Game of the Week: #2 Auburn (5-0) at #3 Mississippi State (5-0)
In the biggest game in Mississippi State’s program history, they are a 3-point home underdog to Auburn, who is ranked second in the AP Poll and first in my power rankings. For the occasion, the school will be hosting ESPN’s College Gameday for the first time. Auburn has been very impressive through their first five games, including a 41-7 win last week over LSU. Mississippi State is coming off an impressive win of their own, beating Texas A&M, 48-31. Last year’s Auburn team was known for their seemingly miraculous last second wins against Georgia and Alabama on their way to a berth in the national title game, but the run started with a 24-20 win over the Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium, also winning that game on a last second touchdown. In that game, Dak Prescott threw for over 200 yards and rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in his career, a feat that he now does nearly every week, as analysts have compared him to Tim Tebow and Cam Newton. Auburn’s offense is also their strength, and while Mississippi State has held a couple of good offenses. This offense, though, will be unlike anything they have seen all year, both in style and effectiveness. This game should be close and competitive, but in the end, Auburn is just a touch better.
Auburn 34, Mississippi State 28.
Big Game Guarantee: #9 TCU (4-0) at #5 Baylor (5-0)
Baylor is an eight-point home favorite in a game that, at the beginning of the season, looked like a pretty normal game for one of the Big 12 favorites. However, TCU wasn’t expected to be undefeated and in the top 10 at this point, but they are after upsetting Oklahoma last week. This game is more relevant, both locally and nationally, than the Oklahoma-Texas game in Dallas, a testament to the job of coaches Art Briles of Baylor and Gary Patterson of TCU at their respective schools. Baylor’s offense leads the nation in points scored, averaging 51.0 points per game, including 38.5 per game in two conference games, and has also allowed the fifth least points. By comparison, TCU is 12th in points scored and seventh in points against. TCU is coming off of a very big home win over a top five team in Oklahoma, and is going on the road to face another top five team, and in my opinion a tougher one, just seven days later. Another upset may just be too much to ask.
Baylor 45, TCU 34.
Another Big Game Guarantee: #12 Oregon (4-1) at #18 UCLA (4-1)
Both the Ducks and the Bruins lost last week, robbing us of what would have been a matchup of two top 10 teams. As is, two of the top 18 meet, and Oregon is favored by two, even with the game being played in Pasadena. Before their loss to Arizona, Oregon had looked pretty impressive, and at one point was at the top of my power rankings. On the other hand, UCLA played some close games against lesser opponents, including having to come from behind to beat a struggling Texas team, before their loss to Utah last week. Statistically, Oregon is better than UCLA, both offensively and defensively. Oregon hasn’t lost back-to-back games since 2007, so don’t Marcus Mariota and company to lose here either.
Oregon 30, UCLA 23.
Another Big Game Guarantee: #13 Georgia (4-1) at #23 Missouri (4-1) (+3)
Georgia comes into the game as a three-point road favorite as they travel to Missouri, but do so without their star RB Todd Gurley, who was suspended indefinitely for potential NCAA rules violations. While many will look at Georgia differently without their Heisman candidate playing at running back, they should be fine, as the depth they have at that position is incomparable, with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Keith Marshall all available and capable of being a game changer, just as Gurley usually is. Some will say that since Missouri beat South Carolina, and Georgia lost to South Carolina, Missouri should be the favorite, using the “transitive property of football” as a friend of mine would say. But Georgia is the better team in this matchup, and has more depth across the board, and Missouri also has a loss to a mediocre Indiana team, meaning both teams have a mediocre loss.
Georgia 27, Missouri 23.
Another Big Game Guarantee: #3 Ole Miss (5-0) at #14 Texas A&M (5-1)
Texas A&M is a two-point home favorite in a game between a pair of teams who come into this game with each on a different foot. Ole Miss comes into the game off of their upset win at home over Alabama last week, while Texas A&M was embarrassed for three quarters before eventually losing to Mississippi State, 48-31. Texas A&M’s offense was held in check by the Bulldogs, as the Aggies were down 48-17 early in the fourth before making the score a little less lopsided. Holding the offense in check is also what Ole Miss did, holding Alabama to 17 points, and intercepting Blake Sims in the end zone in the final minute to seal the victory. However, Ole Miss has never won back-to-back games over ranked opponents in the AP Poll era. Texas A&M lost both games the last time they played back-to-back ranked opponents, and are trying to avoid the same fate. Texas A&M is too good to lose back-to-back games, and Ole Miss may not quite be good enough to win in back-to-back weeks against the talent of Alabama and Texas A&M
Texas A&M 38, Ole Miss 28.
Upset of the Week: USC (3-2) at #10 Arizona (5-0)
Arizona may have climbed in the top 10 after their win over Oregon, but with USC coming to town, they are still three-point underdogs at home in a pivotal Pac-12 South matchup. It is very rare for a top 10 team to be a home underdog against an unranked opponent, but that is the case here. USC has looked strong at times this year, and particularly in a win against Stanford, but has also looked bad defensively in losses to Boston College and Arizona State, who beat them last week on a hail mary as time expired, capping a nice comeback. Arizona is undefeated after the win over Oregon, and while many had claimed the record was due to a light early-season schedule, the win over the Ducks solidified it. Defensively, the two teams that beat USC did it in different ways, as Boston College ran all over the Trojans defense, and Arizona State threw for over 500 yards in their win. Arizona will have an opportunity to do both, as Anu Solomon is an excellent dual-threat quarterback, and will be capable of running or passing on the Trojans defense. It’s weird to call this game an upset, but it is.
Arizona 38, USC 31.
NFL Game of the Week: Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
The surprise team in the NFL is the Cowboys, who are 4-1 on the year, including wins over the Saints and Texans, with their only loss coming to the 49ers. Yet the Seahawks are nine-point favorites, coming in as defending Super Bowl champions, and winners of 19 out of 20 at home. Due to the NFL schedule structure, the easiest team the Seahawks have played was the Redskins, who they beat 27-17 on Monday night, while they have also played three playoff teams from last year, including a Week 2 loss at San Diego. This matchup features a head-to-head with one of the game’s best receivers, Dez Bryant of the Cowboys, against the self-proclaimed “best corner in the league”, Richard Sherman of the Seahawks. While Bryant may win the head-to-head with Sherman, don’t expect the Cowboys to go to CenturyLink Field and leave with a win, as the matchup simply shouldn’t be even enough for the Cowboys to have a shot late.
Seahawks 21, Cowboys 13.