It’s a lean week in college football but Wisconsin still needs to beat Michigan to enhance their playoff resume, Georgia needs to avoid a setback against Kentucky, USC takes on UCLA in the LA rivalry, FIU and FAU clash in South Florida and NC State has a rivalry matchup with a very good Wake Forest team. John Bava, Steen Kirby, Mike Loveall, Yesh Ginsburg and Brett Margolies take you through all the action.
#24 Michigan at #5 Wisconsin (Saturday 12:00 P.M. in Madison, WI)
Line: Wisconsin by 7.5
Steen: Michigan is overrated if you ask me and Wisconsin is at home. The Badgers aren’t exceptional but they are very good and this is a big game for them, I don’t see them tripping up as they should dominate defensively. Wisconsin 24, Michigan 14
John: Wisconsin currently finds itself in uncharted territory with respect to its program history. Never before have the Badgers started a season 10-0, and they have a chance to distinguish themselves further while keeping their CFP hopes alive with a win against Michigan. It won’t be easy, though. Despite boasting the nation’s fourth-leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor, they face a Wolverines defense ranked ninth in FBS against the run.
But Michigan is no slouch itself running the ball with reckless abandon. Only three Big Ten running backs have more rushing yards that Karan Higdon, while only Taylor and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley have more touchdown runs. That said, Wisconsin also excels at shutting down opposing run games, leading the nation in rushing yards allowed per game. Though the Wolverines come into this game with an average margin of victory of 23 points over their last three, Saturday’s game is a huge step up in competition. Wisconsin 27, Michigan 17
Mike: Wisconsin is being overlooked by most fans, even though their 10-0 and starting to look better every week. One of only three Power 5 undefeated teams, a weak schedule has kept the Badgers out of the CFP’s Top 4 for another week. Wisconsin just stifles opponents, wears them down, and then imposes their will late in the game. Look for more of the same against the Wolverines. Wisconsin 28, Michigan 20
Yesh: Michigan has not beaten a decent team all year. Then again, the Wolverines have only played two decent teams all year, and both of those teams are a lot better than decent. The Badgers have their first opportunity to show they really belong on a national stage, and they won’t pass it up. Wisconsin 35, Michigan 17
Brett: The undefeated badgers have a chance to put a semi impressive win on their resume against Michigan. They probably feel snubbed by the #5 ranking, but if they keep winning the committee won’t have any choice. Michigan has been playing better recently especially on offense. I think Michigan keeps it close, but Wisconsin stays undefeated. Wisconsin 20, Michigan 17
Kentucky at #7 Georgia (Saturday 3:30 P.M. in Athens, GA)
Line: Georgia by 21.5
Steen: two of Kentucky’s three losses came by slim margins as we could be looking at a very different matchup between these two SEC East teams. Georgia was embarrassed last week but they should have something to prove. Kentucky will not go down without a fight but I think the talent gap is too large. Georgia 35, Kentucky 28
John: Georgia comes into their SEC regular season finale looking to bounce back after last week’s 40-17 loss to Auburn. Though it knocked them out of the CFP top four, the Bulldogs are well-aware that if they run the table from here on out, they’re all but assured of returning there. This Saturday, they face a deceivingly good Kentucky team that already has two SEC road wins.
FIU at Florida Atlantic (Saturday 7:00 P.M. in Boca Raton, FL)
Line: Florida Atlantic by 15
Steen: FIU is a solid non-G5 team, but FAU is in really good form and Lane Kiffin has made them relevant. This should be a fun non-G5 game with a fair bit of scoring, FAU will prevail though. Florida Atlantic 38, FIU 28
John: All aboard the “Lane Train!” In his first season as Florida Atlantic head coach, Lane Kiffin has the Owls flying high atop the Conference USA standings. It’s a huge improvement from the past few years, with FAU finishing 3-9 in four of the last five seasons. The program is already set to erase a nine-year bowl drought as they’re currently 7-3 and undefeated in the conference. They’re doing it in part with a dynamic ground attack led by Devin Singletary, whose 136 yards per game is sixth in FBS.
This weekend, they face their South Florida rivals who themselves are in the midst of a resurgence under a first-year head coach with name recognition. Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis currently has the Golden Panthers second in C-USA’s East Division behind FAU. They’re guaranteed of finishing with a .500 record at the very least for the first time since 2011, the last season they played in a bowl. But they’re 73rd nationally defending the run and, as a result, could struggle on Saturday in Boca Raton. Florida Atlantic 38, FIU 20
Mike: The Lane Kiffin redemption tour continues in Boca Raton. After two seasons running Alabama’s offense, Kiffin has the Owls atop Conference USA in his first season as head coach. The offense is rolling, but the defense is anything but Tide-ish. The Golden Panthers don’t have a defense to write home about, either. The Owls are much more talented, and take this game comfortable. Backdoor cover is possible here. Florida Atlantic 32, FIU 24
Yesh: This rivalry game looks like it will be the last chance to stop Lane Kiffin from beginning his C-USA career with a perfect record. How FAU lost to Buffalo I’ll never understand. The Lane Train is rolling, and a stiff test from the Golden Panthers won’t be enough to stop it. Florida Atlantic 37, FIU 21
Brett: The 16th annual Shula Bowl has more hype surrounding it then ever before. Lane Kiffin has FAU breaking records every single week and that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. FAU running back Motor Singletary isn’t receiving as much attention as he deserves with 23 touchdowns on the season. Look for him to add about 3 more on Saturday as the owls win big, clinching their spot in the CUSA championship game. Florida Atlantic 42, FIU 17
#19 NC State at Wake Forest (Saturday 7:30 P.M. in Winston-Salem, NC)
Line: Wake Forest by 1.5
Steen: Wake Forest is not a bad team at all but I’m unsure why they are favored in this game, NC State has underperformed at times but also shown they can play with the ACC’s best. Ryan Finley is a gamer and the Wolfpack should be superior in this one. NC State 34, Wake Forest 28
John: This is one of those rare instances of an unranked team with an inferior record finding themselves favored over a top 20 opponent. Part of it has to do with Wake Forest’s potent offense which ranks second in the ACC in both points per game and total yards. They also don’t miss out on opportunities to put up points inside the 20, ranking 12th nationally in red zone scoring percentage.
Both teams are getting exceptional play behind center, with Wake’s John Wolford and NC State’s Ryan Finley among the nation’s top 25 quarterbacks in passing yards per game. What separates Wolford is his ability to optimize that yardage. He leads the ACC in passing efficiency and is one of just two quarterbacks in the nation with three or fewer interceptions and 20 or more touchdown passes. The Wolfpack also have just one win in Winston-Salem since 2001. Wake Forest 37, NC State 31
Mike: Here we are, the week before Thanksgiving, and the Wolfpack and Demon Deacons are a combined 13-7. Didn’t see that one coming. Both teams rely a little more on the ground game than the passing game, which should keep this game close. Both teams also have defenses that need to improve, which should produce some yards and points. The biggest question is whether the Wolfpack can get over their three week slump, with losses to Clemson and Notre Dame and a close win against Boston College. NC State 31, Wake Forest 30
Yesh: Wake Forest might be the most underrated team in all of college football this year. This team is solid on both sides of the ball. The Demon Deacons don’t have the big-name players that N.C. State does, but they don’t need them. They’re favored in this game for a reason, and it’s because they’re the more consistent overall team. Wake Forest 31, N.C. State 24
Brett: After losing back to back games, NC State finally got on the right side of things with an ugly 17-14 win over Boston College. NC State still has a lot to play for including a potential spot in the orange bowl if things go there way. I expect them to win on the road over an impressive Wake offense that put up 64 last week on the road at Syracuse. NC State 31, Wake 27
UCLA at #11 USC (Saturday 8:00 P.M. in Los Angeles, CA)
Line: USC by 15
Steen: USC needs to win this game to avoid being labeled as underperformers yet again, their playoff hopes are slim, but they can still win the PAC-12 and put together a pretty solid season. UCLA’s season is already a bust but this team doesn’t lack talent and against their crosstown rivals they won’t cave in easily. The USC rushing attack should steal the spotlight from both quarterbacks and help the Trojans fight on. USC 42, UCLA 28
John: USC’s media relations department probably issued an abnormally large amount of credentials for this game. Scouts from NFL teams in need of a quarterback are going to be out in full force evaluating two of the hottest commodities at the position: UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold. Though the two have dealt with inconsistency and, in Rosen’s case, injuries, they remain two of the most intriguing prospects regarding their potential at the next level.
The Trojans have dominated college football’s biggest intercity rivalry since the turn of the century. They own a 13-4 record over the last 17 meetings, and are fairly sizable favorites heading into Saturday’s contest. The X-factor in this game is USC running back Ronald Jones. He’s currently tenth among FBS players in rushing yards and could be in for a field day against the Bruins who rank dead last in the Pac-12 defending the run. USC 47, UCLA 24
Mike: The numbers are almost humorous here. The Bruins and Trojans are both averaging over 460 yards per game (462 and 495, respectively). But they’re also allowing over 400 yards per team as well. The Bruins, in fact, are allowing an average of 499 yards per game to opponents. If you like good defenses, this might not be the game for you. In another disappointing L.A. rivalry game, USC takes it home. USC 38, UCLA 30
Yesh: This is one of the best rivalries in college football. Both teams wear their home jerseys, and each team brings its best every year. This is the biggest opportunity for Josh Rosen and UCLA to save what has been a very disappointing season. USC has played down to their competition all year, and I think this is the game where it finally catches up to them. UCLA 35, USC 31
Brett: Going in to the season this game looked like it would be one of the best, but UCLA has been disappointing. NFL scouts have to love the Darnold-Rosen match up which is intriguing. I’d expect UCLA to keep it close since it’s a rivalry, but their defense just gives up too much. USC wins in a shootout. USC 44, UCLA 35