Every year, this week comes around: Just after we have fallen into a rhythm with college football, thinking (foolishly) that we have figured out the teams at the top, middle and bottom. Now, elite teams take on opponents just a bit too frisky, spreads just a bit too big and road trips just a tad too hostile. Welcome to trap week.
(21) Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders - Oklahoma State favored by 9.5
Points are fun. Scoring is wildly entertaining. Sure, the tooth breaking bouts of defense in conferences like the Big Ten or SEC can be gripping, but some times a good ole’ fashioned shootout is just thrilling. Both teams have barely any defense to speak of and gather yardage like kids collecting candy on Halloween.
The Cowboys have the more talented offensive roster, thanks to quarterback Spencer Sanders and nation-leading rusher Chuba Hubbard. Expect a late Red Raiders push to keep you on the edge of your seat, but not a game-winning effort.
Taking: Oklahoma State minus 9.5
California Golden Bears vs. (13) Oregon Ducks - Oregon favored by 17.5
The Golden Bears have done a great job of making games ugly affairs, allowing over 20 points to just one team (Arizona State). The defense has allowed only 18.6 points per game, thanks to an impressive secondary racking up 26 defended passes.
Now the tallest task is in front of them: Justin Herbert and an offense that averages 38.5 points per game (19th in the country).
The first half will be crucial for California in the battle to control the pace of the game. Unfortunately for Cal, Oregon has outscored opponents 56-6 in the first half of home games. The Ducks dash ahead in this one too.
Taking: Oregon minus 17.5
(14) Iowa Hawkeyes vs. (19) Michigan Wolverines - Michigan favored by five
Five points seem awfully generous for a much-maligned Michigan team coming off a scheduled win against Rutgers. A stat check reveals some very Wisconsin vibes for Iowa.
Iowa’s defense will be the best unit on the field, allowing just 8.5 points and 251 yards per game. On the flip side, quarterback Nate Stanley is in charge of a very balanced attack that is churning out 465 yards per outing, 217 of which come on the ground. Michigan allows, on average, nearly 300 yards of offense, and their undersized defensive line has already caused problems this season.
The Hawkeyes are a well-oiled machine, and not even home-field advantage can save Michigan.
Taking: Iowa plus five
(25) Michigan State Spartans vs. (4) Ohio State Buckeyes - Ohio State favored by 20.5
The Spartans feel like the perfect trap team to come through and provide the nail-biter of the day. Solid defense with a great backend, paired alongside an underrated offense.
But the Buckeyes are genuinely excellent at football.
Leading the Buckeyes’ defense is the best pass rusher in the country: Chase Young. He leads the nation in sacks (8), while also collecting 8.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.
Ohio State lets up just 8.6 points per game, allowing double digits only twice. The Buckeyes have the added benefit of playing three of their four ranked opponents at home.
Even worse for the Spartans: Their secondary was picked apart by Indiana’s quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the first good quarterback MSU has played. If that game is a prognostication, then Justin Fields will make light work of Michigan State.
Taking: Ohio State minus 20.5
(7) Auburn Tigers vs. (10) Florida Gators - Auburn favored by three
Auburn has been slapping opponents since the second half of the Oregon game, looking convincing behind an offense ranked 14th in the country in points per game. The Tigers by three seems like a steal, especially when looking at Florida’s schedule, which seemingly holds one quality win (against Kentucky).
To the Gators’ credit, they have taken care of business against bad opponents, outscoring the opposition 141-23 in their other four games.
This game feels about as trappy as they come for Auburn, and the key to the game will be on the defensive front.
The Tigers’ front seven will need to knock Florida quarterback Kyle Trask off his rhythm, an attainable goal for a uint with 34 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Taking: Auburn minus three