There's no shortage of quality games this weekend, from Alabama-Florida (Bryce Young's first road test) to Auburn-Penn State (Bo Nix's latest attempt to pass a major road test) to the 50th anniversary of "The Game of The Century," when former rivals Nebraska and Oklahoma square off (and how badly could the Cornhuskers use a Johnny Rodgers type right now?).
Two games in particular offer added intrigue. Cincinnati visits Indiana in a game that will help shape the season for the winner and Fresno State, perennially pesky, visits unbeaten UCLA, which is still trying to prove itself as the real deal.
That's it for the intro. Let's get right to the games after a 5-1 mark against the spread last week.
Florida State over WAKE FOREST, taking 5
Here's the thinking: 2-0 Wake isn't this good yet and 0-2 Florida State isn't this bad. There's no sugarcoating the Seminoles' loss to Jacksonville State but the reality is they have now lost twice on the game's final play (the other being to Notre Dame). Mike Norvell at least has an option at QB in McKenzie Milton if Jordan Travis continues his mistake-prone ways and RB Jashaun Corbin (253 rushing yards) is averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Wake has beaten ODU and Norfolk State -- two teams that didn't even play last year. This is a huge step up for a suspect offense.
Cincinnati at INDIANA, giving 4
Until the Bearcats are in officially the Big 12 all of these games against Power 5 teams are a referendum for their playoff prospects. Cincy hasn't come close to playing its best yet -- a positive this early -- and QB Desmond Ridder knows how to will this team to victory. He has done it in plenty of big spots. Balance on offense and physical defense remain Cincy's traits. Not sure what to make of the Hoosiers yet. They suffered a bad loss to a good Iowa team and beat Murray State handily but QB Michael Penix Jr. still seems to be working his way back from his injury. The offense has been spotty to this point.
Nebraska over OKLAHOMA, taking 22
Not predicting an upset here, but isn't it time that Scott Frost's team shows it can be competitive in a big spot? A bad loss to Illinois started the year and wins over Fordham and Buffalo have followed, with one positive throughout: Veteran QB Adrian Martinez is finally playing the best football of his career, with no interceptions yet and a team-leading 256 rushing yards. Sooners have plenty of firepower but is anyone convinced that their defense is playoff-caliber after allowing 35 points to Tulane? Spencer Rattler, for all of his early Heisman hype, already has two INTs. Thinking the Cornhuskers can be competitive here. If not, just fire Frost already.
PENN STATE over Auburn, giving 6
We've seen QB Sean Clifford come through in a big spot already in the Nittany Lions' 16-10 win at Wisconsin. Maybe he has finally developed the consistency that has eluded him to this point. This Penn State defense looks to be a good one and James' Franklin's team now knows the Big Ten East and a playoff spot is up for grabs with Ohio State showing vulnerability. Tigers have beaten Akron and Alabama State and no one ever knows which Bo Nix will show up at QB. Too often, it has been the mistake-prone one. This is a huge test in a difficult environment -- against a quality defense. That's not a recipe for success for Auburn.
Virginia Tech over WEST VIRGINIA, taking 3
Still skeptical about QB Braxton Burmeister's ability to elevate the Hokies, but he has played well and Tech already owns a quality win by beating North Carolina. This is a defense that has already recorded nine sacks with four interceptions through two games. Mountaineers, opening-game losers to Maryland (allowing 499 yards to the Terps), had a scrimmage last game against LIU that served no purpose. QB Jarrett Doege can be pressured into mistakes, which Tech needs to capitalize on.
Fresno State over UCLA, taking 11 1/2
Have been on the Bruins' bandwagon since the start, but after a pair of peak performances this game exudes letdown -- and the Bulldogs are more than capable of an upset. UCLA's running back tandem of Brittain Brown and Zac Charbonnet have been outstanding to this point, and Chip Kelly will no doubt ride those two again here. Fresno isn't a team that will cower in the Rose Bowl, having already forced Oregon to earn a 31-24 win. QB Jake Haener has eight TDs, no interceptions and has rushed for three scores. It's a huge game for Fresno; it sure looks like a letdown game for UCLA.
LAST WEEK VS. SPREAD: 5-1
SEASON TO DATE VS. SPREAD: 9-3
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