Predictions for week 16 of the NFL, 2014

NFL_Rankings_Week_16Though it’s late in the season, Ed and I have teamed up to provide some NFL previews for the remaining games. I am the owner of cheapseatanalytics.com where I provide analytical sports information and betting systems. I major in baseball but also cover the NFL and NHL.

In this segment, I will be providing a weekly view on some important games to watch from an analytical and betting perspective. You can follow along with me on Twitter @realFrankBrank and check out my betting systems and sports analytical models at cheapseatanalytics.com.

Eagles @ Redskins

Fresh off two losses and dropping from their top spot in the NFC East, the Eagles get the privilege of traveling to Washington and taking on the helpless Redskins.

The Redskins have only failed themselves. The owner has failed the coach who has failed the players who have failed each other.

On the other side, the Eagles first ran into a revived Seahawks defense two weeks ago. This past week, their defense got torn apart by Tony Romo and Dez Bryant while sprinkling in some Cole Beasley and Jason Witten.

It wasn’t a good look for this popular Eagles team. Their uptempo offense has struggled for long periods of time throughout the previous two games.

Mark Sanchez may have caught the Chip Kelly hype, but he hasn’t been much more than an average quarterback when you look at his 6.9 yards per pass attempt (includes sacks but not adjusted for competition) and 61% completion rate. Sure, the high pace offense and large amounts of points are great. The rate stats tell a different story.

The defense, particularly the secondary, hasn’t played well all year, ranking 18th in adjusted yards per attempt against. The largest edge the Eagles will have against the Redskins is their second-best 8.4% sack rate.

Washington QB Robert Griffin has struggled to elude pressure. He looks slower, indecisive, and has been sacked twenty-eight times in seven games (five starts) for a ridiculous 15.7% of drop backs. That’s about one sack for every six drop backs for RG3. Sacks play a huge factor in the outcomes in NFL games and a 15.7% sack rate is impossible to overcome no matter the quarterback.

However, when Griffin is able to throw the ball, he’s performed at a high level by completing a 69% of his passes with a mere 2% interception rate. This Eagles secondary may be just what Griffin needs to have a decent game. I don’t think Washington can win this game. I do think this 8.5 point line is too much and the game will play much closer. (Ed note: The line is now 7.5 in most places.)

The typical three point edge to home teams suggests this game would be lined at 14.5 (or more depending on where this line finishes) if it were played in Philadelphia. That’s too many points to bet on for a bad defense. The Power Rank’s team rankings based on margin of victory says Eagles by seven, and I can agree with that. When this line finishes at or over ten points, it’ll be worth grabbing the Redskins.

Chiefs @ Steelers

The Steelers are the hardest team to project this season. They’ve blown out some of the better NFL teams like the Colts, Ravens, and Bengals. They’ve also lost to the Jets, Bucs, and Saints.

The Chiefs aren’t too much different. They’ve beaten the Patriots, Chargers, and Seahawks while losing to the Raiders, 49ers, and Titans. This type of variance from game to make makes projecting teams difficult.

There’s one thing easy to find in this one: the Steelers play great at home. To go along with that, the Chiefs haven’t been great on the road. Most recently, they’ve lost to the not-so-good Cardinals, the Raiders, and skated by the Bills in a game in which they lost in every aspect besides the final score.

A quick look at the Steelers home scoring tells the whole story. They’ve scored 30, 24, 30, 51, 43, and 32 points at home for an average of 35 points. There aren’t many defenses that can stop them from scoring, particularly at home.

The Chiefs, who still don’t have a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season, seem to be the exact opposite. They have a pedestrian, risk adverse offense that tries to win on defense and check downs to running backs and tight ends.

No matter who Dick LeBeau is running out on defense, he can game plan against this offense to keep everything in front of them. The Steelers losses have come from the secondary getting exposed, putting them into a hole early. They give up an average of 12.7 yards per catch and 7.3 adjusted yards per pass attempt, third worst in the NFL.

However, the Chiefs offense can’t expose this Steelers weakness. The Chiefs offense gains just 10.9 yards per catch, ahead of teams like the Jets, Bills, Jaguars, and Vikings.

I expect the Steelers offense to get a lot of possessions and score a lot of points again. The Chiefs can’t keep up in this one.

The betting line is at three, which basically says these two teams are equal on a neutral field. When I initially saw the line, I expected a ton of Steelers backers. However, 60% of the public has come in on the Chiefs so far.

The Power Rank has picked the Chiefs to win. I just see match up problems for the Chiefs this week. Pittsburgh wins big.

Falcons @ Saints

The NFC South is putrid. It’s a shame, really, that one of these teams will make the playoffs.

After Monday night’s blowout of the Bears, the Saints have taken the lead in the division with a 6-8 record. One of the Seahawks, Lions, Packers, Eagles, or Cowboys aren’t going to make the playoffs because the Panthers, Falcons, or Saints are guaranteed a playoff spot.

Let’s hope the Saints, the best NFC South team by The Power Rank’s ensemble rankings, can win out to get to 8-8. That may be harder than it seems.

The Saints usually have a large home field advantage, but that has not been the case this season. They’ve been blown out by marginal teams like Carolina and Cincinnati while also losing to Baltimore and San Francisco.

Both of these teams have had issues stopping opposing quarterbacks, and I expect the same this week. New Orleans and Atlanta have the 29th and 32nd ranked pass defense by yards per play adjusted for schedule respectively. These pass defenses will struggle against Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, who both lead above average pass offenses.

A standard three point edge to the home team for an evenly matched game gives the Saints the edge by a field goal. When you consider how great the Saints have been at home, you could probably assume a 4.5 to 5 point edge. Interestingly, The Power Rank gives the Saints exactly that, a win by 4.8 points.

Vegas has booked this line at Saints -6.5. With a strong performance on prime time Monday Night Football, I’d expect the fan favorite Saints to steal a majority of the public bets.

Colts @ Cowboys

This is the game of the week. Coming off four straight prime time games, the Cowboys need to win out to secure a playoff spot. There are other ways to get in, but they would need some external help from some bad teams. Considering the Cowboys play the Redskins next week, this game against the Colts could determine their playoff fate.

The Cowboys are small favorites in this game but betting lines can be misleading. There’s not a more polarizing team in the NFL when it comes to public perception than the Dallas Cowboys.

A sportsbook’s lines are hypothetically made so that game ends up on either side of the line 50% of the time. In actuality, the lines are made to persuade the public to bet 50-50 to reduce risk in the books losing out. With the Cowboys coming off a big prime time win and all things being equal, one could assume Cowboys -3 is a bit of an inflated line.

The Cowboys have been a bad home team. Most dome teams have a sizable advantage at home (see Saints, Colts, Falcons, etc.). It has an opposite effect for Dallas.

Dez Bryant is obviously a huge threat to any defense, but their strength is dominating with the offensive line and running the ball with DeMarco Murray. Now that Murray has had surgery on his broken hand, he could see a reduced role or maybe even sit this one out. I don’t see any issue with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar being able to pick up the slack behind this offensive line.

It’s no secret this Cowboys defense, especially the secondary, is bad. Are they better than we thought they’d be? Definitely. However, they rank 28th in adjusted yards per pass attempt.

The Colts also have looked pretty vulnerable the last two weeks. Andrew Luck has surrendered a few touchdowns to opposing defenses while barely sneaking by the quarterback-troubled Browns and Texans. They also haven’t been a great road team. They’ve held serve to this point by skimming past the Browns in Cleveland and Texans in Houston. However, Indianapolis went down big in Denver and was blown out in Pittsburgh.

Both of these defenses has their shortcomings while both offenses can really move the ball. The Power Rank has this one as a virtual tie (Cowboys by 0.5). I can agree with that. The Colts struggle on the road, the Cowboys struggle at home.

It looks like last possession wins with two lights out kickers. Don’t forget about the kickers!

Additional leans:

Jaguars -3, Lions -5, Panthers -3.5, Bengals +3.5

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @realFrankBrank and check out my betting systems and sports analytical models at cheapseatanalytics.com.

Predictions and viewer’s guide for college football bowl games in 2014

ncaaf2014_prebowl_ensYou want to know which teams will win a bowl game. A predicted margin of victory would also help with your bowl pool.

The Power Rank’s bowl predictions are based on aggregating a number of different predictions. These ensemble predictions should outperform the prediction from any single method.

The first predictor comes from my team rankings, the first calculations on this site. After developing a ranking algorithm based on the mathematics of randomness, I applied it to margin of victory in football games. The method accounts for strength of schedule and devalues the effect of blow outs.

Now, I also apply the ranking algorithm to yards per play to rank offenses and defenses. This gives an alternative perspective on teams immune from the randomness of turnovers.

The ensemble also considers my preseason rankings. It might seem silly to use such dated calculations. However, team strength tends to persist from season to season. From 2005 through 2013, the higher ranked team in the preseason rankings have won 60.3% of bowl games, almost as good as the 62.3% accuracy of the team rankings.

The ensemble predictions below aggregate my predictions from these three sources.

A viewers guide

You might have the time to watch all 39 post season college football games, but probably not. Which games should you choose?

The predictions below rank bowl games based on two criteria. First, the game rankings consider the strength of the two teams. You’d rather watch Alabama and Ohio State than Utah State and UTEP.

The second criteria for the game rankings is closeness of the outcome as estimated by the ensemble predictions. Arizona and Boise State might not be top 10 teams, but my methods predict a 50-50 game that might be decided by single play. That makes it worth tuning into the Fiesta Bowl.

The number next to each team gives their rank in my ensemble rankings. The top ten teams are shown in the visual at the top of this article.

1. Mississippi versus TCU at a neutral site.
Mississippi (8) will beat TCU (10) by 1.0 at a neutral site. TCU has a 47% chance of beating Mississippi.

2. Ohio State versus Alabama at a neutral site.
Alabama (2) will beat Ohio State (3) by 4.5 at a neutral site. Ohio State has a 37% chance of beating Alabama.

3. Kansas State versus UCLA at a neutral site.
Kansas State (12) will beat UCLA (17) by 1.6 at a neutral site. UCLA has a 45% chance of beating Kansas State.

4. Michigan State versus Baylor at a neutral site.
Michigan State (6) will beat Baylor (13) by 4.5 at a neutral site. Baylor has a 37% chance of beating Michigan State.

5. Oklahoma versus Clemson at a neutral site.
Oklahoma (15) will beat Clemson (21) by 2.7 at a neutral site. Clemson has a 42% chance of beating Oklahoma.

6. Boise State versus Arizona at a neutral site.
Arizona (31) will beat Boise State (32) by 0.1 at a neutral site. Boise State has a 50% chance of beating Arizona.

7. Arkansas versus Texas at a neutral site.
Arkansas (24) will beat Texas (29) by 1.2 at a neutral site. Texas has a 47% chance of beating Arkansas.

8. West Virginia versus Texas A&M at a neutral site.
West Virginia (20) will beat Texas A&M (28) by 2.6 at a neutral site. Texas A&M has a 42% chance of beating West Virginia.

9. Nebraska versus USC at a neutral site.
USC (18) will beat Nebraska (27) by 3.6 at a neutral site. Nebraska has a 39% chance of beating USC.

10. Auburn versus Wisconsin at a neutral site.
Auburn (5) will beat Wisconsin (19) by 7.7 at a neutral site. Wisconsin has a 28% chance of beating Auburn.

11. Florida State versus Oregon at a neutral site.
Oregon (1) will beat Florida State (11) by 10.8 at a neutral site. Florida State has a 22% chance of beating Oregon.

12. Notre Dame versus LSU at a neutral site.
LSU (14) will beat Notre Dame (34) by 6.5 at a neutral site. Notre Dame has a 32% chance of beating LSU.

13. Boston College versus Penn State at a neutral site.
Penn State (40) will beat Boston College (47) by 1.1 at a neutral site. Boston College has a 47% chance of beating Penn State.

14. Mississippi State versus Georgia Tech at a neutral site.
Mississippi State (9) will beat Georgia Tech (30) by 8.6 at a neutral site. Georgia Tech has a 26% chance of beating Mississippi State.

15. Miami (FL) versus South Carolina at a neutral site.
Miami (FL) (16) will beat South Carolina (35) by 6.9 at a neutral site. South Carolina has a 30% chance of beating Miami (FL).

16. Utah versus Colorado State at a neutral site.
Utah (36) will beat Colorado State (48) by 2.6 at a neutral site. Colorado State has a 42% chance of beating Utah.

17. Brigham Young versus Memphis at a neutral site.
Brigham Young (42) will beat Memphis (51) by 1.6 at a neutral site. Memphis has a 45% chance of beating Brigham Young.

18. Iowa versus Tennessee at a neutral site.
Tennessee (46) will beat Iowa (53) by 1.5 at a neutral site. Iowa has a 45% chance of beating Tennessee.

19. Cincinnati versus Virginia Tech at a neutral site.
Virginia Tech (38) will beat Cincinnati (52) by 3.0 at a neutral site. Cincinnati has a 41% chance of beating Virginia Tech.

20. East Carolina versus Florida at a neutral site.
Florida (25) will beat East Carolina (44) by 5.3 at a neutral site. East Carolina has a 35% chance of beating Florida.

21. Georgia versus Louisville at a neutral site.
Georgia (4) will beat Louisville (33) by 11.5 at a neutral site. Louisville has a 20% chance of beating Georgia.

22. Missouri versus Minnesota at a neutral site.
Missouri (22) will beat Minnesota (43) by 6.3 at a neutral site. Minnesota has a 32% chance of beating Missouri.

23. Oklahoma State versus Washington at a neutral site.
Washington (39) will beat Oklahoma State (55) by 3.0 at a neutral site. Oklahoma State has a 41% chance of beating Washington.

24. Rutgers versus North Carolina at a neutral site.
North Carolina (63) will beat Rutgers (65) by 1.1 at a neutral site. Rutgers has a 47% chance of beating North Carolina.

25. Arizona State versus Duke at a neutral site.
Arizona State (26) will beat Duke (60) by 7.8 at a neutral site. Duke has a 28% chance of beating Arizona State.

26. North Carolina State versus UCF at a neutral site.
UCF (37) will beat North Carolina State (64) by 6.0 at a neutral site. North Carolina State has a 33% chance of beating UCF.

27. Illinois versus Louisiana Tech at a neutral site.
Louisiana Tech (59) will beat Illinois (70) by 3.1 at a neutral site. Illinois has a 41% chance of beating Louisiana Tech.

28. Navy versus San Diego State at a neutral site.
Navy (69) will beat San Diego State (73) by 1.3 at a neutral site. San Diego State has a 46% chance of beating Navy.

29. Maryland versus Stanford at a neutral site.
Stanford (7) will beat Maryland (56) by 15.8 at a neutral site. Maryland has a 13% chance of beating Stanford.

30. Western Michigan versus Air Force at a neutral site.
Western Michigan (71) will beat Air Force (79) by 1.0 at a neutral site. Air Force has a 47% chance of beating Western Michigan.

31. Houston versus Pittsburgh at a neutral site.
Pittsburgh (41) will beat Houston (67) by 6.0 at a neutral site. Houston has a 33% chance of beating Pittsburgh.

32. Central Michigan versus Western Kentucky at a neutral site.
Western Kentucky (75) will beat Central Michigan (85) by 2.4 at a neutral site. Central Michigan has a 43% chance of beating Western Kentucky.

33. Toledo versus Arkansas State at a neutral site.
Toledo (74) will beat Arkansas State (87) by 2.7 at a neutral site. Arkansas State has a 42% chance of beating Toledo.

34. Marshall versus Northern Illinois at a neutral site.
Marshall (23) will beat Northern Illinois (80) by 13.8 at a neutral site. Northern Illinois has a 16% chance of beating Marshall.

35. Fresno State versus Rice at a neutral site.
Rice (91) will beat Fresno State (95) by 1.7 at a neutral site. Fresno State has a 45% chance of beating Rice.

36. Nevada versus Louisiana Lafayette at a neutral site.
Nevada (76) will beat Louisiana Lafayette (94) by 5.5 at a neutral site. Louisiana Lafayette has a 34% chance of beating Nevada.

37. South Alabama versus Bowling Green at a neutral site.
Bowling Green (97) will beat South Alabama (109) by 1.8 at a neutral site. South Alabama has a 45% chance of beating Bowling Green.

38. Utah State versus UTEP at a neutral site.
Utah State (54) will beat UTEP (115) by 16.1 at a neutral site. UTEP has a 13% chance of beating Utah State.

Become a member of The Power Rank

These ensemble predictions are different from those that I’ve posted this season on the blog. Those sample predictions each week also incorporated data from the betting markets.

These enhanced ensemble predictions, which we use to make picks for spreads and totals, are available members. To learn about becoming a member, click here.

Annotated ensemble predictions for week 15 of college football

cfb_playoff_trophyIt’s championship week in college football, and the selection committee announces the four teams for the first college football playoff on Sunday. Will we see any upsets this weekend that alter the playoff landscape?

The numbers suggest we won’t see an upset with the top 3 teams (Alabama, Oregon and TCU). TCU doesn’t play in a championship game and hosts one of the weakest teams in their conference (Iowa State). Their 92% probability to make the playoff is higher than the chance for Alabama and Oregon.

However, we might see upsets for the next three teams: Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor. My calculations give a 81% chance that at least one of these teams loses this weekend.

These predictions come from an ensemble calculation that aggregates many different predictors. The predictions based on team rankings are only one factor in the ensemble.

The offense and defense rankings mentioned below are based on yards per play adjusted for strength of schedule. All predictions and rankings are available to members.

Oregon over Arizona by 14.7

I understand Arizona has won the last two games against Oregon. And it’s easy to just look at head to head games and think Arizona should win again.

However, you shouldn’t emphasize head to head too much. There is variance in sports. Teams don’t always play at the same level every game. A better team can lose to a worse team. Sports would be much less fun if this didn’t happen.

Arizona capitalized on a +3 turnover margin against Oregon in 2013. This season, Oregon tackle Jake Fisher didn’t play against Arizona, and the pass rush affected QB Marcus Mariota.

The past will not matter once these two teams kick off the Pac-12 championship game. Expect Oregon to win.

Alabama over Missouri by 14.1

Missouri has the 5th ranked defense, and their offense moves higher each week in my rankings (currently 59th). However, they will struggle against the best team in the nation.

TCU over Iowa State by 26.3

These numbers do not capture motivation. I think TCU has motivation to win big to ensure that committee keeps them in the top 4.

Florida State over Georgia Tech by 7.5

Expect a lot of points in this game, as Florida State and Georgia Tech have the 34th and 73rd ranked defense by yards per play adjusted for strength of schedule.

Wisconsin over Ohio State by 4.0

This prediction has been adjusted by 4 points for the injury to Ohio State QB JT Barrett. Ohio State also has issues on defense as their 50th ranked rush defense faces Wisconsin’s top ranked rush offense.

Baylor over Kansas State by 7.0

Baylor QB Bryce Petty will play against Kansas State after suffering concussion symptoms last week. While Baylor’s offense will find it difficult against Kansas State’s 13th ranked defense, they should win.

Boise State over Fresno State by 16.1

The divisions of Mountain West conference are as lopsided as Eastern and Western conference of the NBA. The 3 best teams (Boise State, Colorado State, Utah State) play in the Mountain Division. West Division champion Fresno State, ranked 85th in my team rankings, has a 12.8% chance to beat Boise State.

How to understand the college football playoff – the thinking fan’s guide

thinking_fan_guideYou’re interested in this new college football playoff. You already know that a selection committee picks four teams for the bracket. However, the new system will have a greater impact on the postseason than just 3 playoff games.

Stewart Mandel, a former writer at Sports Illustrated who has moved to Fox, provides perspective on all the changes in The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the College Football Playoff. I’ve been reading Mandel for years, and I devoured his short book when I first learned about it this fall.

This past Sunday, I reread through some critical chapters to refresh my memory about the changes to college football’s postseason. Here are my take home points.

The committee does more than pick 4 teams

The selection committee not only seeds the top 4 teams in the playoff bracket but also picks the match ups for four other bowl games. These six games take place on New Year’s Eve and Day and are now called The New Year’s Six.

To fill these six games, the committee must first adhere to some rules. For example, the Orange Bowl must have an ACC team since the bowl has a contract with the conference. Moreover, the highest ranked conference champion of the Group of Five (those other conferences that rarely get headlines) is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

After these rules, the next most highly ranked teams in the committee rankings are guaranteed a place in the New Year’s Six bowls. Moreover, the committee picks the match ups for these games. Mandel has some examples of how this works in the book.

Let’s stop to appreciate this change. The teams that participate in the Fiesta and Cotton bowls this season are no longer selected through back door deals between bowl people and athletic departments or conventional wisdom about which teams “travel.” These bowl games now depend on merit as assigned by the selection committee.

The take home message is that the committee’s rankings matter beyond the top 4. A team like Michigan State at 8th in the committee rankings has a lot on the line as they watch others play this championship weekend.

The four best teams

Mandel has a great chapter on the selection committee in which he provides a bio on each member. He also reminds us that the committee has the stated goal of picking the four best teams for the playoff.

Now that we’ve seen the committee’s rankings for six weeks, that statement is laughable. The committee has sided with the four most deserving teams, and there’s a big difference between best and most deserving. Let me explain.

Most fans will agree that the most deserving teams have the best record. Football is a game of wins and losses. Those that win should advance. That’s why we begged for a playoff in the first place.

However, can we also define the best teams by their win loss record? Intuitively, the best teams should most often win bowl games. To test this idea, let’s ask how often the team with a better win percentage won a bowl game against a team with a worse win percentage.

My research shows that the team with the better win percentage wins only 50.4% of bowl games since 2005, a sample of 300 games. You could get the same accuracy in predicting bowl games by flipping a coin.

A much better metric than win percentage is margin of victory. Since 2005, the team with the better average margin of victory has won 59.4% of bowl games.

Florida State shows that committee is not picking the four best teams. The Seminoles have struggled this season, allowing weaker opponents such as Boston College and Florida to stay in games. They have won their games on average by 12.6 points, 20th best in the nation.

The committee has some grasp of the importance of margin of victory. They have Florida State ranked 4th behind 3 teams with one loss.

However, Florida State is one of the four most deserving teams since they have not lost this season. And I believe this is the right thing to do. But the committee should stop saying they’re picking the four best teams.

Follow the money

You might have heard about the insane amount of money that ESPN is paying to broadcast these games ($608 million per year). However, Mandel discusses other interesting aspects of the finances.

For example, the conferences that make the championship game get no extra revenue. Yup, read that one more time. The SEC would not get extra money if one of its teams plays in the championship game. I would imagine that the strongest conference of the last decade didn’t like this part of the deal.

Check out the book

You don’t need to search the internet for all the facts about college football’s new postseason. You also don’t need to bore yourself to tears with its Wikipedia page.

In his book The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the College Football Playoff, Stewart Mandel provides much needed perspective on college football’s new system. It’s a quick read, and you’ll know just what’s going on this Sunday when the committee announces the four most deserving teams.

Annotated predictions for Thanksgiving weekend of college football 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy all the awesome college football games.

These ensemble predictions aggregate a number of different predictions based margin of victory, yards per play statistics and market data. The rankings below refer to yards per play statistics adjusted for strength of schedule by The Power Rank algorithm.

All of these predictions and rankings are available to members.

Alabama over Auburn 7.7

CBS commentator Gary Danielson said he didn’t like this Alabama team as much as past versions because they don’t run the ball well. Indeed, Alabama ranks 28th in rush offense compared with 6th last season.

However, Alabama does throw the ball well with QB Blake Sims. They have the 11th ranked offense and should enjoy an edge over Auburn’s 28th ranked defense.

Mississippi over Mississippi State by 4.2

I know this seems ridiculous after Mississippi got shut out by Arkansas last week. However, Mississippi had more total yards than Arkansas (316 to 311) but could not overcome 6 turnovers. Turnovers are mostly random. For more details, check out my guide to college football analytics.

Florida State over Florida by 9.8

Florida State would be 4-4 if they played Auburn’s SEC schedule. However, they should beat Florida despite facing an 11th ranked Florida defense.

Missouri over Arkansas by 4.2

Missouri wins the SEC East with a victory over Arkansas, while a Missouri loss gives the division to Georgia. There’s no line out because of the injury status of Arkansas QB Brandon Allen.

Arkansas runs the ball behind their huge offensive line on 59.3% of plays. However, they’re not efficient at running the ball, as they rank 51st in yards per carry adjusted for schedule.

Wisconsin over Minnesota by 17.7

Minnesota has an average rush defense, which spells trouble against Wisconsin’s top ranked rush attack that runs the ball on 67.5% of plays.

Arizona over Arizona State by 2.5

A rash of injuries might affect this game. Arizona State receiver Jalen Strong has a concussion, while QB Anu Solomon and a bunch of others are questionable for Arizona.

Ohio State over Michigan by 15.3

Michigan must run the ball against Ohio State’s 54th ranked rush defense to have any chance to keep this close.

UCLA over Stanford by 4.8

Stanford WR and kick returner Ty Montgomery won’t play against UCLA, but it might not matter if Stanford can score touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone.

TCU over Texas by 7.4

Texas brings the 6th ranked defense that’s particularly good against the pass, but it probably won’t be enough against TCU.

Georgia over Georgia Tech by 16.3

RB Todd Gurley gets the headlines, but Georgia features the 11th and 9th best pass offense and defense respectively.