So, we got our first look at the College Football Playoff rankings this week and there were definitely a few surprises.
Ohio State debuted as the CFP selection committee’s initial No. 1 overall team, followed by LSU at No.2 and Alabama at No. 3. Fellow Big Ten school Penn State rounded out the top four. Notice anyone missing?
Oh, that would just be the defending national champs. Yup, Clemson was ranked No. 5 and on the outside looking in. Predictably, Tigers fans everywhere freaked out. But the fact of the matter is the ACC is the worst Power 5 conference this season. Heck, the AAC might have given Clemson more of a challenge.
The other conference the CFP committee didn’t think too highly of was the Big 12. The highest ranked team was 7-1 Oklahoma at No. 9, while undefeated Baylor came in at No. 12. Now, the Bears don’t have any marquee wins, but victories against Iowa State and at Kansas State and Oklahoma State should be considered quality. Oh, and won that game at K-State by 19. Yeah, the same K-State team that went into Norman and put up 48 points on the Sooners.
All that means is Baylor now has some added motivation heading into Saturday’s matchup at TCU. The Bears, who were already looking for their first win over the Horned Frogs since 2014, have gone 8-0 (4-4 ATS) thanks to being one of the most balanced teams in the country.
Quarterback Charlie Brewer leads an offense that ranks 15th in total yards per game and 25th in Football Outsiders Offensive FEI ratings, while the defense might be the best unit in the Big 12 and ranks 20th in DFEI.
Brewer has been efficient, completing nearly 68 percent of his passes with 20 total touchdowns (six rushing) with just three interceptions. And if TCU wants to key on the Bears’ air game, they can then turn to the ground, where they have gashed opponents for 5.2 yards per carry this season.
On the other side, TCU’s quarterback situation is murky at best. Starter Max Duggan is questionable with a hand injury and if he can’t tough it out, the Frogs will be in trouble. Backup QB Alex Delton left the team this past week and new backup Michael Collins is already out with a rib injury.
This might have been a lookahead spot for Baylor with Oklahoma coming to Waco next week. But thanks to the CFP committee, the Bears now have a chip on their shoulder and will want to prove the doubters wrong each and every week. That starts against TCU.
Pick: Baylor -2.5
OK. I’ll say it. This game feels like a trap.
The two-point spread says it all. The Demon Deacons could record their first double-digit win season since 2006. They are playing a 5-3 Virginia Tech team, that while inconsistent, is playing its best football of the season. And this is a classic lookahead spot, with a trip to Death Valley to face Clemson on the docket next week. But screw it! This number is too good to pass up.
Quarterback Jamie Newman leads a Wake Forest offense that ranks seventh in the nation in total yards per game and ninth in passing yards per game. Newman has thrown for 2,059 yards while completing 67.2 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Newman leans heavily on star wideout Sage Surratt who has 62 receptions for 948 yards and nine touchdowns already this season.
This week, the Decons dynamic duo get to go up against a Hokies defense that ranks 110th against the pass and 82 DFEI ratings.
On the other side of the ball, the Wake Forest defense is underrated, ranking 55th in DFEI and should be able to handle a Virginia Tech team that has struggled to find its identity on offense.
And while this may be a lookahead spot for the Deacons, it’s also a letdown spot for the Hokies coming off a near upset of Notre Dame in South Bend last week. Wake Forest will at least provide us the illusion that they can give Clemson a challenge next week by taking care of business against Virginia Tech.
Pick: Wake Forest -2
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS AT CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (+7.5, 51.5)
The 2019 campaign has undoubtedly been a letdown for Mike Leach and Wazzu.
After the Gardner Minshew experience led Washington State to a 11-2 campaign last year, Wazzu is 4-4 with just one conference win this season. But if there is any coach out there that can lead a late season turnaround, it’s Leach.
Despite the tough start, the Cougars still have a chance to qualify for a bowl game for the fifth straight season thanks to an easier schedule down the stretch. And that starts in Berkley as Washington State visits California this weekend.
Washington State is still doing what Washington State does. And that is throw the ball. A lot. The Cougars once again lead the nation in passing at an eye-popping 436.4 yards per contest. Senior signal caller Anthony Gordon has a whopping 3,387 passing yards with 32 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes.
He’ll face a Golden Bears defense that is definitely solid, but hasn’t been as dominant as most expected heading into this season. But one of the reasons for that is because the offense can’t sustain, well, anything.
Ever since quarterback Chase Garbers went down with a shoulder injury in the first half of Cal’s Sept. 27 matchup with Arizona State, the Golden Bears offense has been one of the worst in the country. In the 14 quarters Cal has played without Garbers, it has scored just 34 points and now ranks 124th in total yards per game and 107th in OFEI.
Wazzu doesn’t play much defense, but that shouldn’t matter in this one. A worn out Cal defense can only do so much against Leach’s air raid offense, and the Golden Bears won’t be able to keep up.
Pick: Washington State -7.5
Last week: 3-0
Season to date: 15-14-3
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