College Football Picks: Big stakes from ACC to Mountain West
There is still so much to be decided heading into this week’s Thanksgiving college football feast.
Let’s sort it out, conference by conference.
Atlantic Coast Conference: No. 20 Pitt is locked into the conference championship game and will face No. 21 Wake Forest, No. 24 North Carolina State or Clemson. Wake is in with a win. N.C. State takes the Atlantic Division with a win and a Wake loss. If both lose, Clemson gets to the ACC championship for a seventh straight season.
American Athletic Conference: No. 4 Cincinnati will play No. 19 Houston. Where the game will be played will be determined by whether the Bearcats win Friday at East Carolina.
Big Ten: The winner of Michigan-Ohio State takes the East. Wisconsin takes the West with a victory and Iowa takes it if the Badgers lose and the Hawkeyes win. If both lose, that opens the door for Minnesota and also makes Purdue’s result relevant, though the Boilermakers can’t win the division.
Big 12: Oklahoma State is in. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, the conference title game is a rematch next week. If Oklahoma State wins and Baylor wins, it’s Cowboys-Bears.
Conference USA: No. 15 UTSA has clinched a division and will play the winner of the Western Kentucky-Marshall game.
Mid-American Conference: Northern Illinois will play the winner of Saturday’s Miami, Ohio, at Kent State game.
Mountain West: Lots of possibilities but the biggest game is Boise State at San Diego State, kicking off at 9 a.m. PST on Black Friday. The Aztecs host the conference title game with a victory. Even with a victory, Boise State needs help to clinch its division because Air Force holds a tiebreaker.
Pac-12: Utah has the South clinched. Oregon wins the North by beating Oregon State, but a loss sends either the Beavers or Washington State to the conference title game for the first time.
Southeastern Conference: Georgia vs. Alabama is set, but both need to take care of some rivalry business first.
Sun Belt: Same as above for Appalachian State and No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette.
The picks, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook.
No. 8 Mississippi (plus 1 1/2) at Mississippi State
Last time the Egg Bowl was on Thanksgiving night both coaches ended up getting fired within a month and a half … OLE MISS 31-28.
No. 4 Cincinnati (minus 14 1/2) at East Carolina
CFP is truly in the Bearcats’ grasp … EAST CAROLINA 27-24, UPSET SPECIAL.
Colorado (plus 23 1/2) at No. 16 Utah
Utes have won the last four meetings by an average of 23 points … UTAH 42-14.
No. 17 Iowa (minus 1 1/2) at Nebraska
Hawkeyes have beaten the Huskers in six straight, but the last three have been by a combined 12 points … NEBRASKA 23-22.
Boise State (minus 2 1/2) at No. 22 San Diego State
Broncos have won four straight to surge back into the conference race … SAN DIEGO STATE 20-17.
North Carolina (plus 6 1/2) at No. 24 North Carolina State
Tar Heels trying to play spoiler and salvage an otherwise disappointing season … NORTH CAROLINA 34-28.
Missouri (plus 14 1/2) at No. 25 Arkansas
Is this a rivalry? Tigers have won last five and six of seven meetings since they joined the SEC … ARKANSAS 35-24.
No. 1 Georgia (minus 35 1/2) at Georgia Tech
Since the Yellowjackets beat the Bulldogs in Kirby Smart’s first season as coach, Georgia has won three straight by an average of 33 points … GEORGIA 45-7.
No. 2 Ohio State (minus 9 1/2) at No. 6 Michigan
Jim Harbaugh is 0-5 as Michigan coach against the Buckeyes. Is this the year he breaks through? … OHIO STATE 38-31.
No. 3 Alabama (minus 19 1/2) at Auburn
Tide has lost three of its last four trips to Jordan-Hare Stadium, but the Tigers come in on a three-game losing streak that’s taken a lot of the juice out of the Iron Bowl … ALABAMA 31-14.
No. 5 Notre Dame (minus 19 1/2) at Stanford
Cardinal (3-8) trying to avoid worst season since 2006 … NOTRE DAME 35-13.
No. 10 Oklahoma (plus 4 1/2) at No. 7 Oklahoma State
Sooners have dominated Bedlam, going 14-2 since Mike Gundy has been coaching the Cowboys … OKLAHOMA 28-27.
Texas Tech (plus 14 1/2) at No. 9 Baylor
Are the Bears going to be back in the market for a head coach? Dave Aranda is drawing interest from all over … BAYLOR 35-17.
Oregon State (plus 7 1/2) at No. 11 Oregon
Ducks are 2-2 against the Beavers under Mario Cristobal … OREGON 31-24.
Penn State (minus 1 1/2) at No. 12 Michigan State
Nittany Lions can’t run the ball but might not have to against the Spartans’ leaky secondary … PENN STATE 27-24.
No. 13 BYU (minus 6 1/2) at Southern California
Trojans don’t appear to have much fight left for this lost season … BYU 42-31.
No. 14 Texas A&M (minus 6 1/2) at LSU
Could be Ed Orgeron’s last game as Tigers coach, unless they go to a bowl … TEXAS A&M 27-17.
No. 15 UTSA (minus 10 1/2) at North Texas
Roadrunners trying to stay unbeaten … UTSA 28-14.
No. 18 Wisconsin (minus 6 1/2) at Minnesota
The most played rivalry in major college football with 130 meetings … WISCONSIN 23-17.
No. 19 Houston (minus 32 1/2) at UConn
Former AAC rivals, which sounds weird … HOUSTON 42-14.
No. 20 Pittsburgh (minus 13 1/2) at Syracuse
Orange have lost two straight and are still one victory short of bowl eligibility … PITTSBURGH 28-20.
No. 21 Wake Forest (minus 4 1/2) at Boston College
With QB Phil Jurkovec back for BC, Eagles have a chance to play spoiler … BOSTON COLLEGE 35-31.
Louisiana-Monroe (plus 21 1/2) at No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette
Ragin’ Cajuns won the rivalry game by 50 last season … LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 42-17.
Clemson (minus 11 1/2) at South Carolina — @treys842
Tigers have won six straight in the Palmetto Bowl, the last four by blowouts … CLEMSON 28-14.
Western Kentucky (plus 1 1/2) at Marshall— @philip_runyon
With just an average game, Hilltoppers QB Bailey Zappe could reach 5,000 yards passing and 50 TD passes … WESTERN KENTUCKY 35-31.
Rutgers (plus 1 1/2) at Maryland — @EppingerKevin
Winner becomes bowl eligible … RUTGERS 27-23.
Florida State (plus 2 1/2) at Florida — @SteveWildzN
Another game where the winner becomes bowl eligible; that’s a long way from the Bowden vs. Spurrier days … FLORIDA STATE 24-21.
Washington State (minus 1 1/2) at Washington — @bwolf4
If the Cougars can break a seven-game Apple Cup losing streak, it might land interim coach Jake Dickert the gig long-term … WASHINGTON STATE 20-17.
UMass (plus 6 1/2) at New Mexico State — @dacon1508
Two victories between the Minutemen and Aggies … NEW MEXICO STATE 24-20.
Last week: 21-4 straight; 13-12 against the spread.
Season: 176-77 straight; 138-115 against the spread.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com
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By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer