College Football Picks: A week where things could get weird By RALPH D. RUSSO

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) passes while pressured by Texas A&M’s Bobby Brown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)


No ranked teams are playing each other this week in college football. This could go two ways: Very boring or totally batty.

The last time there was a schedule like this was 23 months ago and the result was the latter. Seven ranked teams lost to unranked teams, six playing on the road and three that were favored by at least two touchdowns.

The craziness started on Oct. 13, 2017 — a Friday the 13th, just like this week — when Syracuse beat No. 2 Clemson 27-24 at the Carrier Dome. Later that night, No. 8 Washington State was blown out at California, 37-3.

The beat went on the next day, though not all could be considered upsets. No. 24 Texas Tech and No. 25 Navy lost road games and were never ranked again that season.

Some of the results had serious postseason implications. No. 10 Auburn lost at LSU and then did not lose again until the SEC championship. Maybe the biggest stunner of all came after dark in the Pac-12 when No. 5 Washington lost 13-7 at Arizona State.

This week, Clemson returns to Syracuse for the first time since that Friday night stunner. The Tigers are favored by four touchdowns, one of four top-six teams favored by at least two touchdowns on the road this weekend.

The picks (FBS-FCS matchups not included):


No. 20 Washington State (minus 9) at Houston

The Cougars playing a Friday night road game. What could go wrong? … HOUSTON 38-34, UPSET SPECIAL.


No. 1 Clemson (minus 27) at Syracuse

The Orange squeezed the intrigue out of this game by getting blasted by Maryland last week … CLEMSON 52-20.

No. 2 Alabama (minus 25½) at South Carolina

You might remember the last time the Tide and Gamecocks played in 2010 as The Stephen Garcia Game. Could this be The Ryan Hilinski Game? … ALABAMA 45-14.

Arkansas State (plus 33) at No. 3 Georgia

The Bulldogs are 25-5 with Jake Fromm as the starting quarterback … GEORGIA 42-14.

No. 5 Oklahoma (minus 22½) at UCLA

UCLA drew just 30,000 at the Rose Bowl last week. Expect a very crimson crowd Saturday … OKLAHOMA 45-21.

No. 6 Ohio State (minus 15½) at Indiana

First road start for Buckeyes QB Justin Fields. Those can be tricky … OHIO STATE 31-17.

New Mexico (plus 34½) at No. 7 Notre Dame

Former Irish coach Bob Davie, now with New Mexico, won’t be making the trip after a health scare a couple weeks ago … NOTRE DAME 49-13.

Kent State (plus 35) at No. 8 Auburn

Good chance for the Tigers to get QB Bo Nix going. The freshman made a few big plays against Oregon, but he is completing 47% at 5.6 yards per pass. Not good. … AUBURN 56-10.

No. 9 Florida (minus 7) at Kentucky

Wildcats snapped a three-decade losing streak to the Gators last year, and try to make it two straight, but without QB Terry Wilson (knee) … KENTUCKY 24-21.

No. 12 Texas (minus 32½) at Rice

No quarterback has thrown more TD passes (eight) without an interception this season than the Longhorns’ Sam Ehlinger … TEXAS 45-10.

Pittsburgh (plus 17) at No. 13 Penn State

Pitt’s run defense has been stingy so far (2.65 per rush allowed), and the Nittany Lions couldn’t get going on the ground against Buffalo … PENN STATE 31-16.

Stanford (plus 7½) at No. 17 UCF

The Knights have an on-going quarterback competition and freshman Dillon Gabriel might emerge as the man … UCF 34-24.

Arizona State (plus 13½) at No. 18 Michigan State

Like linebackers? Enjoy Spartans All-American Joe Bachie and Sun Devils’ sophomore Merlin Robertson … MICHIGAN STATE 23-17, BEST BET.

No. 19 Iowa (minus 2½) at Iowa State

Hawkeyes have won four straight against the Cyclones, entering the most anticipated game in the CyHawk rivalry in years … IOWA STATE 24-23.

No. 21 Maryland (minus 7½) at Temple

Underrated QB matchup of Terps’ Josh Jackson and Owls’ Anthony Russo … TEMPLE 35-33.

Hawaii (plus 21) at No. 23 Washington

Rainbow Warriors trying to go 3-0 against the Pac-12 … WASHINGTON 42-20.

No. 24 Southern California (minus 4½) at BYU

Potentially tumultuous season at USC only gets weirder if the Trojans rip off a bunch of victories under coach Clay Helton … USC 28-21.

Florida State (plus 7½) at No. 25 Virginia

Desperation can be a great motivator. No team in the country should be more desperate than Florida State … VIRGINIA 28-24.


North Carolina (plus 3) at Wake Forest, Friday — @walkerRcarey

The winner gets a 3-0 start and makes a case for a spot in the Top 25 … WAKE FOREST 31-24.

Kansas State (plus 7½) at Mississippi State — @branhadad

The Bulldogs’ offense has been humming, but the status of QB Tommy Stevens (shoulder) is unclear … MISSISSIPPI STATE 34-20.

Texas Tech (minus 2) at Arizona — @tbaum15

College football fans deserve a late-night, Alan Bowman-Khalil Tate duel in the dessert … ARIZONA 45-42.

Air Force (plus 3½) at Colorado — @scott_callihan

In-state “rivals” have not played since 1974. Buffs lead the series 12-4 … COLORADO 28-21.

TCU (minus 2½) at Purdue — @TK_on_the_Coast

Hard-to-figure matchup of Big 12 and Big Ten teams, especially with the Horned Frogs yet to play an FBS opponent … PURDUE 35-34.


Season: 39-9 straight; 21-24-2 against the spread.

Upset specials: 0-2 (straight up).

Best bets: 0-2 (against the spread).


Follow Ralph D. Russo at TWITTER and listen at PODCAST ONE.


More AP college football: TOP 25 and HERE and TWITTER.

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