This Saturday offers a welcome respite for the Associated Press (AP) Top-10 ranked teams.
Eight of those College Football Playoff contenders will face unranked lightweights, while ninth-ranked Wisconsin (3-0) enjoys its bye week.
That leaves sixth-ranked Oklahoma State (3-0) hosting 16th-ranked Texas Christian University (3-0) as the week’s high-profile matchup.
The TCU Horned Frogs put up points in bunches last Saturday, defeating Southern Methodist University (2-1) in a 56-36 fireworks show. Not to be outdone, the OSU Cowboys throttled Pittsburgh (1-2) in a 59-21 drubbing.
Oklahoma State and TCU average 54.0 and 49.0 points per game, respectively, but both teams are holding opponents under 18.0 points per for respectable defensive showings. Something’s got to give in this Big 12 showdown, and per the latest line posted by online sportsbook Bovada, it’s likely to be TCU’s defense. The Cowboys have home field on their side, along with a two-touchdown advantage as 14-point favorites.
The only other game pitting a pair of AP Top-25 ranked teams involves 11th-ranked Georgia (3-0) hosting 17th-ranked Mississippi State (3-0) in a clash of SEC foes.
Both of the Bulldogs have tallied a signature win thus far, with Georgia nipping then 20th-ranked Notre Dame (2-1) in a 20-19 road thriller, and Mississippi State dismissing then 12th-ranked LSU (2-1) in a 37-7 laugher.
Those triumphs were surely impressive, but the only thing that counts in SEC country is conference supremacy. The line here is as slim as can be, with Georgia favored by just 4.5 points at home.
The nation’s number one ranked team is, as is usually the case, Alabama (3-0). The Crimson Tide haven’t been tested yet, and that trend is likely to hold this Saturday, when Alabama visits Vanderbilt (3-0).
The Commodores are typically an SEC also-ran, but last week’s hard-fought 14-7 victory over then 18th-ranked Kansas State (2-1) showed Vandy can play with the big boys on occasion. Even so, the oddsmakers aren’t buying in just yet, as Alabama has been installed as 19-point road favorites.
Second-ranked Clemson (3-0) continued its impressive title defense last week, brushing off then 14th-ranked Louisville (2-1) in a 47-21 walkover. The competition eases somewhat this Saturday, as Boston College (1-2) limps into Memorial Stadium on the heels of two blowout losses.
Predictably, Bovada likes the Tigers to pounce on the Eagles, putting Clemson up as massive 34-point home favorites.
Third-ranked Oklahoma (3-0) is making noise in the highly competitive Big 12, where the Sooners shook up the standings by easily beating then second-ranked Ohio State (2-1) on the road. They’ll take on the Big 12’s cellar-dwellers in Baylor (0-3) this week, where Oklahoma is heavily favored by 28 points on the road.
Over in the Big Ten, East meets West when division leaders fourth-ranked Penn State (3-0) and Iowa (3-0) face off. Both squads are coming off relatively easy victories, so the intensity will be ramped up for a closer game when they take the field at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium.
The Nittany Lions hold the edge here, as 13-point road favorites over the Hawkeyes.
Fifth-ranked USC (3-0) narrowly edged old rival Texas (1-2) last Saturday, requiring double-overtime and a game-winning field goal to escape with a 24-21 win.
They’ll face a fellow unbeaten in California (3-0) this week, but while the Golden Bears have played well in the early going, hosting the Trojans is another matter altogether. As such, USC is rated as big 16.5-point favorites even on the road.
Another collision of undefeated Pac-12 teams sends Washington (3-0) to visit Colorado (3-0), but once again, the road team is a major favorite with Wazzu holding an 11.5-point edge.