Plenty on line this week

By Ralph D. Russo

The Associated Press

Pac-12 powers No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah are on the road this weekend, trying to continue their march to a mega-meeting with huge playoff ramifications in the conference championship game next month.

They should also both be keeping an eye on the Big 12, where No. 8 Oklahoma is looming. And, of course, the Ducks, Utes, Sooners and other playoff hopefuls will be scoreboard watching the Southeastern Conference to see if No. 4 Georgia stumbles against Texas A&M.

Big 12 fans rooting for the Aggies?

The whole point of the College Football Playoff was to connect the country and get fans interested in games involving teams from outside their regions. Who knows how many Sooners fans will have the Ducks’ game against Arizona State and the Utes’ meeting with Arizona on a second (or third) screen Saturday night, but the CFP has at least provided the motivation.

The Ducks (No. 6 CFP) and Utes (No. 7 CFP) are both more than two-touchdown favorites Saturday night. Same goes for the Sooners (No. 8 CFP) at home against TCU. No. 13 Baylor (No. 14 CFP) is still in the mix in the Big 12, too. The Bears host Texas in what looks like the most competitive game involving Pac-12/Big 12 contenders.

The picks:

Arkansas (+43.5) at No. 1 LSU: The 175-pound Golden Boot Trophy has been in LSU’s possession for the last three years and no moving vans will be required this year either … LSU 56-10.

No. 9 Penn State (+18) at No. 2 Ohio State: Last three meetings have been decided by five points total, including two one-point victories by the Buckeyes … Ohio State 35-14.

No. 24 Texas A&M (+13.5) at No. 4 Georgia: Aggies first trip to Athens since joining the SEC in 2012 … Georgia 27-14.

No. 6 Oregon (-14.5) at Arizona State: Sun Devils won four one-score games earlier in the season, but during their current four-game losing streak they have lost three games decided by 10 points or fewer; Score another one for regression to the mean … Oregon 28-17.

No. 7 Utah (-22) at Arizona: Wildcats have lost six straight and it is hard to believe this team at one point was 4-1 … Utah 42-10, BEST BET.

TCU (+18) at No. 8 Oklahoma: Sooners’ last three games have featured a combined 237 points and in each one, second-half leads of at least 21 points were whittled down to one score … Oklahoma 42-28.

No. 11 Minnesota (-13¢) at Northwestern: Gophers could be without QB Tanner Morgan (concussion) … Minnesota 24-7.

No. 12 Michigan (-8¢) at Indiana: Wolverines have won 23 straight meetings since last Hoosiers’ victory in 1987 … Michigan 31-24.

Texas (+5.5) at No. 13 Baylor: Bears have lost four straight to the Longhorns … Texas 28-24.

Purdue (+24) at No. 14 Wisconsin: Since being held to 50 yards rushing by Ohio State, Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor had run for 454 in two games … Wisconsin 42-14.

Boston College (+18.5) at No. 15 Notre Dame: Eagles RB AJ. Dillon leads nation in carries with 272 including four games of at least 32 … Notre Dame 42-21.

Temple (+10¢) at No. 17 Cincinnati: Bearcats clinch AAC East with a victory … Cincinnati 24-17.

No. 18 Memphis (-14) at South Florida: Tigers have scored at least 42 points in four straight games … Memphis 48-24.

Illinois (+15.5) at No. 19 Iowa: Illini come in on a four-game winning streak, their longest since 2011 … Iowa 24-13.

No. 20 Boise State (-7.5) at Utah State: Lots of QB intrigue with both starters, Hank Bachmeier for Boise State and Jordan Love for Utah State, missing games recently … Utah State 28-23, upset special.

No. 21 SMU (+3.5) at Navy: Winner still has a chance to win the AAC West; loser would be eliminated with a Memphis victory … Navy 35-31.

No. 22 Oklahoma State (-7) at West Virginia: Cowboys can still reach the Big 12 championship game by winning out and getting a little help … Oklahoma State 38-23.

Texas State (+29.5) at No. 23 Appalachian State: Victory gives App State a fifth straight season with at least nine victories … Appalachian State 45-17.

Pittsburgh (+4) at No. 25 Virginia Tech: Pivotal ACC Coastal matchup, but aren’t they all? … Virginia Tech 24-17.

Last week: 21-2 straight; 14-8-1 against the spread.

Season: 208-59 straight; 148-109-7 against the spread.

Upset specials: 3-9 (straight up).

Best bets: 4-6-1 (against the spread).


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