In the wake of last week’s decisive slate of high-profile games, which pitted six of the Associated Press (AP) Top 10 ranked teams against one another, both Clemson (5-0) and Washington (5-0) notched big wins to push themselves into the AP’s Top 5.
They’ll be rewarded with relative reprieves this week, as the third-ranked Tigers travel to Boston College (3-2) as 17.5-point favorites – according to online sportsbook Bovada – for a Friday night date with the Eagles, while the fifth-ranked Huskies head to Oregon (2-3) as 9-point favorites over the Ducks.
The number one team in the country, as they have been all year, is Alabama (5-0), but they’ll face a real test on the road against 16th-ranked Arkansas (4-1).
Despite their strong overall record though, the Razorbacks sit in the cellar of the SEC’s West division, having dropped their only conference matchup on the year. Arkansas has been on a roller coaster ride all season, coming back to beat lightweight Louisiana Tech (2-3) by just one point in the opener, nipping then 15th-ranked TCU (3-2) by a field goal the following week, and getting blown out by eighth-ranked Texas A&M (5-0) in the aforementioned conference loss.
Alabama, meanwhile, is firing on all cylinders as usual, putting up points in bunches and only surrendering 10 points or less in four of five contests. The Crimson Tide’s consistency versus the Razorbacks’ erratic play makes the defending national champs 14-point road favorites this Saturday.
Second-ranked Ohio State (4-0) is also rolling, with a 58-0 dismantling of Rutgers (2-3) putting the latest blowout in head coach Urban Meyer’s book. The Buckeyes stay home this weekend to face an upstart Indiana (3-1) team, one which just came back from an early 14-0 deficit to down Michigan State (2-2) with a game-winning field goal in overtime last Saturday.
With a second consecutive upset over a conference rival this time around, the Hoosiers would actually leapfrog the Buckeyes in the Big Ten conference standings. The bookmakers at Bovada aren’t big believers, however, having installed Ohio State as big 29.5-point home favorites.
The most compelling matchup involving highly ranked teams, at least from a wagering standpoint, pits eighth-ranked Texas A&M (5-0) against ninth-ranked Tennessee (5-0).
Both teams sport identical unbeaten records, and both count a pair of wins over ranked teams on their respective resumes. With a 2-0 record within the tough SEC, the Volunteers top the East division, while the Aggies’ 3-0 conference record actually puts them on top of the West over Alabama.
The only discernible difference between the two teams is point differential, as Texas A&M is scoring 39.2 points per game and allowing 15.4, a far cry better than Tennessee’s 33.0 / 23.0 ratio. With that in mind, along with the fact that this game takes place in Texas, Bovada gives the Aggies the edge as 7-point home favorites.
Another intraconference clash to watch for this Saturday involves 10th-ranked Miami (4-0) battling their in-state rival 23rd-ranked Florida State (3-2).
Even with Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the Sunshine State, the Hurricanes have announced that the game will be played as scheduled in their newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium home. That may be bad news for the struggling Seminoles, who will be 3-point underdogs.