The NCAA Fooball season is reaching its critical point, where the pressure builds and schools jockey for bowl games and final season rankings, including an massive game between Notre Dame and USC. Get the cheat sheet on all of Saturday’s college football action.
Georgia Tech at (3) Georgia (-14, 64)
The Bulldogs prepared for Tech’s triple option with a 45-14 win last Saturday over Georgia Southern, which runs the exact same offense. And after a slow start, the Georgia defense has lived up to expectations, yielding just 33 points over its last four games. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings, with Tech’s lone victory coming in Athens in 2008. Georgia has played under the total in its last five games overall.
Connecticut at (20) Louisville (-10.5, 45.5)
The Cardinals lost both a game and leading rusher Senorise Perry to a season-ending knee injury at Syracuse on Nov. 10, but still control their own destiny to a BCS Bowl with two victories. Jeremy Wright will get some additional carries with Perry out and he has been no slouch. Wright has rushed for 680 yards and nine touchdowns, just slightly behind Perry in both categories. The Cardinals have allowed an average of 30.6 points over their last five games. But the Huskies’ offense has been dreadful over its past three road games, averaging just 6.3 points per contest. Connecticut is 0-3-1 ATS in its last four games away from home.
(19) Michigan at Ohio State (-4, 53.5)
The Buckeyes are one of two teams in the FBS entering the weekend undefeated (along with Notre Dame) and will challenge a stout Wolverines defense with Braxton Miller and the spread offense. Michigan has not faced a quarterback as dynamic as Miller, who has guided his team to the top scoring offense in the Big Ten at 38.2 points. Wolverines’ coach Brady Hoke has suggested that QB Denard Robinson (elbow) may be able to throw some passes this week, though Devin Gardner will likely start under center. Michigan is 0-5 ATS in the last five meetings.
(18) Rutgers at Pittsburgh (-1.5, 43.5)
There’s a lot at stake for this Big East conference clash. Rutgers can clinch at least a share of its first Big East title with a win at Pittsburgh on Saturday. And Pitt needs to beat Rutgers and win at South Florida next week to become bowl-eligible. Rutgers has been relying on its defense – ranked fourth in the country in points allowed – all season, and that was the case in last week’s 10-3 victory over Cincinnati. The Scarlet Knights, who allow 12.5 points per game, had a shutout going until the Bearcats kicked a field goal with 11 seconds remaining. Rutgers is 7-1 ATS in its last eight overall and a perfect 4-0 ATS in its last four road games.
(5) Oregon at (15) Oregon State (+9.5, 66)
Oregon’s perfect season was derailed in overtime by Stanford on Nov. 17 and now the Ducks have to beat Oregon State and have UCLA knock out Stanford to reach the conference championship game. The Ducks had scored 42 points or more in 13 straight games – an NCAA record – before tallying just 14 in the loss to Stanford. The Beavers have a stout defense that ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (18.6) and has intercepted 17 passes this season. The Ducks are 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games.
(21) Oklahoma State at (13) Oklahoma (-6.5, 72)
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will try to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive when they meet in the Bedlam game. The Sooners, who are coming off a 50-49 victory over West Virginia as Landry Jones threw for a school-record 554 yards and tied his own school record with six touchdown passes, will be hard-pressed to stop the Cowboys’ potent offense. Oklahoma State has put up 114 points over its last two games, both victories. But the Cowboys are 0-4 ATS in their last four road contests.
Auburn at (2) Alabama (-32.5, 47)
This is by far the largest spread in Iron Bowl history. The second-largest was last year, when Alabama covered as a 21-point favorite. Alabama needs to win Saturday to secure its spot in the SEC Championship Game versus Georgia. The Tide rank first nationally in points allowed (10.1) and boast a plus-12 turnover margin. Auburn is last in rush defense (191.3), which spells trouble against a potent Alabama rushing attack. The Tigers are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.
(4) Florida at (10) Florida State (-7, 43.5)
Florida has not looked very impressive over its last four games, starting with the loss to Georgia and continuing through fourth-quarter home wins over Missouri and Louisiana Lafayette. But things got a little easier in last week’s 23-0 triumph over Jacksonville State, and now the Gators get back starting QB Jeff Driskel from a sprained ankle. FSU QB E.J. Manuel will have to find throwing lanes against a Gators defense that has picked off 16 passes. The schools have played under the total in seven of their last eight meetings.
(8) Stanford at (17) UCLA (+2.5, 51.5)
UCLA will put its five-game winning streak on the line when it hosts Stanford on Saturday. The Cardinal, who knocked off Oregon last week, are trying to lock down the Pac-12 North Division and a rematch with the Bruins in six days. Stanford has the luxury of a stout defense, which ranks No. 2 in the country against the run. The unit will have to find a way to stop Bruins RB Johnathan Franklin, who has rushed for over 160 yards in three of the last four games. The under is 5-0 in Stanford’s last five road games.
Missouri at (9) Texas A&M (-22, 61)
Missouri junior QB James Franklin (1,562 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs) will be a game-time decision after sustaining a concussion during last week’s 31-27 home loss to Syracuse. Backup Corbin Berkstresser guided the Tigers to 10 fourth-quarter points in place of Franklin, and could be called upon to make his fourth start of the season. The Missouri defense will have to try and find a way to slow an Aggies attack led by Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel that leads the SEC in scoring, rushing and total offense. The Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Texas A&M.
(12) South Carolina at (11) Clemson (-3.5. 61.5)
South Carolina brings one of the top defenses in the nation to Clemson on Saturday night, hoping to slow down a Tigers’ offense that put up massive numbers last week. Quarterback Tajh Boyd passed for five touchdowns, rushed for three more and engineered an offense that amassed 754 yards and 62 points against North Carolina State. The Gamecocks allow just 17.5 points (13th nationally), but surrendered 35 to Tennessee two weeks ago and 20 against Arkansas before last week’s 24-7 sluggish victory over Wofford. The Tigers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall.
(1) Notre Dame at USC (+5, 45.5)
Things broke right for the Fighting Irish last weekend, when No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Kansas State both fell, allowing Notre Dame to slip right into the top spot in the BCS standings. The Irish have caught another break this week at USC, as redshirt freshman QB Max Wittek is taking the place of injured starter Matt Barkley (shoulder). Wittek will have to try and find a way to score on a Notre Dame stop unit that has only yielded eight touchdowns all season and allowed an FBS-low 10.1 points per game. The under is 4-1 in their last five meetings.