Season Moves Into High Gear With Multiple Top 25 Games

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This coming weekend is by far the biggest we have seen thus far on the college landscape. Twelve Top 25 teams face off against one another, many of which will be conference defining outcomes. Three other Top 25 teams are involved in crucial games that will possibly make or break their seasons.

#15 Ole Miss @ #36 Memphis – Mississippi got just what the doctor ordered in facing hapless New Mexico State last week after being ambushed in the Swamp. Now the Rebels hit the road again to face another 2015 surprise team in Memphis. Most people don’t realize what a long standing series this is, dating to 1921. Ole Miss has dominated the series, but Memphis always plays Mississippi with a lot of intensity. Last years Tiger team, which finished 10-3 #31, was probably the best Memphis has put on the field since their greatest team ever in 1963 and this years team is on track to be even better, currently 5-0. I believe this is the biggest game in Memphis football history, it’s a program changing game. A win over Ole Miss would probably propel the Tigers to their highest weekly ranking ever and establish them as the front runner for the American Conference crown. The biggest question in my mind is, how are the Ole Miss players feeling about this game? Are they looking at the series history and ignoring the Tigers? If so, Ole Miss will be upset because this is a good Memphis team. On paper, this is a mismatch and could be a runaway for the Rebels, but watch out, strange things happen in college football.  Mississippi 31 Memphis 29.

#3 Michigan State @ #17 Michigan – The eyes of the nation will be on this game Saturday as everyone wants an answer to the question, “has Michigan really improved that much”. We’ll certainly know after this game. If Michigan wins, I believe they will be favored in every contest left on the schedule, including Ohio State. If Michigan State manages to win in the Big House, everyone will jump right back on their bandwagon and pencil them in for the CFP. Should be interesting to watch. My instinct tells me the Wolverines are for real. That close loss to Utah sure doesn’t look so bad right now, and these last 3 wins, shutouts no less, over Northwestern, Maryland and BYU are very very impressive. The Spartans have dominated the series of late, winning 6 of the last 7, but that was before Harbaugh. Michigan 31 Michigan State 21.

#16 Iowa @ #19 Northwestern – This is a very interesting game. Northwestern was just humiliated by Michigan last week in Ann Arbor and Iowa is cruising along at 6-0 having posted impressive (but close) wins over Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Illinois. I believe the Wildcats are a better team than what we saw fold under the magical spell of Jim Harbaugh and the red hot Wolverines. Northwestern 24 Iowa 21.

#25 Oklahoma @ #44 Kansas State – I watched Bob Stoops’ weekly press conference and I’ve never seen Stoops so defensive. The media is relentless after that stunning loss to the Longhorns. The fans are restless. That’s not a good combination in the Sooner Nation. But I’ve been around Oklahoma football for 45+ years, and I agree with Stoops on this one. I don’t believe Oklahoma was flat, I think they were flat outplayed. On Saturday, Texas was a better team. On the season? Well, that remains to be seen. But the Sooners are jumping from the frying pan into the fire as Oklahoma travels to Manhattan to tangle with some mighty mad Wildcats. Kansas State is 3-2, and those losses came in the last two minutes of each game to undefeated TCU and undefeated Oklahoma State. My oh my, lose this one and the media and fans in Norman may explode, but friends, this Kansas State team could be unbeaten and ranked in the Top 10! The Texas players took all that criticism being heaped on them, came together and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Red River History. Can the Oklahoma players do the same, or will they bicker among themselves, place blame every where but on themselves and lay an egg against K-St? Oh, the lessons to be learned in life are great in this one. I believe Kansas State is a better team than Texas…..but I believe Oklahoma is a better team than Kansas State. Call me crazy or call me a Sooner Homer, but I believe Oklahoma will play their best game of the season. Oklahoma 35 Kansas State 24.

# 34 Southern Cal at #10 Notre Dame – A few weeks ago when both of these teams were undefeated and riding high I looked ahead at the schedule and though, “wow, that could be one of their best games ever”. And that’s saying a lot for this series. But now that game day is upon us, I question whether I should even mention it. Notre Dame fell in a heart breaker at Clemson, and the Trojans? Well, let’s just say after their coach being fired under those circumstances, a 3-2 record is the least of their worries. I expect USC to play with a lot of emotion, and it could be close, but in South Bend I believe the Irish will come out on top in a thriller. Notre Dame 37 Southern Cal 35.

# 21 Arizona State @ #5 Utah – The Utes just continue to amaze. That opening win over Michigan is looking sweet, sweet, sweet. If the Utes win the Pac 12 and Michigan wins the Big 10, the playoff committee will salivate over that win. But that’s a long way off and a lot of if’s in between. One game at a time, and this week Utah welcomes the Sun Devils to town. Two weeks ago just about everyone left ASU for dead after that home loss to the Trojans. So what do they do? They prance to the Rose Bowl and make hash of league leading UCLA. Wow, college football is getting harder and harder to figure out. Which Sun Devil team will show up? How long can Utah keep up the surprises? I think at least one more week. Utah 34 Arizona State 27.

#14 UCLA @ #20 Stanford – Speaking of the Bruins… they have to take their just spanked selves on the road to face possibly the best team in the league, Stanford. Since that opening loss to Northwestern, the Cardinal have been on a 4 game winning streak. Like USC, UCLA has a proud history, and like USC I expect the Bruins to play hard…..and like USC I expect them to come up short, mainly because they too are on the road. Stanford 42 UCLA 38.

#4 Florida @ #7 LSU – The Florida Gators are another one of the biggest surprises of the 2015 season. The way they manhandled Ole Miss in the swamp was quite a shock. Was that a fluke or is Florida really that much improved? We’ll find out Saturday night as the Gators travel to rowdy rockin Death Valley in Baton Rouge to take on the undefeated LSU Tigers. LSU has three impressive conference wins under their belt already, beating Mississippi State, Auburn and South Carolina, coupled with a couple of unimpressive wins over lesser competition in Syracuse and Eastern Michigan. If the trend of playing up to their competition holds true, Florida may be in for quite a struggle. LSU is hard to beat on a Saturday Night in Death Valley. LSU 27 Florida 17.

# 9 Alabama @ #8 Texas A&M – This is one of the more anticipated games of the weekend. Alabama stormed back into the national spotlight after the disappointing loss to Ole Miss by dismantling Georgia two weeks ago. Both the Tide and the Aggies had a week off in preparation for this game, which should be a real doosy. Remote controls should get a pretty busy workout in the 2:30 CT slot with a lot of back and forth switching taking place between this and the Michigan/Michigan State game. There is a long, long way to go in the SEC West race, but the winner of this game is certainly going to have a leg up on the competition. The Crimson Tide played one of the best games I have ever seen against the Dawgs. Can they play up to that level again on the road in this tough environment? They must if they are going to come out on top. I love these type games, but they are so hard to pick….. Texas A&M 29 Alabama 28.

For all this weeks projections follow these links:

Billingsley Projections

Billingsley+ Margin of Victory Projections

Billingsley Pre-Season Game by Game Projections