I cannot believe how little time there is remaining in the regular season. Every year it seems like the regular season moves quicker and quicker, and I can't help but believe the expanded College Football Playoff will only intensify that feeling as the sport becomes more playoff-focused than it already is.
But I digress. I don't want to think about rankings or how results will impact future rankings. I only want to think about what could happen in this weekend's games while we still have games left to figure out.
The Six Pack went 4-2 last week and moved that much closer to getting over .500 for the season, but there's more work to be done. Let's get to it. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Games of the Week
No. 4 TCU at No. 18 Texas: From a power rating standpoint, I understand why Texas is a significant favorite here. My power ratings agree that the Longhorns are the stronger team -- notice I didn't use the term "better" -- and when you toss in the homefield advantage, it tilts things further in their favor. However, while power ratings are great for determining what teams are good at and how that impacts their likely performance moving forward, they can't always account for where a team is.
Texas is a team that has shown time and time again that when the going gets rough, it doesn't know how to handle it. It nearly beat Alabama but couldn't hold on. It nearly beat Oklahoma State but couldn't hold on. Last week, it nearly blew another lead against Kansas State. Meanwhile, TCU has been tested repeatedly this season and passed every time. It's far from a perfect team, and its defense doesn't allow it to pull away from opponents. At some point, it will cost the Horned Frogs, but I don't think that point is this week. And if it is, and Texas does hand the Frogs their first loss, I don't think it'll be by more than a touchdown. Take the points. TCU 35, Texas 31 | TCU +7
No. 9 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss: Last week, Alabama faced an LSU team whose biggest defensive weakness was stopping the run. Alabama threw the ball a billion times like it has all season long, and it led to uneven results. I suspect that looking across the field at Lane Kiffin will remind Nick Saban of all the times he chewed Kiffin out for his play-calling, and he'll be inspired to instruct Bill O'Brien to put a greater emphasis on the run this week.
He'll remind O'Brien that the Tide ran the ball a season-high 50 times last season against Ole Miss and won the game by 21 points with four rushing touchdowns. He might also mention that throwing the ball a lot hasn't worked in Alabama's favor often on the road this season, so maybe running the ball more often would benefit everyone. And if he does, it will likely work because Ole Miss' defense was torn apart on the ground all October. Add in that Ole Miss likes to run the ball a lot itself, and this total seems a little too high. Alabama 31, Ole Miss 20 | Under 64.5
Lock of the Week
No. 25 Washington at No. 6 Oregon: There is no conference race I find more exciting down the stretch than the Pac-12's. Between Oregon, USC and UCLA, I believe there are three teams with a realistic shot of not only winning the conference but reaching the College Football Playoff. I do not believe Washington is capable of winning the league. The Huskies got off to a 4-0 start, but those early wins over Michigan State and Stanford have lost some of that early-season luster. After losing to UCLA, the Huskies lost to Arizona State, and since then it's been close calls against Arizona, Cal and Oregon State. The record is solid, but when you dig deeper, things are shaky.
Oregon has its own flaws, even if it has a superior résumé. Defensively, the Ducks leave plenty to be desired, particularly in the secondary. That's not great news against Washington's pass-happy attack, but the Huskies defense is also awful. And as strange as it seems, I trust Bo Nix more than Michael Penix. The Indiana transfer is having a terrific season, but in Washington's two most demanding games (vs. UCLA and Oregon State), he's thrown five touchdowns and three interceptions. The fact that 60% of his interceptions have come in his two most difficult games raises an eyebrow. Oregon 45, Washington 27 | Oregon -13.5
Under of the Week
No. 7 LSU at Arkansas: Has there ever been a spot more ripe for an upset than this one? LSU is coming off a thrilling overtime win at home against Alabama, while Arkansas lost at home to Liberty. One team is primed for an emotional letdown, while the other was embarrassed and should have a fire in its belly. But I'm staying away from the spread here because there are question marks about Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson's health. I expect him to play, but will he be 100%? If he isn't, this total may be putting too much faith in the Arkansas offense. If he does end up missing the game, we're getting even more value here.
I still think that's the case assuming full strength for both sides. LSU isn't great at stopping the run, and few teams in the country like to run the ball more than Arkansas. For the Tigers, while QB Jayden Daniels is growing more confident in the offense and in the passing game, LSU is still a better rushing team than passing. LSU 31, Arkansas 24 | Under 63
Over of the Week
Wisconsin at Iowa: Listen, I get it. Statistically, these have been two of the saddest offenses in the country, but this total is giving too much credit to the early part of the season and not enough to the last few weeks. While it's not suddenly a juggernaut, the Badgers offense has been better under interim coach Jim Leonhard than it was under Paul Chryst, and it's done a much better job taking care of the football.
Then there's Iowa. It's not hyperbole to say Iowa's offense was awful. For most of the season, it was statistically one of the worst in the country. Technically, it still is, but it's come to life in the last two weeks! The Hawkeyes have averaged 2.71 points per drive with a success rate of 46.4% in the last two weeks. Before that, they scored 0.81 points per drive with a success rate of 31.0%. Yes, the Wisconsin defense is better than either Northwestern or Purdue's, but it's a unit that's found some confidence and you'd be surprised how big a difference that can make. We aren't in for a shootout, but we don't need one to get past this total. Wisconsin 21, Iowa 20 | Over 35
Upset of the Week
No. 15 North Carolina at Wake Forest: This is another instance of the power rating being correct but not paying enough attention to what's gone on recently. Two weeks ago, Wake Forest was my Lock of the Week against Louisville. The Demon Deacons had a halftime lead in the game and then turned the ball over a billion times in the second half. I thought it was a fluke and that QB Sam Hartman would recover with a big game against NC State because that's who he's been throughout his career.
He didn't. While Hartman threw for 397 yards and two touchdowns in Wake's loss, he also threw three more interceptions. Hartman's interception rate of 3.3% in his first five games this season has ballooned to 9.6% in the last three games. Right now, North Carolina has the better QB in this matchup in Drake Maye, who has been phenomenal all season. I see no reason why Maye won't continue to play well against this Wake defense, and it's too hard to trust Hartman right now. The vibes aren't great with the Deacs, and the Heels have a lot to play for. North Carolina 44, Wake Forest 37 | North Carolina (+150)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
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