From a national perspective, all eyes on Saturday will be on the SEC matchup at 3:30 p.m. ET between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama (all rankings from AP Top 25) with both unbeaten and the winner in the driver’s seat of the SEC West Division. The Tide are 6-point home favorites and have won the past eight in the series by an average of more than two touchdowns per game.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
While that’s a fantastic matchup, don’t overlook what’s happening in the Big Ten on Saturday and that West Division could also get some clarity. At noon ET, No. 5 Penn State visits one of the biggest surprises of the season in No. 13 Minnesota with both the Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers unbeaten and coming off bye weeks. PSU is -7 and has won five of the past six in the series.
Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has worked wonders and deserves consideration for National Coach of the Year – he’ll almost surely win Big Ten honors if the Gophers don’t fall off and just got a huge contract extension. This could be a conference title game preview and the Gophers will be hard to catch in the West if they win. Penn State is tied atop the East with Ohio State and they play in Columbus on November 23. Thus, the Lions could lose here but still win that game and the Big Ten East and then play Minnesota again.
Only two schools have a chance to catch Minnesota in the West: Iowa and Wisconsin, with both two games back but both still yet to play the Gophers. The No. 18 Hawkeyes visit the No. 16 Badgers at 4 p.m. ET with both coming off bye weeks and the loser effectively out of the West race. The Badgers are -9 and have covered three straight against Iowa.
The lone unbeaten Big 12 team remaining is No. 11 Baylor as the Bears visit a mediocre TCU side at noon ET. Could be a bit of a trap game for Baylor because it hosts Oklahoma next Saturday in the Big 12 Game of the Year. A loss for the Frogs and they have an uphill battle to get bowl eligible. Baylor is -1.5 but 1-6 ATS in the past seven in this series.
The biggest surprise in the ACC is No. 22 Wake Forest, which is still very much alive in the Atlantic Division race, although just about no one will give the Deacons a chance next Saturday at defending national champion Clemson. Wake is off a bye this week for a 3:30 p.m. ET trip to Virginia Tech. The Hokies are in the thick of the Coastal Division race. Wake Forest is -1.5 and 1-4 ATS in its past five against Virginia Tech.