College Football Picks: Bragging rights, trophies, titles
Bragging rights, trophies, division titles and playoff chances.
They are all on the line this week in the last full slate of the season, a Thanksgiving college football feast from the Egg Bowl to the Apple Cup.
A conference-by-conference rundown of the races:
Atlantic Coast Conference
– The championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina, is set: Clemson vs. Miami. Get through this weekend cleanly and it’s a College Football Playoff play-in game.
– Oklahoma has a spot in the championship game in Arlington, Texas, but has to protect its playoff ranking. TCU can wrap up the other spot in the title game by beating Baylor.
– Wisconsin and Ohio State are locked into the championship game in Indianapolis, but need wins to keep playoff hopes alive.
– Washington State wins the North by beating Washington. Stanford, which is playing Notre Dame, takes the North if the Huskies win.
– Alabama and Auburn play for the SEC West and the right to play Georgia. Barring a Georgia Tech upset of the Bulldogs, the SEC title game is a playoff play-in.
GROUP OF FIVE
American Athletic Conference
– The USF-UCF winner takes the East and will play Memphis in the league championship game for a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.
– Nothing but pride on the line this week. North Texas is at Florida Atlantic for the league championship on Dec. 2.
– Akron clinched the East on Tuesday night by beating Kent State 24-14. Toledo wraps up the West by beating Western Michigan on Friday. If the Rockets lose, Northern Illinois can slip in.
– Fresno State and Boise State play this week for home field when they play again next week in the league title game.
– There’s a four-way tie for first, no championship game and more regular-season games next week.
Mississippi (plus 16) at No. 16 Mississippi State
The 22nd Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving and the first since 2013 … MISSISSIPPI STATE 35-21.
No. 2 Miami (minus 13+) at Pittsburgh
Turnover chain is up to 19 appearances in the last five games and 27 for the season … MIAMI 24-13.
Baylor (plus 24) at No. 10 TCU
Horned Frogs can give coach Gary Patterson his 11th double-digit win season in 17 years at TCU … TCU 42-14.
No. 22 South Florida (plus 11) at No. 13 UCF
Biggest War on I-4 ever. The Bulls have won six of eight meetings … UCF 42-21, BEST BET.
No. 24 Virginia Tech (minus 7) at Virginia
Commonwealth Cup winning streak is up to 13 games for the Hokies … VIRGINIA 28-24, UPSET SPECIAL.
No. 1 Alabama (minus 4) at No. 6 Auburn
Tigers have won only two of the last nine Iron Bowls, but have gone on to play for the national championship after each win … ALABAMA 24-23.
West Virginia (plus 22+) at No. 3 Oklahoma
No Baker Mayfield starting for the Sooners, but no Will Grier playing at all for the Mountaineers … OKLAHOMA 45-17.
No. 4 Clemson (minus 14) at South Carolina
Tigers have won three straight in the series since snapping a five-game slide to the Gamecocks … CLEMSON 27-16.
No. 5 Wisconsin (minus 17) at Minnesota
Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the Badgers’ perfect record on the line. Wisconsin has won 13 straight meetings … WISCONSIN 31-13.
No. 7 Georgia (minus 11) at Georgia Tech
Yellow Jackets need a victory to get bowl eligible … GEORGIA 35-17.
No. 8 Ohio State (minus 11+) at Michigan
Buckeyes have won five straight and 12 of 13; another loss by the Wolverines will feed Jim Harbaugh’s critics … OHIO STATE 28-14.
No. 9 Notre Dame (minus 2) at No. 20 Stanford
Irish provide a big stage for Bryce Love to make a Heisman push … NOTRE DAME 27-24.
No. 12 Penn State (minus 21) at Maryland
Nittany Lions have played 660 minutes this season with a lead and trailed for only 37 minutes, 42 seconds … PENN STATE 42-17.
No. 14 Washington State (plus 9) at No. 15 Washington
Huskies have won seven of eight in the Apple Cup … WASHINGTON STATE 28-24.
East Carolina (plus 27+) at No. 17 Memphis
Opposing passers have a 174.40 efficiency rating against the Pirates’ defense, highest in the country … MEMPHIS 56-24.
Kansas (plus 40) at No. 18 Oklahoma State
Final home game for QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington should be a stat-padding send-off … OKLAHOMA STATE 52-14.
Texas A&M (plus 10+) at No. 19 LSU
Maybe Kevin Sumlin’s last game as Aggies coach … LSU 28-20.
No. 21 Michigan State (minus 13) at Rutgers
Scarlet Knights stayed within seven points of the Spartans at home just two years ago … MICHIGAN STATE 28-16.
No. 23 Northwestern (minus 16+) at Illinois
Wildcats RB Justin Jackson became just the ninth FBS player, and second in the Big Ten, to have four 1,000-yard rushing seasons … NORTHWESTERN 31-13.
No. 25 Boise State (minus 7) at Fresno State
Broncos and Bulldogs battle for the Milk Can … BOISE STATE 24-19.
California (plus 7) at UCLA – (at)VegasAggie
Bruins QB Josh Rosen’s last game in the Rose Bowl, with UCLA trying to get bowl-eligible under an interim head coach … UCLA 27-17.
Texas Tech (plus 10) at Texas – (at)TheFrogCastTCU
Is this it for Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury? … TEXAS 34-20.
Iowa (minus 3) at Nebraska – (at)JBDavis2
Likely coach Mike Riley’s last game with the Cornhuskers … IOWA 31-24.
Florida State (minus 5+) at Florida – (at)CrustyBeard
Seminoles need to win this week and next week in a rescheduled game at home against Louisiana-Monroe to extend their bowl streak to 36 consecutive seasons. Imagine the mood at Doak Campbell Stadium next week if FSU has to play that game with no shot to reach the postseason. … FLORIDA STATE 22-15.
Louisville (minus 9) at Kentucky – (at)WheatleyJared
Wildcats beat Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals in a wild game last season … LOUISVILLE 38-31.
Arizona (pick’em) at Arizona State – (at)bobmungovan
Average score in last seven meetings of the Territorial Cup rivalry: Arizona State 40, Arizona 36. … ARIZONA 40-36.
Record last week: 21-4 straight up; 9-15 against the spread.
Record this season: 204-64 straight up; 119-133-6 against the spread.
Upset specials: 4-8 (straight up).
Best bets: 7-4 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-Top25