spread), 56-16 (straight-up), 6-2 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 4-9 (spread), 6-7 (straight-up), 0-1 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 37-35 (spread), 52-20 (straight-up), 3-4 (upsets)