Simply put, this is what we do best. As evidenced by our "Most Accurate BCS Predictions" title, we take pride in our season previews and weekly game picks. As we have done each week since we launched the site, the two of us will analyze, preview, and predict the results of the best SIX games each week.
New this season: if your team's game didn't make the cut here, our conference experts have you covered. Find the links (on the RIGHT) for further analysis for every conference game not shown on this page, along with Heisman discussion and our weekly Deion Sanders Award for the Best Pick Six of the Week.
Enjoy your Football Weekend!
ALABAMA AT LSU
This game has been arguably the biggest regular season series between two teams so far this decade. LSU and Alabama have consistently had the most ferocious defenses and while one team, LSU, is having a bit of a down year, they are storming back. Alabama has won three straight in the series, a streak that started with the 2011 National Championship Game when both teams were in a class by themselves. In 2012, TJ Yeldon took a screen pass to the house in the final moments of the game to secure a difficult win in Death Valley. After last year’s 38-17 stomping, the Tigers are hungry for revenge. Blake Sims has had a bit of an up-and-down, but still very impressive, season, he will be the key to victory. LSU stifled Ole Miss a couple weeks ago when the 4th-ranked Rebels came to town. Mississippi QB Bo Wallace has also shown the propensity to play inconsistent, erratic football and LSU capitalized. Anthony Jennings will not be expected to make huge plays for LSU, but rather “manage” the game and keep drives alive on third downs. LSU’s rushing attack has been the team’s source of offense, topping 50 carries in four of the last five games. Alabama has an elite rush defense, but so did Ole Miss and LSU rushed for 4.8 yards per carry. Finally, this offensive line seems to be becoming the unit we all thought it would be before the season. I expect Leonard Fournette and the rest of the run game to have more success than other opponents have had against the Tide, but I don’t anticipate it being enough. Alabama does not have the power rushing attack it has had during its reign, but it should do better than Ole Miss, which also doesn’t have the strongest running game. I expect Sims to play a better game than Wallace did and Alabama’s offense to do just enough to top LSU’s offense. The Tiger offense is too one-dimensional to beat this Alabama defense, which has not allowed a 400 yard game this season.
Alabama 23 LSU 13
BAYLOR AT OKLAHOMA
Last year on arguably the biggest Thursday night in college football history, #6 Baylor embarrassed #10 Oklahoma, en route to their first Big 12 title ever. Now as defending league champs, #12 Baylor feels they are being overlooked by the Playoff Committee, who has Kansas State and TCU significantly above them. The low rank may feel like a punch in the gut at the moment, but remember, Baylor - NOT TCU -controls its own destiny due to their head-to-head win over the Horned Frogs. But the road ahead is tough with a season finale against Kansas State and this road trip to Norman. Oklahoma is fresh off of a 59-14 stomping of Iowa State in which the Sooners rushed for over 500 yards. Trevor Knight has bounced back, and it finally appears that we have the OU team most expected to see. While their playoff hopes are gone, OU will still be fighting for a prestigious bowl, if not for pride itself. This team remembers the beatdown last year, and also has a bad taste in their mouth after losing a rare home game their last time at Owen Field. Look for the OU defense to be the difference here; while they may not “stop” the Baylor offensive machine, they surely can make enough impact plays to “slow” them down. This noon kickoff and Sooner victory will create what could end up being the de facto “Big 12 Title Game” between TCU and K-State later Saturday night.
Oklahoma 34 Baylor 30
KANSAS STATE AT TCU
TCU, Baylor, and Kansas State find themselves in a 3-way race for the Big 12 title and a bid to the College Football Playoff. I am certain that 5 or 10 years ago that opening statement would have been laughed at for more reasons than one. But here we are in November, 2014 and the Big 12 championship runs through Fort Worth Saturday Night. It’s a matchup of the nation’s 6th and 7th ranked teams, both with emerging stars at quarterback, aggressive playmaking defenses, and playoff aspirations. For TCU, this is the final ranked opponent and clearly their biggest remaining hurdle. But for Kansas State the road is just heating up with 3 ranked opponents upcoming – all on the road!
After invading Norman, Oklahoma in their upset over OU, KSU dealt Texas its first shutout loss since 2003, and embarrassed Oklahoma State 48-14. They are red hot and bring the momentum South. Coming into the season, most of the hype was centered around WR Tyler Lockett, but the rise of Curry Sexton has added a much needed 1-2 punch on the outside for QB Jake Waters. Much like his predecessor Collin Klein, Waters runs the infamous QB-delay-draw to perfection as he patiently waits for his blocks to develop. His efficient play is a major reason why the ‘Cats find themselves in serious playoff talks.
The Horned Frogs scored 82 points against Texas Tech (most ever in Big12 play) which is a feat that the school’s basketball team only achieved once last season. Trevone Boykin was thrown into the Heisman discussion, but was hit by a brick wall last Saturday in Morgantown. West Virginia shut down TCU for most of the game and forced FIVE turnovers. But thanks to super-conservative playcalling from WVU Coach Holgorsen, TCU’s late surge paid off as they are now still alive in the title race. It’s a shame that these two have to play so soon, as this would be a perfect de facto “Big 12 Title Game” had it come in December. Nonetheless, I have faith in Coach Bill Snyder, his surging offense and gritty defense to get the job done here despite the road atmosphere. Look for Kansas State to win a close, hard-fought battle that may ultimately decide the league title.
Kansas State 27 TCU 23
OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE
Will a 1-loss Big Ten Champion make the inaugural College Football Playoff? Do they deserve it? The speculation has been non-stop ever since Week 2 when the Big Ten had as bad a September day as possible. But here we are in early November, with 3 contenders in the Top 14. This one has everything on the line: an elimination game, a division title and trip to Indianapolis, a national stage to prove the league’s merit, and for the Buckeyes: revenge. The Spartans have been the thorn in Ohio State’s sides, crafting up unpredictable upsets that have derailed potential championship runs. 1974 and 1998 were both #1 Buckeye teams that were upset; but the one fresh on everyone’s minds came last December in the league title, as the gritty Spartan defense stifled Braxton Miller and his #2 squad.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is a perfectionist, and has surely had this rematch circled since the morning after last year’s defeat. After an early loss to Virginia Tech, Meyer has done an excellent job getting his freshman quarterback up to speed. But after the physical double-overtime thriller in Happy Valley, JT Barrett is a bit banged up (MCL sprain). In a crazy night atmosphere, they struggled putting away lowly Penn State. The stakes are much higher here.
Michigan State has been known for its never-give-an-inch front seven and “no fly zone” secondary. But the offense has been overlooked for the most part; this is a dynamic unit that is actually 4th nationally in scoring. The Connor Cook (QB), Jeremy Langford (RB), and Tony Lippett (WR) trio has been unstoppable this season. They face a stout Buckeye defense, but I expect the Spartan offense to be able to break through more than the OSU offense. I have more faith in Connor Cook than his opponent, a banged-up freshman QB in a road night game.
Michigan State 27 Ohio State 17
NOTRE DAME AT ARIZONA STATE
Arizona State survived an overtime thriller with fellow 1-loss Utah, and in the process earned a boost in the committee’s Playoff Poll from 14th to 9th. Sitting at 7-1 in the talented Pac-12 is certainly reason enough to rank the Sun Devils in the Top 10, and their remaining marquee games add to their high potential as a sleeper to make the Playoff. Fresh off an elimination game last Saturday, ASU is given another similar type of game, a rare November non-conference matchup with #10 Notre Dame. This Irish squad is waking up the echoes of its 2012 edition, finding new ways to escape near-defeat each week. Why are the Irish ranked so low by the committee relative to their #6 AP rank? None of their 7 wins are against ranked opponents, the strength of schedule looks worse each week, and they are barely surviving. In fact, their most impressive performance was actually in their loss to Florida State, a game where the hometown ‘Noles gave them a dose of their own medicine with their late-game heroics.
Simply put, both teams NEED this game to stay alive in the Playoff hunt, as a 2nd loss is crippling. The tents have been set up in Tempe since Monday, a strong homefield advantage that is often overlooked nationally. I expected Taylor Kelly to bounce back last week and knock off the injury rust, but he was met by the gritty Utah defense who slowed his high-octane attack. Now finally, I expect ASU to get back to its familiar self as an offensive juggernaut. Look for the old Taylor Kelly to Jaelen Strong connection to return; Strong is a physical receiver, one that Kelly especially loves finding on jump balls and stop routes near the sideline. The storyline for ASU has been the development of the young defense that started the year with 9 new faces. They are met with a tough task, as Notre Dame QB Everett Golson is playing great ball this season – good enough to enter some Heisman discussions. Notre Dame just went through a physical grind against triple-option Navy, and I expect Kelly to return to his elite status pre-injury. Arizona State will climb up the rankings ladder again this week.
Arizona State 45 Notre Dame 41
OREGON AT UTAH
A week ago I mentioned that Utah was walking the tightrope and couldn’t keep surviving these close dogfights. It all caught up to the Utes last week against Arizona State in a matchup of 1-loss Pac-12 South contenders. The gritty defense came to play again, and gave them a fighting chance late in the game, but two missed field goals in overtime spelled disaster and the eliminating 2nd loss. The road doesn’t get any easier for Kyle Whittingham’s squad as the #4 Oregon Ducks come to town. That #4 ranking holds extra importance this year with the implementation of the 4-team playoff, and the committee made it apparent that Oregon controls its own destiny to earn a bid. After finally knocking Stanford, Oregon may finally be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Utah is their final ranked opponent in the regular season, but the Pac-12 Championship against (most likely) Arizona State looms.
Marcus Mariota regained the top spot of our staff’s Heisman poll, and for good reason. His unreal 26-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 187.5 QB rating are by far the nation’s best. It will be strength on strength when Oregon has the ball, featuring the nation’s 6th highest scoring offense against a top 25 defense. But on the other side of the ball, Utah has been too one-dimensional, leaning too heavily on RB Devontae Booker who carried the ball 37 times Saturday! Oregon’s defense will slow the ground attack and force Travis Wilson to make plays with his arm, a feat I do not see coming. I expect the collective team mindsets and emotion to factor in more than usual here. At one extreme is Oregon, a team that finally got past their Achilles heel (Stanford) and has earned a coveted Top 4 rank. Meanwhile the Utes have to be feeling a bit deflated after their mini-Cinderella run finally caught up to them Saturday. The Ducks will defend their Playoff spot.
Oregon 34 Utah 20
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