If college football fans thought Week 7 was wacky – what with highly ranked Oklahoma (5-1) and Michigan (5-1) falling in massive upsets – last Saturday was something else altogether.
The upsets began in earnest when defending national champion and then second-ranked Clemson (6-1) fell to unranked Syracuse (4-3) in a 27-24 instant classic.
Next up, then eighth-ranked Washington State (6-1) was demolished in a 37-rout to unranked California (4-3).
To finish things off, then fifth-ranked Washington (6-1) couldn’t get anything going as 17.5-point favorites, losing a 14-7 wrestling match against unranked Arizona State (3-3).
And just like that, the Associated Press (AP) Top-10 rankings were shaken and shuffled – giving a new group of teams hope for a potential College Football Playoff run.
Looking ahead to this Saturday, top-ranked Alabama (7-0) should have little trouble dodging the upset bug. The Tide aren’t messing around this season, dispatching SEC “rival” Arkansas (2-4) by the score of 41-9 last week – and covering the 31-point opening spread to boot.
This Saturday they’ll host another SEC also-ran in Tennessee (3-3), and online sportsbook Bovada has Alabama as enormous 36.5-point favorites.
Sitting idle on its bye week, now second-ranked Penn State (6-0) benefited immensely from Clemson’s stumble to move up a spot in the AP rankings. But the Nittany Lions have beaten up on six unranked teams so far, and that all changes this week when 19th-ranked Michigan (5-1) comes to College Station.
In what many expect to be the game of the year thus far, and one which will go a long way in deciding the Big Ten champion, the Wolverines are pegged as 9.5-point road underdogs.
Third-ranked Georgia (7-0) takes the week off, while fourth-ranked TCU (6-0) takes on a woefully outmatched Kansas (1-5) team at home. The Jayhawks are allowing an abysmal 44.8 points per game, which doesn’t bode well given the Horned Frogs’ propensity for scoring points in bunches (41.3 points per game).
This primetime matchup boasts one of the biggest spreads of the season, with the Horned Frogs favored by an astounding 39 points.
Fifth-ranked Wisconsin (6-0) hosts an uninspiring Maryland (3-3) squad as 24.5-point favorites, but bettors may be wary of that line after last week.
The Badgers scored just three points over the final three quarters last week in a 17-9 defeat of Purdue (3-3), but while the offense may be struggling, Wisconsin did hold a team to 10 points or fewer for the third time this year.
Sixth-ranked Ohio State (6-1) and now seventh-ranked Clemson both have their bye weeks – and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers.
The team that knocked them off gets right back to it though, as Syracuse visits eighth-ranked Miami (5-0).
Fittingly enough, the Hurricanes had one game cancelled and another postponed due to Hurricane Irma, hence their 5-0 record. But those logistical issues haven’t affected Miami’s on-field performance, and they’ve steadily climbed the AP rankings all year. Miami will enjoy a 17-point advantage as road favorites in this one.
Ninth-ranked Oklahoma (5-1) and 10th-ranked Oklahoma State (5-1) are sticking close, and they’ll both hit the road to battle Kansas State (3-3) and Texas (3-3), respectively. The Sooners are 14-point favorites over the Wildcats, while the Cowboys are only 7-point favorites against the Longhorns.
Eleventh-ranked USC (6-1) travels to South Bend for a date with 13th-ranked Notre Dame (5-1), renewing one of the best rivalries in college football. Both teams count an early loss to a ranked opponent as their only blemishes on the year, so this game should live up to its billing.
The books certainly think so, as Notre Dame has been installed as slight 3.5-point favorites – and with the Fighting Irish enjoying home field advantage, that line essentially makes this one a pick’em.