College Football Picks: How bad can it get for A&M, ND, OU?

Sometimes it can be difficult to look away from the wreckage.

At this point in a college football season there are plenty of compelling matchups involving teams with championship aspirations.

There are also teams that have been massive disappointments, and seeing how deep they sink into the mire can be really alluring, especially to those who aren’t fans of those teams.

Schadenfreude is one of the most powerful feelings in college football and there are a lot of fans enjoying how the seasons of Oklahoma (4-3), Texas A&M (3-4), Notre Dame (4-3) and Miami (3-4) have careened into a ditch.

All four started the season highly ranked. Reaching six victories and bowl eligibility is no sure thing for any of that group.

The theme of this week’s most intriguing games is: How bad can it get?

No. 15 Mississippi at Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies are on a three-game skid and have not scored more than 24 in their last nine games against FBS opponents. That has sparked lots of discussion about extra long-term, guaranteed contracts for coaches. The Rebels’ defense was very accommodating in a loss at LSU last week. Maybe it’s the tonic A&M needs?

LINE: Ole Miss by 2 1/2. PICK: Texas A&M 27-24.

Oklahoma at Iowa State

The Sooners snapped a three-game losing streak before last week’s open date to calm things down in Brent Venables’ first season as head coach. Iowa State is having an under-the-radar disappointing season. The Cyclones shed the Big 12 cellar-dweller title in recent seasons under Matt Campbell, but are 0-4 in the conference and in danger of their first overall losing record since 2016. Angst on both sides here.

LINE: Oklahoma by 1 1/2. PICK: Oklahoma 31-27.

Miami at Virginia

Mario Cristobal sounds like a coach who wants to strip the U. down the studs at this point, so maybe Year 1 is just a throwaway. But last week the Hurricanes lost to Duke, another program led by a first-year coach that seemed to be in far worst shape last season than Miami. Now the ‘Canes get another first-year staff on the other sideline in Tony Elliott’s Virginia.

LINE: Miami by 2. PICK: Miami 23-19.

Notre Dame at No. 16 Syracuse

The Fighting Irish still have games against No. 5 Clemson and No. 10 Southern California, with Navy and Boston College in between. Lose in the dome to the Orange and 6-6 looks like the best-case scenario for Marcus Freeman’s first season as coach.

LINE: Syracuse by 3. PICK: Notre Dame 23-20.

No. 19 Kentucky at No. 3 Tennessee

OK, one really big game. The Volunteers have No. 1 Georgia on the horizon, but the Wildcats don’t figure to be a pushover for QB Hendon Hooker and the high-scoring Vols. It is a big stage for Kentucky QB Will Levis to show he is worth the NFL-prospect hype.

LINE: Tennessee by 12 1/2. PICK: Tennessee 35-27.

Other games matching ranked teams against FBS opponents with lines by FanDuel Sportsbook.

THURSDAY

No. 14 Utah (minus 7) at Washington State

Utes have won the last three meetings, all by double-digits … UTAH 35-24.

Virginia Tech at No. 24 North Carolina State (minus 13 1/2)

Hokies have the worst offense in the ACC (4.63 yards per play) and the Wolfpack are playing with a back-up QB. … N.C. STATE 24-7.

SATURDAY

No. 1 Georgia (minus 22 1/2) vs. Florida at Jacksonville, Fla.

Gators will need a Superman performance from talented but inconsistent QB Anthony Richardson … GEORGIA 42-17.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State (plus 15 1/2)

Buckeyes have won five straight against the Nittany Lions, but none by more than 13 points … OHIO STATE 31-20.

Michigan State at No. 4 Michigan (minus 22 1/2)

Spartans coach Mel Tucker is 2-0 in this rivalry … MICHIGAN 42-17.

No. 7 TCU at West Virginia (plus 7 1/2)

Unbeaten Horned Frogs are coming off a string of four straight games against ranked teams … TCU 34-28.

No. 8 Oregon (minus 17 1/2) at California

WR Troy Franklin has become a force for the Ducks with 561 yards receiving and five touchdowns … OREGON 38-17.

No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Kansas State (minus 1 1/2)

QBs Adrian Martinez and Will Howard left last week’s game with injuries and both are uncertain to go this week … KANSAS STATE 28-24.

No. 10 Wake Forest (minus 3 1/2) at Louisville

Deacs QB Sam Hartman is two TD passes behind former N.C. State star Philip Rivers for second in ACC history with 95 … WAKE FOREST 35-28.

No. 10 Southern California (minus 15 1/2) at Arizona

Trojans could be without WR Jordan Addison (right leg), but it shouldn’t matter much against the Pac-12’s worst defense … USC 49-31.

Stanford at No. 12 UCLA (minus 16 1/2)

Bruins going for consecutive wins against Stanford for the first time since 2008 … UCLA 42-23.

No. 17 Illinois at Nebraska (plus 7 1/2)

Illini try for their first three-game winning streak against the Huskers … ILLINOIS 23-17.

No. 20 Cincinnati at UCF (minus 1/2)

Bearcats have won three straight meetings … UCF 27-23.

Pittsburgh (plus 3 1/2) at No. 21 North Carolina

Pitt RB Israel Abanikanda, the ACC’s leading rusher, meets the ACC’s worst run defense … NORTH CAROLINA 38-36.

Missouri at No. 25 South Carolina (minus 3 1/2)

Gamecocks haven’t won a game as a ranked team since September 2014 and have lost three straight to the Tigers. … SOUTH CAROLINA 23-17.

TWITTER REQUESTS

Northwestern (plus 10 1/2) at Iowa (@MrOH1O) — Three television networks just agreed to pay hundreds of a millions of dollars for the right to broadcast matchups like this. … IOWA 16-10.

Arkansas at Auburn (plus 3 1/2) (@BZSEC) — Tigers have won six straight meetings … ARKANSAS 33-31.

Baylor (plus 3) at Texas Tech (@ryancachegibbs) — Last three meetings have been decided by seven points, two won by the Bears … BAYLOR 35-31.

New Mexico State (minus 2 1/2) at Massachusetts (@Brett_McMurphy) — It’s a major college football game … NEW MEXICO STATE 27-21.

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RECORD

Last week: Straight-up — 9-10; Against spread — 8-11.

Season: 118-51; 87-91.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

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