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.
From Feast to Famine….weekend slate slim in comparison to opening.
Over the years we have certainly learned that every game is important in college football. A single loss can mean the difference in an invitation to the playoff, but it’s hard to get as pumped up for a weaker opponent, and we have our share of snoozers this weekend. But, there are a few exceptions. I’m not sure why I torture myself by only picking the hard games every week…..Here is a sneak peak into this weekend’s crystal ball: #25 Arkansas at #17 TCU – The Horned Frogs host old SWC foe Arkansas. This game has been a long time in the making. These two have not met since the Hogs left for the SEC after the 1991 season. They have played 68 times with Arkansas holding a 43-23-2 lead. Things are quite different in Fort Worth now. The Froggies have gone from SWC cellar dwellers to Big 12 royalty and don’t think TCU has forgotten about being pushed around by the Razorbacks in the old days. The TCU fans want this game bad…..and I think Gary Patterson will deliver. TCU struggled mightily with South Dakota State….but not to the degree Arkansas struggled with Louisiana Tech. Both of these teams have a lot of improving to do. TCU 34 Arkansas 27. #45 Penn State at #50 Pittsburgh – Speaking of renewing old rivalries….. this is one I wasn’t sure we would ever see again. The series is very tight, after 96 meetings Penn State holds a 50-42-4 lead, and the teams have not met since 2000. This is a tough game to pick, but I gotta go with the home team. Pittsburgh 24 Penn St. 21. #52 California at #39 San Diego State– The Bears took a week off after their trip down under to Sydney where they thumped Hawaii 51-31. The Aztecs are fresh off a 31-0 shellacking of, well, New Hampshire. This game is a big one for both of these teams. San Diego State has dreams of a MWC title, and a win over a Power Five team sure would look good on their resume, and they are at home…..but Cal is a good team and has aspirations for the 2016 season on their own. A Bear win here would sure help Cal on the way towards a bowl bid and this game will be critical in working towards that goal. This will be close, but I think the Aztecs will pull it out. San Diego State 28 California 27. #43 Texas Tech at #59 Arizona State – The Red Raiders have a long history with Arizona, but shockingly, this is only the third meeting with Arizona State. The two previous meetings split 1-1. Both teams looked relatively impressive in opening wins over lesser competition, but now it’s time to show what they are made of. The game is a virtual tossup and my two systems have opposite projections here. Margin of victory formula has Texas Tech by 2, No margin formula has Arizona State by 1. I always favor the home team in a close game, but my gut says the Red Raiders in a road win. Texas Tech 45 Arizona State 42. #8 Tennessee vs #51 Virginia Tech in Bristol, Tn. – Will they really reach that 150,000 goal in attendance? Wow, that would certainly be a record never to be broken. I absolutely cannot believe all the bad press the Volunteers received after their opening 20-13 win over Appalachian State! My projection was Tennessee by 4. I thought Las Vegas was crazy out of line having Tennessee favored by 22! The Mountaineers were ranked #24 in my pre-season poll and well….. I guess I was right. The Hokies were average in their opening win over Liberty, but hey, a win is a win and it was a nice debut for Justin Fuente. I expect good things and big things for Fuente’s future, but this game belongs to Tennessee. The Volunteers will put it all together this week…..no more bad press. Tennessee 37 Virginia Tech 28. #42 Brigham Young at #26 Utah – Let the Holy War begin! As much as these two programs always try to take the high road because of their Mormon faith, let’s face it…..fun is fun, and there is no love lost between these two old rivals. I absolutely love this series, It is a must see and almost always comes down to the wire. Utah has dominated the series of late, winning the5 last contests, but only one game was decided by more than a touchdown. Utah leads the series of 90 games 55-31-4. BYU had a stunning 18-16 win over Arizona last week, showing a lot of character by winning in what was basically a hostile environment in Glendale. Utah had a warm up against Southern Utah, winning 24-0. The Utes have held their own in the Pac 12, something I questioned whether or not they would be able to do. Brigham Young has maintained one of the most stable programs in Major College Football and is always competitive. The Cougars would be a great addition to the Big 12, and this game will go a long way to proving that. Brigham Young 28 Utah 24. Follow all of Billingsley’s Projections here:Billingsley ReportBillingsley+ (MOV)
Seminoles Stunning Comeback Vaults Florida State to #1 in Billingsley Report
In the first half it looked like another Top 5 team would bite the dust as Ole Miss dominated Florida State offensively and defensively. But the Seminoles regrouped, settled into their routine, and ran their game plan to perfection in the second half en-route to a 45-34 win over Mississippi in Orlando. The game capped off a topsy turvy wacky (and very exciting) Labor Day weekend slate of games that saw Oklahoma and LSU both fall to other Top 26 opponents. The Sooners were stunned 33-23 on the road by #10 Houston and LSU was surprised 16-14 on the road by #26 Wisconsin. Both the Sooners and the Tigers remained in this week’s Top 15. The win for Houston jumped the Cougars all the way to #4 in this week’s Billingsley Report. In the weekend’s most surprising and entertaining game, Texas outlasted Notre Dame 50-47 in two overtimes Sunday Night. The Billingsley+ and Billingsley Personal Reports will be posted Wednesday by Noon along with the Week #3 projections.
Full Slate of Holiday Weekend Games Start Season Off With A Bang
Although the 2016 season officially kicked off in Sydney, Australia last Friday with Cal outlasting Hawaii 51-31, this weekend carries the anticipation of the full season getting underway. Much has been written about this being the greatest opening weekend in college football history, and while that statement is up for debate, there is no question 2016 ranks at or near the top for sure. Just check out these gems: The early game at 11AM CT finds #4 Oklahoma traveling to NRG Stadium in Houston for a pivotal game with the #10 Cougars. Playoff hopes for Houston hinge on upsetting the Sooners, catapulting the Cougars into national prominence right out of the gate. A loss to Houston and the Sooners would be hard pressed to work their way into the CFP. It’s not going to be easy for Oklahoma and the game could come down to the wire, but Mayfield and company will survive. Oklahoma 31 Houston 28. #7 LSU versus #26 Wisconsin in Green Bay. Will Les Miles recapture the magic? This is a great game to start in that direction. Will Leonard Fournette’s ankle injury stop him from running all over Wisconsin? Can the Tigers get production in the passing game? Lots of unanswered questions, but I think the Tigers are out to prove a point on the road. LSU 35 Wisconsin 24. #21 UCLA at #41 Texas A&M. The PAC 12 needs some big wins opening weekend if they are going to establish themselves as a firm contender for a shot at the national championship. The Bruins have what it takes to win this game, but geez….College Station is a tough environment for an opening road game. Very tough game to pick, but I’m going with my gut and saying UCLA can get it done. UCLA 28 Texas A&M 27 #18 Georgia versus #19 North Carolina in Atlanta. You can’t get more evenly matched than this for an opening contest. Lots of question marks on both sides. New coach for Georgia, lots of lost talent for North Carolina. This is a tossup in the truest since of the word, but hey…..Atlanta is still located in Georgia so I’m going with the Dawgs! Georgia 27 North Carolina 21. Saturday’s prime time contest in Arlington, Texas finds defending National Champion and current #1 Alabama taking on #33 Southern California.This is another great opportunity for the PAC 12 to make a splash, but I’m not counting on it. I’m not convinced the Tide will be clicking on all cylinders just yet, and the Trojans will be very motivated and may make a contest out of it for 3 quarters, but in the end, Alabama will prevail. Alabama 35 USC 24. The “Battle of the Tigers” kicks off an hour later as #2 Clemson opens at #32 Auburn. This is a scary opening game for Clemson, a team picked by many to win the national championship. But it’s tough to open in Jordon-Hare Stadium and there is no doubt Auburn will be well prepared for this game. I’m tempted to pick an upset because it’s highly likely…..but how can I not believe Deshuan Watson will find a way? Clemson 38 Auburn 37. #54 Arizona tangles with #47 Brigham Young in a key game that will set the pace for both programs in 2016, unfortunately no one East of the Rockies will see it…..the game kicks off at 9:30 PM CT. College Football sold it’s soul to television long ago, and the PAC 12 wonders why they get less media coverage and poor national TV ratings….. but I digress. Both teams need this win for a shot at a decent season. BYU plays one of the toughest (if not the toughest) schedules in the nation in 2016. The game is at a neutral site ( Glendale) but these two old rivals are very familiar with one another and need no introduction. This series dates to 1936 and these teams were conference buddies in the WAC through 1977. Close call here, but my gut says BYU by a hair. Brigham Young 28 Arizona 27. #46 Texas hosts #16 Notre Dame in a rare Sunday Night prime time game. What a treat for college fans to have this game on tap for Sunday night. An expected record crowd will turn out to see if Charlie Strong is making progress in Austin. These teams have given college football some of it’s greatest memories in history. Who can ever forget the 24-11 Irish win against the #1 ranked undefeated Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl after the 1970 season. The loss denied Texas a second straight National Championship. This is a very talented Notre Dame team, well coached and surely well prepared…..but something tells me Texas will play the game of their young Longhorn lives and upset the Irish in a classic. Texas 32 Notre Dame 31. #3 Florida State tangles with #14 Ole Miss in the Labor Day weekend finale Monday Night. The Seminoles run for a National Championship begins with a bang in 2016 as Florida State takes on an Ole Miss team with dreams of an SEC West title and possible playoff hopes of their own. This game could go either way. If Chad Kelly is in perfect form and on target, I think the Rebels could pull an upset…..but they will have to stop Dalvin Cook and that is a tall order. Seminoles in a squeaker. Florida State 35 Ole Miss 31. The Week 2 Billingsley Rankings will be posted by Noon on Tuesday September 6. Follow all of Billingsley’s Projections Here: Billingsley Report Billingsley+
Golden Bears Top Hawaii 51-31 to Begin 2016 Season
Hawaii matched California point for point early in the first quarter, but the Golden Bear’s offense proved too much for the Warriors in the second half and California came away with a 51-31 victory. The game opened the 2016 college football season and was played in Sydney, Australia. The lone game in week one made for sparse changes in the Billingsley Rankings. Cal moved up two positions from #53 to # 51 in the initial Billingsley Report this week. A full slate of games begins Thursday night September 1 followed by a much anticipated opening Saturday that includes several Top 25 matches. The early game at 11AM CT finds #4 Oklahoma traveling to NRG Stadium in Houston for a pivotal game with the #10 Cougars. Afternoon games include #7 LSU versus #26 Wisconsin in Green Bay, #21 UCLA at #41 Texas A&M, and #18 Georgia versus #19 North Carolina in Atlanta . Saturday’s prime time contest in Arlington, Texas finds defending National Champion and current #1 Alabama taking on #33 Southern California. The “Battle of the Tigers” kicks off an hour later as #2 Clemson opens at #32 Auburn. #54 Arizona tangles with #47 Brigham Young in a key game that will set the pace for both programs in 2016, unfortunately no one East of the Rockies will see it…..the game kicks off at 9:30 PM CT. College Football sold it’s soul to television long ago, and the PAC 12 wonders why they get less media coverage and poor national TV ratings….. but I digress. #46 Texas hosts #16 Notre Dame in a rare Sunday Night prime time game and #3 Florida State tangles with #14 Ole Miss in the Labor Day weekend finale Monday Night. The Week 2 Billingsley Rankings will be posted by Noon on Tuesday September 6.