Race for Conference Crowns Begin in Earnest as October Unfolds

Posted on October 5th 2016

Most of the warm ups are behind us as non-conference games draw to a minimum and conference games take center stage. All 10 conferences races appear to be wide open. Even mighty Alabama has significant challenges ahead.

Florida State at Miami – Whether this game will even be played is somewhat up in the air as of this writing. Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard and multiple college games will be impacted. The big question about the Richt led Miami team is….are they for real. It’s too early to tell, but this game should answer a lot about the Hurricanes. Florida State has played a more difficult schedule by far, and has two losses on their record to prove it. Miami is unbeaten, but with the level of competition, that’s not a lot to boast about. I think Miami is vastly improved…..but maybe not enough to beat the Seminoles just yet, not even at home. Florida State 28 Miami (Fla.) 27 

Virginia Tech at North Carolina – If this game were in Blacksburg I’d be leaning toward the Hokies because I’m not sure the Tar Heels have come back to earth yet. But, at home, and in a crucial conference game, I’m thinking Fedora has the troops focused. North Carolina 31 Virginia Tech 24.

Houston at Navy – The top two teams in the American Conference square off Saturday afternoon. Of course, South Florida and Memphis might protest that statement, both the Bulls and the Tigers will have a lot to say about the eventual conference champion. Houston has hope of a playoff spot and this will be one in a long line of stiff challenges left on the schedule. Navy is coming off a tough loss at Air Force and I expect the Middies to play better at home. Close, but no cigar. Cougars continue their quest for an undefeated season. Houston 35 Navy 31.

UCLA at Arizona State – The Sun Devils really took it on the chin last Saturday at USC while the Bruins were getting back on track by downing Arizona. This is such a toss up, and I rarely go against a home team, but I’ll take the Bruins in a shootout. UCLA 45 Arizona State 38.

Alabama at Arkansas – The Razorbacks lone loss to Texas A&M is not looking so bad, and I keep asking myself….can Alabama really go undefeated this year? Won’t they have a let down somewhere? If the Crimson Tide is going to slip up, it will be in Fayettville. I am so, so tempted to pick an upset here, but darn, if Bama is ready to play….they ain’t gonna get beat! Alabama 27 Arkansas 24.

LSU at Florida – This is another game in doubt over Hurricane Matthew. With a conference loss already in the books from Auburn, this is a crucial game for the Tigers, and even with the meltdown to Tennessee, the Gators still have an outside shot at the Eastern Division title. Neither team can afford this loss, but there can’t be but one winner! Personally, I still think overtime was a mistake, but that’s another story. You probably can’t get more evenly matched than these two….I’ll take the Tigers based on a better offense, and I’m a fan of defense. Yikes…where is my head today! LSU 24 Florida 23.

Tennessee at Texas A&M – The Volunteers are either a team of destiny, or the luckiest darn team in 2016 for sure. With a dramatic comeback against Florida and a miracle win at Georgia in their back pocket, Tennessee heads to College Station, one of the most hostile environments in college football, to tackle Texas A&M. The Aggies are undefeated and have a nice win over Arkansas inked into the record books. I do think the Volunteers will play their best, but I have no faith that their miracles will continue. I don’t think we will hear a lot of Rocky Top Saturday…..but get ready for plenty of renditions of the War Hymn. Texas A&M 35 Tennessee 17. 


Oklahoma vs Texas in Dallas – For those of you who have followed my rankings closely over the years, you know that I was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. The Red River Rivalry always holds a special place in my heart. So, even though it has no national significance, I can’t resist taking a stab at a prediction….although trying to predict this game has always been pointless. Take last year for instance. OU was an undefeated double digit favorite….and lost. Three years ago the Sooners were undefeated and a huge 16 point favorite….and lost by 16! But this year things are a little different. Oklahoma is not undefeated, and their backs are against the wall. In fact, both teams are hugging that wall pretty tight. A win here might, just might save Charlie Strong’s job again like it did last year (then again….maybe not). I’m starring deeply into my crystal ball……and it’s still coming up cloudy. I have no sense of the mindset of these teams, so I’ll just take a wild guess and say the Sooners take out all their frustrations on the Longhorns. Oklahoma 38 Texas 24.


For all this weeks projections:


Billingsley+ (MOV)