Skip to main content

Nine predictions for some of this weekend's top games


1. For my money, Arkansas and Texas A&M is the most fascinating game of the weekend. Texas A&M has scored the most touchdowns in college football thus far (29). Arkansas (27) is tied for second. Arkansas leads the nation in touchdown drives of 60 seconds or less (10), and touchdown drives of six minutes or more (six). This is the most obvious styles-make-fights game of the weekend, with Texas A&M ranking fourth nationally in passing offense and Arkansas at eighth in rushing. Neither team is built to stop the other, either. The Aggies are 41st in rushing defense (while playing the nation's 36th, 77th and 128th rushing offenses, plus Lamar), and Arkansas is 71st in pass defense (against the nation's 17th, 81st and 89th passing offenses, plus Nicholls State).

The winner of this game merits a week of "Hey, why can't we contend in the SEC West?" while the loser endures seven (or, in Arkansas' case, 14) days of "Oh gosh, are we getting last in this division?" conversation.

Zach's prediction: The talent gap between A&M's offense and Arkansas' defense is greater than the opposite scenario. I see the Aggies forcing a key turnover and winning by 10-13 points.

Scott's thoughts: I think Arkansas will run the ball on A&M's defense; but I just don't see how the Hogs can outscore A&M. I think A&M pulls away, beginning in the 2nd quarter and never slows down.

2. Through nearly the entirety of the last decade, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State were nearly identical programs, no matter how flatly they refused to admit it (Orange Power vs. Raider Power, the guns uphand signal, the horses on football fields, the cartoon cowboymascots, black and orange (and sometimes gray) vs. black and red (and sometimes gray) you get the point). Mike Leach had his program at a more consistent level, going 78-37 from 2001-09, without the occasional 4-7 dips that Les Miles and Mike Gundy suffered in each of their first seasons. But you knew what you were getting from each program: between seven and nine wins, good enough to scare and maybe even beat Texas and Oklahoma at home, but not good enough to actually get over the hump and win the Big 12 South.

From 2002-09 the Cowboys and Red Raiders alternated victories, with the home team winning every time. And then, as the decade turned and Tommy Tuberville replaced Leach, Oklahoma State separated itself. The Cowboys went to Lubbock and won 34-17, and the Red Raiders haven't been within two and a half touchdowns of Oklahoma State since. Add in the 2009 game, and Oklahoma State has won five straight.

The Pokes returned to Lubbock a year later and avalanched Texas Tech 66-6 en route to the Big 12 Championship, the only time either school has won the crown, a 59-21 thumping in Stillwater in 2012, and last year's 52-34 final in Lubbock. Clearly, to get to where Texas Tech wants to be as a program, it first has to go through Oklahoma State first.

This problem for Texas Tech didn't start with Kliff Kingsbury, but it's up to him to fix it.

Zach's prediction: This is a tough game at a tough time for the Red Raiders. Oklahoma State pushes the streak to six.

Scott's take: I think Texas Tech is going to play better than anyone thinks. Better matchup for Tech than Arkansas.

3. Leave it to Fox Sports 1 to schedule a game between No. 11 UCLA and No. 15 Arizona State for 10 p.m. ET on a weeknight. I thought the objective was to get people to actually watch these games?

Zach's prediction: UCLA wins, and the ratings stay sadly microscopic.

Scott's thoughts: I've been to a Thursday night game in Sun Devil Stadium. The in stadium experience is wild and it is loud. If Arizona State's quarterback can play well, I like Arizona State to win on the field and I have no doubt that any male who finds their way to Mill Ave after the game will win as well. As a matter of fact, I'm going to lay it out there and declare Mill Avenue as the greatest post-Thursday night game spot in college football.

4. It's funny to see how the definition of "Clemson-ing" has morphed over the years. Instead of winning the occasional big game and following that up with a dud against a heavy underdog, the Tigers are now dominating everyone that isn't South Carolina or Florida State (or Georgia on Aug. 30, 2014). According to beat writer Aaron Brenner, Clemson is 23-0 when a double-digit home favorite since a September 2008 loss to Maryland, and all but two of those wins have been by at least 10 points. The Tigers are a 14.5-point favorites at home versus North Carolina on Saturday.

Zach's prediction: Make it 22 of the last 24, as Clemson wins comfortably.

Scott's take: Fedora's gang needs to circle the wagons quickly or this season might get away from them real quick (after Clemson they have Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, at Virginia, at Miami, Pitt, at Duke and NC State).

5.Baylor visits Iowa State on Saturday. The Bears are 0-2 inside Jack Trice Stadium under Art Briles, and just 3-11 on natural grass during the golden era of Baylor football, including 3-6 since 2010.

Zach's prediction: Baylor wins, and takes care of the three-touchdown spread by the end of the third quarter.

Scott's thoughts: I think this Baylor team is very real. Not enough firepower in Ames to hang with the boys from Waco.

6. Michigan has lost eight games in a row against bowl-eligible Power Five opponents. Eight games in a row. The last win came Oct. 5, 2013, against Minnesota. The Wolverines' opponent Saturday is, of course, Minnesota. I expect either the maize and blue's best performance of the season, or a total cratering.

Zach's prediction: A desperate and focused Michigan team doesn't blow Minnesota away the way you might expect, but wins nonetheless.

Scott's thoughts: This season doesn't seem to have the makings of that typical Minnesota team that could sneak up and beat anyone on the right Saturday. Michigan should win this game handily. Should...

7.The sneaky-interesting game of the week, by far, is Justin Fuente and Memphis visiting Ole Miss. The Tigers have been - without qualification - a good mid-major team so far, dispatching Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee, and playing No. 11 UCLA to within a touchdown at the Rose Bowl. I'm not an expert on the Memphis fan base, but I believe if you asked any 10 Tigers fans which one program they would like to beat the most, you'd get 15 votes for Ole Miss. And then there's Ole Miss, hosting a charged-up opponent as a 21-point favorite, with the reality of an undefeated Top 10 showdown with Alabama and an unprecedented visit by College GameDay waiting with a win. It would be the biggest Ole Miss home game since the de facto SEC West championship against LSU in 2003. If there's ever a game Hugh Freeze would want to put away through one quarter, it's this.

Zach's prediction: Ole Miss hasn't given any reason for worry, but I'd still be nervous about this game if I was an Ole Miss fans. My only prediction is that I like the Tigers and the points.

Scott's thoughts: No Ole Miss fan will admit it; but every Ole Miss fan has just a bit of concern that the Rebels will lay an egg here and lose their shot at GameDay in the Grove. I'm here to tell them to relax. I like the Rebels to play a very good game and win by 10+. I do like the Tigers +21 though.

The FootballScoop staff weighs in with our Week 5 upset picks

8. Last week saw the end of a long losing streak inside the SEC, as Mississippi State snapped a 15-game skid against ranked opponents by defeating then-No. 8 LSU 34-29 in Baton Rouge. Now how about we snap another one? Tennessee travels to No. 12 Georgia on Saturday. Butch Jones and the Vols beat No. 11 South Carolina at home last season, but did you know the last time Tennessee beat a ranked team away inside an opponent's stadium? That would be on Oct. 7, 2006 against - you guessed it - Georgia. The Vols have since lost 21 straight - and cycled through four head coaches.

Zach's prediction: Georgia wins, and the streak pushes to 22.

Scott's thoughts: Two very athletic teams will play what I believe will be a very competitive game. Butch Jones' program will continue to earn respect; but the 'Dogs are just too powerful in the running game and I think they win the game. Closer game than the line though (I'd take the Vols +17).

9. Kentucky and California have the longest intra-conference losing streaks among Power Five programs. The Wildcats have have dropped 17 straight SEC games, and the Golden Bears have lost 15 consecutive Pac-12 games. Both streaks could - should? - have ended already. Both should end on Saturday. Kentucky is a 17-point favorite at home versus Vanderbilt on Saturday, and Cal is a 14-point favorite at home against Colorado.

The next longest streak? Arkansas, at 14 straight SEC losses. Which brings us back to point No. 1, and Saturday's fascinating game in Dallas.

Zach's prediction: Arkansas takes the throne, as both Kentucky and Cal remove the albatrosses from their respective necks.

Scott: I, too, like both Kentucky and Cal this weekend.