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26 Nov 2015

SDA: Welcome to Rivalry Week

by Chad Peltier

It's not only rivalry week, and not only will feuds be settled for another year, but a lot of conference championship berths are on the line. Michigan State can lock up a Big Ten Championship date with Iowa with a win over Penn State (as Ohio State fans become extremely temporary Penn State fans); USC or UCLA will represent the Pac-12 South with a win over the other to face Stanford the next week; and though Ole Miss will know the score of the Alabama-Auburn game by kickoff, a win over Mississippi State and an Alabama loss would put the Rebels in to the SEC Championship against Florida. Then there's the Big 12, where Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State and TCU vs. Baylor will likely decide if the Big 12 is able to put a representative in to the playoff mix this year. Finally, a Notre Dame win over Stanford -- and it would need to be a big one -- would keep the Fighting Irish's hopes alive for a playoff berth of their own.

The rivalry games this year are not only important for the rivalries themselves and the playoff and conference championship implications, but also because they seem very evenly matched. Take Ohio State and Michigan, for instance. The spread is even, but the advanced stats actually favor the Wolverines -- and did so even before the Buckeyes' loss to Michigan State!

Baylor (-1.5) at TCU -- Friday 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

This rivalry game gets a little extra national importance in light of Oklahoma State's and Ohio State's losses last weekend, as the Bears are a victory over TCU and an Oklahoma loss away from serious playoff contention. With Baker Mayfield's status for the Oklahoma State game up in the air, it's not implausible for the Bears to sneak in to the playoff despite a fairly convincing loss to the Sooners a few weeks ago. While their playoff chances are much slimmer, considering their best win is likely over West Virginia, TCU doesn't need external motivation for this rivalry game -- but a healthy Trevone Boykin would definitely help.

Overall Baylor TCU
F/+ 7 17
When Baylor has the ball Offense Defense
S&P+ 1 69
FEI 2 54
Success Rate 2 33
IsoPPP 1 119
Rushing S&P+ 26 57
Passing S&P+ 2 52
When TCU has the ball Defense Offense
S&P+ 70 7
FEI 50 22
Success Rate 40 9
IsoPPP 72 16
Rushing S&P+ 18 61
Passing S&P+ 49 8

This could be a matchup between backups as both Jarrett Stidham and Trevone Boykin are improving but injured. TCU originally started freshman Foster Sawyer against Oklahoma last week, but replaced him with Bram Kohlhausen after three interceptions. Stidham has dealt with ankle, hand, and back injuries, and Art Briles turned to third-string quarterback Chris Johnson. Johnson was explosive, likely due to having healthier supporting talent around him than the TCU quarterback duo thanks to star wide receiver Josh Doctson's injury. Johnson completed just five of his ten attempts, but had 138 yards to take down Oklahoma State. Baylor's offense seems to roll no matter who the signal caller is, but you have to wonder if Briles will rely a little more on Shock Linwood to carry the offense if Stidham is unable to go. Linwood paces the 26th-ranked rushing S&P+ offense that is certainly geared towards efficiency over explosiveness (both Linwood and Johnny Jefferson average a 50-plus percent opportunity rate) in a fairly balanced offense on standard downs (they run roughly 59 percent of the time, 68th). They should find some success against TCU, who is 57th in S&P+ against the run, including 117th in stuff rate. If Linwood can be successful on standard downs, then that will certainly make it easier for whichever quarterback has the reins. No matter the quarterback, expect the TCU defense to allow a lot of points.

And if that's the case, it will be on the Horned Frogs' offense to keep pace. Gary Patterson is hopeful that Trevone Boykin will show enough improvement to start, and he would be critical at putting up the points necessary to hang with the Bears. The Bears have been (more) mortal on offense in November, scoring an average of 37 points per game this month, but TCU will likely need to play like the eighth-ranked passing S&P+ offense they are nonetheless. Big plays through the air are definitely the way to hurt the Baylor defense: at 18th in rushing S&P+, 35th in passing success rate, and 114th in passing IsoPPP, the TCU attack plan should be clear. That means Trevone Boykin will be critical, but so will Kolby Listenbee, the team's leading receiver in Josh Doctson's absence. Listenbee averages 21.2 yards per catch, which led the team even when Doctson was playing, so his play will be critical against the Baylor defense (that's not to undermine Shaun Nixon and KaVontae Turpin, two freshmen who round out the TCU receiving corps). Regardless, don't count the Horned Frogs out even in the fourth quarter -- TCU's offense flies up to third in S&P+ in the fourth quarter, while Baylor's defense falls to 85th.

Watch for:

  • TCU will likely have a chance even into the fourth quarter as they are second in adjusted pace, third in offensive S&P+ in the fourth quarter, and Baylor's defense is 85th in S&P+ in the fourth quarter.
  • TCU will need to hit big plays through the air, so Trevone Boykin playing could really turn this into a game, while Kolby Listenbee is likely the top receiving option for the Horned Frogs.
  • Baylor would benefit significantly if Jarrett Stidham is good to go, but Shock Linwood will likely find some success on the ground even if he's not.

F/+ Pick: Baylor

Ohio State (EVEN) at Michigan -- 12 p.m. (ABC)

Overall Ohio State Michigan
F/+ 6 5
When Ohio State has the ball Offense Defense
S&P+ 24 2
FEI 38 11
Success Rate 21 4
IsoPPP 44 81
Rushing S&P+ 11 9
Passing S&P+ 33 11
When Michigan has the ball Defense Offense
S&P+ 8 40
FEI 8 39
Success Rate 7 30
IsoPPP 55 42
Rushing S&P+ 30 51
Passing S&P+ 3 22

The rivalry is enough motivation on its own for Ohio State and Michigan -- there's no need for any external goal to complicate things. And it's also Jim Harbaugh's and Urban Meyer's first shot at one another in The Game. Even before their first games against one another, this is the best coaching matchup and most significant Ohio State-Michigan game since the 2006 thriller that had Jim Tressel's Buckeyes over Lloyd Carr's Wolverines for a national championship bid against Meyer's Gators. The Game is now eighth-ranked Ohio State against tenth-ranked Michigan, but at least in the F/+ rankings, the Buckeyes are one spot behind fifth-ranked Michigan (0.7 percent by the actual F/+ score).

After last week's disastrous Buckeyes offense and Michigan's Jake Rudock continued excellence, the traditional analogy of Michigan:defense::Ohio State:offense might not actually apply. Rudock has thrown for more than 250 yards in his last three games and has averaged a respectable 7.6 yards per attempt this season. Rutgers and Indiana will make almost any quarterback look halfway decent, but there's the general sense that maybe Jim Harbaugh has worked some of his quarterback magic on Rudock and the now 22nd-ranked passing S&P+ offense. Rutgers was by far his most explosive day, but he's had a much higher percentage of the workload against Indiana and Penn State, throwing 46 and 38 passes respectively after averaging just 27 for the rest of the season. He'll have his hands full with the surprisingly efficient Ohio State pass defense, which is third in the country in S&P+ and first in passing success rate. Vonn Bell is the impact playmaker, but cornerbacks Eli Apple and Gareon Conley rarely hear their names called due to their blanketing coverage in co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash's scheme. One of the reasons for Michigan's increased reliance on Rudock has been the dropoff in Michigan's run game: since Northwestern in early October, the run game as a whole has averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and ranks 51st in overall rushing S&P+. They are rarely stuffed at just 17 percent of their carries (31st), but they also rarely even hit the second level with just a 35 percent opportunity rate (105th). Ohio State should feel pretty confident even though their own rush defense has fallen to 30th in rushing S&P+. But it will undoubtedly be Jake Rudock's game here -- he'll have to target his three-headed receiving corps of Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, and Jake Butt as often as possible.

The Michigan defense has been one of the best units in the country this year. While falling back to Earth a little after pitching shutouts in the early part of the season, the Wolverines are one of the most efficient defenses in the country, ranking fourth in total success rate and only allowing an average of 3.6 points per opponent trip inside the 40 (ninth). On paper, Ohio State's game plan should mirror Indiana's in that near-upset from two weeks ago: hit explosive plays against the 108th-ranked rushing S&P+ defense. The Hoosiers hit more than 5.5 yards per carry and were the only team all year that put up more than 4.1 yards per carry and more than 144 total rushing yards on this defense. So was that a one-game aberration or indicative of a mostly covered weakness? While Ezekiel Elliott may have the wheels necessary to hit big plays and clearly is looking for an increased workload after his postgame interview against Michigan State, the Ohio State rushing offense rarely creates the kind of explosive plays that are just total breakaway runs -- they're more the 10- to 20-yard chunk plays. Ohio State will likely need plenty of those chunk plays to move the ball on the Michigan defense, though I'm hesitant to predict that judging by the Spartans' success stopping Elliott with their front seven. So it remains to be seen whether the Buckeyes can have the balance on offense necessary to score on the Wolverines, as Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, and Braxton Miller have been forgotten in recent weeks largely due to play calling. If Urban Meyer really does take the reins of the offensive play calling this week, look for a better mix of short passes to those three receivers in space balancing Elliott runs in the middle, Barrett runs on the outside, and the occasional deep play-action pass. While the numbers are slightly in favor of Michigan in Harbaugh's debut Game, this is likely to be a close one either.

Watch for:

  • Can Ezekiel Elliott find any running room against the ninth-ranked defensive rushing S&P+ Wolverines defense that is nevertheless 108th in rushing IsoPPP?
  • Will Jake Rudock continue his string of high-volume passing days to try and exploit the 103rd-ranked passing IsoPPP Ohio State defense?

F/+ Pick: Michigan

USC (-3.5) vs. UCLA -- 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Overall USC UCLA
F/+ 19 27
When USC has the ball Offense Defense
S&P+ 17 43
FEI 10 27
Success Rate 29 68
IsoPPP 28 4
Rushing S&P+ 39 62
Passing S&P+ 26 19
When UCLA has the ball Defense Offense
S&P+ 54 16
FEI 35 33
Success Rate 80 25
IsoPPP 69 53
Rushing S&P+ 20 65
Passing S&P+ 63 42

This is one of the sneaky-important matchups of the week even for fans outside of the Pac-12. The winner advances to the Pac-12 championship against Stanford, and even if the conference is most likely out of the playoff race at this point, bragging rights in Los Angeles and a New Year's Six bowl berth are on the line. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Bruins with freshman starting quarterback Josh Rosen coming in as one of the most hyped, but college-ready, quarterbacks in the last few years. The Trojans once again looked ready to compete for a playoff run of their own, but now have picked up four losses and lost their head coach instead. While Utah did not own L.A. like they did last year, neither the Trojans nor the Bruins inspire very much confidence against one another or in a rematch with Stanford. But with both teams ranking roughly in the twenties by the total advanced metrics, this is still a heavily contentious and important matchup.

If for no other reason, watch this game to see how Josh Rosen fares against the 63rd-ranked USC passing S&P+ defense. The freshman has had a ton of work, throwing on 45 percent of standard downs (93rd in run rate), and has been productive with that volume of passing, already crossing the 3,000-yard mark and averaging 7.2 yards per pass. His passing offense is just 42nd in S&P+ due to his volume of passing, but the Trojans pass defense should also give him plenty of opportunities. Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte are the top two threats, and while neither match Juju Smith-Schuster's explosiveness, Rosen has two reliable options that total more than 44 percent of his targets through the air. He will likely again have a heavy workload (Rosen has had at least 30 attempts per game going back to the beginning of October) because the USC run defense is surprisingly efficient at 20th in the country (32nd in adjusted line yards and 42nd in opportunity rate) and the Bruins' rushing offense is fairly inefficient. Paul Perkins has the 19th-most carries in the FBS (210) and is a clear workhorse back for UCLA. The flip side is that he's not incredibly explosive (96th in rushing IsoPPP, averaging 5.8 highlight yards per opportunity). Expect a number of runs under 10 yards but with a decent success rate against the Trojans. Also watch how the Bruins do with their red zone opportunities, as they are twentieth in finishing drives against a Trojans defense that allows 4.2 points per trip inside the forty (37th).

This is Cody Kessler's last big rivalry game unless the Trojans face Stanford in the Pac-12 championship. The USC quarterback looks a lot like he did last year, limiting interceptions with a high completion rate but not much explosiveness outside of what Smith-Schuster can bring to the table (averaging nearly 18 yards per completion). But again, this is a one-receiver passing game since the second-leading receiver -- Adoree' Jackson -- isn't even a full-time player on offense (though maybe he should be, considering he has a 96 percent catch rate on 25 targets!). But Smith-Schuster may have trouble connecting on big plays this week as the Bruins have been one of the best in preventing big passes (11th in passing IsoPPP) and are much more vulnerable against the run (62nd in rushing S&P+). The Trojans' Ron Jones II and Justin Davis have traded off big games with similar overall effectiveness (low-40s opportunity rate), but the run game isn't quite good enough to be a focal point of the offense (39th in both S&P+ and success rate). This game will likely hinge on how efficient Jones and Davis are able to be -- if they can move the ball efficiently to steadily create scoring opportunities, Smith-Schuster will have more opportunities even against a very successful UCLA pass defense.

Watch for:

  • The most critical stat might be how efficient Ron Jones II and Justin Davis are against the UCLA run defense (62nd in rushing S&P+), as that can open things up for the USC passing game when the clear strength of the Bruins defense is against the pass.
  • It should be pretty ugly what Josh Rosen can do to the Trojans pass defense, which ranks 63rd in passing S&P+ -- a typically high-volume passing attack will stay that way in this rivalry game.

F/+ Pick: USC

Notre Dame (+4) at Stanford -- 7:30 p.m. (FOX)

Overall Stanford Notre Dame
F/+ 9 4
When Stanford has the ball Offense Defense
S&P+ 10 32
FEI 7 40
Success Rate 3 27
IsoPPP 92 9
Rushing S&P+ 15 3
Passing S&P+ 13 7
When Notre Dame has the ball Defense Offense
S&P+ 52 9
FEI 58 6
Success Rate 60 27
IsoPPP 75 9
Rushing S&P+ 44 3
Passing S&P+ 68 7

Notre Dame is in an interesting position in terms of the College Football Playoff standings. Jumped by both Michigan State and Iowa in this week's committee rankings, the sixth-ranked Fighting Irish need a big win -- like a 59-0 demolition -- to jump back into the top four (and some upsets ahead of them wouldn't hurt, either). Stanford is likely out of the playoff discussion unless there are some serious upsets ahead of them, and they're locked in to the Pac-12 Championship game regardless. So you could say that Notre Dame certainly has reason to be more motivated between these two fairly evenly matched teams. It should come as even more comfort that Ohio State was sixth in the Committee's eyes this time last year.

The injuries keep piling up for the Irish, however. In last week's slogging win over Boston College at Fenway Park, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were both knocked out of the game, Russell with a broken tibia (which will knock him out for six to eight weeks) and Prosise with a high ankle sprain (he is doubtful for the Stanford game). On offense, that means that DeShone Kizer and freshman Josh Adams will carry the load for the Irish run game. Adams is a slightly more explosive and slightly less efficient back compared to Prosise (8.4 highlight yards per carry and a 44 percent opportunity rate), but the Irish run game overall is third in the country. DeShone Kizer reminded everyone that he is in fact a freshman against Boston College, throwing three very costly interceptions for the seventh-ranked passing S&P+ offense. The Cardinal defense is 68th overall in S&P+, rarely gets to the quarterback (115th in adjusted sack rate), and is just 70th in havoc rate, so Notre Dame won't likely have the same worries that it had against Boston College about scoring. In fact, Stanford is -2 in overall turnover margin with a +1 expected turnover margin, so without turnovers this Irish offense could roll over the Stanford defense. Particularly against explosive runs (where Stanford ranks 113th), Josh Adams has more than enough ability to break a few big plays.

So can Stanford keep up? The way to beat the Irish is on the ground (65th in rushing S&P+ and 110th in rushing IsoPPP) and big plays through the air (82nd in passing IsoPPP). The answer to both of those weaknesses is Christian McCaffrey. The star sophomore running back does everything for the Cardinal, from averaging nearly a 48 percent opportunity rate to being the second-leading receiver (trailing Michael Rector by 7 yards). McCaffrey only has 4.6 highlight yards per opportunity, but his workload is immense (carrying the ball fourth-most in the country) and the offense as a whole runs on 69 percent of standard downs (19th). The Stanford offense is fairly predictable -- run on standard downs to McCaffrey and throw on passing downs (68 percent of the time). Which is strange, since Kevin Hogan appears to be more effective when he throws on standard downs as the passing attack is 13th overall but the offense is 51st overall on passing downs. Not only is Hogan more effective on passing downs, but the rushing offense is better on passing downs (second overall in passing downs line yards per carry with an average of 4.5). Hogan seems to have games where he disappears (against Washington State and California, most notably), but McCaffrey will likely carry the bulk of the work against the Fighting Irish even against an injured Notre Dame secondary.

Watch for:

  • Christian McCaffrey's efficiency could be the deciding factor in this game as Stanford will need him to keep up with Notre Dame's offensive explosiveness.
  • Will DeShone Kizer be as turnover-plagued as he was last week? The Cardinal defense isn't nearly on the same level as in previous years or compared to Boston College, with a much lower havoc rate and adjusted sack rate, so expect Kizer to turn things around.

F/+ Pick: Stanford

Florida State (-2.5) at Florida -- 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Overall Florida State Florida
F/+ 13 12
When Florida State has the ball Offense Defense
S&P+ 20 5
FEI 18 13
Success Rate 28 6
IsoPPP 20 49
Rushing S&P+ 6 3
Passing S&P+ 29 7
When Florida has the ball Defense Offense
S&P+ 17 56
FEI 29 51
Success Rate 20 79
IsoPPP 17 76
Rushing S&P+ 31 87
Passing S&P+ 13 32

Few teams have looked worse in recent weeks than the 10-win Florida Gators. Jim McElwain deserves all of the credit in the world for turning around the Gators and getting them to the SEC Championship in his first season, but the Florida offense has scored just 53 total points in the last three games against the likes of South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Florida Atlantic. The defense has been lights-out all season, ranking fifth overall, but it's not certain whether that will be enough against Florida State. The Seminoles appear to have found a new quarterback in Sean Maguire, as he averages a full yard per attempt higher than Everett Golson, with a lower sack rate (2.5 percent to 7.6 percent) and a minimal dropoff in completion percentage. But outside of Dalvin Cook, there aren't any offensive stars on either team and both rivals have incredible defenses -- how will either team score?

Few are better against the run than the Florida Gators, who are third in rushing S&P+. They stuff opposing runs over a fourth of the time (eighth) and are eighth in adjusted line yards. But they're also 50th in opportunity rate, which is related to ranking 69th in rushing IsoPPP -- in short, the Gators frequently rack up tackles for loss but occasionally allow big runs. That's Dalvin Cook's bread and butter. The Seminoles are third in rushing IsoPPP and sixth in S&P+ overall as Dalvin has averaged an astounding 10.3 highlight yards per opportunity this year. And this will likely have to be the Cook show for the Seminoles' offense since their uncertainty at quarterback isn't likely to be helped by facing the seventh-ranked Gators' passing S&P+ defense with shutdown cornerbacks in Jalen Tarbor and Vernon Hargreaves. The answer is to have more than two big receivers, and the Seminoles at least have three guys they can reliably count on in Travis Rudolph, Jesus Wilson, and Kermit Whitfield. But watch how effective the Gators' defensive line -- sixth in havoc rate and eighth in stuff rate -- can be against the Seminoles offensive line that is 101st in stuff rate and 37th in adjusted sack rate.

So outside of an elite defense, how does Florida score? They have won with elite field position (second in offensive field position and first overall in defensive average starting field position), but have struggled in the red zone (averaging 4.4 points per trip inside the forty), and the run game has been dismally inefficient (87th in rushing S&P+). Kelvin Taylor averages a meager 3.9 yards per carry and a sub-30 percent opportunity rate, and the passing game has regressed under Treon Harris even though he averages just 0.1 yards less per attempt than Will Grier. He's much more liable to take sacks with an 11 percent sack rate and he completes only 55 percent of his passes. Demarcus Robinson and Antonio Callaway have been the top threats, with Callaway being the big-play guy averaging 20 yards per catch, but the Seminoles' pass defense is 13th overall and 25th in passing IsoPPP. The Gators' best chance is to play excellent field position, try and hit a few deep passes to Callaway, and use Treon Harris in the run game to keep the chains moving. But in all likelihood this is going to be a low-scoring game where turnovers will be critical. Don't expect either team to score more than twenty-something points in a close win.

Watch for:

  • Dalvin Cook is the best chance for the Florida State offense and easily the biggest offensive star in the game, but his offensive line will need to perform better than 101st in stuff rate going against a Gators defensive line that is sixth in havoc rate.
  • Can the Gators' excellent special teams and field position put the offense in enough opportunities to score?

F/+ Pick: Florida

Oklahoma (-7) at Oklahoma State -- 8 p.m. (ABC)

Overall Oklahoma Oklahoma State
F/+ 3 21
When Oklahoma has the ball Offense Defense
S&P+ 8 53
FEI 20 22
Success Rate 18 51
IsoPPP 14 70
Rushing S&P+ 43 34
Passing S&P+ 21 26
When Oklahoma State has the ball Defense Offense
S&P+ 14 15
FEI 1 29
Success Rate 18 40
IsoPPP 26 19
Rushing S&P+ 5 115
Passing S&P+ 4 27

Both the Sooners and Cowboys now sport a loss, but the surging Sooners have the Big 12's best chance at making the playoff, particularly if they can pick up an impressive win over the Cowboys without a conference championship game as an additional quality win. The Sooners and Cowboys both have back-loaded schedules, but the Sooners have survived theirs so far, with a 10-point win over Baylor and a one-point win last week over the Trevone Boykin-less Horned Frogs. So can a Cowboys offense that is similarly as explosive as TCU's passing offense get the win with a better quarterback than TCU's backups that they used last week?

The Sooners have been excellent all year on defense, ranking fourth in passing S&P+ and ninth in passing IsoPPP, but they have also allowed 427 yards to Tulsa, 253 to Texas Tech, 260 to Iowa State, 257 to Baylor, and 229 to TCU (with their afore-mentioned backup quarterbacks). The Cowboys' Mason Rudolph has been efficient and explosive, averaging more than 8 yards per passing attempt (27th in overall passing S&P+) with receiver James Washington surging as of late. Washington now averages close to 18 yards per reception as a big-play specialist, though second-leading receiver David Glidden is much more reliable a pass catcher (70 percent catch rate to Washington's 52 percent). The Cowboys have next to no run game (115th in rushing S&P+) and likely won't do well anyway against the fifth-ranked Sooner run defense in S&P+, so it will largely fall on Washington, Glidden, and Mason Rudolph to keep the chains moving for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys defense has been maybe the best in the Big 12, doing an excellent job generating explosive plays against the pass (16th in adjusted sack rate) and 26th against the pass overall. But the Cowboys have been a little worse against opposing run games, ranking 34th overall but 80th in opportunity rate. This leads me to believe that the Sooners will rely even more heavily on Samaje Perine and their run game, which has been on a tear in recent weeks. Though it ranks just 43rd overall, Perine has had 90 or more yards in his last five games, averaging 6 yards per carry or more. Perine might get the bulk of the workload for the Sooners even more with Baker Mayfield's concussion as well. Midweek reports have him expected to play, but the Sooners offense has certainly hit new heights with him as the quarterback (21st in passing S&P+), and the attacking Cowboys pass defense might pin their ears back if Trevor Knight is the starting quarterback. Either way it could get ugly for the Sooners' quarterback, as the offensive line is 107th in adjusted sack rate against that attacking Cowboys pass rush.

Watch for:

  • Will Baker Mayfield play? Even if he does, can the Sooners' offensive line stop Emmanuel Ogbah and the Cowboys defensive front? Or will the Sooners just lean heavily on Samaje Perine as they have in recent weeks?
  • Can Mason Rudolph continue to exploit a Sooners pass defense that has been great, but is certainly vulnerable to Big 12 pass-first offenses?

F/+ Pick: Oklahoma


Navy vs. Houston: Houston and Navy start the weekend off with the Friday noon game, and though both have one loss, this looks like the best matchup of Group of 5 teams this season. Both Greg Ward Jr. and Kyle Postma have been injured for the Cougars, so their status will be critical for this big matchup.

Auburn vs. Alabama: They say you have to throw the records out during rivalry week, and Auburn hopes that's true as Alabama looks like the most dominant team in the country while Auburn looks behind on both sides of the ball. Auburn still isn't sure which quarterback will start, putting more pressure on the 52nd-ranked Auburn rushing S&P+ offense against the top Alabama rush defense.

Penn State vs. Michigan State: Michigan State's upset of Ohio State last week opened the door for the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship, but they have to get past Penn State to punch their ticket. While Penn State has plenty of issues on offense of their own, the Spartans aren't sure if Connor Cook will be able to play, meaning that a backup Spartans quarterback might face the sixth-ranked passing S&P+ Nittany Lions defense.

Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State: If Alabama loses and Ole Miss beats rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, then the Rebels are in the SEC Championship. This is Dak Prescott's last Egg Bowl and he might find some opportunities against the 42nd-ranked passing S&P+ defense.


Favorite Spread Underdog F/+ Pick F/+ vs. Spread Pick
at Houston 1 Navy Navy Navy
Baylor 1.5 at TCU Baylor Baylor
at Michigan EVEN Ohio State Michigan Michigan
Alabama 14 at Auburn Alabama Alabama
at Michigan State N/A Penn State Michigan State N/A
Ole Miss 1 at Mississippi State Ole Miss Ole Miss
Florida State 2 at Florida Florida Florida
at Stanford 3.5 Notre Dame Stanford Notre Dame
Oklahoma 7 at Oklahoma State Oklahoma Oklahoma State

Picks against the spread last week: 6-3
Picks straight up last week: 5-5

Posted by: Chad Peltier on 26 Nov 2015

1 comment, Last at 20 Apr 2016, 6:57am by John W


by John W :: Wed, 04/20/2016 - 6:57am

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