Can anyone beat Bama? We'll find out this week, as the Tide face an SEC West showdown with Texas A&M, one of the highlights of another strong slate of games.
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Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior editor Rob Doster:
Wisconsin at Iowa
Iowa is its usual maddening self this season — solid at times, inept at others. Even at their best, though, the Hawkeyes will be hard pressed to beat a Wisconsin team that took Ohio State to the wire. An angry group of Badgers will have their way in Iowa City.
Doster's pick: Wisconsin 28–14
Texas at Kansas State
These teams are tied in the Big 12 standings at 1–2, but the contrast between the two is stark. Texas has been in the habit of losing shootouts this season, until a long-overdue defensive gem against Iowa State. The Wildcats have been stout defensively but have struggled to move the ball. Charlie Strong staved off the wolves with the win over the Cyclones, but this week, the heat gets turned back up courtesy of Bill Snyder.
Doster’s pick: Kansas State 20–17
NC State at Louisville
Both these teams have now lost heartbreakers to ACC kingpin Clemson. The wound is still fresh for the Wolfpack, while Louisville has already had its hangover game, a lackluster 10-point win over Duke. The Pack has played great defense, including against Deshaun Watson, but Cards QB Lamar Jackson is still the most dominant individual player in college football this season and give the home team the edge.
Doster’s pick: Louisville 37–24
Arizona State at Washington State
Could the Cougs actually be cruising toward a winner-take-all Apple Cup showdown with Washington? It's true. Mike Leach's team has been rolling since two early losses, and the Cougars look like a solid bet to move to 4–0 in the Pac-12 against a Devils team that has been thrashed in two of the last three weeks. Wazzu QB Luke Falk will put up huge numbers against a suspect ASU defense.
Doster’s pick: Washington State 42–28
North Carolina at Virginia
A strange season in the ACC Coastal got stranger when apparent division kingpin Virginia Tech lost to Syracuse, bringing one-loss teams like Carolina and, yes, Virginia back into the title picture. The Heels just played their best defensive game of the season, holding Miami to 13 points, and Mitch Trubisky figures to feast on a Cavs defense that struggles to stop the pass.
Doster's pick: North Carolina 34–17
Colorado at Stanford
The Buffs rebounded nicely from their loss to USC by dominating Arizona State and still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South. The Cardinal shook off disastrous losses to Washington and Washington State with a comeback win over Notre Dame, but Stanford's offensive woes remain one of this season's biggest head-scratchers.
Doster’s pick: Colorado 27–17
TCU at West Virginia
It took a while, but WVU coach Dana Holgorsen finally is having his breakout season. The Mountaineers played their most complete game of the season in dismantling Texas Tech 48–17 with a surprisingly dominant defensive effort. TCU is averaging 530 yards per game, but the last time we saw the Frogs, they were struggling to beat Kansas.
Doster's pick: West Virginia 38–24
Memphis at Navy
One of the week's better matchups comes courtesy of the American, where AAC West division supremacy will be on the line when these two teams meet. The Middies, ranked No. 24 in the AP Top 25, are getting it done on the ground, while Memphis is relying on the arm of former Tennessee transfer Riley Ferguson.
Doster's pick: Navy 27–24
Purdue at Nebraska
Purdue finally closed the book on the failed Darrell Hazell era and limps into Lincoln with interim coach Gerad Parker. The Huskers, leaders of the Big Ten West, will use this as a tune-up for a tough two-fer against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
Doster's pick: Nebraska 34–14
Texas A&M at Alabama
This battle for SEC West supremacy will feature a rested and confident Texas A&M team that had a week off following its two-overtime slugfest with Tennessee. But the way that Alabama toyed with the Vols would seem to indicate a significant talent disparity. If Bama forces a few turnovers, this one could be over early.
Doster's pick: Alabama 35–21
Illinois at Michigan
The Illini beat Rutgers in a battle of Big Ten basement dwellers, but it's back to reality this week. Michigan has shown no inclination to go easy on outmanned teams this season and will extend Lovie Smith's misery in his first season in Champaign.
Doster's pick: Michigan 51–10
Middle Tennessee at Missouri
Mizzou returns home from a disastrous two-week road trip that resulted in one-sided losses to LSU and Florida. Middle doesn't exactly provide a breather, either. The Raiders are scoring at an explosive clip and are eager to grab a rare win over an SEC opponent. Missouri will hold serve, but it won't be easy.
Doster's pick: Missouri 27–24
Utah at UCLA
The Bruins' lost season is spiraling away from them with frustrating losses and a banged-up quarterback in Josh Rosen. The Utes have made an art form out of winning ugly and should paint another masterpiece in Los Angeles.
Doster’s pick: Utah 20–17
Arkansas at Auburn
The surging Tigers remain alive in the SEC West, although they'll have to run the table, starting with a visit from a tough group of Hogs, who posted 30 points on Alabama and then outlasted Ole Miss. This should be one of the more entertaining games of the week thanks to a potent pair of offenses, but Auburn has the better defense.
Doster's pick: Auburn 34–28
Oregon State at Washington
Washington began its current eight-game win streak with a 52-7 victory at Oregon State on Nov. 21, 2015. That streak will continue against an injury-riddled group of Beavers, as the Huskies march toward a playoff berth.
Doster's pick: Washington 44–17
Houston at SMU
Houston's playoff dreams died against Navy, and the Cougars struggled to beat Tulsa in the follow-up. They're due for a return to form against a lesser opponent, and the Mustangs fit the bill.
Doster’s pick: Houston 41–21
Mississippi State at Kentucky
These two teams are having to scrap and claw their way toward bowl eligibility, and to that end, this game is a must-win for both. The Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking double-OT loss at BYU and could be carrying more scar tissue.
Doster’s pick: Kentucky 21–17
Oklahoma at Texas Tech
It seems odd to say, but the Sooners are flying under the radar a bit despite being 3–0 in the Big 12. They should move to 4–0 against a Tech team that is nursing its wounds following a drubbing at the hands of West Virginia. Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes is not 100 percent but has no time to rest.
Doster's pick: Oklahoma 41–28
Ohio State at Penn State
Ohio State has looked human the last two weeks, while Penn State had a week to rest following the most complete performance of the James Franklin era — a 38–14 win over Maryland. Still, there's a wide talent gulf between these two programs, and the Lions' suspect run defense could be in for a long afternoon.
Doster's pick: Ohio State 31–17
Ole Miss at LSU
The Rebels’ hopes of capturing the SEC West ended with a loss Saturday night with a loss to Arkansas, but this is still a very good team that has elite talent on both sides of the ball. A nighttime visit to Baton Rouge is never easy, even against an LSU team that is searching for an identity amid the coaching turmoil. The explosive Ole Miss offense, led by quarterback Chad Kelly, would seem to give the Rebels the upper hand given LSU’s offensive struggles.
Doster's pick: Ole Miss 28–21
Last Week: 14-6