Michi­gan State, Auburn look to play spoiler this week­end

Spar­tans host No. 8 Ohio State while Tigers visit fifth-ranked Ge­or­gia

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY RALPH D. RUSSO

Spoiler sea­son is here in col­lege foot­ball, the time of year when be­ing a party pooper is a wor­thy and hon­or­able goal.

Af­ter most of last week’s mon­ster matchups turned out to be lop­sided af­fairs, the next cou­ple of weeks should be about set­ting up Ti­tanic clashes on Thanks­giv­ing week­end and cham­pi­onship Satur­day that will help set the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off on Dec. 2.

To get there from here, a few sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles need to be cleared.

No. 8 Ohio State goes to No. 24 Michi­gan State on Satur­day in need of two more vic­to­ries to keep pace with No. 4 Michi­gan in the Big Ten East. The Wolver­ines should coast into the Big Game on Nov. 24 un­de­feated in the con­fer­ence af­ter play­ing Rut­gers and In­di­ana. The Buck­eyes get Mary­land at home next week, so the only ma­jor ob­sta­cle in be­tween yet an­other high-stakes Michi­gan-Ohio State game is the pesky Spar­tans, who take great plea­sure in be­ing the dis­rup­tive third-wheel in the Big Ten’s most volatile re­la­tion­ship.

No. 6 Ok­la­homa vs. No. 7 West Vir­ginia is a Big 12 matchup so nice it might get played twice. The Soon­ers and Moun­taineers are tied for first atop the con­fer­ence, mov­ing to­ward a Nov. 23 show­down with play­off im­pli­ca­tions in Morgantown, West Vir­ginia. That could set up a re­match the next week in the Big 12 ti­tle game at Ar­ling­ton, Texas. As tempt­ing as it is to look ahead, the Soon­ers face Ok­la­homa State this week­end in the Bed­lam ri­valry, which Ok­la­homa usu­ally wins but in­fre­quently with ease. Ok­la­homa State then gets West Vir­ginia next week in Still­wa­ter.

In the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, a na­tional cham­pi­onship game re­match be­tween No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 Ge­or­gia al­ready is set for the league ti­tle game on Dec. 1. That could turn out to be a de facto CFP quar­ter­fi­nal. Auburn will have some­thing to say about that. The Tigers visit the Bulldogs this week and, of course, fin­ish with ‘Bama in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 24.

The picks:

To­day

Wake For­est (plus 17) at No. 22 North Carolina State: Wolf­pack QB Ryan Finley and his tal­ented re­ceivers should find Wake’s pass de­fense (20 TD passes al­lowed and only three in­ter­cep­tions) ac­com­mo­dat­ing … N.C. STATE 42-20.

Fri­day

Louisville (plus 21) at No. 13 Syra­cuse: Two sea­sons ago, Lamar Jack­son an­nounced him­self to the col­lege foot­ball world with a spec­tac­u­lar Fri­day night per­for­mance at Syra­cuse. Now Louisville is the worst team in the ACC … SYRA­CUSE 45-21.

No. 16 Fresno State (mi­nus 3) at Boise State: Bulldogs have never won on the Bron­cos’ blue turf, go­ing 0-9 … FRESNO STATE 24-17.

Satur­day

No. 18 Mis­sis­sippi State (plus 24½) at No. 1 Alabama: Crim­son Tide has won 10 straight meet­ings and only twice have the Bulldogs scored more than 10 points … ALABAMA 35-7.

No. 2 Clem­son (mi­nus 20) at No. 17 Bos­ton Col­lege: Ea­gles have a solid de­fense (25th na­tion­ally in yards per play at 4.83), led by DE Zach Allen, but the bet­ter of­fenses it has faced have had suc­cess … CLEM­SON 35-17.

Florida State (plus 17½) at No. 3 Notre Dame: It was 25 years ago when the sec­ond-ranked Fight­ing Ir­ish beat No. 1 FSU in the Game of the Cen­tury … NOTRE DAME 34-14.

No. 4 Michi­gan (mi­nus 39) at Rut­gers: Graphic con­tent: Viewer dis­cre­tion ad­vised … MICHI­GAN 56-7.

Auburn (plus 14) at No. 5 Ge­or­gia: Still search­ing for a pass rush, the Bulldogs rank last in the SEC with 14 sacks … GE­OR­GIA 27-14.

Ok­la­homa State (plus 18½) at No. 6 Ok­la­homa: Week to week the Cow­boys’ per­for­mance has been all over the place … OK­LA­HOMA 45-24.

TCU (plus 13) at No. 7 West Vir­ginia: Horned Frogs are a shell of the team that looked like a Big 12 con­tender ear­lier this sea­son … WEST VIR­GINIA 35-17.

No. 8 Ohio State (mi­nus 3½) at No. 24 Michi­gan State: Sure, the Buck­eyes’ de­fense has been a mess, but have you seen the Spar­tans’ dys­func­tional of­fense? … OHIO STATE 27-21.

No. 9 LSU (mi­nus 13½) at Ar­kan­sas: How do the Tigers bounce back from ’Bama? … LSU 31-16.

No. 10 Wash­ing­ton State (mi­nus 6½) at Colorado: Buf­faloes could fi­nally get star WR Laviska Shenault Jr. back this week — and boy could they use him to break a four-game los­ing streak … COLORADO 31-28.

Navy (plus 25½) at No. 11 UCF: Mid­ship­men are on the way to the pro­gram’s worst sea­son since go­ing 2-10 in 2002 … UCF 49-17.

No. 12 Ken­tucky (mi­nus 6) at Ten­nessee: SEC’s worst pass­ing of­fense (Ken­tucky) against its worst rush­ing of­fense (Ten­nessee) … TEN­NESSEE, 20-16, UP­SET SPE­CIAL.

San Jose State (plus 31) at No. 14 Utah State: Ag­gies have five games of at least 50 points, only Alabama has more (six) … UTAH STATE 52-17.

No. 15 Texas (mi­nus 1½) at Texas Tech: Longhorns look­ing at slid­ing from Big 12 con­tention to a 7-5 reg­u­lar sea­son in a big hurry … TEXAS 28-27.

South Carolina (plus 6½) at No. 19 Florida: Stop me if you’ve heard this one be­fore: The Ga­tors are search­ing for an­swers at quar­ter­back … FLORIDA 24-21.

Wis­con­sin (plus 8) at No. 21 Penn State: Badgers could be with­out QB Alex Horni­brook in a game be­tween teams try­ing to po­si­tion them­selves for warmweather bowls … PENN STATE 28-21.

Bay­lor (plus 14½) at No. 23 Iowa State: Cy­clones look­ing for their first five-game win­ning streak since 2002 … IOWA STATE 38-21.

South Florida (plus 12) at No. 25 Cincin­nati: Bearcats have put to­gether a feisty de­fense (fourth in the coun­try in yards per play at 4.28), led by DT Cortez Broughton and S James Wig­gins … CINCIN­NATI 24-17.

AP FILE

Ohio State head coach Ur­ban Meyer, left, and Michi­gan State boss Mark Dan­to­nio shake hands af­ter the Spar­tans beat the Buck­eyes in 2016. Satur­day, Michi­gan State will look for an up­set win over eighth-ranked Ohio State.

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