Is this (finally) the week for chaos? No one should be shocked that Clemson and Alabama are still atop the polls, but we’re halfway through the college football season, and the for the most part, the entire preseason Top-10 remains intact. Looking back at the preseason rankings, the only significant change at the top after six weeks is that one Big Ten team (Michigan) got swapped out for another (Wisconsin). That’s pretty much it.
That’s certain to change this week. Ten ranked teams will be playing away from home this weekend. There are three Top-20 games on the slate with Texas taking on Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, Penn State traveling to Iowa, and Florida visiting LSU. The College Football Playoff landscape could look a whole lot different by late Saturday night.
Oklahoma -11 vs. Texas
The Longhorns picked a good time to get healthy. Several key members of the team have missed time this season with injuries, but Head Coach Tom Herman provided a positive outlook in his Monday press conference. Senior wide receiver Collin Johnson (hamstring) and redshirt freshman defensive back DeMarvion Overshown (back) are expected to play this week, and they will certainly be needed against the Sooners. Dating back to his days at Houston, Coach Herman is 13-3 against the spread as an underdog since 2015. Texas has covered the spread in the last six regular-season meetings in this series.
Maryland -3.5 at Purdue
The Purdue coaching duo of Jeff Brohm and Nick Holt tend to get a lot of praise from the mainstream media, but that warmth hasn’t translated to the betting window. Purdue is 2-9 against the spread in their last 11 games. The Boilermakers gained 104 yards last week at Penn State, and quarterback Jack Plummer was sacked ten times. Maryland will be going with Tyrell Pigrome at quarterback. The Terps are expected to get some key players back from injuries this week, while the Boilermakers continue to duct tape their roster together. If you’re wary about laying points on the road with Maryland (I don’t blame you), flip the script and ask yourself “What would this line be if Maryland was at home?” Terps -8? Based on where these two teams are currently at, the line feels justified, in my opinion.
Penn State -4 at Iowa
If you would have told any Iowa fan before the season, “You’re going to win your Big Ten opener by 30 (with a shutout), you’re going to beat Iowa State in Ames, and you’re going to lose by a touchdown in Ann Arbor,” they would have signed up for that in a heartbeat. So if Iowa is exceeding its expectations through the first five weeks of the season, is the six-point line move against them in this game warranted? The Golden Nugget had this game lined at Iowa -2 in their Games of the Year market over the summer, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had this game at Iowa -1 back in September.
For Penn State, you have to guess about their motivation and focus this week. The team made national headlines this week when they received some over-the-top criticism from “fans” of the program. Will James Franklin be able to use that as a motivational rallying cry, or has this incident become a distraction?
LSU -13.5 vs. Florida
The Gators are saying all of the right things about Kyle Trask’s injured knee, but LSU’s defense has to be licking their chops at the idea of getting a less-than-100-percent Florida quarterback. The Tigers enter this game off a 36-point breeze against Utah State, while the Gators just had a 60-minute battle against Auburn. Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen is 17-8 against the spread as an underdog, dating back to his Mississippi State days. If you like the Tigers in this spot, you’re certainly paying a premium for it. The Golden Nugget made this game LSU -4.5 over the summer. The Tigers are 5-8 against the spread in their last 13 games as a home favorite.