A weekend of shaking and baking has the College Football Playoff looking as wide open as its ever been, with plenty of opportunity for even more flux in this weekend’s slate.
As teams shift in the standings, the biggest thing to watch is perfect teams outside the top five, and if they can keep climbing.
(19) Texas Longhorns vs. Iowa State Cyclones - Iowa State favored by seven
Iowa State is fresh off of back to back losses, the most recent by just one point to Oklahoma, while Texas has lost quite a bit of its preseason luster.
Both teams have been dreadful on defense and are wildly unbalanced. Texas has a slight advantage at quarterback in Sam Ehlinger, who has played up to the spotlight in such moments.
But the real reason to go Longhorns is simple: Texas needs this game far more. Texas entered the season behind a quarterback with Heisman hype, and a big bowl victory over an SEC team (also, people demand greatness out of Texas for some reason). Since a hot start and close game with LSU, the Longhorns have sizzled. Every game this season is to try and get back on track with some enormous preseason expectations.
Taking: Texas plus seven
(23) Navy Midshipmen vs. (16) Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Notre Dame favored by 7.5
BIG upset loss coming, for the Irish, up against a team averaging nearly 400 yards on the ground. Expect a performance much like that of the Michigan Wolverines, who ran for over 300 yards in a blowout victory.
Behind 1,000 yard back Malcolm Perry, the Midshipmen are going to abuse the Notre Dame front, which allows almost 200 yards per game.
Navy will control the line of scrimmage for 60 minutes.
Taking: Navy plus 7.5
(10) Oklahoma Sooners vs. (13) Baylor Bears - Oklahoma favored by 10
After dodging a debacle at TCU, the Bears’ perfect season is in peril, running up against Jalen Hurts and the Sooners.
A colossal edge for Oklahoma is at quarterback. Hurts has over 2,500 yards and 20 passing touchdowns, not great for a Baylor defense with a propensity to allow lots of passing yards.
The Oklahoma defense has more holes than a sieve, but in a shootout, Hurts and receiver Ceedee Lamb are going to find loads of points.
Taking: Oklahoma minus 10
(8) Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. (20) Iowa Hawkeyes - Iowa favored by three
Underrated yet again. I suppose it never occurred to people that Iowa is only averaging 24.1 points per game and a scant 18.8 points against Big Ten teams. Or that Minnesota is 13th in turnover differential and Iowa is 41st. Or that Minnesota is averaging almost 200 rushing yards per game and on the other side of the trenches has 21 sacks this season.
Or maybe we just go off of talent: If we draft players, at least six (Antoine Winfield Jr., Rashod Bateman, Carter Coughlin, Tyler Johnson, Rodney Smith, Tanner Morgan) of the first 10 picks are Gophers.
This team grabs yet another Big Ten trophy.
Taking: Minnesota plus three
(4) Georgia Bulldogs vs. (12) Auburn Tigers - Georgia favored by 2.5
The Bulldogs have had a strange season. Jake Fromm has gone long stretches without looking sharp, a young receiving corps has been underwhelming, and a weird loss threw everyone off the Georgia wagon.
But the team will draw attention this weekend.
The Georgia defense is allowing just 79 yards per game on the ground, which just so happens to be the lifeblood of the Tigers’ offense. Putting everything on the shoulders of young quarterback Bo Nix is precisely what the Bulldogs want and how Auburn loses this game.
Taking: Georgia minus 2.5