I'm torn. The college football season has been fun but lacked serious chaos. Last week was the second straight week that the top eight teams in the College Football Playoff Ranks won their games, and the only top-10 teams to lose fell to teams above them. At some point, this would be more fun if chaos made its way into the conversation.
Where are the upsets? Where are the three-touchdown underdogs changing the course of the entire season by doing something they aren't supposed to?
I'd love to see it, but there's a significant part of me that doesn't mind the status quo. I don't know if you've noticed, but the The Six Pack went 5-1 again last week. Over the last five weeks this column is 22-7-1. The lack of chaos has been quite profitable for us, so I'm caught in a war between my heart and my wallet.
The heart wants what it wants, but the wallet says it can buy my heart other things it wants.
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Games of the Week
No. 1 Georgia at No. 18 Tennessee: Remember how good Tennessee was last year? It was one of the season's best stories, with the highlight being an upset of Alabama at Neyland Stadium in a thrilling back-and-forth shootout. Well, Tennessee isn't nearly as good this season. It's probably the most overrated team in the rankings right now. Its best win is either Texas A&M, Kentucky, or South Carolina. I'll let you argue amongst yourselves over which is the most impressive, but just know that no answer you come to is impressive.
Now, think back to last season when the Vols were great. What happened when they went to Athens? The final score may have only been 27-13 Georgia, but nobody who watched the game felt it was close. The Bulldogs sat on an incredible Tennessee offense for 60 minutes and moved on with their day. If Tennessee couldn't move the ball against Georgia last season, why should we expect 2023 to be different?
The game is at Neyland Stadium this year, but that only matters so much. Still, it's not the part of this game I find the most enticing. Georgia's offense is practically unstoppable at the moment. It has reached the red zone on 50.89% of its possessions, the highest rate in the nation. Tennessee's defense was just torn apart by Missouri last week. The Vols have improved on that side of the ball this year, but they've been extremely vulnerable against SEC opponents. Much like last week against Ole Miss, I don't know how many times the Bulldogs offense leaves the field without scoring. Pick: Georgia Team Total Over 34.5 (-112)
No. 5 Washington at No. 11 Oregon State: It raises some eyebrows that Oregon State is favored in this game since Washington is undefeated and just outside the playoff picture. However, it shouldn't be a huge surprise if you've been paying attention. Washington's defense has made it difficult for the Huskies to pull away from opponents all year, and this Oregon State squad is good. It's been even better at home. Washington's defense hasn't been particularly strong anywhere, but it's been much worse on the road.
There are plenty of reasons to think the Beavers can win this game. There are plenty to think the Huskies can, too. It's essentially a coin flip, so I'm avoiding the spread and attacking the total due to recent trends.
Oregon State is phenomenal at running the ball. It has one of the best offensive lines in the country, and running back Damien Martinez is more than capable of exploiting the holes opened for him. Washington's run defense has been plenty accommodating to opponents as well. That's been the case all year.
The change is on Washington's side. The Huskies ran the ball on only 37% of their offensive plays through the first eight games of the season. In the last two weeks against USC and Utah, they've run it 56% of the time. My theory is they're trying to control the clock a bit more to give their defense a break. Since Oregon State's run defense can be exploited, too, I expect Washington leans on the run game again this week. The clock could be running nonstop in this game, which means it might be lower-scoring than you think. Pick: Under 64 (-110)
Lock of the Week
Florida at No. 9 Missouri: I understand the math dictates the total be in this range, but having watched these teams all year, it feels 10 points too low. For the first half of the season, Florida's games were relatively modest when it came to points, but things have changed! Florida's last four games have averaged 76.25 points! The Gators haven't allowed fewer than 39 points in any of them.
Missouri is no stranger to the shootout, either. Yes, the Tigers held Tennessee to seven points last weekend, but that said more about Tennessee's offense than Mizzou's defense. Mizzou has found itself in high-scoring shootouts against Memphis, Vanderbilt, LSU and even against Kentucky. It also put up 21 points on Georgia, which means it can probably put up 50 on the Gators. We could hit this over in the third quarter. Pick: Over 58.5 (-108)
Lame Duck Fade of the Week
UCLA at USC: It's not easy to trust USC these days, let alone as a favorite, but we're getting the Trojans at a good price this week. There's a lot of buzz out there that Chip Kelly's time with the Bruins is reaching its end. Some reports say Kelly could be fired after this game, no matter the result. There are also rumors that UCLA players are ready to transfer as sharks circle the portal. The vibes in Brentwood are extremely low right now.
Perhaps that leads to a unified locker room rallying to save their coach and make a point against their crosstown rival. Perhaps. More often than not, it leads to a flat effort. If USC gets off to a good start in this game, it could go south quickly. Besides, have you seen UCLA's offense recently? Even with how bad the USC defense is, I don't know that the Bruins can keep up. Pick: USC -6.5 (-110)
Toothed Bird of the Week
No. 10 Louisville at Miami: Louisville hasn't been nearly as strong on the road this year as it has at home. It opened the season squeaking by Georgia Tech in Atlanta (technically a neutral site, but Georgia Tech is in Atlanta), beat NC State 13-0 in Raleigh and lost at a terrible Pitt team 38-21. Now, it's back on the road to face Miami, but if there's a time to get Miami, it's this weekend.
Miami threw everything it had at Florida State last week and lost. It also made a quarterback change, benching Tyler Van Dyke for Emory Williams -- only for Williams to break his arm. Now the Hurricanes are forced to hand the ball back to Van Dyke a week after benching him and essentially telling him they no longer believe in him. Oh, and they're doing so against a defense that pressures the QB like crazy. Keep in mind that Louisville's a win away from wrapping up a spot in the ACC Championship Game against Florida State. Pick: Louisville +1 (-110)
Letdown Lookahead of the Week
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 13 Ole Miss: As I wrote last week when I took Georgia to cover against Ole Miss, the Rebels aren't as good as their record suggests. I believe that was evident against Georgia, just as it was earlier this year against Alabama. With their College Football Playoff hopes now dashed, the Rebels must return home to face Louisiana-Monroe.
A letdown at any other time of the season would be expected in this spot, but there's another wild card at play. The Rebels have the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving. So they're coming off a blowout loss that crushed their dreams and will have a short week to prepare for the biggest game on their schedule every season. Quarterback Jaxson Dart has also been banged up in recent weeks. It doesn't take a genius to look at this situation and think the Rebels might view this game as something they're merely trying to survive rather than trying to make a point. Pick: UL Monroe +37.5 (-105)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
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