The 2018 College Football season heads towards a regular season finale as playoff contenders Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State are in action looking to avoid upsets. Our panelists break down the latest numbers.
#23 Fresno State at Boise State (Friday at 10 PM in Boise, Idaho) Line: Fresno State by 2.5
John Bava: This is a series that’s been dominated by Boise State. The Broncos are 14-4 all-time against the Bulldogs and have never lost to them at home. This year’s matchup is certainly one of Fresno State’s best opportunities to get their first win on the blue turf. The oddsmakers like their chances. Boise comes into this game as a home underdog in a conference game for the first time this century.
Both sides boast talented quarterbacks in Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion and Boise State’s Brett Rypien. They’re currently the Mountain West’s two most efficient passers and have combined for 44 touchdowns and nine interceptions. It’s been a college football season marked by ranked teams falling to unranked opponents. Fresno State will become the next victim. Boise State 31, Fresno State 24
Lukas Weese: This is a trap game for No. 23 ranked Fresno State. Boise State at home is always a tough out. It will be close all the way through but I like Fresno State to Survive and win to remain in the Top 25 of the College Football Playoff. Fresno State 23, Boise State 20
Yesh Ginsburg: Can the Bulldogs take dominance in the Mountain West away from Boise? On the blue turf? Absolutely. Fresno State is just more talented this year, and is playing better as a team. This line is low because Boise still gets name recognition in the betting public, but don’t expect this to be close. Fresno State 42, Boise State 21
Mike Loveall: the Bulldogs are quickly turning into this year’s Cinderella team. Even in the MWC, it’s tough to get through a season unscathed. It’s Friday, on the road, in the cold weather, and on a blue field. Boise State knows the pressure of having to go undefeated. They also know how to win in the spotlight. Boise State 41, Fresno State 31
Steen Kirby: Boise State is a high scoring team, they aren’t as good as they usually are, but Fresno State’s defense is likely to struggle in this one. Expect a close contest between two of the best G6 teams in the country, with Boise winning at home. Boise State 31, Fresno State 24
#10 Ohio State at #18 Michigan State (Saturday at 12:00 in East Lansing, MI)
Line: Ohio State by 3.5
John: It’s been a rough few weeks for Ohio State. First came a 49-20 blowout at the hands of Purdue, their worst loss against the Boilermakers in 50 years. And though they inevitably dispatched Nebraska last week, it a was a thoroughly unconvincing victory over a two-win team. Saturday’s looming clash with 18th-ranked Michigan State figures to be a significant challenge.
OSU’s defense seems to be reeling in the wake of Nick Bosa’s decision to leave the team to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft. They’ve looked listless the past two games, something that will need to change if they want to keep their slim CFP hopes alive. With MSU possessing FBS’ top-ranked rush defense, expect Urban Meyer to dial up a lot of pass plays with one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks in Dwayne Haskins behind center. Ohio State 24, Michigan State 21
Lukas: Ohio State has not performed up to expectation the last few weeks. They barely squeaked out a victory last week against a below .500 Nebraska team. Now they go on the road and play a pesky Michigan State team. I like the Spartans to pull off the upset. Michigan State 27, Ohio State 24
Yesh: I don’t know what to make of the Buckeyes. The defense is a wreck. The receivers are talented but have been a bit off the past few weeks. Haskins isn’t his old perfect self. Even so, Michigan State’s pass defense is atrocious and the Buckeyes will light them up. This will come down to if the Ohio State defense made any fixes this week. Urban Meyer is using up his benefit of the doubt, but he still gets some. Ohio State 41, Michigan State 24
Mike: The Buckeyes travel to East Lansing in the midst of turmoil and rumors surrounding head coach Urban Meyer. Is this his last season? The Buckeyes nearly coughed up a loss at home last week, look for them to rebound against a far less talented Spartan team. Michigan State ends up on its shield. Ohio State 38, Michigan State 24
Steen: It’s been a shaky season for Michigan State but they can feel much better about where they stand in the BIG 10 if they can upset the Buckeyes. Ohio State can score but their defense is suspect and this is a team in turmoil on the road. I’ll back Ohio State in a close one. Ohio State 35, Michigan State 28
Oklahoma State at #6 Oklahoma (Saturday at 3:30 in Norman, OK)
Line: Oklahoma by 20.5
John: Among the teams currently on the outside looking in with respect to the CFP, Oklahoma may have the best chance of sneaking in if they run the table. They certainly don’t control their own destiny. But at 6th this week, they’re in a position to benefit if someone ahead of them slips up. And though they’re pretty heavy favorites, their Bedlam rivals Oklahoma State will be a motivated bunch looking to ruin their playoff hopes.
Sooner quarterback Kyler Murray has successfully taken the reins from Baker Mayfield. He currently ranks third nationally in total yards per game and is the most efficient passer in FBS, something Mayfield accomplished last year en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. He has the potential to feast against a Cowboys secondary that’s only forced five interceptions this year. But the rivalry factor inevitably keeps this closer than what the line suggests. Oklahoma 34, Oklahoma State 20
Lukas: The Oklahoma Sooners are continuing to make their case for Big 12 Champion as they take on Oklahoma State. This is a mismatch on paper. The Sooners offence is playing at a high level led by QB Kyler Murray. I don’t see him slowing down. Sooners win and remain with only one loss. Oklahoma 31, Oklahoma State 17
Yesh: This Oklahoma State team is talented, and Bedlam always surprises. The Oklahoma defense has also been pretty porous at times this year. I don’t think Oklahoma will be challenged, but this line is way too high. Oklahoma 48, Oklahoma State 34
Mike: Bedlam. One of the best rivalries of the past decade. Both of these teams have been wildly inconsistent this year. Oklahoma’s defense has already cost one man his job; will it push Lincoln Riley out of Norman for greener pastures? And Mike Gundy’s offense has shown sparks this season, but sputtered at times. That’s a big spread for a defense that can’t seem to stop too many teams. Oklahoma 54, Oklahoma State 42
Steen: Oklahoma is on a run of games scoring 40+, while rivals Oklahoma State have a suspect defense. This will be a classic BIG 12 shootout with the more well rounded team (Oklahoma) prevailing in the end. Oklahoma 56, Oklahoma State 38
#24 Auburn at #5 Georgia (Saturday at 7:00 in Athens, GA)
Line: Georgia by 14
John: For the second-straight year, Georgia finds itself in the thick of the CFP race. The 5th-ranked Bulldogs essentially control their own destiny since an upset win over Alabama in the SEC title game should assure them a spot in the semifinals. Coming off a dominant road win over Kentucky, they return to Athens to renew the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” with Auburn. The two teams first met in 1892.
#2 Clemson at #17 Boston College (Saturday at 8:00 in Chestnut Hill, MA)
Line: Clemson by 20
John: There’s a line from the movie “Varsity Blues” where one of the characters says of the dominant high school team in the area, “they’re not just hurting people, they’re killing people.” That just about sums up what Clemson’s been doing recently. The Tigers are averaging 60 points per game over their last four with the average margin of victory in those games at 51. So it’s not surprising that they’re a near three-touchdown road favorite against a top-20 Boston College team.
Both these teams excel at getting to the quarterback. Clemson’s 32 sacks are third-best in the country while Boston College isn’t too far behind with 28 which is tied for 11th. They also boast two talented backs in BC’s AJ Dillon and the Tigers’ Travis Etienne. But Dillon has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury all season and probably won’t be 100 percent for this one. Add in the fact that Clemson’s one of nine teams in FBS averaging over 500 yards per game and it’s hard to not see them continuing to roll. Clemson 52, Boston College 20
Lukas: Clemson’s last big test of the season is a road game against Boston College. The Tigers have been dominant the last four games, outscoring opponent 240-36. Trevor Lawrence is doing a fantastic job at the quarterback position. Tigers dominate to punch their ticket to the ACC Championship. Clemson 49, Boston College 10
Yesh: This line also seems way too high. Clemson is one of the best teams in the country, but they have yet to face a defense or offensive line like Boston College has. The Eagles can control the game pace and keep it close. Clemson 31, Boston College 21
Mike: This might be the toughest game to call this weekend. Trevor Lawrence has been on fire since Clemson’s near miss against Syracuse. But Boston College might be the recipe that stymies the Tigers momentum. Cold weather, a pounding rushing attack, and a formidable front for the Eagles defense. Clearly Clemson has too much talent in Lawrence and Etienne for the Eagles to win, but how close can they keep it? Clemson 38, Boston College 21
Steen: Boston College wants to play this game on their terms in order to have a shot at a home upset of playoff contenders Clemson. The problem is Clemson knows how to up the tempo and their running game will be the weapon that allows them to pull away and shut the door on the Eagles upset hopes. Clemson 27, Boston College 17