Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 12:00 AM
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MARQUEE MATCHUPS - IT'S A SATURDAY SIX-PACK FEATURING #1 ALABAMA, #2 OHIO STATE AND #3 CLEMSON
'Round and 'round we go - the College Football Playoffs are still two-plus months down the line and everyone - and we mean everyone - is reserving a spot for #1 Alabama but there's still CFP berths to be won and this weekend's edition of the Saturday Six-Pack will go a long way in determining who's got the inside tracks. Here's the best of the best on this Saturday sked and do remember that ...
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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: THE SATURDAY 6-PACK
Here's the key games we'll be tracking on this red-hot October weekend ...
#1 ALABAMA (7-0, 4-0) at TENNESSEE (3-3, 1-2) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The "Third Saturday in October" rivalry truly has been lopsided in recent years - the 'Bama Crimson Tide has won the last 11 in a row against "Big Orange" and now the Las Vegas folks have Alabama as a bloated 29.5-point road favorite here in this SEC basheroo ... egads. Lefty QB Tua Tagovailoa (1,760 yards passing with 21 TDs and 0 INTs) is A-OK after a little knee mishap last week and the question is whether he'll need to play at all in fourth quarters this year. P.S., Tennessee ranks a lowly 98th nationally in total offense.
Spread Stats - Alabama is just 5-8 versus the vig in SEC games since the start of last season.
#2 OHIO STATE (7-0, 4-0) at PURDUE (3-3, 2-1) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
If you happen to believe that stats don't "lie" then consider this O-State Buckeyes bunch is, indeed, a pretty dismal defensive squad (ranks 56th nationally in rushing "D" and 58th nationally in passing defense) and the news became official earlier this week that DE Nick Bosa won't be back to play any more college ball for this Big 10 side as he continues to rehab some injuries. So, is Urban Meyer's club a tad worried here in West Lafayette where the host Purdue Boilermakers are listed as 13-point underdogs? No question a Boilers' offense that ranks 10th nationally in total yardage - watch for WR Rondale Moore (558 receiving yards and 5 TDs) - can be explosive. The flip side is Buckeyes' QB Dwayne Haskins has 28 TD passes and would be our #2 Heisman Trophy candidate behind the aforementioned Tagovailoa if we were voting for the shiny hardware right here and right now.
Spread Stats - Ohio State is 18-11 against the odds away since the start of the 2014 campaign; note that Purdue is 4-0 ATS (against the spread) this year and that includes home covers against Missouri and Boston College ever since the 0-2 spread start.
#16 N.C. STATE (5-0, 2-0) at #3 CLEMSON (6-0, 3-0) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Gotta admit we were a bit surprised by this Vegas price - the Clemson Tigers are a 17.5-point betting favorite in this ACC tilt - and consider that Dabo Swinney's squad won the last two meetings but by only 7 points apiece. The Clemson kids have been idle since that rollicking 63-3 win/cover at 3-TD dog Wake Forest back on Oct. 6th and that's allowed now-unquestioned #1 QB Trevor Lawrence (11 TD passes, 2 INTs) sufficient time to heal his body parts. Hey, if this fantastic Clemson D-line can get immediate pressure on veteran State slinger Ryan Finley (1,621 yards passing with 10 TDs and 3 INTs) then it could be a lights-out special by halftime.
Spread Stats - Clemson's failed to cover six of its last eight head-to-head pointspread verdicts against N.C. State.
#22 MISS STATE (4-2, 1-2) at #5 LSU (6-1, 3-1) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's really see what "revenge" means here as the LSU Tigers were rocked 37-7 as 7.5-point road favorites in Starkville last year and Ed Orgeron's crew does come off that exhilarating 36-16 triumph over SEC rival Georgia last weekend - did you know LSU has rushed for 1,415 yards and thrown for 1,415 yards so far in '18? Miss State rushed for a season-high 357 yards in its last game - a 23-9 upset win against Auburn - two weeks ago. The Bulldogs had a bye last week and enter this tilt ranked eighth nationally in total defense.
Spread Stats - LSU has alternated pointspread wins and losses since the start of this year (the Tigers are "due" to lose versus the vig by these measures) and overall the Bayou boys are 0-4 ATS in their last four tilts against Miss State.
#6 MICHIGAN (6-1, 4-0) at #24 MICHIGAN STATE (4-2, 2-1) - 12 p.m. ET, Fox
There's bad blood galore when it comes to this in-state Big 10 showdown - no secret there - and it's not only the fact Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is a dreadful 1-5 SU (straight-up) against rivals Michigan State / Ohio State. Last year's maize-and-blue lost this game 14-10 as 13-point betting favorites but maybe the maturation of QB Shea Patterson (completed 67 percent of his throws last week in the lopsided 38-13 win against Wisconsin) will be the key for the TD road favs here ... stay tuned.
Spread Stats - Michigan is 0-10 ATS in head-to-head matchups with "little brother" Michigan State since 2008; meanwhile, Sparty has covered six of its last nine games overall in the underdog role.
#12 OREGON (5-1, 2-1) at #25 WASHINGTON STATE (5-1, 2-1) - 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Strange but true: Wazzu has won/covered each of the last three games in this developing Pac-12 North Division rivalry and here's a rare case where both sides come into the bash with national rankings next to their name - one reason why the ESPN traveling road show that is College Game Day will be part of the fun-and-games in Pullman. Best stat we can toss your way here is that Washington State slinger Gardner Minshew - an East Carolina transfer - has 19 TDs and 4 INTs and he's already attempted 313 passes while Oregon's hyped QB Justin Herbert has attempted only 168 passes. Hmmm.
Spread Stats - Washington State's covered the last eight consecutive games in this series.
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