College Football Picks: All eyes on … Lawrence, Kansas!


So, about that game of the year …

The much-anticipated matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama, after an offseason feud between the team’s championship-winning coaches, is not nearly as interesting as expected.

Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies did upset Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in a similar spot last year. Texas A&M was unranked with two losses when it knocked off unbeaten Alabama in College Station behind the performance of a lifetime from quarterback Zach Calzada.

The return match is Saturday in Tuscaloosa and the Aggies (3-2) have given no indication of being prepared for an encore.

Instead the game of the day will be in … Lawrence, Kansas.

The five most intriguing games of Week 6:

No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas

The Jayhawks have a chance to go from fun, feel-good story to serious Big 12 contenders if they can knock off another bounce-back team in TCU. The Horned Frogs’ offense has been the best in the nation (8.33 yards per play) behind resurgent fourth-year QB Max Duggan. Meanwhile, Kansas QB Jalon Daniels is getting early Heisman buzz. Should be a blast.

LINE: TCU by 7. PICK: KANSAS 38-35.

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

The Utes have been a runaway train since leaving Gainesville, Florida, disappointed in Week 1. The Bruins benefited from a soft early schedule, and then smoked Washington to get ranked. The division-less Pac-12 has a chance to turn into quite race and this feels like a game that will eventually help sort out who plays in Las Vegas for a title.

LINE: Utah by 4 1/2. PICK: UCLA 31-28.

Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas

Anxious times for the Red River rivals. The loser leaves town with a third loss and at the bottom of the Big 12. The last time the Sooners lost more than two Big 12 games in a season was 2014. The last time they last lost three in a row was 1998. But 3-3 won’t feel great for the Longhorns either.

LINE: Texas by 7. PICK: Texas 41-35.

North Carolina at Miami

The Tar Heels spent much of the first month of the season playing ghastly defense, but emerged 4-1 with one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Drake Maye. Miami’s dreadful September included its potential first-round draft pick QB getting benched. Still, an ACC Coastal title is a realistic goal for the Hurricanes — which nicely sums up the state of that division.

LINE: Miami by 3 1/2. PICK: North Carolina 34-28.

Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama

Still interesting. The Aggies are talented enough to be a threat, especially if Heisman winner Bryce Young (shoulder) is either unavailable or limited for the Tide. Also, a motivated and ticked off Tide can be fascinating to watch in the way it’s interesting to see what happens when a large object is flattened by a steamroller.

LINE: Alabama by 23 1/2. PICK: Alabama 31-10.

Other games matching ranked teams against FBS opponents, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook.

Auburn (plus 29 1/2) at No. 2 Georgia

Bulldogs have won five straight meetings in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it’s hard to know what to expect out of the Tigers … GEORGIA 34-10.

No. 3 Ohio State (minus 26 1/2) at Michigan State

Buckeyes led the Spartans 49-0 at the half last season and Michigan State isn’t as good this year … OHIO STATE 49-14.

No. 4 Michigan (minus 22 1/2) at Indiana

Wolverines QB J.J. McCarthy gets a crack at the Big Ten’s worst pass defense … MICHIGAN 38-13.

No. 5 Clemson (minus 20 1/2) at Boston College

Eagles QB Phil Jurkovec has faced constant pressure behind a thin and inexperienced offensive line. Now here comes DE Myles Murphy and Co. … CLEMSON 35-13, BEST BET.

Washington State (plus 13 1/2) at No. 6 Southern California

In four wins, Cougars have allowed 47 points; In one loss, 44 … USC 31-23.

Texas Tech at No. 7 Oklahoma State (minus 9 1/2)

Second straight week on the road against a ranked opponent for the Red Raiders … OKLAHOMA STATE 31-20.

No. 8 Tennessee at No. 25 LSU (plus 3)

Tigers have won five straight meetings, dating back to 2005, and have not lost at home to the Vols since 2000 … TENNESSEE 30-28.

No. 9 Mississippi (plus 16 1/2) at Vanderbilt

Vandy’s SEC losing streak is 22 games … OLE MISS 38-17.

No. 12 Oregon (minus 12 1/2) at Arizona

Best running game in the Pac-12 (Ducks) vs. second-worst run defense (Wildcats) … OREGON 42-24.

South Carolina at No. 13 Kentucky (minus 9 1/2)

Recent results tell the story of two programs. Wildcats have won seven of eight after more than a decade of domination by the Gamecocks … KENTUCKY 28-17.

Florida State (plus 3) at No. 14 North Carolina State

With Clemson looming, the Seminoles’ turnaround season could get derailed … FLORIDA STATE 27-24.

Army (plus 17) at No. 15 Wake Forest

Teams combined for 126 points in Wake’s win last year at West Point … WAKE FOREST 38-24.

No. 16 BYU (plus 3 1/2) vs. Notre Dame at Las Vegas

Shamrock Series game for Irish against major college football’s other independent power … BYU 27-24.

No. 20 Kansas State (minus 2) at Iowa State

Cyclones’ three games against Power Five opponents (1-2) have been decided by 13 points … KANSAS STATE 24-20.

No. 21 Washington at Arizona State (plus 13 1/2)

Sun Devils have won 12 of 14 in the series and not lost at home to the Huskies since 2001. … WASHINGTON 34-24.

Arkansas (plus 8 1/2) at No. 23 Mississippi State

Razorbacks trying to avoid a third straight loss … MISSISSIPPI STATE 28-21.

South Florida at No. 24 Cincinnati (minus 27 1/2)

Bearcats have won 17 straight conference games, longest active streak in the nation … CINCINNATI 48-17.


Iowa (plus 3 1/2) at Illinois (@trentcondon) — First to 20 wins? Make it 17 or they might play all day … IOWA 17-14.

Missouri (plus 10 1/2) at Florida (@keithfarner) — Brutal past two weeks of losses for Mizzou … FLORIDA 28-23.

UNLV (plus 6 1/2) at San Jose State (@DanaBecker) — Rebels (4-1) could match their most victories in a season since 2013 … UNLV 24-21.



Last week: Straight-up — 18-5; Against spread — 11-12.

Season: 80-26; 56-61.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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