Saturday College Previews
Say it ain't so! We're at the halfway point of this here-and-now NCAA Football season - note that each of the top seven teams in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll are 6-and-oh SU (straight-up) and dreaming all about playoff berths this winter - but did you realize there are actually an even dozen teams that are still undefeated and that includes: Alabama, Appalachian State, Baylor, Boise State, Clemson, LSU, Minnesota, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, SMU and Wisconsin?
And here's something to keep in mind regarding this 12-team unbeaten field: They are a combined 47-21-3 ATS (against the spread) thus far here in 2019 ... ladies and gents, that's a sizzling .691 winning rate!
Okay, so with all this in mind we're gonna tackle what's straight ahead this weekend for the country's top five teams - that's #1 Alabama, #2 LSU, #3 Clemson, #4 Ohio State and #5 Okahoma ... but first this quickie reminder:
Tonight, it's ...
#4 OHIO STATE (6-0, 3-0) at NORTHWESTERN (1-4, 0-3) - 8:30 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
You don't have to remind Big 10 gridiron fans that they haven't had a representative in the playoffs since the 2016 season (see Clemson 31, Ohio State 0) but all signs point towards the Buckeyes getting back to the four-team party ... and we wouldn't expect a mis-step here as four-TD road favorites. Sure, first-year head coach Ryan Day's team may be thinking about next weekend's date against fellow unbeaten Wisconsin but there' way too much pop on this O-State offense starring QB Justin Fields (1,298 yards passing with 18 TDs and just 1 INT) and note N'western has been held to 7, 10, 15 and 10 points in four of its first five outings. Ugh!
Spread Stats - Ohio State is 5-1 ATS this year and the Buckeyes rock-n-roll into Evanston on a five-game spread winning streak (their longest ATS winning streak since covering five in a row way back in 2009). Overall, the 'Eyes are 10-5-1 spreadwise away since the start of 2017.
On Saturday, it's ...
TENNESSEE (2-4, 1-2) at #1 ALABAMA (6-0, 3-0) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Put away the "rat poison". 'Bama head coach Nick Saban knows all too well that his Crimson Tide team is a five-TD favorite for this "rivalry" game against the Vols and he also knows Alabama's won the last 12 in a row SU versus the team from Knoxville.
Get a little more recent and you'll notice Alabama's outscored Tennessee 152-38 the past three meetings - sure looks as if Heisman Trophy candidate QB Tua Tagovailoa (2,011 yards passing with 27 TDs and just 1 INT) can pad those crazy stat numbers of his.
Spread Stats - Alabama is a dead-even and vig-losing 3-3 against the odds so far this year but note the Crimson Tide's covered seven of its last nine showdowns against rival Tennessee.
#2 LSU (6-0, 2-0) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-3, 1-2) - 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Let's get it straight: The LSU Tigers average 561 yards per game and a whopping 52.5 points a game (best in the land) and they zoom into Starkville an 18-point favorite with rumors swirling that the Bulldogs' second-year head coach Joe Moorhead is ready /willing/ able to flee the scene and take the head ball coach job at Rutgers ... just don't ask us why! LSU has Auburn, then Alabama up next on the sked, so a lookahead's possible here but Bengals QB Joe Burrow (2,157 yards passing and 25 TDs / 3 INTs) doesn't want to relent on his spirited chase for the Heisman Trophy.
Spread Stats - LSU is a delicious 4-1-1 against the prices this season and the Bayou Bengals are 13-4-1 spreadwise when playing fellow SEC teams the past two-plus seasons (a whiz-bang .765 winning rate).
#3 CLEMSON (6-0, 4-0) at LOUISVILLE (4-2, 2-1) - 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Just in case you had lost track, the Clemson Tigers enter play here having won their last 21 games in a row SU - the NCAA's longest winning streak at the current time - and there's some thought that soph QB Trevor Lawrence (see 1,301 yards passing with 11 TDs but 6 INTs) may just now be hitting his '19 stride but it's this Clemson ground game averaging 6.1 yards a pop and a defense that's yielding just 12.3 ppg that really must be watched here. P.S., Dabo Swinney's squad is a bloated 24-point road fav here in this ACC clash.
Spread Stats - Clemson's covered four of its first six games this year and the Tigers are 20-11-2 ATS overall since the start of the 2017 campaign (that's a .645 winning percentage).
WEST VIRGINIA (3-3, 1-2) at #5 OKLAHOMA (6-0, 3-0) - 12 p.m. ET, Fox
No secret recipe here: The OU Sooners - who sport the top yards-per-game offense in the land (while averaging 50.2 points per game) - will ask QB Jalen Hurts (13 passing TDs /8 rushing TDs) to spread the wealth against a West Virginia defense that ranks 84th against the run and 54th against the forward pass ... no wonder the home team is five-TD betting favorite. Plus, Mountaineers' QB Austin Kendall - a once-upon-a-time Sooner - was banged up last weekend in that 38-14 loss against Iowa State and he's iffy here.
Spread Stats - Oklahoma has split its first six pointspread verdicts this year but note Boomer Sooner has notched covers in 14 of their last 20 home games.