Today: Illinois (plus 18) at No. 22 South Florida
Time for the rest of the Big 12 to step up.
No. 2 Oklahoma gave the conference a signature vic- tory last week at Ohio State that should serve the Sooners well when the College Foot- ball Playoff selection starts sorting through contenders.
Two other ranked Big 12 teams hit the road this week- end for the worst kind of games: against nonconfer- ence opponents that are good enough to pull an upset but not good enough to be considered equals.
No. 9 Oklahoma State is at Pitt and No. 18 Kansas State visits Vanderbilt, giving the Cowboys, Wildcats and the Big 12 far more to lose than gain this weekend.
Too much energy is spent and too many words are spilled on the debate over which conference is best, but the only league to get left out of the playoff twice is in need of a narrative shift.
Baker Mayfield and company have done their part, but it would be nice for the Sooners to get some backup and provide the Big 12 multiple playoff-worthy looking teams heading into confer- ence play.
The Cowboys and Wildcats — along with No. 20 TCU — are probably the best bets to be formidable rivals that either help Oklahoma build a playoff case or beat Oklahoma and make one of their own.
The Bulls only played well in spurts during their first two games and then got an unexpected week off to deal with Hurricane Irma. It’s hard to guess what to expect out of them ... USF 28-14.
No. 3 Clemson (minus 3½) at No. 14 Louisville
The three meetings between the Tigers and Cardinals have been decided by a total of 15 points and all won by Clemson ... CLEMSON 31-24.
No. 23 Tennessee (plus 5) at No. 24 Florida
Now might be the time for the Gators to start running the option. The Vols couldn’t stop it against Georgia Tech and just about everything else the Gators have tried in recent years hasn’t worked ... TENNESSEE 24-20, UPSET SPECIAL.
Texas (plus 15) at No. 4 Southern California
If he wasn’t playing with Sam Darnold, Trojans RB Ronald Jones might be a Heisman contender ... USC 48-28.
SMU (plus 19½) at No. 20 TCU
Horned Frogs have won six straight and nine of 10 in the Battle for the Iron Skillet ... TCU 49-27.
Air Force (plus 24) at No. 7 Michigan
Playing service academies and their option offenses can be a real pain ... MICHIGAN 30-14.
Army (plus 30) at No. 8 Ohio State
No, really: Playing service academies and their options offenses can be a real pain ... OHIO STATE 38-13.
No. 12 LSU (plus 7) at Mississippi State
Bulldogs need to work on those old-school fumble drills ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 27-21.
Oregon State (plus 21) at No. 21 Washington State
Cougars QB Luke Falk will start after leaving last week’s game with an appar- ent injury ... WASHINGTON 45-17, BEST BET.
No. 9 Oklahoma State (minus 13½) at Pittsburgh
Cowboys needed overtime to beat the Panthers last season ... OKLAHOMA STATE 38-21.
No. 10 Wiscons in (minus 17) at BYU
What in the name of LaVell Edwards is going on with the Cougars offense? BYU averages just 4.26 yards per play ... WISCONSIN 28-13.
No. 18 Kansas State (plus 3½) at Vanderbilt
The Commodores are fourth in the nation in defense at 2.89 yards per play allowed ... VANDERBILT 23-17.
No. 19 Stanford (plus 9½) at San Diego State
Cardinal’s Bryce Love vs. Aztecs’ Rashaad Penny in a matchup of two of the best backs in the country who were backups most of last season ... STANFORD 35-24.
No. 25 UCLA (minus 3) at Memphis
Bruins get the dreaded body clock game, kicking off at 11 a.m. CT or 9 a.m. West Coast time. Oh, and the Tigers are good ... UCLA 38-28.
Jordan LAKE FOREST, ILL. — Spieth already has won 14 times around the world, which already places him in rare company. Over the past 75 years, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only other players to have at least 10 victories and three majors before turning 25.
That’s only part of the Spieth profile.
Nearly as impressive are the 15 times he has finished runner-up, which Spieth sees more as opportunity than any measure of failure.
“I know you’re indifferent when you’re asking the question, but I think of it positively,” he said Wednesday. “There’s been that many tournaments that I’ve been in the thick of things and truly had a chance to win.”
That includes the past two FedEx Cup playoff events.
Spieth lost in a playoff on Long Island when Dustin Johnson smashed a 343-yard drive and a hit a wedge to 4 feet for birdie. Then, he was tied for the lead at the TPC Boston with five holes to play until Spieth missed two greens with long irons and Justin Thomas didn’t miss hardly anything in a three-shot victory.
There are worse times of the year to settle for second.
Those consecutive runner-up finishes elevated Spieth to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup going into the BMW Championship, and that’s not a bad place to be. He is assured of being among the top five seeds who only have to win the Tour Championshipnext week to capture the $10 million bonus.
“If I finish runner-up this week, unless one of two other people win, I will have accomplished the goal of being No. 1 going into East Lake,” he said.
Johnson and Thomas are the players to whom he referred, and that’s only part of the battle at Conway Farms.
The primary goal of the 70-man field is to finish in the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship, where everyone has a mathematical shot at capturing the FedEx Cup and its lucrative prize. The top five seeds have the best odds, though Bill Haas at No. 25 won it in 2011.
Haas is on the bubble this year at No. 30, a few spots behind Jason Day, who said Wednesday he will use friends to caddie the rest of the year instead of Colin Swatton, his longtime coach and the only caddie he has ever had on tour.
Right behind Haas are a pair of rookies, Mackenzie Hughes and Xander Schauffele, both PGA Tour winners this year, both wanting a lot more.
Johnson is finally back to full health from his back injury on the eve of the Masters, having rallied to beat Spieth at The Northern Trust and starting the final round of the Dell Technologies Championship three shots behind until he never recovered from a slow start.
Thomas has won twice in his last three starts, the other at the PGA Championship for his first major. Thomas already has five victories this year and would be a shoo-in for PGA Tour player of the year provided Spieth doesn’t win the last two tournaments to claim the FedEx Cup.
“I want to win because I like to,” Thomas said.
Jordan Spieth is No. 1 on FedEx Cup list going into BMW.