And down the stretch they come!
The shift to November means every college football team is heading into the final portion of the season, with the results this month going a long way toward setting up the College Football Playoff as well as the entire bowl picture. Tuesday’s initial playoff rankings only added to the stakes, since the contenders now know where they stand.
Where they end up a month from now depends on how they handle what lies ahead, beginning with Week 10’s slate.
Two games on tap pit ranked teams against each other. No. 1 Alabama heads to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face a rising LSU squad, while another Top 10 battle goes down in the Big Ten between No. 6 Ohio State and No. 10 Nebraska. Four other Top 10 teams are on the road this weekend, including unbeaten Washington and highly ranked one-loss Louisville and Texas A&M.
We’ve made predictions for every matchup on the schedule, and as results go final, we’ll update the capsules so you can see how we did. Give us your picks in the comments section and get the conversation going about this latest slate.
Last week: 36-21 (.632)
Season: 423-148 (.741)
Note: All team rankings are from College Football Playoff standings.
Joe Mixon is averaging 194.8 all-purpose yards per game, third-most in FBS.
Buffalo (2-6, 1-3 MAC) at Ohio (6-3, 4-1), 6 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Buffalo beat Ohio 41-17 last October.
In a pair of upsets, Buffalo blew out Akron at home, and Ohio won at Toledo last week, which gave the Bobcats sole possession of the East Division. The Bulls have managed 24 total points in three road games this season.
Prediction: Ohio 34, Buffalo 21
No. 14 Oklahoma (6-2, 5-0 Big 12) at Iowa State (1-7, 0-5), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Oklahoma beat Iowa State 52-16 last November.
Oklahoma has won 17 straight against Iowa State and hasn’t lost in Ames since 1960, avoiding the craziness that sometimes consumes other Big 12 visitors. The Sooners have won 12 consecutive league games and will try to get this one over quickly and focus on the stretch run of Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
Prediction: Oklahoma 40, Iowa State 24
Arkansas State (3-4, 3-0 Sun Belt) at Georgia State (2-6, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Arkansas State beat Georgia State 48-34 in October 2015.
We’re seeing the real Arkansas State after it got stomped in nonleague play, as it has won 12 straight Sun Belt games. The Red Wolves haven’t been on the road since mid-September, but Georgia State (which averages 13,545 fans at in the Georgia Dome) doesn’t exactly have a home-field advantage.
Prediction: Arkansas State 27, Georgia State 17
UCLA (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) at No. 15 Colorado (6-2, 4-1), 9 p.m. ET
Last meeting: UCLA beat Colorado 35-31 in October 2015.
A nerve issue has held UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen out of the last two games and could keep him out the rest of the season, per Scout.com’s Tracy Pierson. Backup Mike Fafaul has been picked off eight times in Rosen’s absence, and he’s not getting help from the nation’s worst run offense. South Division Colorado has intercepted eight passes in Pac-12 play against six touchdowns allowed.
Prediction: Colorado 38, UCLA 17
Miami (Ohio) is on its first three-game win streak since 2010.
Central Michigan (5-4, 2-3 MAC) at Miami, Ohio (3-6, 3-2), 6 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Central Michigan beat Miami 34-27 in November 2014.
Miami has won three straight since turning to sophomore QB Gus Ragland, and 200-plus rushing yards the last two games has also helped the RedHawks. Central Michigan blew a 14-point third-quarter lead at home to Kent State and has nine turnovers in its last three games.
Prediction: Miami 27, Central Michigan 23
Temple (6-3, 4-1 AAC) at Connecticut (3-6, 1-5), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Temple beat Connecticut 27-3 last November.
Temple’s success lies in its run game, which is averaging 237 rushing yards in its victories and 69 yards in its losses. Connecticut needs to keep the score low to win, as it hasn’t taken a game this season when opponents get 24 or more points. Bad performances against strong run teams such as Navy and South Florida make it unlikely the Huskies can pull the upset.
Prediction: Temple 28, Connecticut 16
San Jose State (3-6, 2-3 MWC) at No. 24 Boise State (7-1, 3-1), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Boise State won 40-23 at San Jose State last November.
Boise State’s shot at getting to a New Year’s Six bowl game is in major peril after it lost by a safety at Wyoming, as it now needs help just to win the Mountain Division. San Jose gets to play unwitting victim to the Broncos’ frustrations, and allowing 5.52 yards per rush won’t help prevent a blowout.
Prediction: Boise State 45, San Jose State 17
Notre Dame has won 10 consecutive regular-season neutral-site games.
Navy (5-2) vs. Notre Dame (3-5) in Jacksonville, Florida, 11:30 a.m. ET
Last meeting: Notre Dame beat Navy 41-24 in October 2015.
Holding Miami (Florida) to 18 rushing yards bodes well for Notre Dame’s chance to slow down Navy’s fifth-ranked run game, but so does taking care of the ball. The Fighting Irish average 6.55 yards per play when not surrounded by a hurricane but have 14 turnovers in their last six games. However, Navy isn’t good at forcing takeaways or preventing big plays.
Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Navy 26
No. 4 Texas A&M (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (3-5, 1-3), noon ET
Last meeting: Texas A&M beat Mississippi State 30-17 in October 2015.
The top-ranked one-loss team is getting rewarded for beating Auburn before it got things sorted out and for sending Tennessee into a tailspin. Oh, and for leading briefly in the second half at Alabama. Whatever the reason, the Aggies can ill afford to struggle with an MSU team that allowed 41 points to Samford.
Prediction: Texas A&M 39, Mississippi State 23
No. 7 Louisville (7-1, 5-1 ACC) at Boston College (4-4, 1-4), noon ET
Last meeting: Louisville beat Boston College 17-14 in October 2015.
BC head coach Steve Addazio’s dudes got their first ACC win since November 2014 last week, something they can reminisce about in between chasing Lamar Jackson down the field. The Eagles have had no answer for dual-threat QBs, and Jackson’s 38 total touchdowns are more than 101 FBS teams have managed.
Prediction: Louisville 40, Boston College 13
No. 8 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) at Northwestern (4-4, 3-2), noon ET
Last meeting: Northwestern won 13-7 at Wisconsin last November.
Northwestern has been a thorn in Wisconsin’s side the last two years, and losing to the Wildcats again would eliminate any chance the Badgers have of sneaking into the playoffs. They’ve been put through the wringer so far in league play and can’t get the passing game going. But for this week, all they need to do is stay on the ground, where Northwestern is vulnerable.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 20
Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-3 SEC) at No. 9 Auburn (6-2, 4-1), noon ET
Last meeting: Vanderbilt beat Auburn 17-13 in October 2012.
Auburn has climbed to third in the FBS in rushing and has run in 18 touchdowns the past four games. Vanderbilt has allowed only one rush of 30 or more yards this season. However, quarterbacks have picked on it, so this could be an opportunity for the Tigers’ Sean White to use that 9.2 yards per pass attempt and have a big game.
Prediction: Auburn 31, Vanderbilt 16
Texas (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) at Texas Tech (4-4, 2-3), noon ET
Last meeting: Texas Tech won 48-45 at Texas last November.
The Charlie Strong love/hate-meter needle is pointing in his favor after the Longhorns knocked off Baylor, but Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes is capable of single-handedly swinging it in the other direction. He’s coming off a season-low 206 passing yards in a win at TCU, but he threw for 734 yards the week before against Oklahoma.
Prediction: Texas Tech 47, Texas 43
Georgia Tech (5-3, 2-3 ACC) at No. 21 North Carolina (6-2, 4-1), 12:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: North Carolina won 38-31 at Georgia Tech in October 2015.
If you throw out the numbers from its rain-soaked loss to Virginia Tech, UNC is converting 52.7 percent on third down. Georgia Tech is last nationally in third-down defense. Need we say more?
Prediction: North Carolina 41, Georgia Tech 23
Pittsburgh (5-3, 2-2 ACC) at Miami, Florida (4-4, 1-3), 12:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Miami won 29-24 at Pittsburgh last November.
Remember when Miami was 4-0 and a Top 10 team? That was only a month ago, when the Hurricanes could run the ball and QB Brad Kaaya wasn’t forcing the issue. Pittsburgh has allowed 30-plus points six times and made nearly every opposing passer look like an All-American.
Prediction: Miami 34, Pittsburgh 27
Michigan State has lost six in a row for the first time since 1982.
Indiana (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) at Rutgers (2-6, 0-5), noon ET
Last meeting: Rutgers won 55-52 at Indiana in October 2015.
Indiana’s win over Maryland last week means a second consecutive bowl bid can happen, as long as it beats the bad teams left on the schedule. That starts with Rutgers, which has been outscored 208-46 in Big Ten play.
Prediction: Indiana 33, Rutgers 21
Michigan State (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) at Illinois (2-6, 1-4), noon ET
Last meeting: Michigan State won 42-3 at Illinois in October 2013.
It’s a lost season for Michigan State, and things just keep getting worse with word that freshman QB Brian Lewerke is done for the year with a broken leg. That the Spartans are giving up 5.96 yards per play against league opponents is the more immediate issue, though Illinois’ listless offense has managed only 417 yards in its last two games.
Prediction: Michigan State 24, Illinois 17
Air Force (5-3) at Army (5-3), noon ET
Last meeting: Air Force beat Army 20-3 last November.
Air Force can claim another Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy by continuing its recent dominance of Army, having won three straight and nine of 10 in the series. Army is a victory shy of being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. Both run the option and do it well, but Air Force showed in a win over Navy it can stop that system.
Prediction: Air Force 24, Army 20
Georgia Southern (4-4) at Ole Miss (3-5), noon ET
Last meeting: None
Ole Miss’ Landshark defense can’t stop anyone on the ground, as it’s in the bottom half of the SEC against the run. That might mean the Rebels are at risk of an embarrassing home loss to a Sun Belt school, except that Georgia Southern’s option run game is producing 2.04 fewer yards per carry than a year ago.
Prediction: Ole Miss 40, Georgia Southern 23
UTSA (4-4, 3-2 C-USA) at Middle Tennessee (6-2, 3-1), 2:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Middle Tennessee won 42-7 at UTSA last November.
Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill is outpacing his tremendous freshman numbers from last season, with 26 touchdowns and 336.1 yards per game. UTSA, which has won once outside the state the past three seasons, has picked off only four passes in 261 attempts.
Prediction: Middle Tennessee 37, UTSA 17
Virginia (2-6, 1-3 ACC) at Wake Forest (5-3, 2-2), 3 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Wake Forest won 16-10 at Virginia in October 2012.
Has the prospect of becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011 caused Wake Forest to tighten up? The Demon Deacons have turned it over eight times the last three games after coughing up just four giveaways in their first five. But they’re getting a Virginia team that has lost three straight at home, including a demoralizing last-second setback to Louisville.
Prediction: Wake Forest 26, Virginia 19
Clemson’s 20-game home win streak is the longest active streak in FBS.
Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 ACC) at No. 2 Clemson (8-0, 5-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Clemson won 37-27 at Syracuse last November.
Syracuse won two straight before the bye, as Dino Babers’ uptempo attack is clicking behind QB Eric Dungey. But does that mean the Orange are capable of ending Clemson’s 20-game home win streak? As Babers said earlier this week, per Syracuse.com: “Don’t bet the house on it, brother.”
Prediction: Clemson 50, Syracuse 20
Maryland (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) at No. 3 Michigan (8-0, 5-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Michigan won 28-0 at Maryland in October 2015.
Michigan was fourth nationally in defense last year with D.J. Durkin calling the plays and first this year with Don Brown as defensive coordinator and Durkin coaching Maryland. Durkin knows the Wolverines’ defenders and their tendencies but doesn’t have a plan to beat them.
Prediction: Michigan 43, Maryland 14
No. 11 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) at Arkansas (5-3, 1-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Florida beat Arkansas 30-10 in October 2013.
Florida’s only trips outside the state—back-to-back games at Tennessee and Vanderbilt—were its worst performances of the season. This is the first of three road games in the next four weeks, all against winning teams, though Arkansas is still trying to shake off a 53-point loss at Auburn the last time out.
Prediction: Florida 27, Arkansas 20
TCU (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) at No. 17 Baylor (6-1, 3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: TCU beat Baylor 28-21 last November.
The Big 12’s best new rivalry lacks sizzle this time around. TCU and Baylor went a combined 3-4 in October, with those wins coming over Iowa State and Kansas. Baylor is still in the running for the league title and—if tremendous chaos ensues above it—the playoff race, so expect the Bears to bounce back in force after their loss to Texas, while the Horned Frogs defense continues its slide.
Prediction: Baylor 41, TCU 21
No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-2, 4-1) at Kansas State (5-3, 3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Oklahoma State beat Kansas State 36-34 in October 2015.
OK State’s four-game win streak has been almost entirely at home, with a brief interlude in Kansas. And QB Mason Rudolph has weathered 23 sacks and near-constant pressure to throw just two picks in 291 attempts, which may not hold up. K-State doesn’t defend the pass well but has won six straight at home.
Prediction: Kansas State 30, Oklahoma State 27
No. 19 Virginia Tech (6-2, 4-1 ACC) at Duke (3-5, 0-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Duke won 45-43 at Virginia Tech in October 2015.
Duke’s fate was sealed in the preseason when QB Thomas Sirk reinjured his Achilles tendon, taking away the Blue Devils’ best offensive weapon. Daniel Jones has done OK but lacks the mobility of Sirk or Virginia Tech’s Jerod Evans, who averages 308.4 yards of total offense per game with 24 total TDs.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Duke 17
Arizona (2-6, 0-5 Pac-12) at No. 25 Washington State (6-2, 5-0), 4 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Washington State won 45-42 at Arizona in October 2015.
Arizona won the South Division and played in the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago but has lost 14 of its last 23. Washington State went 3-9 in 2014 and has opened the past two years with home FCS losses but is off to its best Pac-12 start in 14 years. The Wildcats will clinch their first losing season since 2011.
Prediction: Washington State 37, Arizona 26
Minnesota sophomore Rodney Smith is tied for the Big Ten lead in rushing touchdowns with 10.
Purdue (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) at Minnesota (6-2, 3-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Minnesota won 41-13 at Purdue in October 2015.
Sophomore Rodney Smith has averaged 118.3 rushing yards with five touchdowns in Minnesota’s three-game win streak. Purdue is second-worst in the Big Ten against the run, allowing 250 yards per game.
Prediction: Minnesota 33, Purdue 19
Oregon State (2-6, 1-4 Pac-12) at Stanford (5-3, 3-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Stanford won 42-24 at Oregon State in September 2015.
Stanford’s offense is still struggling as a whole, but Christian McCaffrey came alive last week at Arizona with 225 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. Five of Oregon State’s eight opponents have averaged five-plus yards per carry, so expect McCaffrey to keep that going.
Prediction: Stanford 39, Oregon State 13
Florida Atlantic (1-7, 0-4 C-USA) at Rice (1-7, 0-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Rice won 27-26 at Florida Atlantic in October 2015.
Two of the seven FBS teams that have already secured losing records in 2016 make for a sad matchup, but it’s one that still has intrigue. Losing could be the death knell for either FAU coach Charlie Partridge or Rice’s David Bailiff, neither of whom has beat an FBS school this season, though Rice’s lone victory was just two weeks ago.
Prediction: Rice 34, Florida Atlantic 28
Charlotte (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) at Southern Mississippi (5-3, 3-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Southern Miss won 44-10 at Charlotte in October 2015.
Charlotte has won its last two road games but has been susceptible to the pass, ranking 120th nationally. Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens became his school’s career passing leader last week with his third 300-yard game in the past month.
Prediction: Southern Miss 41, Charlotte 14
Fresno State (1-8, 0-5 MWC) at Colorado State (4-4, 2-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Colorado State won 34-31 at Fresno State last November.
Firing Tim DeRuyter sparked Fresno to a 14-0 lead against Air Force, but the Bulldogs still lost by 10 for a seventh straight defeat. Colorado State is unbeaten when rushing for 200 or more yards, a trend that should continue against Fresno’s No. 126 run defense.
Prediction: Colorado State 40, Fresno State 20
Texas State (2-5, 0-3 Sun Belt) at Appalachian State (6-2, 4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Appalachian State beat Texas State 41-34 in October 2004.
Texas State’s motto under first-year coach Everett Withers is #PartyInTheEndZone, yet in three of its losses it has managed only field goals. Appalachian State’s defense has yielded 25 points in Sun Belt play, with only one offensive TD coming in that span.
Prediction: Appalachian State 37, Texas State 10
BYU (4-4) at Cincinnati (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: BYU beat Cincinnati 38-24 in October 2015.
Seven of BYU’s games have been decided by seven or fewer points, including one-point defeats at Boise State and Utah. Cincinnati’s last four games have been decided by double digits, with three of those being losses. The Cougars’ rigorous schedule and late-game experience will pay off.
Prediction: BYU 30, Cincinnati 24
Massachusetts (2-7) at Troy (6-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: None
UMass tight end Adam Breneman’s 52 receptions lead FBS at that position, as he’s the only bright spot for the Minutemen in their first year of independent play. Troy, on a five-game win streak and tied for first in the Sun Belt Conference, faces its league’s other two unbeaten teams (in league play) the next two weeks. It will use UMass as a practice dummy for its efficient, balanced offense.
Prediction: Troy 36, Massachusetts 21
Missouri (2-6, 0-4 SEC) at South Carolina (4-4, 2-4), 4 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Missouri beat South Carolina 24-10 in October 2015.
Missouri has lost 10 straight SEC games since beating the Gamecocks last year, and its previously trusty defensive line has become a sieve due to injuries and player dismissals. South Carolina is far from an offensive juggernaut, though the heady play of freshman QB Jake Bentley has resulted in its two best scoring performances of the season.
Prediction: South Carolina 29, Missouri 17
Memphis (5-3, 2-2 AAC) at SMU (4-4, 2-2), 4 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Memphis beat SMU 63-0 last November.
SMU has won two straight after starting 4-14 under coach Chad Morris, who is beginning to see his offense convert now that the Mustangs have cut down on turnovers. Four of Memphis’ last five foes have averaged better than six yards per play, and the Tigers have given up 35.5 points per game in league contests.
Prediction: SMU 34, Memphis 31
Tennessee Tech (3-5) at Tennessee (5-3), 4 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Tennessee beat Tennessee Tech 68-0 in October 1951.
The Tennessee roller coaster has gone off the rails after hanging on for dear life during its 5-0 start. Those SEC East title hopes are a distant memory, and player attrition—via mass injuries and running back Jalen Hurd’s sudden transfer—has turned the Volunteers into a shell of their season-opening selves. An FCS opponent is the perfect remedy for what ails them.
Prediction: Tennessee 51, Tennessee Tech 20
Penn State has won four consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since 2011.
Kansas (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) at No. 20 West Virginia (6-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: West Virginia won 49-0 at Kansas last November.
Kansas hasn’t come close to breaking its 39-game road skid this season, losing by 41.8 points per game outside Lawrence. West Virginia has some stress to burn off after seeing three turnovers get turned into 17 points in a 17-point loss at Oklahoma State.
Prediction: West Virginia 49, Kansas 14
No. 22 Florida State (5-3, 2-3 ACC) at North Carolina State (4-4, 1-3), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Florida State beat North Carolina State 34-17 last November.
Why is FSU in the playoff rankings with three losses? Because each defeat has been to a ranked team, and it lost the last two by a combined five points. NC State is 0-9 against ranked squads under head coach Dave Doeren and has fallen apart since kicker Kyle Bambard shanked that short field goal at the end of regulation at Clemson.
Prediction: Florida State 35, North Carolina State 20
Oregon (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) at USC (5-3, 4-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Oregon beat USC 48-28 last November.
Switching quarterbacks has sparked both teams after horrible starts, with Oregon fans probably wishing true freshman Justin Herbert had replaced Dakota Prukop earlier than three games ago. USC turned to redshirt freshman Sam Darnold after three contests, and he’s thrown 16 TD passes during a four-game win streak. Oregon’s defense remains a major problem, one Herbert isn’t able to help with.
Prediction: USC 45, Oregon 26
Iowa (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) at No. 12 Penn State (6-2, 4-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Penn State won 38-14 at Iowa in October 2012.
Outside of Texas A&M’s position ahead of Washington, Penn State’s location was probably the biggest shocker of the initial playoff rankings. The Nittany Lions’ four-game win streak, which includes a victory over Ohio State, impressed the committee. Iowa has played its best ball on the road but overall is struggling on offense.
Prediction: Penn State 32, Iowa 21
Georgia (4-4, 2-4 SEC) at Kentucky (5-3, 4-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Georgia beat Kentucky 27-3 last November.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is the Dusty Baker of bowl eligibility-clinching. This is the Wildcats’ eighth game the last three seasons where a win would lock up a postseason bid. They’ve lost the previous seven by an average of 21.2 points. FCS Austin Peay looms Nov. 19, so getting to six wins is looking good, but why not get it done against a Georgia squad that can’t figure out what to do on offense?
Prediction: Kentucky 23, Georgia 21
UCF is 3-2 on the road but hasn’t won at home since Sept. 3.
Tulane (3-5, 0-4 AAC) at UCF (4-4, 2-2), 5 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Tulane beat UCF 45-31 in October 2015.
UCF has to get back to the run game that averaged 232 yards with 15 touchdowns in its first five contests and paced a 21-3 lead at Houston last week, instead of the one that’s managed 2.11 yards per carry the previous three weeks. That last number included 40 yards in a second-half collapse against the Cougars. Tulane’s last road game saw it yield 330 rushing yards in a 23-point loss.
Prediction: UCF 36, Tulane 22
Idaho (4-4, 2-2 Sun Belt) at Louisiana-Lafayette (3-4, 2-2), 5 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Idaho beat Louisiana-Lafayette 38-25 in October 2004.
ULL is 11-2 when senior Elijah McGuire runs for 100 or more yards, including all three wins this season. Idaho, playing its sixth road game of 2016, gives up 213.6 rushing yards per game when playing outside the Kibbie Dome.
Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 27, Idaho 20
South Alabama (4-4, 1-4 Sun Belt) at Louisiana-Monroe (2-6, 1-3), 5 p.m. ET
Last meeting: South Alabama beat Louisiana-Monroe 36-14 in November 2013.
A team that won at Mississippi State and handed San Diego State its only loss has some sort of mental block against Sun Belt opponents. South Alabama needed 10 points in the final 6:11 against 2-6 Georgia State and now faces a Monroe team that has played well at home this season.
Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 21, South Alabama 17
Florida International (3-6, 3-2 C-USA) at Western Kentucky (6-3, 4-1), 5:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Western Kentucky won 63-7 at FIU last November.
The honeymoon is over for FIU interim head coach Ron Cooper, as he’s lost two straight at home after starting his tenure 3-0. Western Kentucky, averaging 51.4 points over its last five, is just starting to hit the easy part of a schedule that has included two SEC schools and its biggest Conference USA contenders.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 57, Florida International 20
Louisiana Tech (6-3, 4-1 C-USA) at North Texas (4-4, 2-2), 5:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Louisiana Tech beat North Texas 56-13 last November.
Louisiana Tech’s 8.75 yards per play during a 5-0 October was tops in the country, with QB Ryan Higgins having only one interception (against 22 TDs) in his last seven games. North Texas is improved under first-year coach Seth Littrell but lacks the defenders to slow down the Bulldogs.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 39, North Texas 20
Marshall (2-6, 1-3 C-USA) at Old Dominion (5-3, 3-1), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Marshall beat Old Dominion 27-7 in October 2015.
Marshall’s three consecutive bowl bids is the longest active streak in the league, but a fourth straight isn’t looking good. Old Dominion is on the cusp of its first bowl bid in program history, and clinching that moment at home should help with stadium-expansion fundraising efforts.
Prediction: Old Dominion 30, Marshall 23
Hawaii (4-5, 3-2 MWC) at San Diego State (7-1, 4-0), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: San Diego State won 28-14 at Hawaii in October 2015.
All that early travel seems to have messed with Hawaii’s body clocks. The Rainbow Warriors have won their last two road games but have fallen twice in a row at home. However, it won’t matter where they face SDSU, winners of nine straight at home and 14 in a row in Mountain West play.
Prediction: San Diego State 31, Hawaii 13
Alabama has won five straight against LSU.
No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) at No. 13 LSU (5-2, 3-1), 8 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Alabama beat LSU 30-16 last November.
LSU is nearly unbeatable in Tiger Stadium, particularly at night, but Alabama is the exception. The Crimson Tide last lost in Baton Rouge in 2010 and have taken five straight in the series. LSU looks so much better with interim coach Ed Orgeron running the show, which is why we’re expecting a close game instead of another Alabama romp like has been the case during much of its 20-game win streak.
Prediction: Alabama 26, LSU 20
No. 10 Nebraska (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) at No. 6 Ohio State (7-1, 4-1), 8 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Ohio State beat Nebraska 63-38 in October 2012.
Much like it is for Ohio State after it fell at Penn State, Nebraska’s overtime loss at Wisconsin doesn’t eliminate it from playoff contention. However, neither can afford another setback. The Cornhuskers’ 15 interceptions are tied for the FBS lead, but they can be run on, so look for the Buckeyes to stay on the ground as much as possible.
Prediction: Ohio State 28, Nebraska 17
East Carolina (3-5, 1-3 AAC) at Tulsa (6-2, 3-1), 8 p.m. ET
Last meeting: East Carolina beat Tulsa 30-17 in October.
Tulsa QB Dane Evans’ pursuit of the school passing mark—he’s 643 yards from eclipsing Paul Smith—has been slowed by the production of runners James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer, the only FBS teammates with 800-plus rushing yards apiece. East Carolina has already had one game this season where two players ran for 100 on its defense (South Florida); look for that to double.
Prediction: Tulsa 48, East Carolina 22
Houston Baptist (3-5) at UTEP (2-6), 8 p.m. ET
Last meeting: None
Houston Baptist started football in 2013 and has won a mere 10 games since then. A 50-3 loss at Western Kentucky last month was its first attempt to play an FBS school. UTEP, staring at a fifth bowl-less season in the last six years, would be wise to lean on running back Aaron Jones and get him the 296 yards he needs to become the school’s career rushing leader.
Prediction: UTEP 44, Houston Baptist 18
Nevada (3-5, 1-3 MWC) at New Mexico (5-3, 3-1), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Nevada beat New Mexico 35-17 in October 2015.
New Mexico’s FBS-leading rushing offense produces 357 yards per game and has scored 30 touchdowns. Nevada allows 268.3 yards per contest and 5.46 yards per carry and has the second-worst third-down defense in the country. That’s not the best combination for the Wolf Pack to top the Lobos on the road.
Prediction: New Mexico 38, Nevada 20
Utah State (3-5, 1-4 MWC) at Wyoming (6-2, 4-0), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Utah State beat Wyoming 58-27 in October 2015.
They’re still doing safety dances in Laramie after Wyoming knocked off unbeaten Boise State by two on Saturday, putting the Cowboys in control of the Mountain Division. Avoiding the letdown is key, and it helps that Utah State has dropped four of five overall and six straight on the road.
Prediction: Wyoming 34, Utah State 20
No. 5 Washington (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) at California (4-4, 2-3), 10:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: California won 30-24 at Washington in September 2015.
Washington is 10th nationally in pass defense and sacks per game but will have its hands full with Cal’s aerial assault. Golden Bears QB Davis Webb has racked up 2,914 yards and 29 touchdowns and throws almost 52 times per game, with 13 TDs and one pick in 136 throws at home.
A Pac-12 team in the playoff mix has lost on the road in November the last two years (Arizona State in 2014, Utah last season), but the Huskies can control the tempo by feasting on Cal’s last-place run defense.
Prediction: Washington 43, California 28
All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com, unless otherwise noted. All series history information courtesy of CFBDataWarehouse.com, unless otherwise noted. Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.