We've entered November, and we have College Football Playoff Rankings. Goodness, where has the season gone? It doesn't feel like we should be as late into the season as we are, and it's got me a bit down in the dumps.
How can I dig out of the hole I've created for myself in this column with so few weeks left? Going 3-3 like I did last week isn't the way. Still, while the results weren't there, I take solace in the fact that things had to get very weird to keep me from going 5-1. Wake Forest, for example, led Louisville at halftime ... and then turned the ball over eight times in the second half. That's not normal! Elsewhere, after scoring 30 points in the first 45 minutes of the game, Ohio State and Penn State combined for 45 points in the fourth quarter, including 21 points in the final three minutes to kill our under.
It's hard to account for that when handicapping a game. Hopefully, we'll get a bit luckier this weekend, if not smarter. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Games of the Week
No. 1 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia: The odd thing about this game is that the winner is almost guaranteed a College Football Playoff berth (barring a disastrous upset before the SEC Championship), but losing might not be the worst thing, either. As long as the loser is competitive and wins the rest of its games, it'll have a solid case for a playoff berth. Anyway, that's not why you're here. You want to know who will win and by how much. Well, sorry, I don't know. I can see both teams winning this game. Tennessee's offense could prove too much for the Georgia defense (now without Nolan Smith) to contend with, but Georgia's defense could be the only unit in the country capable of stopping the Vols. I don't know.
The good news is I have a pretty good idea of which team will cover. Georgia's best path to victory involves controlling the ball on offense and limiting big plays on defense. If that happens and Georgia wins, it'll be hard to blow the Vols out unless they turn the ball over repeatedly. Meanwhile, the best way for Tennessee to win is to get off to a fast start, take the energy out of the home crowd and overwhelm an opponent that isn't built to get into shootouts. So Georgia's wins probably aren't blowouts, and if Tennessee wins, well, we don't need the points, do we? I'm taking the Vols and the points, and then I'm sitting down with some popcorn to watch it just like you are. Georgia 34, Tennessee 28 | Tennessee +8
No. 6 Alabama at No. 10 LSU: When you think of the history between these programs, you can't help but think of the 9-6 affair during the 2011 season and the 21-0 Alabama win that followed in the BCS National Championship. What you don't think of are high-scoring, back-and-forth affairs, though that's what we got in 2019 when LSU won 46-41. While I don't think this game approaches 2019 levels, it'll be higher scoring than expected.
Both teams look better on offense than defense. Alabama is the more explosive team with the better quarterback, while LSU has been better at staying "on schedule." But while Alabama has the better QB, I give LSU the edge at receiver. I see Alabama finding success through the air and running back Jahmyr Gibbs having a big game as a dual-threat weapon. I see LSU, which has scored 90 points in the last two weeks, being able to move the ball better than most anticipate. We're not going to crack 80 points as they did in 2019, but I don't think the 60s are out of reach. Alabama 38, LSU 27 | Over 56.5
Lock of the Week
Air Force at Army: Service Academy Unders are a staple of The Process' diet. It's a simple formula. Service academies run option offenses. That means they run the ball almost exclusively. Air Force has run the ball on 87.7% of its snaps this season, which is the highest rate in the nation. Army is second at 84.3%. Neither are overly explosive when doing so. That means both teams require a lot of long drives featuring 10 plays or more to score touchdowns. When you run the ball exclusively and need long drives to score, the clock never stops.
You typically don't see more than three possessions in a quarter in these games, and when you limit possessions, you limit scoring opportunities. All of this leads to low-scoring games, and that's why the under has gone 42-9-1 in games between service academies since 2005. They keep lowering the totals for these games, and so far, it hasn't mattered. Air Force 21, Army 14 | Under 40.5
Over of the Week
No. 24 Texas at No. 13 Kansas State: This total is too low. Kansas State's overall offensive numbers haven't been great -- the Wildcats rank 88th nationally in success rate and 60th in points per possession -- but things have been trending in a better direction lately. Over the last five games, Kansas State's overall success rate hasn't changed, but its point per possession has risen from 1.92 in its first three games to 2.60. We've also seen its explosive play rate skyrocket from 9.5% to 17.8%. I care a lot more about how the Wildcats have performed over the last month than in the season's first few weeks.
As for Texas, it remains one of the most potent offenses in the country, and it's coming off a bye. The Longhorns are still alive in the Big 12 Championship Game hunt and greatly enhance their chances with a win. While QB Quinn Ewers played poorly against Oklahoma State, there's speculation he was dealing with a hand injury that day. Also, while Kansas State's overall defensive numbers are good, we saw what the passing attacks of Oklahoma and TCU could do against it. Texas 34, Kansas State 31 | Over 54.5
Atmospheric River of the Week
No. 23 Oregon State at Washington (Friday): Do you know what an atmospheric river is? According to Wikipedia, it's a "narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. Atmospheric rivers consist of narrow bands of enhanced water vapor transport, typically along the boundaries between large areas of divergent surface air flow, including some frontal zones in association with extratropical cyclones that form over the oceans." That's all a fancy way of saying a river in the sky. There's an atmospheric river in the forecast for this game Friday evening, and it could include winds up to 40 mph.
So, let me ask you: Do you think either one of these teams will be able to score a lot of points while playing in an atmospheric river with 40 mph winds? Because I don't think they can. In fact, I don't think they'll come close. Washington 21, Oregon State 17 | Under 54.5
Upset of the Week
Houston at SMU: Many, including yours truly, expected Houston to be one of the best Group of Five teams in the country this season. I had them winning the American and earning a New Year's Six berth. That prediction died a quick death as the Cougars followed up a 37-35 overtime win against UTSA to start the season with losses to Texas Tech and Kansas. A couple of weeks later, they lost to Tulane.
The Kansas and Tulane losses look much better now, and Houston comes into this game having won three straight. SMU has not fared as well. The Mustangs' three FBS wins this season have come against North Texas, Navy and Tulsa. They've lost to nearly every decent team they've played, and Houston is a decent team that's hitting its stride and gone 3-1 on the road this season. I have Houston as a slight favorite here, so I'm bypassing the points. Give me the Coogs straight up. Houston 34, SMU 30 | Houston (+135)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
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