Top teams to face stiff tests

The Associated Press

Last week marked just the sixth time in the history of the AP college football poll that one weekend featured seven games matching ranked teams.

Number seven is this weekend, and the games include five of the top six teams in the Top 25. One more twist: The top three teams are all on the road, and that’s never happened this late in the season.

No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame also hold the top three spots in the College Football Playoff rankings, though not in that order.

Which is most likely to lose?

Alabama (CFP No. 2) is at No. 18 Mississippi State, a rivalry the Crimson Tide has dominated historically and pretty much owned since Nick Saban became coach. Alabama has won nine straight against the Bulldogs and is favored by a couple of touchdowns.

Georgia (CFP No. 1) is at No. 10 Auburn, having won five of six against the Tigers — though that one Auburn victory was memorable, to say the least .

Notre Dame (CFP No. 3) visits unbeaten and No. 7 Miami for a game that brings back memories of Lou Holtz, Jimmy Johnson and the first President Bush administration.

The picks:

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

No. 9 Washington (-6¢) at Stanford: Not one of the ranked v. ranked but still huge in the Pac-12 with the Huskies’ playoff hopes and Bryce Love’s Heisman chances in the mix … Washington, 28-24.

SATURDAY

RANKED vs. RANKED

No. 3 Notre Dame (-3) at No. 7 Miami: Hurricanes can knock the Irish out of the playoff race or the Irish can deal the whole ACC a blow … Miami, 28-24.

No. 2 Georgia (-2¢) at No. 10 Auburn: Can the Bulldogs’ tailback combo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, with 1,577 yards and 18 touchdowns between them, get in the Heisman race? Freshman D’Andre Swift is real good, too … Georgia, 21-16.

No. 8 TCU (+7) at No. 5 Oklahoma: Best defense in the Big 12 (TCU) vs. best offense (Oklahoma) … TCU 38-31, Upset special

No. 13 Michigan State (+14¢) at No. 11 Ohio State: Buckeyes have not lost back-to-back games under Urban Meyer and his teams have only lost consecutive games four times in 16 seasons; Then again, Meyer’s teams had never given up 50 points until last week … Ohio State, 28-23.

No. 1 Alabama (-15) at No. 18 Mississippi State: Bulldogs QB Nick Fitzgerald leads the third-best rushing offense in the SEC against a Tide D that’s been depleted by injuries … Alabama, 31-14.

No. 12 Oklahoma State (-6¢) at No. 24 Iowa State: Cowboys have won five straight in the series, but last two have been by a combined 11 points … Oklahoma State, 30-21.

No. 25 Iowa (+12) at No. 6 Wisconsin: Heartland Trophy on the line and the Badgers can clinch the Big Ten West … Wisconsin, 28-20.

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS

Florida State (+16) at No. 4 Clemson: For the first time since 2010, the ACC Atlantic rivalry is not a matchup of ranked teams … Clemson, 35-17.

STAYING UNBEATEN

UConn (+37) at No. 14 UCF: No team in FBS has faced more passing attempts than the Huskies; not coincidentally, UConn is terrible defending the pass … UCF 56-17.

CONFERENCE CALLS

No. 15 USC (-13¢) at Colorado: Trojans RB Ronald Jones, meet the Buffaloes’ run defense, ranked 113th in the country in yards per carry at 5.15 allowed … USC 41-21, Best bet

Rutgers (+30) at No. 16 Penn State: RB Saquon Barkley has not run for 100 yards in a game since September … Penn State, 49-14.

No. 17 Virginia Tech (-3) at Georgia Tech: Three of the Yellow Jackets’ four losses have been by a total of six points … Virginia Tech, 28-21.

No. 19 Washington State (-1) at Utah: Cougars can head to the Apple Cup against Washington in control of their Pac-12 North title hopes with a win … Washington State, 27-21.

No. 21 Michigan (-15¢) at Maryland: Wolverines have run for 705 yards in their last two games against Rutgers and Minnesota … Michigan, 34-14.

No. 23 WVU(+2¢) at Kansas State: Mountaineers QB Will Grier is second in the nation with 30 TD passes; the Wildcats have 10 touchdown passes … WVU, 28-21

TWITTER REQUESTS

Oregon State (+23) at Arizona –@BrandonSprague: Beavers have won four of last five meetings … Arizona, 48-14.

Florida (+7¢) at South Carolina — @rmginn: Anything left in the Gators’ tank? … South Carolina, 28-17.

SMU (+4¢) at Navy — @dennisdube: Midshipmen have lost three straight and have not lost four in a row since 2011 … SMU 31-28.

Boise State (-5¢) at Colorado State –@JeffMinert1: Broncos have won five straight and have not allowed more than 14 points in any of the games … Boise State, 21-14.

Record last week: 17-6 straight up; 9-13-1 against the spread. Record this season: 168-55 straight up; 99-109-6 against the spread. Upset specials: 4-6 (straight up). Best bets: 6-3 (against the spread).

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