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The first College Football Playoff rankings for the 2022 season are out, and it’s quite interesting at the top leading into this weekend’s action.
Here are our previews and predictions (point spreads courtesy of DraftKings and current at the time of publication, but subject to change) for games involving teams in the CFP rankings, others in The Associated Press Top 25, and interesting matchups throughout the country.
All times Eastern. Statistics in parentheses are from the 2022 season unless noted otherwise.
1 of 25
No. 23 Oregon State (6-2, 3-2 in Pac-12) at Washington (6-2, 3-2 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Friday, ESPN2
Brian Hayes/Statesman Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
Two days after finding its way into The AP Top 25 for the first time in nine years at No. 24, Oregon State makes its debut in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Beavers have won three in a row and the last two versus Washington State and Colorado by a combined 47 points. A year ago, Oregon State snapped a nine-game losing streak versus Washington but has lost the last six consecutive meetings at Seattle — dating to a 34-13 win there in October 2008. Looking for a third straight win overall, the Huskies have won each of their five home games by at least 10 points.
Prediction: Washington (-3 1/2)
2 of 25
No. 2 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 in Big Ten) at Northwestern (1-7, 1-4 in Big Ten), Noon, Saturday, ABC
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK
Both No. 2 in the Top 25 and the first CFP rankings, the Buckeyes showed their collectively human side last week at Penn State. They trailed 21-16 with less than 10 minutes to play in the game, then scored 28 points to win 44-31. It wasn’t Ohio State’s prettiest effort and likely cost it the top spot in the CFP rankings. We don’t see this one being in doubt for long, considering Northwestern has dropped seven straight, is averaging just 17.9 points on the season, and allowed an average of 35.3 in the last three.
Prediction: Ohio State (-38)
3 of 25
Texas Tech (4-4, 2-3 in Big 12) at No. 7 TCU (8-0, 5-0 in Big 12), Noon, Saturday, Fox
Andrew Dieb/USA TODAY Sports
Are we not talking enough about TCU? One of six undefeated teams in FBS, the Horned Frogs sit alone atop the Big 12 standings, are among the top 10 in the first CFP rankings, and are trying to go 9-0 for the first time since that 2010 squad went 13-0. Paced by quarterback Max Duggan (2,212 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, two interceptions; 276 rushing yards, four rushing TDs), TCU ranks third in the country in scoring offense (44.3 points per game). It’s also won three straight over Texas Tech, which has lost all three meetings against Top 25 opponents this season by a combined 32 points.
Prediction: TCU (-9 1/2)
4 of 25
No. 19 Tulane (7-1, 4-0 in AAC) at Tulsa (3-5, 1-3 in AAC), Noon, Saturday, ESPNU
Maria Lysaker/USA TODAY Sports
The lone undefeated team in American Athletic Conference play, Tulane is trying to win five straight games for the first time since that 12-0 season from 1998. That was also the most recent time the Green Wave went 4-0 on the road — which they’ll try to do this weekend. However, Tulane is just 1-7 at Tulsa since the start of the 2006 season. The Golden Hurricane, meanwhile, have lost four of their last five overall, including two straight at home by a combined 21 points.
Prediction: Tulsa (+7 1/2)
5 of 25
No. 17 North Carolina (7-1, 4-0 in ACC) at Virginia (3-5, 1-4 in ACC), Noon, Saturday, ACC Network
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports
After scoring 28 unanswered points to beat Pitt last weekend, North Carolina has built a mini cushion atop the ACC’s Coastal Division. We’ve talked plenty about quarterback Drake Maye, who leads the Tar Heels with 2,671 passing yards and 439 rushing. However, Josh Downs, who caught 101 passes in 2021, has recorded 20 for 228 yards in the last two games for an offense that averages 41.8 points. Virginia, meanwhile, has totaled 101 points while losing five of its last seven contests.
Prediction: North Carolina (-7 1/2)
6 of 25
No. 8 Oregon (7-1, 5-0 in Pac-12) at Colorado (1-7, 1-4 in Pac-12), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard/USA TODAY NETWORK
The first of four Pac-12 teams ranked between Nos. 8-14 for the initial CFP rankings. Oregon has outscored its opponents 336-178 during a seven-game winning streak that followed the ugly 49-3 loss to Georgia. We don’t see any real reason why that run ends against Colorado, which has allowed at least 41 points in six of its last seven contests. Dating to 2017, the Buffaloes have lost four straight home games against Top 25 Pac-12 squads.
Prediction: Oregon (-31 1/2)
7 of 25
No. 1 Tennessee (8-0, 4-0 in SEC) at No. 3 Georgia (8-0, 5-0 in SEC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS
Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK
The biggest game of the week pits the No. 1 team in the CFP rankings and the top squad in The AP Top 25. More importantly, these are the lone undefeated teams in the SEC, and the winner has the inside track to the East Division title. Behind Heisman Trophy contender Hendon Hooker (2,338 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, one interception; 338 rushing yards), Tennessee leads the nation in scoring (49.4 points per game) and average yards (553.0). Georgia, meanwhile, is second in the country in scoring defense (10.5 average points allowed) and fourth in average yards allowed (262.6). However, the Bulldogs lost star pass rusher Nolan Smith (three sacks, seven tackles for loss) for the season with a torn pec. Georgia has won the last five meetings with the Vols by an average margin of 28.6 points.
Prediction: Georgia (-8)
8 of 25
Michigan State (3-5, 1-4 in Big Ten) at No. 16 Illinois (7-1, 4-1 in Big Ten), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Big Ten Network
Dylan Widger/USA TODAY Sports
To put Illinois’ current six-game winning streak into perspective, the program has only won as many as six times in a season twice during the previous 10 campaigns. Leaders of the Big Ten West Division, the Illini are getting it done with a defense that’s the only such unit in the country, allowing an average of single-digit points (8.9). They’ve yielded 29 total while going 5-0 at home. Illinois will try for a third straight win over Michigan State, which is in disarray on and off the field — a loser of five in six and dealing with the fallout of the Big House tunnel incident.
Prediction: Illinois (-16 1/2)
9 of 25
No. 15 Penn State (6-2, 3-2 in Big Ten) at Indiana (3-5, 1-4 in Big Ten), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK
The Nittany Lions have dropped two of the last three and after allowing 28 fourth-quarter points to Ohio State, and reinforced the fact they can’t beat elite teams. The good news for Penn State is that Indiana presents the ideal bounce-back opportunity. Yes, we remember the 2020 upset the Hoosiers pulled off when these teams last met in Bloomington. However, this Indiana group has averaged 21.0 points during its current five-game losing streak.
Prediction: Penn State (-14)
10 of 25
No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-2 in Big 12) at Kansas (5-3, 2-3 in Big 12), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, FS1
Brett Rojo/USA TODAY Sports
What do we make of Oklahoma State’s 48-0 thrashing at the hands of Kansas State? For starters, the Cowboys’ defense is not getting better after allowing an average of 39.0 points in going 2-2 during the month of October. Potentially making matters worse for the Cowboys is that injured Kansas’ star quarterback Jalon Daniels (1,072 passing yards, 335 rushing yards) is back practicing, but his weekend status remains unknown. The Jayhawks are one win away from bowl eligibility but have lost three in a row — and are mired in a 12-game losing streak versus Oklahoma State.
Prediction: Oklahoma State (-2)
11 of 25
No. 20 Syracuse (6-2, 3-1 in ACC) at Pittsburgh (4-4, 1-3 in ACC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network
Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse has fallen back down to Earth following its 6-0 start. After playing Clemson tough, the Orange were outplayed from the start during its 41-24 home loss to Notre Dame last weekend. Though Pitt has endured a rather middling season thus far and lost its last two games at Louisville and North Carolina by a combined 32 points, Syracuse has dropped four straight in this season — and nine in a row on the road against the Panthers. It’s also uncertain if quarterback Garrett Shrader will be available for the Orange after not playing the second half against the Irish.
Prediction: Pittsburgh (-3)
12 of 25
No. 25 UCF (6-2, 3-1 in AAC) at Memphis (4-4, 2-3 in AAC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer/USA TODAY NETWORK
With Cincinnati’s recent dominance and Tulane’s 2022 emergence, Central Florida has been a bit forgotten within the American Athletic Conference of late. But UCF just used a 13-point fourth quarter to knock off the Bearcats and boasts a rather stout defense that allows an average of 17.6 points on the season. The Knights have also won 14 of the last 16 meetings with Memphis, which has totaled 105 points in its last three games but allowed 118 in losing each one.
Prediction: UCF (-3 1/2)
13 of 25
No. 24 Texas (5-3, 3-2 in Big 12) at No. 13 Kansas State (6-2, 4-1 in Big 12), 7 p.m., Saturday, FS1
Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports
One week after falling at TCU, Kansas State bounced back big time by rolling to a 48-0 win over then-No. 9 Oklahoma State. It marked the Wildcats’ second shutout of the season and the third time they held an opponent to fewer than 10 points. They’ve outscored their opponents 169-57 while going 4-1 at home this season. So, is this when Kansas State snaps a five-game skid against Texas? The Longhorns are not part of The AP Top 25 but are in the first CFP rankings. Texas has had two weeks to prepare after losing at Oklahoma State, but it’s lost five consecutive Big 12 road contests.
Prediction: Kansas State (+2 1/2)
14 of 25
No. 6 Alabama (7-1, 4-1 in SEC) at No. 10 LSU (6-2, 4-1 in SEC), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Scott Clause/USA TODAY NETWORK
With both teams among the top 10 teams in the first CFP rankings, this rivalry might have some of its luster restored. That said, the Crimson Tide are still comfortable favorites and have won five in a row at LSU. The Tigers, though, aim for a third consecutive victory after beating Florida and then-No. 7 Mississippi by a combined 35 points. While the country knows about Alabama star Bryce Young (1,906 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, three interceptions), LSU’s Jayden Daniels has thrown for 897 yards with six touchdowns, and one interception and ran for 203 and six TDs in the last three games.
Prediction: LSU (+13 1/2)
15 of 25
No. 4 Clemson (8-0) at Notre Dame (5-3), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC/Peacock
Melina Myers/USA TODAY Sports
It was nearly two years ago to the day that Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei made his first collegiate road start — Nov. 7. 2020, at Notre Dame. He went 29-of-44 for a career-high 439 yards with two touchdowns, but the Tigers lost in two overtimes that night. Uiagalelei and Clemson return to South Bend riding a 14-game winning streak and in position to be part of the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is looking for a third consecutive win overall — and against a Top 25 opponent.
Prediction: Clemson (-3 1/2)
16 of 25
No. 5 Michigan (8-0, 5-0 in Big Ten) at Rutgers (4-4, 1-4 in Big Ten), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Big Ten Network
Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
The Wolverines are fourth in this week’s AP Top 25 but sit just outside the coveted top-four spots in the first CFP rankings. That’s not totally surprising, considering Clemson probably has a more clear-cut path to a conference title. That said, Michigan continues to roll behind a defense that ranks among the nation’s best, giving up 11.5 points per contest. Rutgers, meanwhile, was just blanked by Minnesota, and he’s totaled 57 points in its five Big Ten contests.
Prediction: Michigan (-26)
17 of 25
Arizona (3-5, 1-4 in Pac-12) at No. 14 Utah (6-2, 4-1 in Pac-12), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network
James Snook/USA TODAY Sports
18 of 25
No. 21 Wake Forest (6-2, 2-2 in ACC) at No. 22 North Carolina State (6-2, 2-2 in ACC), 8 p.m., Saturday, ACC Network
Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports
Wake Forest still might not be over the 35 points it allowed Louisville to put up during the third quarter of last weekend’s 48-21 road defeat. Sam Hartman threw three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, in that contest. Now, the Demon Deacons visit Raleigh, where N.C. State has won 15 in a row. However, it had to overcome a 21-10 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Virginia Tech there last week. Wolfpack true freshman MJ Morris will make his first start after going 20-of-29 for 265 yards with three touchdowns against the Hokies.
Prediction: N.C. State (+4 1/2)
19 of 25
No. 12 UCLA (7-1, 4-1 in Pac-12) at Arizona State (3-5, 2-3 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, FS1
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports
Since Sept. 24, Zach Charbonnet’s 775 rushing yards are the third-most in the country. The UCLA running back matched a season — and career — high with 198 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns during last weekend’s 38-13 home win over Stanford. Charbonnet ran for 89 yards on 21 carries in UCLA’s 2021 loss to Arizona State, which has allowed an average of 214.7 rushing yards while going 1-2 in its last three home games. However, the Sun Devils enter winners in two of three overall.
Prediction: Arizona State (+10 1/2)
20 of 25
California (3-5, 1-4 in Pac-12) at No. 9 USC (7-1, in 5-1 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports
USC found itself in a dogfight against Arizona last weekend but came out ahead. Caleb Williams showed why he’s a Heisman Trophy contender with 411 passing yards and five touchdowns. However, the Trojans have allowed 80 points to the Wildcats and Utah in the last two games. That said, there would really be cause for serious concern if USC struggles to stop a Cal squad that’s totaled 67 points during its current four-game losing streak.
Prediction: USC (-21)
21 of 25
Florida (4-4, 1-4 in SEC) at Texas A&M (3-5, 1-4 in SEC), Noon, Saturday, ESPN
Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports
Prior to the season, this looked like an enticing league matchup. Instead, these squads have lost a combined six consecutive games between them. Texas A&M has dropped four in a row, and while it might seem the wheels have fallen off, its last three contests — against Alabama, South Carolina, and Ole Miss — have been decided by a combined 13 points. Florida, meanwhile, dropped its last two versus LSU and Georgia by a combined 32 points. The Aggies are 201 against the Gators as SEC members.
Prediction: Texas A&M (-3)
22 of 25
Iowa (4-4, 2-3 in Big 12) at Purdue (5-3, 3-2 in Big Ten), Noon, Saturday, FS1
Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports
Aside from Illinois, Purdue is the only team in the Big Ten West with a winning record in conference play. The Boilermakers have had two weeks to move on from a loss at Wisconsin and now try for a fourth straight home victory. Purdue has won two straight and four of the last five versus Iowa, which scored a season-high 33 points versus Northwestern last weekend to snap a three-game slide during which it totaled 30.
Prediction: Iowa (+4 1/2)
23 of 25
Liberty (7-1) at Arkansas (5-3), 4 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports
A winner of five in a row, Liberty has cracked the Top 25, sitting at No. 23, but faces a stiff test at Arkansas this weekend. The Flames fell 37-36 at then-No. 19 Wake Forest in its only other road game against a Power Five opponent this season. Keep an eye on Liberty running back Dae Dae Hunter, who ran for 213 of his 825 yards during a 41-14 victory over BYU in its most recent contest on Oct. 22. Meanwhile, Arkansas aims for a third straight win after losing three in a row. The Razorbacks have their own stud running back in Raheim Sanders, who ran for 171 yards at Auburn last weekend and ranks sixth in the nation with 1,065 for the season.
Prediction: Liberty (+13 1/2)
24 of 25
Baylor (5-3, 3-2 in Big 12) at Oklahoma (5-3, 2-3 in Big 12), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN+
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports
A pair of preseason Big 12 favorites find themselves in the middle of the league standings at the moment. However, each looks for a third consecutive victory. Baylor is 2-2 on the road this season but has dropped three straight at Oklahoma by an average margin of 22.3 points. Meanwhile, the Sooners held Iowa State to 13 points on the road after giving up at least 42 in each of its previous three games. Baylor, though, averages 38.4 points.
Prediction: Oklahoma (-3 1/2)
25 of 25
Florida State (5-3, 3-3 in ACC) at Miami, Fla. (4-4, 2-2 in ACC), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Melina Myers/USA TODAY Sports
One of the sport’s most storied rivalries once again has a “meh” vibe since both are .500 within the ACC. Florida State snapped a four-game skid in this series with last year’s 31-28 home win. However, the Seminoles last won at Miami came in 2016. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have won two of their last three but averaged just 19.8 points while going 2-2 in October. They needed four overtimes to score 14 in a two-point victory at Virginia last weekend.
Prediction: Miami (+7 1/2)
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.