Yes, it’s SoCon Saturday this weekend. Yes, that means that a few teams in the Southeastern portion of the country are playing (what they hope are) cupcake games in preparation of Thanksgiving weekend rivalry games. Yes, you can get mad about this if you want (though to me, it’s a waste of energy).
Really, though, it’s fine that teams like Alabama are taking a glorified bye week because it opens the floor for teams you maybe haven’t checked in on in a while. It also means that division races come front and center.
Even if the national title race basically takes a bye week, most conferences have some pretty important (and potentially close) games on tap.
- AAC: UCF-Cincinnati, Temple-USF, Houston-Tulane, Memphis-SMU
- ACC: Pitt-Wake Forest, Georgia Tech-Virginia (which is important if Pitt loses, at least)
- Big 12: Texas-ISU, WVU-OSU
- MWC: Fresno State-SDSU
- Pac-12: ASU-Oregon, Utah-Colorado, Wazzu-Arizona
- Sun Belt: ULM-Arkansas State
The Big Ten and SEC are basically off in this regard unless Indiana (vs. Michigan) or Maryland (vs. Ohio State) pull monumental upsets, the biggest MAC games took place mid-week, and the most interesting C-USA games are non-conference affairs. But there’s still quite a bit to track. Consider this your palate cleanser before the Thanksgiving feast.
Below are FBS picks and projections using the S&P+ projections, listed in full for all 130 FBS teams here.
See the bottom of the post for more detail about these.
The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. The team in bold is projected to beat the spread. (At most books, there is no listed spread for FCS games.) When S&P+ predicts a tie or a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I list the pick on the side S&P+ would pick if teams could score in decimals.
This document breaks games (and S&P+’s season performance to date) out into their decimal glory. This year, I am including and monitoring total (over/under) picks as well.
- No. 25 Boise State 39, New Mexico (+20) 23 (Nov. 16, 9:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Houston (-10) 36, Tulane 25 (Nov. 15, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
- Memphis (-8) 38, SMU 27 (Nov. 16, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
- North Texas (-3.5) 35, Florida Atlantic 24 (Nov. 15, 9:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Toledo (-13.5) 40, Kent State 25 (Nov. 15, 6:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Western Michigan 35, Ball State (+9.5) 28 — Ball State won by 1 (W)
- Northern Illinois 24, Miami-OH (+6.5) 22 — Miami won by 6 (W)
- Ohio 32.1, Buffalo (+2) 31.8 (Nov. 14) — Ohio won by 35 (L)
So here’s something you might not have realized: while Houston has been treated as a runaway favorite to win the AAC West since Memphis lost a couple of games early on, the Cougars are actually tied at 4-2 in conference play with SMU (which beat UH a few weeks ago) and Tulane.
The Green Wave have won three in a row after starting 2-5 and can clinch a bowl as long as they beat either Houston or Navy. Beat Houston and Navy, however, and they might make the AAC title game, at least as long as SMU loses to Memphis as projected on Friday. The Mustangs hold the tie-breaker edge over both of the other leaders.
Ranked vs. ranked
- No. 3 Notre Dame (-10) 34, No. 12 Syracuse 21 (Nov. 17, 2:30 PM ET, NBC)
- No. 15 Texas 29, No. 16 Iowa State (+3) 29 (Nov. 17, 8:00 PM ET, LHN) (Actual projected score: Texas 29.2, ISU 28.5)
- No. 11 UCF (-7) 33, No. 24 Cincinnati 23 (Nov. 17, 8:00 PM ET, ABC)
For pure national title purposes, Notre Dame-Syracuse is the biggest game of the week.
But Texas-ISU could be the most interesting. The winner of Saturday night’s Longhorn Network game could hold the tie-breaker edge over the loser of OU-WVU — Texas beat OU, and ISU beat WVU — and find itself in the Big 12 title game in a couple of weeks. After a 1-3 start, Iowa State has won five in a row, while Texas, as always, has been all over the map.
Other ranked teams in action
- No. 1 Alabama 55, The Citadel 0 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
- No. 2 Clemson 40, Duke (+28.5) 13 (Nov. 17, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 4 Michigan (-28) 40.4, Indiana 11.8 (Nov. 17, 4:00 PM ET, FS1)
- No. 5 Georgia 53, UMass (+41.5) 12 (Nov. 17, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)
- No. 6 Oklahoma (-36) 54, Kansas 12 (Nov. 17, 7:30 PM ET, Fox)
- No. 7 LSU 45, Rice (+42) 6 (Nov. 17, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
- No. 8 Washington State (-10) 37, Arizona 22 (Nov. 17, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 9 West Virginia 36, Oklahoma State (+5) 33 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
- No. 10 Ohio State 34, Maryland (+14.5) 22 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)
- No. 13 Florida 25, Idaho 3 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
- No. 14 Penn State (-28) 40, Rutgers 10 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
- No. 17 Kentucky 27, Middle Tennessee (+16) 19 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
- No. 18 Washington (-33.5) 48, Oregon State 12 (Nov. 17, 4:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
- No. 19 Utah (-7) 34, Colorado 21 (Nov. 17, 1:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
- No. 20 Boston College (-2) 27, Florida State 21 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
- Minnesota (-1.5) 28, No. 22 Northwestern 21 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, BTN)
- No. 21 Mississippi State 34, Arkansas (+21) 18 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
- No. 23 Utah State (-28.5) 46, Colorado State 16 (Nov. 17, 2:00 PM ET, MWC Video)
With a win over Colorado and an Arizona State loss to Oregon, Utah could have clinched the Pac-12 South by late Saturday night. But here’s an important reminder: S&P+ is not designed to manually adjust for injuries in real time. Utah has lost both quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss to injury in the last two weeks, and while that didn’t stop the Utes from winning a key game against Oregon last Saturday, it probably means S&P+ is a little too confident in them at the moment.
Power 5 vs. Power 5
- Georgia Tech 31, Virginia (+6) 30 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ACCN)
- Iowa (-14.5) 37, Illinois 21 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
- Miami (-5.5) 31, Virginia Tech 23 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
- Michigan State (-1.5) 26, Nebraska 23 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, Fox)
- Missouri (-5.5) 35, Tennessee 27 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)
- NC State 37, Louisville (+17) 23 (Nov. 17, 12:20 PM ET, ACCN)
- Ole Miss (+3) 35, Vanderbilt 33 (Nov. 17, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
- Oregon 33, Arizona State (+3.5) 31 (Nov. 17, 10:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
- Pittsburgh 32, Wake Forest (+7) 30 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, ACCN)
- Stanford (-2.5) 28, California 22 (Nov. 17, 7:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
- TCU (+2) 29, Baylor 27 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, FS1)
- Texas Tech (-6) 39, Kansas State 24 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
- USC (-3) 34, UCLA 23 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, Fox)
- Wisconsin (+4.5) 33, Purdue 30 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
Three weeks ago, Pitt was 3-4 and 87th in S&P+. The Panthers had gotten destroyed by both UCF and Penn State and had given North Carolina its only win.
Now? The Panthers have won three in a row and are coming off of one of the most dominant offensive performances you’ll ever see. S&P+ is probably undervaluing them by a decent amount, and if they get by Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, they will clinch the ACC Coastal. The world changes quickly sometimes.
FBS vs. FBS
- Akron (-7) 35, Bowling Green 22 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Appalachian State (-28.5) 47, Georgia State 13 (Nov. 17, 2:30 PM ET, ESPN+)
- Arkansas State (-8) 37, UL-Monroe 25 (Nov. 17, 3:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
- Auburn (-28) 46, Liberty 16 (Nov. 17, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)
- BYU 38, New Mexico State (+24) 17 (Nov. 17, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN2)
- East Carolina 39, UConn (+17) 23 (Nov. 17, 7:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- FIU (-6) 30, Charlotte 19 (Nov. 17, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Fresno State 30.7, San Diego State (+13) 18 (Nov. 17, 10:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Georgia Southern (-7) 38, Coastal Carolina 29 (Nov. 17, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
- Hawaii 38, UNLV (+6.5) 32 (Nov. 17, 11:00 PM ET, Stadium)
- Marshall (-27) 36, UTSA 7 (Nov. 17, 2:30 PM ET, Facebook)
- Navy 31.3, Tulsa (+5.5) 30.5 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
- Nevada (-14.5) 37, San Jose State 19 (Nov. 17, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Southern Miss (+1.5) 26, Louisiana Tech 19 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, Stadium)
- Temple 32, USF (+13.5) 26 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNN)
- Texas A&M 28, UAB (+17) 23 (Nov. 17, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
- Troy 37, Texas State (+23.5) 15 (Nov. 17, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN+)
- UL-Lafayette 42, South Alabama (+17) 26 (Nov. 17, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
- Western Kentucky 28, UTEP (+7) 23 (Nov. 17, 7:30 PM ET, beIN)
- Wyoming 26, Air Force (+2.5) 25 (Nov. 17, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN News)
Two Conference USA teams have a chance to bring honor to their shaky conferences this week: MTSU is projected to hang with No. 17 Kentucky, and UAB is projected to very much hang with Texas A&M. Unfortunately, UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury, which is likely one of the reasons for the huge difference between the spread and S&P+’s projection.
The Blazers are driven by an excellent defense (18th in Def. S&P+), so maybe they can still hang around without Erdely, but you kind of need to be full strength for a challenge like this.
FBS vs. FCS
- Army 23, Colgate 7 (Nov. 17, 12:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
- North Carolina 22, Western Carolina 9 (Nov. 17, 3:00 PM ET, ACCN)
- Old Dominion 32, VMI 1 (Nov. 17, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
- South Carolina 28, Chattanooga 4 (Nov. 17, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
In case you find yourself with nothing in particular to watch on Saturday’s early shift, flip over to CBSSN. You might find one of the most secretly interesting games of the week. To wit:
Army (vs FCS Lafayette) only had six offensive possessions on Saturday. They scored on each of the first five, and ran out the clock with a 14-play, 59-yard, 9 minute, 33 second drive to end the game on their sixth.— Brian Fremeau (@bcfremeau) November 12, 2018
Colgate ... is a perfect 9-0 and jumped two spots to No. 6 [in the FCS rankings]. Colgate plays Army this week in what’s going to be a significant test, because lately, the Raiders haven’t been tested at all. They’ve given up six points in their last four games and have smoked everyone in their path, except for Holy Cross in Week 1. Colgate could make its way into the top five with a win over the FBS’ Army on Saturday.
An offense that never leaves the field versus a defense (FCS, granted) that hasn’t been challenged all season. Sounds fun, yeah?
Each year, I post weekly S&P+ picks as a way of affirming the ratings’ validity. I use my S&P+ system as a complement to most of my analysis, and the picks are a way of showing it generally knows what it’s talking about.
S&P+ tends to hit between 50 (meh) and 54 percent (great) against the spread from year to year. It isn’t always the single best performer, but it holds its own.
Beyond picks, though, it goes deeper than any other set of college football analytics on the market. You can go into granular detail regarding team strengths and weaknesses in a way that no other set of ratings allows. (See the annual team statistical profiles as proof.)