With three weeks to go, I have no chance of winning the CFP, but I’m furiously trying to get to a better bowl. Right now I’m at .500, probably playing on a Thursday afternoon before Christmas. I need a good end to the season to at least make it to the PopTarts Bowl.
Last week: 5-6 against the spread.
(All point spreads are from BetMGM; click here for live odds. All kickoff times, Eastern and Saturday, unless otherwise noted.)
No. 3 Michigan (-19.5) at Maryland, noon (Fox)
It might be best for Michigan at this point if Jim Harbaugh remains suspended, so the Wolverines go out and play angry again. Not that they’ll need any extra help in this one. The 6-4 Terps defense is so bad that it gave up 51 points to the same Penn State team that could barely complete a pass against Ohio State and Michigan.
Michigan 52, Maryland 14
The choice : Michigan -19.5
No. 10 Louisville at Miami (-1), noon (ABC)
Miami lost freshman quarterback Emory Williams to a season-ending injury. We’ll see how veteran Tyler Van Dyke reacts after being benched for a week. Louisville had a great season, but strangely managed to play only three real road games – two close wins and a confusing loss at 2-8 Pitt. I see the 9-1 Cardinals stumbling here.
Miami 23, Louisville 20
The choice : Miami-1
No. 22 Utah against No. 17 Arizona (-1), 2:30 p.m., (Pac-12 Network)
For the first half of the season it looked like it would be another vintage Utah defense, but Oregon came into Salt Lake and beat up the Utes, then Washington last week did whatever it wanted ( at least in the first half). Arizona quarterback Noah Fifita was sensational in home wins over Oregon State and UCLA. He and his receivers can do damage.
Arizona 27, Utah 24
The choice : Arizona -1
No. 1 Georgia (-10.5) vs. No. 18 Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
The Vols are still in the top 20, but their best win came against…Kentucky? Texas A&M? They haven’t done much to demonstrate that they can hang with the No. 1 team in the country. Their best hope is that Georgia comes in flat after back-to-back Top 25 home wins, but even if they do, Tennessee may not have the offense to take advantage.
Georgia 27, Tennessee 10
The choice : Georgia -10.5
No. 20 North Carolina at Clemson (-7), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Clemson’s long-struggling offense has definitely inspired more confidence over the past two weeks with the Tigers’ 31-23 win over Notre Dame and 42-21 rout of Georgia Tech. Clemson relied more on speedy RB Phil Mafah, and he made a big impact. But I expect Drake Maye and the Tar Heels to be around until the end.
Clemson 31, North Carolina 27
The choice : North Carolina +7
UNLV at Air Force (-3), 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
It’s a battle for first place in the MWC between two 8-2 teams. Since starting 8-0, the Falcons have suffered lopsided losses to 4-6 Army and 4-7 Hawaii, while the Rebels have beaten New Mexico 56-14 and Wyoming 34-14 over the past two weeks. . Air Force’s fifth-ranked defense could slow down UNLV’s red-hot offense, but I still like the Rebels.
UNLV 24, Air Force 20
The choice : UNLV +3
No. 21 Kansas State (-8.5) at No. 25 Kansas, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Two weeks removed from the Oklahoma loss, the Jayhawks suffered a 16-13 home loss last week to mediocre Texas Tech in which quarterback Jason Bean was injured early. He should return this week. But K-State is playing at a higher level, with its only loss in its last five games coming in overtime at Texas. The ‘Cats should handle their rivals.
Kansas State 34, Kansas 24
The choice : Kansas State -8.5
Florida at No. 9 Missouri (-11.5), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Tigers are finally getting the respect they deserve after scaring Georgia in Athens and then beating Tennessee the following week. Now QB Brady Cook, RB Cody Schrader and WR Luther Burden face a Florida defense that just allowed a program-record 701 yards to LSU and is on its heels as the Gators must turn around and playing another prime-time SEC road game.
Missouri 42, Florida 24
The choice : Missouri -11.5
No. 5 Washington vs. No. 11 Oregon State (-2.5), 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Never before have five Power 5 teams gone 10-0. This list decreases by one point this week. Michael Penix and Co. remain potent on offense, but their defense ranks 102nd nationally in third-down conversions (42.2%). RB Damien Martinez and the Beavers are positioned to take advantage in front of a loaded Reser Stadium.
Oregon State 34, Washington 28
The choice : Oregon State -2.5
No. 7 Texas (-7.5) at Iowa State, 8 p.m. (Fox)
Why stop there with the upheavals? Much like Washington, Texas has been playing with fire of late, nearly blowing three 20-point leads in four weeks. The 6-4 Cylones have already far exceeded expectations, given their heavy preseason roster losses due to the statewide gambling scandal, and a top-10 upset at home would be the icing on the cake.
Iowa State 22, Texas 20
The choice : Iowa State +7.5
Mandel’s Upset Special
Duke (-4) at Virginia, 3 p.m. (The CW)
You wouldn’t know it from their 2-8 record, but the Cavaliers have improved since starting 0-5. They won at North Carolina, took Miami to overtime and last week led No. 10 Louisville in the fourth quarter — all on the road. Now they’re back home and putting Duke in a good place, coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to rival UNC.
Virginia 23, Duke 20
The choice : Virginia +4
(Top photo: Ali Gradischer / Getty Images)
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