By Brad Carroll
It might be best to leave a little room after Thanksgiving dinner Thursday night, as there are a pair of college football games to feast on before the night is over. Both are big in their own way, with one having serious College Football Playoff implications and the other an old-fashioned conference rivalry where each team wants to come out the winner, despite the records.
No. 5 TCU travels to Texas and LSU is at Texas A&M Thursday night to kick off what is a jam-packed week of college football games, with several games spread over three days. We have you covered the whole way with previews of all the big games along with picks against the spread by our college football experts. We start with the Thursday matchups.
[Follow us on Twitter for the latest college football news and picks]
No. 5 TCU at Texas, 7:30 p.m., FS1
The Spread: TCU -7; Texas +7
Brad's Breakdown: TCU is so close yet so far away from making it into the College Football Playoff. The Horned Frogs are just one spot away from the top four, but with Baylor and Ohio State looming behind them, they not only need to win the rest of their games, they need to do so impressively. This game against Texas could be TCU's real last chance to impress, as it plays a bad Iowa State team in the regular season finale. The Big 12 doesn't have a title game, and if TCU and Baylor both win out, the Bears will win the conference crown. In that case, Baylor could pass TCU in the rankings. The Horned Frogs should know very well what happens when you don't win impressively against lesser teams, as they dropped from No. 4 two weeks ago after a close victory over Kansas. Still, TCU is no doubt one of the best teams in the country, and was one quarter away from being undefeated, but Baylor scored 24 unanswered points in the final period to win by a field goal at the buzzer. The Horned Frogs average 45.9 points per game and will need to continue their success against a Texas defense that has been revitalized recently. The Longhorns have won three in a row and four of their last five and kept Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State all under 17 points the last three weeks. Even Texas' offense has come to life, averaging nearly 32 points per game in its last three games. The Longhorns will make things difficult for TCU's high-powered offense, but the Horned Frogs will take over in the second half and get a much-needed impressive victory.
Brad's Score: TCU 33, Texas 14
Craig's Score: TCU 38, Texas 21
Glenn's Score: TCU 52, Texas 20
Matt's Score: TCU 30, Texas 28
LSU at Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: LSU -3.5; Texas A&M +3.5
Brad's Breakdown: Early this season, this matchup looked like it could be a College Football Playoff elimination game, with the winner taking a giant step toward qualifying for the tournament and the loser falling just short in the final weeks of the season. Texas A&M started the season 5-0 and was suddenly the hottest team in the country. But the Aggies lost three straight, to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama, to drop not only from Playoff contention but the rankings altogether. Texas A&M did ruin Auburn's season, with a 41-38 road victory earlier this month. But the Aggies crashed again, losing to Missouri two weeks ago. Quarterback Kenny Hill, who was getting early Heisman buzz, was on the verge of getting benched before he was suspended for two games. Freshman Kyle Allen is the starter now and likely for years to come. LSU never got much traction this season and comes into this game with four losses, including the last two, against Alabama and Arkansas. The Tigers easily could and should have beaten the Crimson Tide, but ended up allowing a last-second field goal and then dropping the game in overtime. The next week, LSU was shutout by Arkansas. The Tigers have a stout defense but can't score on offense. Texas A&M is finally starting to play well on offense with Allen at quarterback and will continue that against LSU.
Brad's Score: Texas A&M 28, LSU 24 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: Texas A&M 24, LSU 21 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Texas A&M 28, LSU 24 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: LSU 42, Texas A&M 28
Brad Last Week: 6-6 (spread), 7-5 (straight-up), 2-0 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 76-79-1 (spread), 115-41 (straight-up), 10-8 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 5-7 (spread), 7-5 (straight-up), 2-0 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 71-84-1 (spread), 108-48 (straight-up), 8-11 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 6-6 (spread), 8-4 (straight-up), 4-1 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 86-69-1 (spread), 112-44 (straight-up), 12-13 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 8-4 (spread), 9-3 (straight-up), 4-0 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 76-79-1 (spread), 114-42 (straight-up), 9-8 (upsets)