Last weekend Tennessee (5-1) was the Associated Press (AP) ninth-ranked team in the nation, but after falling behind by three touchdowns in the third quarter to then eighth-ranked Texas A&M (6-0), the Volunteers didn’t look the part.
They put on a furious comeback attempt though, scoring two touchdowns in the last 2:07 to tie the game, before falling just short in double overtime by a 45-38 margin.
Even with the narrow loss, AP voters were impressed enough to preserve Tennessee’s ninth-place ranking, and they’ll get a chance at redemption this Saturday taking on top-ranked Alabama (6-0).
Like the Volunteers, the Crimson Tide also battled a ranked SEC rival last weekend, but the defending national champions ran up a 42-17 lead early in the third quarter to rout then 16th-ranked Arkansas (4-2).
With this week’s game taking place in Tennessee, the opening line had Alabama as a 9-point road favorite. But significant action has already come in on yet another dominant Nick Saban coached squad, and that line has already climbed to (-13).
The second-ranked team in the nation also faces a formidable, Top-10 ranked conference foe this Saturday, as Ohio State (5-0) hits the road for a Big Ten matchup against eighth-ranked Wisconsin (4-1).
Wisconsin had a bye last weekend, but before that the Badgers gave fourth-ranked Michigan their biggest scare of the year in a hard-fought 14-7 slugfest.
In taking on the number two team in the country, Wisconsin also enjoys the dubious honor of playing their fourth game against then Top-10 ranked opponents. The Badgers beat then fifth-ranked LSU (3-2) in a tense 16-14 tilt to open the year, and blew out then 8th-ranked Michigan State (2-3) in a 30-6 laugher three weeks back.
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have been living right against lightweight opponents like Indiana (3-2) and Rutgers (2-4), so this week’s game offers a genuine test for head coach Urban Meyer’s well-oiled offensive machine. Wisconsin’s defense gives up only 12.2 points per game, while Ohio State’s offense rings up 53.2 points on average.
But the Buckeyes only surrender 10.8 points per game themselves, and online sportsbook Bovada has them as 10-point road favorites.
The fourth Big Ten team in the AP’s Top-10 – a feat the conference last accomplished in 1991 – is a surprising 10th-ranked Nebraska (5-0) squad that has exceeded preseason expectations.
The Cornhuskers haven’t beaten anybody of merit though, recording easy wins against walkovers like Fresno State (1-5), Wyoming (4-2), Northwestern (2-3), and Illinois (1-4). In fact, Nebraska’s “signature” win this year was a fourth quarter comeback over then 22nd-ranked Oregon (2-4).
The pattern continues when Nebraska faces unranked Indiana (3-2) on the road, and with that underwhelming resume in mind, the Bovada oddsmakers tab the ‘Huskers as slight 4-point favorites.
Bettors searching for close contests will be glad to see a disappointing Notre Dame (2-4) team as consensus 3-point home favorites against Stanford (3-2). Michigan State (2-3) are only 4.5-point favorites over Northwestern (2-3).
And in a rare sight, an undefeated and ranked team will only be a 1-point favorite, when 20th-ranked West Virginia (4-0) travels to tangle with Texas Tech (3-2).
The Red Raiders put up 55.2 points on the strength of 544 yards passing per game, so expect to see an aerial assault.