College Football Picks: Top-ranked teams hold edge in 1 v. 2

The College Football Playoff and the Bowl Championship Series before it made No. 1 vs. No. 2 rather routine in the postseason.

Before all that, back in the old bowl system, everything needed to fall into place just right so No. 1 could play No. 2 for a national title. Then the BCS-style postseason was built to create that outcome, which was a good idea.

The No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular-season game is still...

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The College Football Playoff and the Bowl Championship Series before it made No. 1 vs. No. 2 rather routine in the postseason.

Before all that, back in the old bowl system, everything needed to fall into place just right so No. 1 could play No. 2 for a national title. Then the BCS-style postseason was built to create that outcome, which was a good idea.

The No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular-season game is still fairly rare. No. 1 Georgia facing No. 2 Tennessee on Saturday is just the 25th meeting between AP’s top two teams in the regular season. It is fifth this century.

No. 1 has won each of the past four 1-2 tilts, with LSU beating Alabama in 2019 and ’11. In 2006, Ohio State played in two 1-2 games as the top-ranked team in the country, winning at Texas in September and beating Michigan in November. The Buckeyes then lost a 1-2 BCS championship game to second-ranked Florida.

Overall, No. 1 is 16-6-2 against No. 2 in regular-season games. The last time No. 2 beat No. 1 in a regular-season game was Florida State against Florida in 1996.

The most intriguing game of Week 10 was an easy pick:

No. 2 Tennessee at No. 1 Georgia

The Volunteers and Bulldogs have never even played a top-five matchup before this weekend’s “Game of the Century.” The winner takes command of the SEC East and virtually locks up a spot in the conference championship game. Vols QB Hendon Hooker could build a massive lead in the Heisman Trophy race by adding the defending national champions to the list of teams he has toppled along with Alabama.

LINE: Georgia by 8 1/2. PICK: Georgia 31-24.

No. 5 Clemson at Notre Dame

This looked like a potentially huge game when the Tigers and Fighting Irish were preseason top-five teams. Three losses later for Notre Dame the Irish are just trying to play spoiler against an unbeaten Clemson team that is heading for another ACC title.

LINE: Clemson by 4 1/2. PICK: Notre Dame 24-21, UPSET SPECIAL.

No. 6 Alabama at No. 15 LSU

Brian Kelly’s first season at LSU is going better than many expected after the Tigers lost their opener to Florida State. LSU is ranked coming into this game for the first time in three years and Alabama has had some trouble on the road this season, but this seems like a big ask from a rebuilding program.

LINE: Alabama by 12 1/2. PICK: Alabama 28-17.

Texas at No. 13 Kansas State

The Wildcats are coming off a shutout of Oklahoma State, which just beat Texas two weeks ago. But this is the Big 12 and week-to-week the results can be all over the place. While unbeaten TCU and K-State lead the conference, Texas and Baylor are both very much alive with no more room for error.

LINE: Texas by 2 1/2. PICK: Kansas State 26-23.

No. 18 Oklahoma State at Kansas

The Jayhawks (5-3) were the feel-good story of the first month of the season, but have now lost three straight and still need one more victory to secure bowl eligibility. What to expect from an Oklahoma State team coming off the most-lopsided loss in 18 years with Mike Gundy as coach?

LINE: Oklahoma State by 2 1/2. PICK: Kansas 31-28.

The rest of the games involving ranked teams, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook.

FRIDAY

No. 24 Oregon State (plus 3 1/2) at Washington

Forecast is calling for a soggy and windy night in Seattle … OREGON STATE 23-20.

SATURDAY

No. 2 Ohio State (minus 37 1/2) at Northwestern

If Iowa got 33 points and almost 400 yards against the Wildcats, look out … OHIO STATE 56-14.

No. 4 Michigan (minus 25 1/2) at Rutgers

Scarlet Knights have played one-score games against the Wolverines the last two meetings … MICHIGAN 35-6, BEST BET.

Texas Tech at No. 7 TCU (minus 9 1/2)

Red Raiders went through three quarterbacks last week. Who plays this week? … TCU 38-24.

No. 8 Oregon (minus 31 1/2) at Colorado

Ducks have scored at least 40 in seven straight games and the Buffs have allowed at least 40 in six times … OREGON 52-17.

California at No. 9 Southern California (minus 21 1/2)

The Trojans have yet to play a one-possession game at home … USC 48-24.

No. 10 UCLA at Arizona State (plus 10 1/2)

Sun Devils (3-5) still holding out hope for bowl eligibility with an interim coach … UCLA 32-24.

Arizona at No. 12 Utah (minus 17 1/2)

Status of Utes QB Cam Rising is uncertain after he surprisingly missed last week’s game … UTAH 45-24.

Michigan State (plus 16 1/2) at No. 14 Illinois

Spartans will be down at least eight suspended players, including sack leader Jacoby Windmon, after last week’s tunnel incident at Michigan … ILLINOIS 27-13.

No. 16 Penn State at Indiana (plus 14)

Hoosiers won in dramatic fashion the last time Penn State visited in 2020, but are 2-23 overall in the series … PENN STATE 31-20.

No. 17 North Carolina (minus 7 1/2) at Virginia

With a four-game winning streak, the Tar Heels have taken control of the ACC Coastal … NORTH CAROLINA 31-14.

No. 19 Tulane at Tulsa (plus 7 1/2)

Golden Hurricane have won the last two meetings by a combined 13 points … TULANE 27-21.

No. 20 Wake Forest at No. 21 North Carolina State (plus 5 1/2)

Demon Deacons have won four out of five meetings … NORTH CAROLINA STATE 34-31.

No. 22 Syracuse (plus 3 1/2) at Pittsburgh

Two of the best running backs in the ACC on display with Sean Tucker of Syracuse and Pitt’s Israel Abanikanda … PITTSBURGH 24-23.

No. 23 Liberty at Arkansas (minus 13 1/5)

Flames only loss this season was by one point to Wake Forest … ARKANSAS 42-24.

No. 25 UCF (minus 3 1/2) at Memphis

UCF coach seems to be doing a good job. Maybe Auburn should check him out … UCF 28-21.

TWITTER REQUESTS

Baylor (plus 3 1/2) at Oklahoma (@malowry24) — Bears freshman RB Richard Reese has 67 carries for 334 yards in the last two gams … BAYLOR 35-34.

BYU (plus 7 1/2) at Boise State (@snoker) — Broncos have won four straight behind the emergence of QB Taylen Green … BOISE STATE 28-23.

Army vs. Air Force (minus 5 1/2) at Arlington, Texas (@RauhReport) — Falcons have won four of the last five and the winner in those games has not scored more than 21 points … AIR FORCE 20-13.

Nebraska (plus 15 1/2) at Minnesota (@Jeremy_J_KCSR) — Gophers are on a three-game winning streak against the Huskers. That hasn’t happened since the 1950s … MINNESOTA 34-21.

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RECORD

Last week: Straight-up — 21-3; Against spread — 9-14-1.

Season: 139-54; 96-105-1.

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

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