Today: Illi­nois (plus 18) at No. 22 South Florida

Dayton Daily News - - SPORTS - COL­LEGE FOOT­BALL

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 picks:

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.

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