Tigers Host Tide in much anticipated SEC West Showdown
The entire College Football Nation has had this game circled on the calendar since before the season even started. Many believed Les Miles would be leading an undefeated LSU team against an undefeated Alabama squad for a solid shot at the National Title, but Wisconsin and Auburn spoiled those chances for the Tigers from the get go.....so much to the dismay of the Athletic Director that Miles is not even leading the charge anymore. That, coupled with the sheer dominance of the Crimson Tide team has removed some of the luster from this game....but certainly not all of it. The Tigers have rebounded under interim coach Orgeron and let's not forget, the game is being played in Death Valley, at night, in front of a national audience. Las Vegas feels like that's worth about 5 or 6 points for the Tigers right there. But, is it enough? Not a chance. Tide Rolls. Alabama 35 LSU 21. Notre Dame vs Navy in Jacksonville, Florida - As I expected the Irish survived Miami (Fla.) last week, just barely. This week they tackle an even greater challenge against a even better team. Navy boasts a win over Houston, although at this point I'm not sure that's a lot to boast about. Notre Dame showed a lot of character in their win over the Hurricane. I believe they may have finally found their footing on the season. I'm taking the Irish in another close toss up game. Notre Dame 28 Navy 24. Nebraska at Ohio State - I'll be honest with you, I was wrong about Nebraska. After seeing the way they played against Wisconsin at Camp Randall, I am convinced they are a good team, not great, but good. Are they good enough to beat the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe? Maybe. Ohio State is certainly struggling, but they are still a very good team. You know my rule.....toss up games go to the home team. Ohio State 31 Nebraska 28. Oklahoma State at Kansas State - The Cowboys totally shocked me by handling the Mountaineers last week. If they can beat West Virginia they can surely beat Kansas State right? Not necessarily. We all know what a great mastermind Bill Snyder is with game plans and the Wildcats are pretty hard to beat in the Little Apple. If Oklahoma State wins this....I believe they are good enough to win the Big 12, but I don't think they will, win this game or the Big 12. Kansas State 24 Oklahoma State 23. Texas at Texas Tech - The Longhorn win over Baylor was more than shocking. I was dumbfounded. (As was most of the nation). But I was impressed with the Red Raider double overtime win at TCU too. The game is in Lubbock and the Longhorns may still be in Bear Heaven. I'll side with Texas Tech in this one. Texas Tech 42 Texas 31. Air Force at Army - This is the first leg of a golden opportunity for Army to capture the Commander In Chief Trophy, something that has eluded them since 1996. If Army wins, it will set up one of the most important Army-Navy games (December 10) in recent memory. Jeff Monken appears to have turned a corner at Army in his third season. The Black Knight's win at Wake Forest last week was huge. This is a very tough game to call, but I think Army wants this game bad, bad. That may be just enough. Army 17 Air Force 16. Washington at California - Beware Huskies, beware. This is a very scary game for Washington coming off a huge road win at Utah. California is a very dangerous team and I'm not sure Washington will be fully prepared. Still....they are probably the best team in the PAC 12, and Peterson is a great coach. Let's just say he'll have is work cut out for him this week. Washington 35 California 31. For all the Projections: Billingsley Billingsley+
Happy Valley Rocks as Nittany Lions Shock Buckeyes 24-21
As the saying goes……on any given day, uh, well, night in this case, anything can happen in college football. James Franklin finally got the signature win he so desperately needed as Penn State blocked a late field goal attempt and ran it back for a touchdown, giving the Nittany Lions a stunning 24-21 upset of #2 ranked Ohio State in front of a sold out “white out” crowd in Happy Valley. The loss dashed the hopes of an undefeated season for the Buckeyes, but only slightly hurt their chances for the college football playoff as the Big Ten Conference Championship is still well within their sites. Ohio State is still on a collision course with Michigan in late November. In the nation’s premier game of the week Alabama knocked off previously undefeated Texas A&M 33-14.
Boise State puts Playoff Hopes on the Line Against Brigham Young
Boise State faces one of the toughest challenges of the 2016 season Thursday, hosting A 4-3 Brigham Young team that could just as easily be 7-0. The Cougars have lost by 1 point to Utah, 3 points to UCLA and 3 points to West Virginia. Brigham Young has posted a schedule strength of 13th in the nation versus # 116 for Boise State. Playing at home I would normally feel secure about predicting a Bronco win, but I sure don’t feel very confident in Boise’s ability to stay undefeated against a solid Cougar team that the Broncos may not be totally prepared to face. I’m going to jump out on a limb and say Brigham Young pulls a stunning upset on the road. Brigham Young 31 Boise State 30. Texas A&M @ Alabama– The SEC West schedule is always full of gems, but not many will be billed bigger than this one. After surviving Tennessee two weeks ago the Aggies hit the road to face a team called by some the greatest ever. Just for the record, I disagree with that statement. Alabama is very very good, but we still have half a season to go. Let the the season play out folks. Having said that…..I don’t see Texas A&M being the team that can stop this Bama team. Alabama 35 Texas A&M 27. Ole Miss @ LSU – For the second week in a row the Rebels hit the road to face a big rival, first Arkansas and now LSU. The Tigers have found a QB and some degree of momentum under interim Coach Orgeron but the Tigers will have their hands full with Mississippi. My biggest question about this game is the mindset of Ole Miss. The loss to Arkansas was heartbreaking…..and they have already experienced two of those earlier in the year already, one against Florida State and another against Alabama. How many can this team withstand without giving up? I might be wrong, but I think Ole Miss has another big game in their bag of tricks. Mississippi 28 LSU 24. Arkansas @ Auburn – Both of these teams have been able to put together respectable seasons so far, standing at 5-2 (Arkansas) and 4-2 (Auburn). Arkansas was competitive in their loss to an obviously superior Alabama and impressive in their come from behind win last week against Ole Miss. The Tigers….well, they are one play away from adding a home loss to LSU to their resume. Still, Auburn has momentum and they are at home. This a is tossup, and you know my tendency, home team wins. Auburn 31 Arkansas 28. Washington State @ Arizona State – The Cougars are for real. Enough said. Washington State 39 Arizona State 31. For all this weeks Projections:BillingsleyBillingsley+ (MOV)
Tide Rolls at Rocky Top 49-10, Ohio State Keeps Pace with Big Win Over Badgers
The Crimson Tide have clearly established themselves as the best team in college football, but the Buckeyes are just as clearly #2. Both teams went on the road to face conference rivals in very hostile environments and both came away winners. Clemson survived an upset bid at the hands of North Carolina State while the other national title contenders, Texas A&M, Michigan and Washington all had bye weeks. Keep your eyes on Western Michigan. The Broncos completely dominated a very good Akron team 41-0 on the road. In the race for the “Group of Five’s” spot in a CFP New Year’s bowl invitation, Western Michigan and Boise State seem headed for quite a competition, although at this point, Western Michigan’s strength of schedule is far superior, #53 to #116 for Boise State. In other action around the nation, Nebraska, Baylor and West Virginia remained undefeated but untested for the most part with Baylor walloping Kansas 49-7 in Waco,Nebraska squeezing by Indiana 27-22 in Bloomington and West Virginia dominating Texas Tech 48-17 in Lubbock. A sluggish Houston managed a miracle 38-31 finish, holding Tulsa inches from the goal line as time ran out, Colorado continued it’s meteoric rise in the Pac 12 with a big 40-16 win over Arizona State, and Arkansas held off Ole Miss 34-30. This week #1 Alabama hosts # 4 Texas A&M in a much anticipated SEC West (and national) showdown. Stay tuned for weekly projections coming Wednesday.
Alabama and Ohio State Take Center Stage In Tough Road Tests
The #1 ranked Crimson Tide and # 5 Buckeyes hit the road Saturday, highlighting this weekend’s slate of games. Alabama at Tennessee – The Volunteers may still be smarting from the heartbreaking loss at Texas A&M in double overtime, but there is nothing like facing your most bitter rival to take your mind off of the previous week. With the Tide coming to town I don’t think the Volunteers will be suffering a hang over, but….will that be enough? This is one of the best Bama teams Tennessee has ever faced. Do the Volunteers (or anyone else for that matter) have what it takes to bring Alabama down to earth? Well, on any given day, yes, but I don’t think it will happen this week. Alabama 38 Tennessee 24. Ohio State at Wisconsin – The Buckeye win over Oklahoma was an impressive win, but now we are realizing the Badger win over LSU was impressive as well….in addition to the close loss to Michigan. This is a very good Wisconsin team and Ohio State will need every ounce of what it takes to come out of Camp Randall without a loss. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wisconsin pulls an upset, but I’m going with Ohio State 31 Wisconsin 24. West Virginia at Texas Tech – The undefeated Mountaineers had a week off to refocus after almost blowing a win at home to Kansas State. They’ll need it when they fly into Lubbock to tangle with the Red Raiders. Texas Tech is hard to beat on the West Texas plains. Texas Tech 42 West Virginia 39. UCLA at Washington State – I would never have guessed, at the start of this season, that 7 weeks in and Washington State and Washington would be the two best teams in the Pac 12. If this trend continues, we’ll be in for a heck of an Apple Cup. In the meantime, UCLA is struggling to say the least. I think the Bruins woes will continue, although I expect them to put up a good fight. Washington State 38 UCLA 31. Arizona State at Colorado– Speaking of surprises…..this Buffalo team is almost shocking. After After destroying Oregon at Autzen Stadium earlier this year, the Buffs darn near pulled off another shocker at the Coliseum losing 21-17 to the Trojans. Has Colorado really turned their program around that strongly? I think we will find out this weekend as the Buffs host Arizona State. A win here and I’ll be a believer. Colorado 28 Arizona State 27. Ole Miss at Arkansas – A good many fans across the nation are not aware of just how deep (and intense) this rivalry is…..so much so that the series was discontinued for 20 years from 1962-1980. These two teams always give it their best when they play one another….I expect the same to hold true this year. The Hogs are tough to beat in Fayettville (unless your name is Alabama). But, I think this Rebel team has what it takes to go to the hills and grab a win. Mississippi 31 Arkansas 30. For All Projections follow: Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ (MOV) Projections
Texas A&M Tops Tennessee 45-38 in Double Overtime
Billingsley Reports Delayed Until Monday to accommodate Sunday’s Games The Volunteers appeared headed toward another miracle finish before throwing an interception in the second overtime, giving the Aggies a hard fought home victory. Tennessee heads home to host unbeaten #1 ranked Alabama next Saturday. Around the nation, Hurricane Matthew forced postponements and cancellations among several Atlantic seaboard games. Georgia/South Carolina and Florida Atlantic/Charlotte will be played today (Sunday October 9th). It is unclear whether LSU/Florida has just been postponed or cancelled altogether. Navy spoiled Houston’s bid for an undefeated season wining 46-40, leaving the “Group of Five” hopes for a playoff spot in the hands of Boise State and Western Michigan. In the Pac 12 Washington humiliated Oregon 70-21 on the Duck’s home field and Washington State went on the road and shocked Stanford 42-16. In the Big 10, Ohio State and Michigan continued their dominance while the ACC saw some upsets that may turn the Coastal division race wide open. Florida State blocked a game tying extra point try late in the game to secure a 20-19 win over division leading Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech totally dominated favored North Carolina 34-3. In the Big 12 Oklahoma outlasted Texas 45-40 to win the Red River Showdown and in the SEC Alabama rolled over Arkansas 49-30.
Race for Conference Crowns Begin in Earnest as October Unfolds
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 Billingsley+ (MOV)
Washington’s 44-6 Rout of Stanford Lands Huskies in Top 10
It’s been a long time coming, but Washington finally put together a much needed signature win over a top 10 program. The result thrust the Huskies into the national spotlight themselves, garnering the Huskies their first Top 10 appearance in the Billingsley Report since November of 2001 (coming in at #8). Although the season is still young, contenders for the four playoff spots in the College Football Playoff are certainly taking shape. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan are the front runners but Washington has now added their name to the elite list along with Houston, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. The Aggies host the Volunteers this coming Saturday in a much anticipated SWC West showdown. Baylor, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, and West Virginia remain unbeaten, but their early schedules have been so suspect, it’s hard to consider them among the elite at this point, but all of them have enough tough upcoming games to turn that statement around. Don’t go to sleep on the Broncos……both of them. Boise State and Western Michigan are both undefeated as well. Stay tuned for weekend projections coming Wednesday. Billingsley is 11-1 in his personal picks over the last two weeks……that just put a jinx on him for sure!
Louisville at Clemson Highlights Upcoming Weekend
One down, one to go…..that what Louisville has on tap in the race for the ACC Atlantic Division crown. After demolishing Florida State at home two weeks ago, the Cardinals have Clemson set in their sites in a quest for a possible nod in the college football playoff. Beating the Seminoles was a shocker for sure, and this time, the task won’t be nearly as simple. Playing in Death Valley, against a very well prepared Tiger team will require their best effort of the season. This is a tough, tough game to predict. Both offenses will be difficult to stop so more than likely we’re in for an ultra high scoring affair. I just can’t believe Clemson cannot outscore Louisville at home. Clemson 42 Louisville 39. Tennessee at Georgia – The Volunteers finally beat Florida, but until they woke up in the second half Tennessee did not look like an SEC East contender at all. Can they keep the spark going? Traveling to Athens is going to tell the tale for this Volunteer team. Are they still celebrating the win over the Gators? Is Georgia really as bad as they looked against Ole Miss? We’ll find out Saturday. My guess is the Dawgs will play their best game of the season but it just may not be enough. Tennessee 21 Georgia 20. Texas at Oklahoma State – It’s do or die for both of these teams, both of whom have a legitimate shot at the Big 12 title….not that winning this conference title means a lot this year. Wait….did I really say that? The Cowboys just couldn’t put it together in Waco last week, and the Longhorns had a week off to prepare. Normally I would be giving the edge to Texas because of that, even on the road, but Oklahoma State just loves beating the Horns, almost as much as beating the Sooners and that’s saying a lot. Home field advantage may be just the edge the Cowboys need. Oklahoma State 35 Texas 31. Oklahoma at TCU – Before the season started this game was my pick for deciding the conference title, it probably still is. In spite of being 1-2 you have to look at the two teams Oklahoma lost to, #5 Houston and #4 Ohio State. Of course, TCU’s one loss is to Arkansas in overtime…..that’s not too shabby either. Really hard to pick this game, but if the Razorbacks can score points on the TCU defense, I think the Sooners can too. Oklahoma 28 TCU 24. Stanford at Washington – This may be the game of the season in the PAC 12 as it appears these are the best two teams in the entire league. Both teams pulled off big road wins last week, Stanford at UCLA and Washington at Arizona. I believe in what Chris Petersen is accomplishing with the Huskies…..and this may just be the game that finally pulls it all together for a great season in Seattle. Washington 35 Stanford 28. For all this weeks projections follow: Billingsley Billingsley+ (MOV)
Weekend Shockers! Duke Outlasts Notre Dame, Colorado Runs Past Oregon
In what has to be one of the greatest wins in Blue Devil history, Duke, a 21 point underdog, outlasted the Irish 38-35 under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus late Saturday afternoon. Duke has made great strides under David Cutcliff, including four straight Bowl Games, and this huge win over the Irish in South Bend will certainly help in Blue Devil recruiting. And that was not the only surprise. A very improved Colorado Buffalo team topped Oregon in their own backyard, downing the Ducks 41-38 in one of the most difficult venues to win in….Autzen Stadium. Both games marked what could amount to program changing wins. Around the country, Wisconsin demolished Michigan State 30-6 in East Lansing to set up future showdowns with Michigan and Ohio State. The Badgers travel to the Big House to face Michigan this upcoming Saturday. Stanford survived at UCLA 22-13 and now faces another huge challenge traveling to undefeated Washington Friday night. Utah and Arizona State both posted wins to remain among the Pac 12’s unbeaten. Tennessee was all but left for dead in the first half against the Gators, looking inept and trailing 21-3, but the Vols came to life in the second half, much to the delight of Rocky Top fans, and The Volunteers snapped the 11 game losing streak posting a 38-28 win. Texas A&M continues an amazing run over quality opposition, having already posted a big wins over UCLA and Auburn, the Aggies looked impressive in dismantling undefeated Arkansas 45-24 late Saturday night. Texas A&M has certainly positioned themselves well for a run at the SEC West title. And in a very controversial ending, Auburn beat LSU 18-13 after the scoreboard had already registered an LSU win 19-18. Replay correctly showed LSU did not get the final play off in time (which registered a touchdown). So, the score was reversed and Auburn survived. Alabama remains solidly on top of this week’s Billingsley Report, with Wisconsin and Stanford both jumping idle Ohio State in this week’s rankings. Houston remains as one of the Nation’s elite coming in at #5. Stay tuned for Week #6 projections coming Wednesday.
Tennessee Seeks First Win Over Florida in 11 Years
The #19 Florida Gators travel to Neyland Stadium Saturday boasting a series record 11 straight wins, and needless to say, Volunteer fans are restless and eager for a win. #7 Tennessee has done nothing to impress me in their first 3 games, struggling over Appalachian State, Virginia Tech and Ohio (although App. State and VTech are certainly worthy opponents). Playing at home is certainly an advantage for the Vols, but this team is going to have to play better football, on both sides of the ball, to beat this Florida team. I see no reason, really, that Florida should not continue their dominance of Tennessee…..but darn, the streak has to end at some point right? If Tennessee is ever gonna get it done, this is the year. I’ll take the Vols. Tennessee 24 Florida 23. #5 Stanford at #25 UCLA – I was impressed however, with the way the Cardinal handled the Trojans last weekend on the Farm, winning 27-10. At the same time UCLA was putting the brakes on BYU 17-14. The Bruins are tough to beat at home, and this is a tough road game for Stanford, but I believe the Cardinal are the best team in the Pac 12, and Christian McCaffery is, in my opinion, the best overall player in college football so far in this young season. (Yes, even better than Lamar Jackson, although Louisville’s QB is pretty spectacular). This may come down to overtime, but I’ll take Stanford 31 UCLA 24. #14 Texas A&M vs #11 Arkansas – Arlington, Texas – This game has almost become an Arlington tradition. 5 of the last 7 games have been held here with most of them coming down to the 4th quarter. The Razorbacks have a stunning win over TCU in Fort Worth already under their belt. A win here would thrust them into national title talk and certainly make them a contender in the SEC west. But Texas A&M has an even more impressive resume so far, beating UCLA at home and Auburn on the road. The Aggies have won the last 4 in a row and I believe they’ll make it 5. Texas A&M 28 Arkansas 24. #18 LSU at #31 Auburn – Speaking of Auburn….the Tigers host, well, the Tigers this weekend, those from Baton Rouge this time, not those from Clemson that War Eagle has already succumbed to. I’m not sure what to think of Auburn right now, but they are either really average on offense, or Texas A&M is awfully good on defense. The Tigers just couldn’t sustain hardly anything last weekend. Of course, LSU is not exactly an offense juggernaut itself. First team to 21 wins! LSU 21 Auburn 20. # 41 California at #45 Arizona State – The Bears posted a stunning upset over Texas last Saturday and now hit the road to Tempe. The Sun Devils are 3-0 but struggled mightily in San Antonio last Saturday night, darn near getting beat before posting 32-28 win over UTSA. I think it was a wake up call for the Devils….and the Bears are probably still hibernating over their win over the Longhorns. Arizona State 35 California 31. #33 Southern Cal at #17 Utah – The Trojans are reeling and need this win bad. I’m not sure what to think of the USC program, but I know this…..a loss here that puts USC at 1-3, given their upcoming schedule, this team could be looking at a losing season. The Utes are 3-0 with a big win on the season over arch rival BYU and a convincing win on the road over San Jose St. A win here and Utah positions themselves nicely for a run at the Pac 12 South title. If this game were in LA, I’d be going with the Trojans, but in Rice-Eccles Stadium…I’ll go with the Utes. Utah 31 USC 28. #53 West Virginia vs #44 BYU – Landover, Maryland– Brigham Young has already faced Arizona, Utah and UCLA… and they are 0-3. Now they head to the East Coast to face undefeated West Virginia. The Cougars could be 0-4 and still be one of the better teams in college football. I hate to say it, but I think they will be…0-4 that is. West Virginia 32 BYU 23. For all this week’s projections: Billingsley Report Billingsley+ (MOV)
Buckeyes Boom Sooners 45-24
In one of the most anticipated non-conference games of the 2016 season a young but very talented Ohio State defense harassed Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield all night long (and it was a long night after a 2.5 hour lightening delay) and shut down the Sooner running attack for a dominating 45-24 win in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooner defense could not stop J.T. Barrett and the prolific Buckeye offense. Ohio State’s win on the road positioned the Buckeyes well for a run at the coveted 4 positions in the National Championship Race. Alabama, 48-43 winner over Ole Miss in Oxford, and Ohio State have begun to separate themselves as the Nation’s two elite teams in this early 2016 season. Around the nation Saturday, Michigan State withstood a furious 4th quarter rally by the Irish and held on in South Bend for a 36-28 win. Nebraska finally got the marquis win they needed to begin the process of returning to prominence in college football, with a 35-32 win over Oregon in Lincoln. Louisville shockingly dismantled Florida State 63-20, and Stanford, Utah and Washington continued undefeated in their march toward Pac 12 play. Stay tuned Wednesday for next week’s projections. Billingsley+ and Personal rankings will follow later today (Sunday).
Weekend offers Super Slate of Games
The 2016 season began with what some analysts called the best ever, then week two slipped to almost boring status……but fear not fans, this weekend returns to top notch status, full of contests that rival being called the greatest. Once again I plunge into the ridiculous art of college football predictions: #1 Alabama at #18 Ole Miss – When Mississippi won this game in Oxford two years ago it was considered a mild upset, but when the Rebels whipped Alabama in Tuscaloosa last year, it was a shocking upset. To think Mississippi could make it 3 in a row over the Tide is, well, unthinkable. Ole Miss is more than capable of pulling another upset, and it won’t be an easy game for Alabama that’s for sure, but if Mississippi is going to win, Chad Kelly will have to play the game of his life. I think the Crimson Tide defense may have him scrambling for his life……which may not be such a bad thing if he can turn it into some positive running yards. But in the end, I just feel Bama will prevail. Alabama 31 Ole Miss 27. #3 Florida State at #29 Louisville– In my pre-season projections for the ACC I commented on the importance of this game in the ACC title race. As it turns out, it’s even more than that. The way Louisville’s offense is rolling if the Cardinal’s can outscore the Seminoles they may just find themselves in the midst of a national title race. This is not a good time for Florida State’s defense to be banged up. Stakes are high and I think Louisville is up for the challenge. Louisville 38 Florida State 31. #4 Houston at #61 Cincinnati– The Cougars have proven they are a good team by virtue of their win over Oklahoma two weeks ago but I hope they have returned to earth because this game has upset written all over it. Good thing Houston played Lamar last weekend instead of going straight on the road to Cincinnati. The Bearcats looked sluggish in their opener against Tennessee Martin, but looked much better beating the Big Ten’s Purdue on hostile ground in West Lafayette. This is a hard game to pick. It’s a Thursday night game and there is no way to know how focused and prepared the Cougars will be…..but I guarantee you, Cincinnati will be both. If Houston wins handily, I’ll be as impressed as their win over the Sooners….well, almost. I’ll play it safe here, but I’m not going to be surprised if Cincinnati wins. Houston 35 Cincinnati 28. #14 Michigan State at #30 Notre Dame – The Irish bounced back well at home with a win over Nevada after that stunning loss to Texas in Austin. Michigan State had the week off. Beware, the Spartans had an extra week to prepare and I’m betting they took full advantage of it. It’s hard to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. Touchdown Jesus casts a long shadow. But these teams have a long, long history (Notre Dame leads 48-28-1) and Michigan State has had some success winning in South Bend, it just seems to bring out the best in the Spartans. Maybe they are still smarting over the 10-10 tie in 1966. Notre Dame is favored by 7 and that kind of took me by surprise. Seems like a lot of points. I’m so, so tempted to take Michigan State here, but I’m just too much of a scardy cat. Notre Dame 24 Michigan State 23. #26 Texas at #53 California– Speaking of teams who better have returned to earth….here is another one. The Longhorns could easily blow this one to the Bears. Cal had a heartbreaking loss on the road to up and coming San Diego State last week and they are hungry for a win. If Texas loses, expect the Horns fans to put Charlie Strong right back on the hot seat again. Fans are so fickle. Texas 31 California 24. #31 UCLA at #42 Brigham Young – Both of these teams need a win bad. The Bruins blew it in College Station two weeks ago and the Cougars are coming off a truly heartbreaking loss to arch rival Utah. Brigham young is trying to survive the most difficult schedule in college football. Hosting UCLA is an advantage but at this stage it’s still like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. A loss here could be a slippery slope for the Cougars. BYU plays well at home, but I think the Bruins may prove to be just too much on offense. UCLA 42 Brigham Young 28. #24 Texas A&M at #27 Auburn – Have the Aggies turned things around? This is the game that will answer that question for sure. Auburn took Clemson to the wire the same day Texas A&M surprised UCLA. Both teams had super easy wins over cream puffs last week. Wow…..I could go either way here. Just flip a coin. I’ll take War Eagle at home. Auburn 27 Texas A&M 24. #32 Oregon at #43 Nebraska – This game is unbelievably huge for both teams. Nebraska fans are weary of settling for average teams. The program has slipped into mediocrity. If Nebraska is EVER going to return to greatness, it absolutely begins here. For Oregon, a win would go a long way towards gaining momentum for the upcoming Pac 12 title run and a return to national prominence. Both teams have been impressive in their first two wins. This is another coin flip folks, but I have a gut feeling the Ducks will prevail on the road. Husker fans may suffer the fate of another mediocre year. Oregon 42 Nebraska 31. #5 Ohio State at #12 Oklahoma – The are many games that I remember as special throughout my 50+ years as a college football fan, but few surpass the 1977 Buckeye/Sooner game in Columbus when Oklahoma’s Uwe von Schamann led the Ohio State fan’s in a chant of “block that kick” then calmly proceeded to knock a 41 yard field goal dead through the center of the uprights with 3 seconds left to give Oklahoma a 29-28 win in the very first game played between these two storied programs. Woody Hayes was one of my personal heroes because he was so passionate about winning. Trust me…..he was not a happy camper that day. I’ll be honest….I don’t even want to make a prediction in this game, but how can I ignore one of the biggest games of the season? This is do or die for both teams in the race for a playoff spot. Contrary to popular belief the Sooners are not truly out of it yet. If Oklahoma wins, and goes 11-1, and Ohio State wins the Big 10, the Sooners still have a shot. Both teams are loaded with talent. Both have great coaches, both have great QB’s, both have great leadership on the team. The game is in Norman, but I truly believe Ohio State is a slightly better team. Is it OK with everyone if I just side step this game? No, you want to put me on the record huh? What the hell…… Oklahoma 29 Ohio State 28. Does that score sound familiar? For all of this weeks projections follow these links: Billingsley Report Billingsley+ (MOV)
Oklahoma State Robbed, Alabama Shines, Utah Escapes, Arkansas Outlasts
A critical error on the part of the officiating crew allowed Central Michigan an untimed down, which miraculously produced a touchdown and a stunning 30-27 win over the Cowboys in Stillwater Saturday afternoon. No word on whether the officiating crew will be suspended for their inexcusable gaffe. Unfortunately NCAA rules clearly state the outcome of a game cannot be changed, even in the event of such an egregious error. The horrendous mistake could cost the Big 12 dearly in the event the Cowboys go on to win the conference title. Even using descriptive adjectives is not enough to fully express my displeasure. Around the nation, Alabama held true to form, and jumped to #1 in this week’s Billingsley Report in the process, by beating #40 Western Kentucky 38-10. Arkansas held on in two overtimes to defeat TCU 41-38 in Forth Worth and Utah escaped with a 20-19 win over BYU after the Cougars tried and failed on a two point conversion try as the game ended. BYU opted for trying for a win rather than kicking an extra point and potentially tying the game which would have forced overtime with the Utes. Tennessee came to life in the second half, helped along by numerous Virginia Tech turnovers, and cruised to a 45-24 win over the Hokies in front of a new NCAA record crowd of 156, 990 fans. Stay tuned Wednesday for Billingsley’s projections for week #4.