College Football Power Rankings for Week Six

1. Clemson (6-0, Last Week: 1st, AP Poll: 2nd)
The Tigers beat Wake Forest 28-14 Saturday, but led the Demon Deacons 28-0 in the fourth before allowing two late scores. Clemson won this game doing what they’ve done all year: dominate on defense, and supplement that with a more-than-sufficient offense. The offense isn’t without questions, however, heading into this week’s game at Syracuse, as quarterback Kelly Bryant is questionable with a sprained ankle. The Tigers biggest remaining regular season game isn’t Florida State, as everyone would have predicted, but a trip to NC State on Nov. 4.

2. Alabama (6-0, LW: 2nd, AP: 1st)
The Crimson Tide didn’t dismantle Texas A&M quite like they did Ole Miss and Vanderbilt the previous two weeks, but the Tide outrushed the Aggies 232-71, including 124 yards from Damien Harris, and forced three turnovers to win in College Station, 27-19. The SEC isn’t as strong this year, and it shows in the Tide’s schedule: they have yet to play a team that is currently ranked (that win over Florida State hasn’t aged well), and only have one ranked team on the regular-season agenda the rest of the way, as they travel to Auburn on Nov. 25.

3. Penn State (6-0, LW: 4th, AP: 3rd)
Both teams struggled on the ground–it wasn’t a traditional Big Ten ground-and-pound affair–but despite only rushing for 95 yards, the Nittany Lions used their running game in the right spots to beat Northwestern 31-7 in Evanston. Three of Penn State’s touchdowns came on the ground, including the game’s biggest play: a 53-yard Saquon Barkley run that gave the Nittany Lions some third-quarter breathing room. The Nittany Lions have a bye this weekend, which comes at a good place in the schedule–the next three games are against ranked opponents (Oct. 21 vs. Michigan, Oct. 28 at Ohio State, Nov. 4 at Michigan State)

4. Georgia (6-0, LW: 5th, AP: 4th)
After a 45-14 win over Vanderbilt, it’s safe to say the state of Tennessee doesn’t like the Georgia Bulldogs; the last two weeks, they’ve beaten the state’s two SEC teams by a combined 86-14 margin. The rushing duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb dominated in the win, with Michel gaining 150 yards and a touchdown, and Chubb rushing for 138 yards and two scores. The Dawgs host struggling Missouri this weekend, before a bye week ahead of their rivalry game with Florida.

5. Washington (6-0, LW: 7th, AP: 5th)
Saturday, the Huskies defeated California 38-7, doing so with an exceptional defensive performance. Cal only gained 93 yards in the game, and the Golden Bears actually lost 40 yards rushing against the Washington defense. The Huskies are ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency as they try to return to the College Football Playoff. Washington travels to Arizona State this weekend before a bye, and while coaches don’t like to look ahead, I will:  the “Apple Bowl” rivalry game against Washington State on Nov. 25 looks bigger and bigger every week.

6. TCU (5-0, LW: 10th, AP: 6th)
The Horned Frogs were outdone by West Virginia in nearly every stat category on Saturday, but TCU won the most important one–points–by a 31-24 margin after quarterback Kenny Hill’s go-ahead rushing touchdown with 2:53 to go. Hill became the just second player with passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same Big 12 conference game. This week the Horned Frogs head to Kansas State; the Wildcats are unranked, but Manhattan is always a hard place to play.

7. Washington State (6-0, LW: 9th, AP: 8th)
A week after beating USC, the Cougars went on the road and dominated Oregon 33-10 for another impressive win. People focus on the Cougars offense, but their defense contained Oregon to 277 yards and held the Ducks scoreless after the first quarter. The Cougs play their second Friday game in three weeks tonight, when they travel to Cal.

8. Wisconsin (5-0, LW: 8th, AP: 7th)
Jonathan Taylor ran for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries Saturday in a 38-17 win at Nebraska, as the Badgers further cemented their status as the heavy favorites in the Big Ten West. Taylor’s performance was his second 200-plus-yard game this season, after gaining 223 on Sept. 9 against Florida Atlantic, and the freshman is averaging 153 rushing yards per game. The Badgers host Purdue this weekend.

9. Miami (4-0, LW: 13th, AP: 11th)
Even in a rivalry with an abundance of classic games, Miami’s win over Florida State on Saturday is one that will be remembered for a long time by Hurricanes fans. The win, which snapped the team’s X-game losing streak to their rivals, came after Darrell Langham barely crossed the goal line (if he even did at all–the play was the subject of a very tough replay review) after a 23-yard pass from Malik Rozier with 0:06 to play, giving the Hurricanes the 24-20 triumph after a back-and-forth thriller. The Hurricanes return home Saturday to face Georgia Tech.

10. Auburn (5-1, LW: 12th, AP: 10th)
The Tigers dominated Ole Miss even more than the 44-23 final score sounds; Auburn led 41-10 after three quarters, to the tune of a 561-yard offensive explosion. Auburn outrushed the Rebels 326-83, with 204 yards coming from Kerryon Johnson, who scored three touchdowns on his 28 rushes. The Tigers have an interesting schedule the rest of the way, as they have three straight road games, starting Saturday at LSU, before finishing with three straight home games.

Worth a Mention: Iowa State (3-2)
Iowa State is not one of the more prominent Power Five-conference programs, as they haven’t had a winning season since 2009, and have combined for an 11-37 record the last three years. Yet once every three or four years, the Cyclones program has a knack for sneaking up on a big-name team and pulling off an upset. It most notably happened to Oklahoma State in 2011, costing the Cowboys a BCS Championship Game berth, but it happened again on Saturday when the Cyclones traveled to Norman and upset #3 Oklahoma, 38-31. With a win on Saturday against Kansas (the worst team in the Power Five by far), Iowa State would win their fourth game, a mark they haven’t reached since a 6-7 season in 2012. Don’t look now, but second-year coach Matt Campbell, who came to Iowa State after a successful stint at Toledo, has vastly improved this program.

11. Oklahoma (4-1, LW: 3rd, AP: 12th)
12. Ohio State (5-1, LW: 11th, AP: 9th)
13. USC (5-1, LW: 14th, AP: 13th)
14. Oklahoma State (4-1, LW: 15th, AP: 14th)
15. Michigan (4-1, LW: 6th, AP: 17th)

16. Virginia Tech (5-1, LW: 17th, AP: 15th)
17. South Florida (6-0, LW: 19th, AP: 18th)
18. San Diego State (6-0, LW: 20th, AP: 19th)
19. NC State (5-1, LW: 23rd, AP: 20th)
20. UCF (4-0, LW: 22nd, AP: 22nd)

21. Stanford (4-2, LW: unranked, AP: 23rd)
22. Michigan State (4-1, LW: unranked, AP: 21st)
23. Notre Dame (5-1, LW: unranked, AP: 16th)
24. Utah (4-1, LW: 18th, AP: unranked)
25. Navy (5-0, LW: unranked, AP: 25th)

Also ranked in AP Poll:  Texas Tech (4-1, AP: 24th)

Fell from Rankings:  Florida (3-2, LW: 16th), Louisville (4-2, LW: 21st), Florida State (1-3, LW: 24th), West Virginia (3-1, LW: 25th)


Twitter Picks for College Football Week Two

A week after “the greatest opening weekend in college football history,” the second weekend of this college football season looks more like what we’re used to in the first weekend.  Solid games are hard to come by.

That said, there are still football games being played, so here are my picks for 12 of them, including tonight’s Super Bowl rematch in the NFL opener.

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech (1-0) vs. #17 Tennessee (1-0)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
at Bristol, Tenn. (Bristol Motor Speedway)
Favorite:  Tennessee by 12
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Virginia Tech- unranked, Tennessee- 7th


Big Game Guarantee

Arkansas (1-0) at #15 TCU (1-0)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  TCU by 7.5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Upset of the Week

BYU (1-0) at Utah (1-0)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  Utah by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Closer Than the Experts Think

Iowa State (0-1) at #16 Iowa (1-0)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, BTN
Favorite:  Iowa by 15
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Iowa State- unranked, Iowa- 9th


Not Closer Than the Experts Think

North Carolina (0-1) at Illinois (1-0)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, BTN
Favorite:  North Carolina by 9
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  North Carolina- 23rd, Illinois- unranked


Overhyped Game

South Carolina (1-0) at Mississippi State (0-1)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite:  Mississippi State by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Group of Five Game of the Week

California (1-0) at San Diego State (1-0)
Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, CBSSN
Favorite:  San Diego State by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Is This Futbol?

Penn State (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Pittsburgh by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Is This Basketball?

Washington State (0-1) at Boise State (1-0)
Saturday, 10:15 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite:  Boise State by 11
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Washington State- unranked, Boise State- 25th


Toilet Bowl

Wake Forest (1-0) at Duke (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPNU
Favorite:  Duke by 5
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  both teams are unranked


Miscellaneous:  Good Luck, Hilltoppers

Western Kentucky (1-0) at #1 Alabama (1-0)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite:  Alabama by 29
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Western Kentucky- unranked, Alabama- 1st


NFL Game of the Week

Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
Thursday, 8:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Panthers by 3


Season to Date

Overall:  5-6
Game of the Week:  1-0
Big Game Guarantee:  1-0
Upset of the Week:  0-1
Closer Than the Experts Think:  0-1
Not Closer Than the Experts Think:  1-0
Overhyped Game:  0-1
Group of Five Game of the Week:  1-0
Is This Futbol?:  0-1
Is This Basketball?:  0-1
Toilet Bowl:  0-1
Miscellaneous:  1-0


Twitter Picks for College Football Week 11

Game of the Week

#12 Oklahoma (8-1) at #6 Baylor (8-0)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, ABC
Favorite:  Baylor by 3
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oklahoma- 13th, Baylor- 4th


Big Game Guarantee(s)

#2 Alabama (8-1) at #17 Mississippi State (7-2)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Alabama by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Alabama- 3rd, Mississippi State- 20th


#21 Memphis (8-1) at #24 Houston (9-0)
Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, ESPN2
Favorite:  Houston by 7
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Memphis- 24th, Houston- 16th


Arkansas (5-4) at #9 LSU (7-1)
Saturday, 7:15 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  LSU by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Arkansas- unranked, LSU- 8th


#8 Oklahoma State (9-0) at Iowa State (3-6)
Saturday, 3:30 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Oklahoma State by 14
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oklahoma State- 5th, Iowa State- unranked


Upset(s) of the Week

#11 Florida (8-1) at South Carolina (3-6)
Saturday, 12:00 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  Florida by 8
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Florida- 10th, South Carolina- unranked


Oregon (6-3) at #7 Stanford (8-1)
Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  Stanford by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Oregon- unranked, Stanford- 7th


Washington State (6-3) at #18 UCLA (7-2)
Saturday, 10:45 pm ET, ESPN
Favorite:  UCLA by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Washington State- unranked, UCLA- 19th


Closer Than the Experts Think

Minnesota (4-5) at #5 Iowa (9-0)
Saturday, 8:00 pm ET, BTN
Favorite:  Iowa by 10
Stiles on Sports Ranking:  Minnesota- unranked, Iowa- 9th


NFL Game(s) of the Week

New England Patriots (8-0) at New York Giants (5-4)
Sunday, 4:25 pm ET, CBS
Favorite:  Patriots by 8


Arizona Cardinals (6-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
Sunday, 8:30 pm ET, NBC
Favorite:  Seahawks by 3


Minnesota Vikings (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Sunday, 4:05 pm ET, FOX
Favorite:  Raiders by 3


Season to Date
Overall Record: 42-31
Last Week: 4-5
College Overall Record: 36-27
Game of the Week: 7-3
Big Game Guarantee: 21-9
Upset of the Week: 3-10
Closer Than the Experts Think: 5-6
NFL Game of the Week: 5-4

College Football Picks for Week 8

Game of the Week: #5 Florida State (5-0) at #3 Clemson (6-0).  This is the game of the year in the ACC, and may be the game of the year (so far) period, as it is the year’s first meeting of top-5 teams.  Florida State won last year’s meeting at home 49-37, but this year have to travel to Death Valley to one of the most hostile environments in the country.  For some unknown reason, although Clemson is ranked higher, has played a tougher schedule so far, and has the game at home, Florida State is somehow a 3-point favorite in this game.  By the way, this is the ACC’s first matchup of top-5 opponents since 5th-ranked Miami beat 3rd-ranked Virginia Tech in 2005.  These teams are pretty even, so instead of focusing on overall stats, I’ll look at some trends.  Florida State hasn’t won at Clemson since 2001, back when this matchup was known as the “Bowden Bowl”, when Bobby Bowden coached Florida State and Tommy Bowden coached Clemson (I feel safe saying the existing coaching matchup is the only one all year between guys named Jimbo and Dabo).  In fact, the home team has won the last 6 meetings.  Also, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd has been there before, while Florida State QB Jameis Winston is a redshirt-freshman who has never played a game like this, although he has played 2 road games so far.  Winston has impressed everyone, including Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who said, “He doesn’t look like any redshirt freshman I’ve ever seen,”  but there’s still that unknown of how he will perform in a hostile environment (although I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he plays really well).  Although, Clemson did really struggle to get over Boston College last week, BC also led FSU by 14 in the first half, so it’s not as big of a deal as people think.  One friend said today the game will won and lost for both sides on 4th quarter mistakes.  I agree.  Clemson 52, Florida State 49.

Big Game Guarantee: #22 Florida (4-2) at #14 Missouri (6-0).  This is a big game for a couple of teams who are still trying to win the SEC East.  Even though Missouri has the game at home, is unbeaten, and is coming off a big road upset against Georgia, they are still a 3-point underdog is this game.  The Gators have lost twice, but both are to current top-10 teams, Miami and LSU, and both were on the road.  Missouri’s win over Georgia came at a big cost, as QB James Franklin will be out 3-5 weeks with a shoulder injury, meaning that Maty Mauk will make his first career start (yes, that’s the younger brother of former Wake Forest/Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk) in this big contest.  In addition, the Florida secondary has allowed the 2nd least passing yards in the nation.  That, in addition to Missouri being stuck in a very difficult three-week stretch including last week’s game and next week’s game against South Carolina, will help Florida here.  Florida 20, Missouri 17.

BONUS:  Another Big Game Guarantee:  #9 UCLA (5-0) at #13 Stanford (5-1).  The Cardinal of Stanford come home after a tough loss on the road against Utah last week, 27-21, to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten.  Stanford has won 5 straight in this series, dating back to their last loss to the Bruins in the 2007 season opener.  The Cardinal have a 12-game home winning streak, dating back to a loss to Oregon in 2011.  That is their only home loss since 2009.  That 2009 season also marks the last time Stanford lost back-to-back games; that was during Andrew Luck’s freshman season.  Those trends seem to point to a Stanford win, but UCLA is ranked 9th and hasn’t lost yet this year, and have an overall solid team.  While UCLA hasn’t necessarily played the toughest schedule, they do have a road win over that Utah team that beat Stanford, as well as one at Nebraska in a game that they were down 21-3 before winning 41-21.  This is also a good matchup of underrated quarterbacks between UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan.  Should UCLA win, they will make a statement and throw themselves into the national championship picture.  However, I think Stanford is such a good team all-around that them losing two weeks in a row would be unlikely, even if they’re playing a top-10 opponent.  Stanford 38, UCLA 34.

Upset of the Week:  #6 LSU (6-1) at Ole Miss (3-3).  Both of these teams come off of big games last week, after LSU beat Florida 17-6 and Ole Miss almost upset Texas A&M with a 41-38 defeat on a field goal as time expired.  Ole Miss played very well in that game, and has overall been starting to trend upward, despite three straight losses, as they were blown out by Alabama, and lost by 8 to Auburn, both on the road, before the near miss against Texas A&M.  LSU lost on the road at Georgia three weeks ago, before beating Mississippi State on the road and the Gators last week at home.  Even though the LSU-Alabama game won’t be until November 9, will the Tigers be looking ahead already?  The Rebels should learn from the mistakes they made in their close losses to Auburn and A&M, and will keep this game close at home.  LSU’s only close game was against Georgia, another road test, and they lost when Georgia had the ball last.  In the end, a very close game will go the way of the Rebels.  Ole Miss 38, LSU 37.

Closer Than The Experts Think:  Iowa State (1-4) at #12 Baylor (5-0).  While Baylor has possibly the nation’s best offense, and Iowa State has a struggling defense, this game will be closer than people think.  There is a reason Baylor is a 33-point favorite at home, but I think this game will be a little bit closer than that.  Iowa State’s 1-4 record is not an indication of how good or bad they are, as all four losses have been in close games, including one last week at undefeated Texas Tech, and another at home against Texas in a game that the Longhorns were benefitted by a very controversial call.  Also, while this game is on the road, so is their only win.  The Cyclones also have a knack for big upsets in Big 12 play.  Iowa State also held the potent Baylor offense to their lowest point total last year, when they defeated the Bears 35-21.  Baylor is averaging 714 yards per game and 63.4 points per game (which leads the nation), so I do believe the offense will be too much for Iowa State to handle, but they will keep the game closer than everyone thinks.  Baylor 42, Iowa State 30.

BONUS: NFL Pick: Peyton Returns to Indy: Denver Broncos (6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2).  Peyton Manning has an 82-32 career record in games played in Indianapolis.  In each of those wins, however, he put on the home uniform.  Sunday, for the first time, Manning will be in the visitor’s locker room in Indy.  His Denver Broncos visit Indianapolis with a 17-game regular season winning streak, one win away from tying the New England Patriots in 2003-04 for 3rd all-time.  Manning’s replacement on the Colts, Andrew Luck, is showing no signs of a sophomore slump.  His career numbers through 22 games are much better than Manning’s at the beginning of his career.  That being said, Luck is still a long way away from Manning’s status, as Manning has proven himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. At the age of 37 he has shown no signs of slowing down, and may in fact be having his best season ever.  The Broncos are favored by 7 on the road, and will cover the spread and then some.  Broncos 38, Colts 24.