College Football Picks: All eyes on ... Lawrence, Kansas!
So, about that game of the year ...
The much-anticipated matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama, after an offseason feud between the team’s championship-winning coaches, is not nearly as interesting as expected.
Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies did upset Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in a similar spot last year. Texas A&M was unranked with two losses when it knocked off unbeaten Alabama in College Station behind the performance of a lifetime from quarterback Zach Calzada.
The return match is Saturday in Tuscaloosa and the Aggies (3-2) have given no indication of being prepared for an encore.
Instead the game of the day will be in ... Lawrence, Kansas.
The five most intriguing games of Week 6:
No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas
The Jayhawks have a chance to go from fun, feel-good story to serious Big 12 contenders if they can knock off another bounce-back team in TCU. The Horned Frogs’ offense has been the best in the nation (8.33 yards per play) behind resurgent fourth-year QB Max Duggan. Meanwhile, Kansas QB Jalon Daniels is getting early Heisman buzz. Should be a blast.
LINE: TCU by 7. PICK: KANSAS 38-35.
No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA
The Utes have been a runaway train since leaving Gainesville, Florida, disappointed in Week 1. The Bruins benefited from a soft early schedule, and then smoked Washington to get ranked. The division-less Pac-12 has a chance to turn into quite race and this feels like a game that will eventually help sort out who plays in Las Vegas for a title.
LINE: Utah by 4 1/2. PICK: UCLA 31-28.
Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas
Anxious times for the Red River rivals. The loser leaves town with a third loss and at the bottom of the Big 12. The last time the Sooners lost more than two Big 12 games in a season was 2014. The last time they last lost three in a row was 1998. But 3-3 won’t feel great for the Longhorns either.
LINE: Texas by 7. PICK: Texas 41-35.
North Carolina at Miami
The Tar Heels spent much of the first month of the season playing ghastly defense, but emerged 4-1 with one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Drake Maye. Miami’s dreadful September included its potential first-round draft pick QB getting benched. Still, an ACC Coastal title is a realistic goal for the Hurricanes — which nicely sums up the state of that division.
LINE: Miami by 3 1/2. PICK: North Carolina 34-28.
Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Still interesting. The Aggies are talented enough to be a threat, especially if Heisman winner Bryce Young (shoulder) is either unavailable or limited for the Tide. Also, a motivated and ticked off Tide can be fascinating to watch in the way it’s interesting to see what happens when a large object is flattened by a steamroller.
LINE: Alabama by 23 1/2. PICK: Alabama 31-10.
Other games matching ranked teams against FBS opponents, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Auburn (plus 29 1/2) at No. 2 Georgia
Bulldogs have won five straight meetings in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it’s hard to know what to expect out of the Tigers ... GEORGIA 34-10.
No. 3 Ohio State (minus 26 1/2) at Michigan State
Buckeyes led the Spartans 49-0 at the half last season and Michigan State isn’t as good this year ... OHIO STATE 49-14.
No. 4 Michigan (minus 22 1/2) at Indiana
Wolverines QB J.J. McCarthy gets a crack at the Big Ten’s worst pass defense ... MICHIGAN 38-13.
No. 5 Clemson (minus 20 1/2) at Boston College
Eagles QB Phil Jurkovec has faced constant pressure behind a thin and inexperienced offensive line. Now here comes DE Myles Murphy and Co. ... CLEMSON 35-13, BEST BET.
Washington State (plus 13 1/2) at No. 6 Southern California
In four wins, Cougars have allowed 47 points; In one loss, 44 ... USC 31-23.
Texas Tech at No. 7 Oklahoma State (minus 9 1/2)
Second straight week on the road against a ranked opponent for the Red Raiders ... OKLAHOMA STATE 31-20.
No. 8 Tennessee at No. 25 LSU (plus 3)
Tigers have won five straight meetings, dating back to 2005, and have not lost at home to the Vols since 2000 ... TENNESSEE 30-28.
No. 9 Mississippi (plus 16 1/2) at Vanderbilt
Vandy’s SEC losing streak is 22 games ... OLE MISS 38-17.
No. 12 Oregon (minus 12 1/2) at Arizona
Best running game in the Pac-12 (Ducks) vs. second-worst run defense (Wildcats) ... OREGON 42-24.
South Carolina at No. 13 Kentucky (minus 9 1/2)
Recent results tell the story of two programs. Wildcats have won seven of eight after more than a decade of domination by the Gamecocks ... KENTUCKY 28-17.
Florida State (plus 3) at No. 14 North Carolina State
With Clemson looming, the Seminoles’ turnaround season could get derailed ... FLORIDA STATE 27-24.
Army (plus 17) at No. 15 Wake Forest
Teams combined for 126 points in Wake’s win last year at West Point ... WAKE FOREST 38-24.
No. 16 BYU (plus 3 1/2) vs. Notre Dame at Las Vegas
Shamrock Series game for Irish against major college football’s other independent power ... BYU 27-24.
No. 20 Kansas State (minus 2) at Iowa State
Cyclones’ three games against Power Five opponents (1-2) have been decided by 13 points ... KANSAS STATE 24-20.
No. 21 Washington at Arizona State (plus 13 1/2)
Sun Devils have won 12 of 14 in the series and not lost at home to the Huskies since 2001. ... WASHINGTON 34-24.
Arkansas (plus 8 1/2) at No. 23 Mississippi State
Razorbacks trying to avoid a third straight loss ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 28-21.
South Florida at No. 24 Cincinnati (minus 27 1/2)
Bearcats have won 17 straight conference games, longest active streak in the nation ... CINCINNATI 48-17.
Iowa (plus 3 1/2) at Illinois (@trentcondon) — First to 20 wins? Make it 17 or they might play all day ... IOWA 17-14.
Missouri (plus 10 1/2) at Florida (@keithfarner) — Brutal past two weeks of losses for Mizzou ... FLORIDA 28-23.
UNLV (plus 6 1/2) at San Jose State (@DanaBecker) — Rebels (4-1) could match their most victories in a season since 2013 ... UNLV 24-21.
Last week: Straight-up — 18-5; Against spread — 11-12.
Season: 80-26; 56-61.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com
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