Unbeaten Washington, which moved up to fourth in the latest playoff rankings, hosts No. 20 USC on Saturday.
The College Football Playoff pairings will be announced after four more weeks of competition, including conference championship games in early December. A lot can happen between now and then, but don’t expect this weekend to shape the postseason picture much.
Yes, two games in Week 11 pit ranked teams, but three of those squads are ranked 20th or lower. And of the top dozen in the rankings, five will play on the road but won’t face an opponent whose record is better than 5-4.
But the overall slate still has its share of quality contests. Division titles could be determined in several conferences, mostly outside the power leagues, and close to 20 schools could secure bowl eligibility.
We’ve made predictions for every game, and as results go final, we’ll update the scores so you can see how we’re doing. Give us your picks in the comments section and keep the discussion going all weekend.
Last week: 47-15 (.758)
Season: 470-163 (.743)
NOTE: All team rankings are from College Football Playoff standings.
UNC QB Mitch Trubisky’s 70.3 percent completion rate ranks fourth in FBS.
No. 17 North Carolina (7-2, 5-1 ACC) at Duke (3-6, 0-5), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: North Carolina beat Duke 66-31 last November.
UNC has won its previous nine road games, and last time it played in Durham, it left with a win and a bill for vandalizing the visiting locker rooms. Duke has lost its last five home league contests and is staring at its first season without a bowl since 2011.
Prediction: North Carolina 34, Duke 24
Louisiana-Lafayette (3-5, 2-3 Sun Belt) at Georgia Southern (4-5, 3-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: None
Georgia Southern’s run game is producing 120.9 fewer yards than a year ago but still gets 242.11 per game, good for 18th in the FBS. ULL is good against the run, allowing 3.17 yards per carry, but struggles with the pass (No. 96 in the FBS). In other words, Eagles quarterback Kevin Ellison could be in for a prolific night.
Prediction: Georgia Southern 27, Louisiana-Lafayette 17
No. 15 Utah (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) at Arizona State (5-4, 2-4), 9:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Utah beat Arizona State 34-18 in October 2015.
A week off probably means Utah running back Joe Williams can carry 40 times if needed after he took 98 handoffs in three games since coming out of retirement. More likely, though, quarterback Troy Williams will take advantage of ASU’s last-place pass defense, which hasn’t picked off a pass in more than a month.
Prediction: Utah 37, Arizona State 24
FSU’s Dalvin Cook could become the school’s career rushing leader on Friday night.
Boston College (4-5, 1-5 ACC) at No. 18 Florida State (6-3, 3-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Florida State won 14-0 at Boston College in September 2015.
The ACC’s best have crushed Boston College, as the Eagles have lost to Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech by a combined score of 157-17. Florida State still considers itself part of the league’s upper tier but hasn’t shown it this season, getting outscored by 32 points in conference games due to its 63-20 loss at Louisville.
It may be hard for the Seminoles to get motivated for an otherwise meaningless game on a Friday night, but something worth getting excited about is Dalvin Cook’s likely surpassing of Warrick Dunn for the school career rushing mark. He needs 127 to get there, a number he’s reached four times this season.
Prediction: Florida State 40, Boston College 14
Alabama has won an FBS-best 21 consecutive games.
Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0), noon ET
Last meeting: Alabama beat Mississippi State 31-6 last November.
Mississippi State’s upset of Texas A&M creates a path to bowl eligibility, assuming it can win two of three against a group that includes Arkansas and depleted rival Ole Miss. Alabama will be the Bulldogs’ mulligan unless the Crimson Tide overlook them ahead of that Nov. 19 barnburner against Chattanooga.
Prediction: Alabama 44, Mississippi State 15
No. 10 Penn State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) at Indiana (5-4, 3-3), noon ET
Last meeting: Penn State beat Indiana 29-7 in October 2015.
Penn State replaces Nebraska as the fourth Big Ten team in the top tier of the playoff rankings, keeping alive the possibility of winning a three-way tie in the East. Indiana protects its home turf well with the league’s third-best offense, but the Hoosiers defense doesn’t have an answer for surging Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Indiana 30
Baylor (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) at No. 11 Oklahoma (7-2, 6-0), noon ET
Last meeting: Oklahoma won 44-34 at Baylor last November.
Oklahoma sits one spot higher than it did at this time a year ago, so don’t count the Sooners out of the playoff picture—as long as they keep scoring in bunches and winning. Baylor is on a downward spiral. The 40-point home loss to TCU is only part of the collapse, as its run defense has become nonexistent.
Prediction: Oklahoma 46, Baylor 23
No. 16 West Virginia (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) at Texas (5-4, 3-3), noon ET
Last meeting: West Virginia beat Texas 38-20 last November.
Texas’ resolve of late has turned its season around. It should secure a bowl bid in the next two weeks since the Longhorns face Kansas on Nov. 19. But getting there against West Virginia can happen since the Mountaineers defense has started to spring leaks after displaying early dominance. Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, with 591 yards and five touchdowns the last two games, could break the dam.
Prediction: Texas 32, West Virginia 27
South Carolina (5-4, 3-4 SEC) at Florida (6-2, 4-2), noon ET
Last meeting: Florida won 24-14 at South Carolina last November.
South Carolina’s three-game win streak means a bowl bid is just a win away in head coach Will Muschamp‘s first season. It would be sweet to clinch that against the team that fired him two years ago, but at some point QB Jake Bentley will throw a pick, and Florida’s second-ranked pass defense is a safe bet to make that happen.
Prediction: Florida 19, South Carolina 14
Kentucky (5-4, 4-3 SEC) at Tennessee (6-3, 2-3), noon ET
Last meeting: Tennessee won 52-21 at Kentucky in October 2015.
Kentucky’s ninth attempt at clinching a bowl bid under Mark Stoops looks like it will go the way of the previous eight, possibly like Saturday’s last-second home loss to Georgia. Tennessee has won 15 in a row at home against the Wildcats and will be anxious to end a three-game SEC slide to remain in contention for the East Division title.
Prediction: Tennessee 27, Kentucky 20
Tulsa (7-2, 4-1 AAC) at Navy (6-2, 4-1), noon ET
Last meeting: Navy won 44-21 at Tulsa last November.
The winner takes control of the West Division in this battle of potent run teams, both of which average more than 250 yards per game. Tulsa’s James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer are 12th and 18th in the FBS, respectively, in rushing yards, while QB Will Worth paces the Navy ground game at 99.1 yards per contest. The edge goes to Tulsa because its QB, Dane Evans, keeps things balanced with 18 touchdown passes to six for Worth.
Prediction: Tulsa 37, Navy 33
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio has already matched his worst loss total in the last decade.
Rutgers (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) at Michigan State (2-7, 0-6), noon ET
Last meeting: Michigan State won 31-24 at Rutgers in October 2015.
The right to not finish at the bottom of the East Division is at stake, which says a lot about how this season has gone for Michigan State. A year ago, the Spartans were on their way to the CFP but now are on their worst skid (seven games) in 35 years. Rutgers is just bad, though, and after coming close in its last two games, it doesn’t have anything left in the tank.
Prediction: Michigan State 30, Rutgers 20
Northwestern (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten) at Purdue (3-6, 1-5), noon ET
Last meeting: Northwestern beat Purdue 21-14 last November.
Purdue is 0-3 under interim head coach Gerad Parker, but there’s been more fight than when Darrell Hazell was still in charge. Northwestern’s brief offensive surge last month has disappeared, with only 51 points scored in its last three games. Purdue quarterback David Blough, with 13 touchdowns in the last four contests, will stay hot.
Prediction: Purdue 23, Northwestern 21
Iowa State (1-8, 0-6 Big 12) at Kansas (1-8, 0-6), noon ET
Last meeting: Iowa State beat Kansas 38-13 in October 2015.
It’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl for both Big 12 doormats, who since 2013 have three combined league wins against teams besides each other. Four of Iowa State’s last five games have been decided by 10 points or fewer, while outside of a one-point loss to TCU, the Jayhawks have been outscored by 182 points in conference play.
Prediction: Iowa State 31, Kansas 27
Cincinnati (4-5, 1-4 AAC) at UCF (5-4, 3-2), noon ET
Last meeting: Cincinnati beat UCF 52-7 in October 2015.
Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville’s days were numbered even before he lashed out at a fan after Saturday’s home loss to BYU, the Bearcats’ third game in the last four of scoring 13 or fewer points. UCF has beaten up on the bad teams; it’s defeated squads with a combined record of 15-31 while losing to those that are 28-5. Another like the former gets the Knights bowl-eligible after going winless in 2015.
Prediction: UCF 28, Cincinnati 17
SMU (4-5, 2-3 AAC) at East Carolina (3-6, 1-4), noon ET
Last meeting: East Carolina won 49-23 at SMU in October 2015.
SMU’s last two home games show its progress under head coach Chad Morris and how far it still has to go. The Mustangs upset Houston in mid-October and then lost by 44 to Memphis on Saturday. East Carolina has been competitive only at home, where it has played once since early October, and SMU’s defense is the optimal unit for Pirates QB Gardner Minshew to shine against.
Prediction: East Carolina 38, SMU 34
North Carolina State (4-5, 1-4 ACC) at Syracuse (4-5, 2-3), 12:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: North Carolina State beat Syracuse 42-29 last November.
NC State’s season went awry along with Kyle Bambard’s shanked field goal at the end of regulation at Clemson on Oct. 15. That started a four-game skid in which nine of the Wolfpack’s 14 turnovers have occurred. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers told reporters QB Eric Dungey’s status is uncertain, but the pass game is what the Orange do best. They’ll throw no matter who plays the position since NC State is vulnerable through the air.
Prediction: Syracuse 33, North Carolina State 28
Miami, Ohio (4-6, 4-2 MAC) at Buffalo (2-7, 1-4), 1 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Buffalo won 29-24 at Miami in October 2015.
From 0-6 to a bowl game? It’s possible for Miami based on its remaining schedule and the way it’s played since quarterback Gus Ragland (10 TDs, zero interceptions in four starts) took over. Buffalo’s best weapon, running back Jordan Johnson, had 282 yards rushing against Akron and 388 in the Bulls’ other seven games against FBS teams. Miami has allowed 140 rushing yards in the last three games.
Prediction: Miami 29, Buffalo 22
Miami, Florida (5-4, 2-3 ACC) at Virginia (2-7, 1-4), 2 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Miami beat Virginia 27-21 last November.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya threw for 356 yards and four touchdown passes last week, with four completions going for at least 20 yards. Virginia has allowed 40 pass plays of 20-plus, tied for 119th in FBS.
Prediction: Miami 30, Virginia 24
Rice (1-8, 0-6 C-USA) at Charlotte (4-5, 3-2), 2 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Rice beat Charlotte 27-7 last November.
There’s been a changing of the guard in terms of Conference USA’s whipping boy. Rice has been outscored by 118 points in league games this year, while Charlotte has won three of four after dropping its first nine C-USA contests since moving from FCS. The Owls’ 7.86 yards allowed per play is more than a yard worse than anyone else in the country.
Prediction: Charlotte 31, Rice 21
Louisiana-Monroe (3-6, 2-3 Sun Belt) at Georgia State (2-7, 1-4), 2 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Louisiana-Monroe beat Georgia State 38-10 in October 2013.
Monroe’s 14-game road losing streak is made of equal parts power-conference opponents and the Sun Belt’s better teams, neither of which describes Georgia State. The Panthers are second-to-last in total offense and fifth-worst in scoring, averaging 17.9 against FBS teams. A higher-scoring game will favor the visiting team.
Prediction: Louisiana-Monroe 28, Georgia State 24
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and fellow junior offensive stars Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott and Mike Williams will be playing their final home games after the quartet declared their intention to enter the NFL draft after this season.
Pittsburgh (5-4, 2-3 ACC) at No. 2 Clemson (9-0, 6-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Pittsburgh beat Clemson 34-3 in the 1977 Gator Bowl.
It’s Senior Day in Death Valley, and to erase any hope that Deshaun Watson and other star juniors might return to Clemson next season, they’re part of the group getting honored. With that in mind, don’t rule out Watson’s challenging his career-best 435 passing yards against Pitt’s third-worst pass defense.
Prediction: Clemson 49, Pittsburgh 21
No. 5 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) at Maryland (5-4, 2-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Ohio State beat Maryland 49-28 in October 2015.
Ohio State’s 59-point beatdown of Nebraska last week was just the start of its late surge to ensure the playoff selection committee knows not to count out the Buckeyes. Maryland has dropped four of five, with three of those losses coming by 21-plus points. The early strides made under first-year head coach D.J. Durkin hasn’t led to strong results against winning teams.
Prediction: Ohio State 43, Maryland 18
Illinois (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten) at No. 7 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Wisconsin won 24-13 at Illinois in October 2015.
Wisconsin seems resigned to winning low-scoring games with its defense leading the charge, but at some point the Badgers will erupt against an inferior opponent. Enter Illinois, which has been outgained in its last four games, including both its league victories.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 13
No. 9 Auburn (7-2, 5-1 SEC) at Georgia (5-4, 3-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Georgia won 20-13 at Auburn last November.
Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is relevant for the first time since 2013, no thanks to Georgia. Auburn’s running game has powered its six-game win streak, but last week showed that Sean White is just as important, as the injured quarterback came off the bench to throw a much-needed touchdown.
The Bulldogs’ comeback win at Kentucky was nice, but they still need to decide on the proper offensive strategy.
Prediction: Auburn 28, Georgia 24
Texas Tech (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) at No. 13 Oklahoma State (7-2, 5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Oklahoma State won 70-53 at Texas Tech in October 2015.
Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes is the one with the ridiculous numbers, leading FBS in total offense at 460.7 yards per game, but it’s Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph who might be the hottest QB in the country. Even with two picks at Kansas State last week, his interception rate is a minuscule 1.21 percent. There will be plenty of points and not much defense, but the Cowboys will make fewer critical mistakes.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 47, Texas Tech 40
Georgia Tech (5-4, 2-4 ACC) at No. 14 Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Virginia Tech won 23-21 at Georgia Tech last November.
Virginia Tech controls the Coastal Division and will earn the title if it wins out in league play. The Hokies have been dominant at home, winning by 32.5 points per game with quarterback Jerod Evans averaging 8.99 yards per play (compared to 7.46 overall). Georgia Tech last won a true road game in 2014.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 45, Georgia Tech 20
Appalachian State (7-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) at Troy (7-1, 4-0), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Appalachian State beat Troy 44-41 in October 2015.
There’s no conference championship game in the #FunBelt, but this is as close as you’ll get along with next week’s Arkansas State-Troy contest. Appalachian has allowed 42 points in league play, but Troy is the top-scoring team in the conference. Bruising Troy running back Jordan Chunn is better than anyone the Mountaineers have seen since the Miami Hurricanes’ Mark Walton tore them up in September with 130 yards.
Prediction: Troy 26, Appalachian State 20
Notre Dame (3-6) vs. Army (5-4) at San Antonio, 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Notre Dame beat Army 27-3 in November 2010.
Notre Dame’s disappointing season began with the Fighting Irish giving up 50 points at Texas, and the final nail could be driven home with a return to the Lone Star State. Army’s triple-option averages 21.1 more rushing yards per game than the Navy version, which held the Irish to a mere six possessions. A second crack at this system in as many weeks will lead to a better result for Notre Dame.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Army 24
Wyoming is off to its best start since 1998.
Wyoming (7-2, 5-0 MWC) at UNLV (3-6, 2-3), 3 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Wyoming beat UNLV 35-28 last November.
Wyoming is among the biggest surprises in the country, as it’s winners of five straight and leading the Mountain Division. Quarterback Josh Allen has 14 touchdowns and only three picks in 159 attempts since a five-interception game at Nebraska. UNLV has gotten its hands on one opposing pass this year.
Prediction: Wyoming 34, UNLV 21
New Mexico State (2-6, 1-3 Sun Belt) at Arkansas State (4-4, 4-0), 3 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Arkansas State won 52-28 at New Mexico State last November.
Arkansas State’s 13-game Sun Belt win streak began with a December 2014 blowout of NMSU, a team that’s allowed 259 points in five road games this season. The Red Wolves’ next three after this are on the road, including next Thursday at Troy, so expect a quick start and then plenty of clock eating.
Prediction: Arkansas State 41, New Mexico State 16
Southern Utah (5-4) at BYU (5-4), 3 p.m. ET
Last meeting: None
The FCS warm-up opponent is supposed to come before the tough teams, not after playing six power-conference squads and three notable “Group of Five” foes. BYU has drubbed its last three FCS opponents by 174 points. It’ll lock up bowl eligibility against this one.
Prediction: BYU 58, Southern Utah 13
Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at Missouri (2-7, 0-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Vanderbilt beat Missouri 10-3 in October 2015.
Mizzou’s 199 points allowed during a five-game skid are 17 more than Vandy has scored all season. The Tigers’ shoddy D makes even the worst offenses look good, which bodes well for the Commodores and their 12.4 points per game against SEC competition.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 26, Missouri 21
Tulane (3-6, 0-5 AAC) at Houston (7-2, 4-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Houston won 42-7 at Tulane in October 2015.
Houston’s playoff and major bowl dreams have been dashed, but there’s still another chance to make an impression on a national scale. That’s next Thursday against Louisville, not this weekend, which makes Tulane and its run game dangerous if overlooked. Thankfully, the Cougars had a bye to adequately prepare.
Prediction: Houston 40, Tulane 20
UTSA (5-4, 4-2 C-USA) at Louisiana Tech (7-3, 5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Louisiana Tech won 34-31 at UTSA in October 2015.
UTSA’s only loss since late September came in five overtimes, handily beating Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee in that stretch. Louisiana Tech is a notch above anyone the Roadrunners have played, though, its six straight wins by an average of 23 points. Bulldogs QB Ryan Higgins has 30 TDs and four interceptions and averages 340.8 yards per game.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 37, UTSA 21
North Texas (4-5, 2-3 C-USA) at Western Kentucky (7-3, 5-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Western Kentucky won 55-28 at North Texas in October 2015.
Western Kentucky has scored 44 or more in six straight, pushing it to fifth in FBS in yards per play at 7.53. North Texas, for all its improvement in coach Seth Littrell’s first season, last exceeded 42 points in September 2014 and has been held under 20 points three times this year.
Prediction: Western Kentucky 51, North Texas 23
Southern Mississippi (5-4, 3-2 C-USA) at Old Dominion (6-3, 4-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Southern Miss beat Old Dominion 56-31 last November.
Southern Miss may have peaked when it scored 34 unanswered points to win at Kentucky in the season opener, one of five games in 2016 the Golden Eagles have committed three turnovers. Old Dominion, bowl-eligible for the first time, is tied for sixth nationally with a plus-10 turnover margin and its six giveaways a tied for second fewest in the country.
Prediction: Old Dominion 27, Southern Mississippi 24
Stanford (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12) at Oregon (3-6, 1-5), 4 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Oregon beat Stanford 38-36 last November.
Every Pac-12 title game has been won by either Stanford or Oregon, making their annual meeting among the top matchups on the regular-season schedule. This year it pits Stanford’s struggling offense against Oregon’s listless defense, with Cardinals RB Christian McCaffrey’s recent resurgence (466 all-purpose yards, four TDs in the last two games) likely to continue.
Prediction: Stanford 35, Oregon 30
Idaho (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) at Texas State (2-6, 0-4), 4 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Idaho beat Texas State 38-31 last November.
Idaho is completing its second three-game road trip of the season and travel fatigue could set in going from southern Louisiana to southwest Texas with only a brief pit stop in Moscow. Texas State can use any help it can get with only six point scored at home against FBS schools.
Prediction: Texas State 23, Idaho 20
Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has accounted for 45 touchdowns, more than 109 other FBS schools have scored.
UTEP (3-6, 1-4 C-USA) at Florida Atlantic (2-7, 1-4), 6 p.m. ET
Last meeting: UTEP beat Florida Atlantic 27-17 in October 2015.
Florida Atlantic scored a season-high 42 points against Rice to end a seven-game skid, putting itself in position for consecutive victories for the first time under third-year head coach Charlie Partridge. UTEP would have something to say about that if it realized only 18.2 carries per game for running back Aaron Jones (7.12 per-carry average, second among 15 1,000-yard rushers in FBS) is far too few.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 28, UTEP 24
Wake Forest (6-3, 3-2 ACC) at No. 6 Louisville (8-1, 6-1), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Louisville won 20-19 at Wake Forest in October 2015.
Wake Forest has locked up its first bowl bid since 2011, and seven regular-season wins (its most since 2008) looks doable. To get more than that will require pulling a major upset against a CFP hopeful in the next two weeks (the other being Clemson), but based on how driven Louisville was at Boston College last week, it’s best for the Demon Deacons to look ahead.
Prediction: Louisville 41, Wake Forest 17
No. 22 Boise State (8-1, 4-1 MWC) at Hawaii (4-6, 3-3), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Boise State beat Hawaii 55-0 in October 2015.
Boise’s major bowl hopes lie in the hands of other teams, particularly those playing Western Michigan and Wyoming. Nearly all of the Broncos’ turnovers have come in their closest games, but Hawaii has the sixth-worst turnover margin in the country.
Prediction: Boise State 38, Hawaii 20
No. 24 LSU (5-3, 3-2 SEC) at No. 25 Arkansas (6-3, 2-3), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Arkansas won 31-14 at LSU last November.
For LSU, it’s not really back to the drawing board after being shut out at home by Alabama, since Arkansas’ defense isn’t one-tenth as good as the Crimson Tide’s. But the Razorbacks have also been able to contain Leonard Fournette (100 yards on 24 carries in two meetings), so the Tigers can’t just go to that well. The Hogs average 31.6 points per game in Fayetteville and better understand offensive balance than the Tigers do.
Prediction: Arkansas 27, LSU 24
South Florida (7-2, 4-1 AAC) at Memphis (6-3, 3-2), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Memphis won 24-17 at South Florida in October 2015.
USF’s big-play offense has produced 30 or more points in every game this season, but its shaky defense has led to numerous shootouts. Memphis has been in a similar boat but just as often has shut down opponents, allowing 17 or fewer points five times.
Prediction: Memphis 42, South Florida 35
Middle Tennessee (6-3, 3-2 C-USA) at Marshall (2-7, 1-4), 7 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Middle Tennessee beat Marshall 27-24 last November.
MTSU QB Brent Stockstill is done for the year with a broken collarbone, the latest injury to beset the Blue Raiders offense. They still have running back I’Tavius Mathers and his 1,145 yards and 12 touchdowns to lean on, but he’s not enough to win a shootout with a Marshall team that’s scored 70 percent of its points at home.
Prediction: Marshall 30, Middle Tennessee 27
No. 20 USC (6-3, 5-2 Pac-12) at No. 4 Washington (9-0, 6-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Washington won 17-12 at USC in October 2015.
Five straight wins have pushed USC into the South Division race as well as into the playoff rankings—the latter means much more to Washington and its resume. The Trojans are much better than the team that started 1-3 now that quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones have become the focal points, but much of that success has come against the league’s lower end. The Huskies have handled recent challenges and are showing the resolve to keep that going.
Prediction: Washington 37, USC 23
Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at No. 8 Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Ole Miss beat Texas A&M 23-3 in October 2015.
Which backup quarterback will rise to the challenge now that Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight are both done for the year? Five of Jason Pellerin’s 13 career pass attempts came after Kelly got hurt against Georgia Southern, while Jake Hubenak—who started the Music City Bowl loss to Louisville last season—nearly led the Aggies to a comeback win at Mississippi State.
Prediction: Texas A&M 43, Ole Miss 13
Minnesota (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) at No. 19 Nebraska (7-2, 4-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Nebraska won 48-25 at Minnesota in October 2015.
Wisconsin’s early league losses and Nebraska’s recent ones have enabled Minnesota to climb into the West Division race. Golden Gophers running back Rodney Smith has averaged 127 rushing yards with eight TDs during their four-game win streak and could prey on Nebraska’s sliding run defense. If Nebraska QB Tommy is able to play, this will be no contest, but even without him the Cornhuskers still have enough.
Prediction: Nebraska 28, Minnesota 21
Michigan is playing only its third road game of the season Saturday at Iowa.
No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) at Iowa (5-4, 3-3), 8 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Iowa beat Michigan 24-21 in November 2013.
To understand how easy Michigan’s last month has been, look at the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Their last four foes are a combined 4-20 in the conference and 12-28 overall, and that includes the Wolverines’ only two road opponents to this point. Iowa presents their biggest challenge to date simply because of the locale, but the Hawkeyes have scored 14 or fewer points in four of six conference tilts while allowing 35 or more three times.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Iowa 20
Oregon State (2-7, 1-5 Pac-12) at UCLA (3-6, 1-5), 9 p.m. ET
Last meeting: UCLA won 41-0 at Oregon State last November.
UCLA has turned it over 14 times during a four-game skid, losing quarterback Josh Rosen to a season-ending shoulder injury along the way. The Bruins aren’t going bowling unless they win out, which isn’t likely, but that fate won’t be sealed against an OSU team that’s dropped 12 straight road games.
Prediction: UCLA 27, Oregon State 13
No. 12 Colorado (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) at Arizona (2-7, 0-6), 10 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Arizona won 38-31 at Colorado in October 2015.
Colorado’s last two games have been sloppy on the offensive end but impressive on defense, and the latter is more important in potential trap games like this. Arizona has lost six in a row overall and 10 of its last 11 conference games, and its point total has gone down every week since late September. The Wildcats have little to play for other than pride and the chance to spoil, but this Buffaloes team is too experienced to fall.
Prediction: Colorado 33, Arizona 17
Colorado State (5-4, 3-2 MWC) at Air Force (6-3, 2-3), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last meeting: Colorado State beat Air Force 38-23 in October 2015.
The Ram-Falcon Trophy—yes, it’s literally a ram trying to head-butt a falcon—is up for grabs between these in-state rivals, who have met 54 times since 1957. Air Force’s fifth-ranked run attack should get a lot of work against Colorado State’s run defense, which has allowed 226 or more rushing yards in every loss.
Prediction: Air Force 33, Colorado State 21
New Mexico (6-3, 4-1 MWC) at Utah State (3-6, 1-5), 10:15 p.m. ET
Last meeting: New Mexico beat Utah State 14-13 last November.
New Mexico leads FBS in rushing at 358.8 yards per game and runs the ball 78 percent of the time. Utah State has had its issues against the run, but when it faced Air Force’s option in September it allowed only 4.1 yards per carry. The Lobos have played one road game since Sept. 17 and average 9.2 few points in road games.
Prediction: Utah State 27, New Mexico 23
California (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) at No. 23 Washington State (7-2, 6-0), 10:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: California beat Washington State 34-28 in October 2015.
Get the coffee brewing and make it extra strong. The last time these teams played in Pullman there were 119 points and a single-game passing record. Cal quarterback Davis Webb might need to throw 90 times to keep pace with what the Golden Bears defense is likely to yield against WSU quarterback Luke Falk and his FBS-leading 74.1 percent completion rate.
Prediction: Washington State 55, California 31
San Diego State (8-1, 5-0 MWC) at Nevada (3-6, 1-4), 10:30 p.m. ET
Last meeting: SDSU beat Nevada 31-14 last November.
SDSU’s league win streak is up to 15 games, and the team’s already clinched the Mountain Division. But there’s no room for a letup with the title game going to the higher-rated division champion. The Aztecs have yielded 26 points in five MWC games, while Nevada has failed to top 17 points four times in 2016.
Prediction: San Diego State 27, Nevada 14