College picks: Ohio State favored to beat Michigan

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Associated Press

If this was next year and the College Football Playoff had already expanded from four teams to 12, games involving No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 12 Mississippi, No. 11 Penn State and No. 10 Missouri would be a lot more interesting.

All four enter this rivalry weekend with a chance to earn an invite to a New Year’s Six bowl, which is nice. But in 2024 they’d be jockeying for a playoff spot.

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Sounds fun.

For now, the stakes are more confined even though the big games such as No. 2 Ohio State at No. 3 Michigan are undeniably bigger than they will be in a 12-team CFP.

Nine teams, five of them undefeated, still seem to have legitimate playoff hopes this season. In a 12-team format with six conference champions guaranteed a spot that number would approximately triple and include teams such as Kansas State and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 and Arizona in the Pac-12.

Outside of CFP stakes this weekend, the Big 12 title game is totally unsettled with four teams alive. Two teams are vying for one spot in the Pac-12 title game.

Nobody has clinched anything in the American Athletic Conference or Mountain West. The Sun Belt East is up for grabs.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines will determine who wins the Big Ten East though that is only a sliver of why it is the most intriguing game of an always intriguing week.

The picks for games involving ranked teams and FBS foes, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook:

No. 1 Georgia at Georgia Tech (plus 24 1/2)

Bulldogs have won five straight by an average of 34 points … GEORGIA 38-15.

No. 2 Ohio State (plus 3 1/2) at No. 3 Michigan

The storylines are plentiful with Michigan still under investigation by the NCAA for alleged impermissible scouting and sign stealing and with coach Jim Harbaugh serving the last game of a Big Ten-imposed suspension. Ryan Day and Ohio State have lost two straight in the rivalry after a decade and a half of Buckeyes’ dominance.

This will be the 13th meeting when both teams are in the top five and none have ever had higher stakes.

PICK: Ohio State 28-21.

Washington State (plus 16 1/2) at No. 4 Washington

Huskies have won eight of the last nine … WASHINGTON 42-27.

No. 5 Florida State (minus 6 1/2) at Florida

Both teams will start backup quarterbacks after the Seminoles lost Jordan Travis (leg) and the Gators lost Graham Mertz (shoulder) to injuries last week.

Florida’s defense has been dreadful (6.67 yards per play allowed), which should ease FSU’s transition to QB Tate Rodemaker and help the ‘Noles stay in playoff contention.

PICK: Florida State 35-24.

No. 15 Oregon State at No. 6 Oregon (minus 13 1/2)

Oregon State was eliminated from the Pac-12 race last week when it lost at home to Washington. The Beavers could still keep Oregon out of the conference title game for the second consecutive year with an upset and a parting gift for the Big Ten-bound Ducks on Friday.

PICK: Oregon 38-23.

Texas Tech at No. 7 Texas (minus 12 1/2)

Longhorns can clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game in their last season in the conference with a win Friday and would still be alive even with a loss — though their playoff hopes will be out the window.

PICK: TEXAS 31-17.

No. 8 Alabama (minus 14 1/2) at Auburn

New Tigers coach Hugh Freeze is 2-3 against the Tide when he was with Ole Miss … ALABAMA 31-14.

Kentucky at No. 9 Louisville (minus 5 1/2)

Wildcats have won four straight in Governor’s Cup … LOUISVILLE 27-20.

No. 10 Missouri (minus 7 1/2) at Arkansas

Tigers are 7-2 against the Razorbacks since joining the SEC … MISSOURI 31-21.

No. 11 Penn State (minus 21 1/2) vs. Michigan State

Nittany Lions have won three of four with the Land Grant Trophy on the line in Detroit … PENN STATE 35-10.

No. 12 Mississippi (minus 10 1/2) at Mississippi State

Last four Egg Bowls have been decided by 10 points or fewer, but the Bulldogs limp into Thursday’s matchup with one SEC victory and an interim coach … OLE MISS 34-14.

TCU at No. 13 Oklahoma (minus 10 1/2)

Sooners expecting QB Dillon Gabriel to go with a shot at the Big 12 title game still in play … OKLAHOMA 36-24.

Texas A&M (plus 11 1/2) at No. 14 LSU

Tigers QB Jayden Daniels is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, but won’t be playing on championship weekend. He needs to make a lasting final impression and the opportunity is there for him to go off again against an Aggies team playing out the string with an interim coach.

PICK: LSU 42-34.

No. 16 Arizona (minus 10 1/2) at Arizona State

Wildcats broke a five-game losing streak in the Territorial Cup last year … ARIZONA 27-14.

No. 17 Notre Dame (minus 25 1/2) at Stanford

Irish QB Sam Hartman needs three touchdown passes to pass Graham Harrell (134) for third on the major college football career list … NOTRE DAME 49-17.

UTSA (plus 3 1/2) at No. 18 Tulane

Winner goes to the AAC championship game … UTSA 27-21.

Iowa State at No. 19 Kansas State (minus 9 1/2)

Wildcats need a Farmageddon win and help to earn spot in the Big 12 title game … KANSAS STATE 28-16.

No. 20 Iowa at Nebraska (minus 1 1/2)

Cornhuskers are trying to get bowl-eligible for the first time since 2016 … NEBRASKA 14-13.

BYU (plus 16 1/2) at No. 21 Oklahoma State

Cowboys will go the the Big 12 championship game with a victory … OKLAHOMA STATE 36-24.

No. 22 Liberty (minus 17 1/2) at UTEP

Flames trying to stay unbeaten heading into the Conference USA title game … LIBERTY 42-21.

No. 23 Toledo (minus 10 1/2) at Central Michigan

Rockets have already clinched a spot in the MAC championship game but could still make a case for a New Year’s Six bowl … TOLEDO 35-17.

No. 24 James Madison at Coastal Carolina (plus 8 1/2)

Chanticleers need a victory to win the Sun Belt East as JMU remains ineligible … COASTAL CAROLINA 27-23.

Vanderbilt at No. 25 Tennessee (minus 27 1/2)

Commodores trying to avoid winless SEC season for the third time in four years … TENNESSEE 45-14.


Maryland (minus 1 1/2) at Rutgers — @CoachDAndraia: Terps have won four of five meetings, all by at least 24 points … MARYLAND 27-17.

Air Force (plus 6 1/2) at Boise State — @scott_callihan: If UNLV beats San Jose State it hosts the winner of this game for the Mountain West title; if UNLV loses, it gets confusing … AIR FORCE 24-20.

North Carolina at North Carolina State (plus 3) — @murphsturph: Wolfpack have won the last two meetings and five of seven by an average margin of six points … NORTH CAROLINA STATE 26-23.

Clemson at South Carolina (plus 7) — @johnbday: Gamecocks snapped a seven-game losing streak in the Palmetto Bowl last year … CLEMSON 23-17.



Last week: Straight-up — 20-3; Against spread — 14-9.

Season: Straight-up — 189-63; Against spread — 120-129-2.