College Football
AP Picks: Playoff contenders scoreboard watching Pac-12
College Football

AP Picks: Playoff contenders scoreboard watching Pac-12

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 10:21 p.m. ET

A couple of Pac-12 teams that have already combined for six losses can still have an impact on the College Football Playoff race.

No. 22 Southern California (7-3) is at No. 23 Oregon (7-3) Saturday and both teams can still win their respective Pac-12 divisions. The conference already has dim playoff hopes after Stanford and Utah each lost league games for the second time last week. If the Trojans and Ducks were to find their way to Santa Clara, California, for the Pac-12 title game those chances go from slim to none.

But the beauty of the playoff is the trickle-down effect. No. 5 Notre Dame (9-1) beat USC in October. The Irish could use the Trojans to finish strong and bolster their playoff case. No. 9 Michigan State (9-1) knocked off Oregon back in September and a continued resurgence by the Ducks would make the win look even better for the Spartans.

Of course, the Spartans and Irish have their own business to take care of over the next few weeks.


Michigan State plays its biggest game of the season at No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday. Notre Dame goes to Fenway Park to play Boston College.

Some Pac-12 scoreboard watching might be in order, too.

The picks:


Wake Forest (plus 39) at No. 1 Clemson

A victory for Clemson would give the Tigers 700 in program history ... CLEMSON 38-7.

Purdue (plus 21) at No. 6 Iowa

Hawkeyes CB Desmond King is tied for the national lead with eight interceptions ... IOWA 38-14.


No. 9 Michigan State (plus 13 1/2) at No. 2 Ohio State

Buckeyes TB Ezekiel Elliott has a chance to jump into the heart of the Heisman Trophy race ... OHIO STATE 34-24.

No. 5 Notre Dame (minus 16 1/2) at Boston College

BC is last in the nation in total offense and first in total defense ... NOTRE DAME 28-10.


No. 10 Baylor (pick'em) at No. 4 Oklahoma State

Cowboys have trailed at half four times this season and had four games decide by seven or less ... BAYLOR 42-38.

No. 11 TCU (off) at No. 7 Oklahoma

Status of Horned Frogs stars Trevone Boykin (ankle) and Josh Doctson (wrist) is uncertain ... OKLAHOMA 45-24.


No. 12 North Carolina (minus 6 1/2) at Virginia Tech

Tars Heels have scored 125 points in the last two games; Hokies need one win in last two games to get bowl eligible for retiring coach Frank Beamer ... NORTH CAROLINA 31-26.


No. 13 Houston (off) at UConn

Status of Cougars QB Greg Ward Jr. (ankle) is uncertain; won't matter ... HOUSTON 38-17.

No. 14 Michigan (minus 3 1/2) at Penn State

Nittany Lions have yet to beat a ranked team under coach James Franklin ... UPSET SPECIAL, PENN STATE 24-20.

California (plus 10 1/2) at No. 15 Stanford

Cardinal have won five straight in the Big Game by an average of 40-15 ... BEST BET, STANFORD 38-24.

No. 17 LSU (plus 4) at No. 25 Mississippi

Tigers have not lost three straight since 1998 ... LSU 28-24.

UCLA (plus 2) at No. 18 Utah

Last three meetings have been decided by 16 points, with Bruins winning two ... UCLA 28-23.

No. 19 Navy (minus 11 1/2) at Tulsa

Midshipmen have scored 100 points in last two games ... NAVY 38-28.

No. 20 Northwestern (plus 11) at No. 21 Wisconsin

Playing for second in the Big Ten West ... WISCONSIN 24-16.

No. 22 Southern California (plus 4) at No. 23 Oregon

Top offenses in the Pac-12 in yards per play ... OREGON 41-35.

Colorado (plus 14 1/2) at No. 24 Washington State

Cougars can reach eight wins for first time since 2003, when they won 10 ... WASHINGTON STATE 40-21.


Mississippi State (plus 3 1/2) at Arkansas - (at)lakehog-stephen

Razorbacks finishing strong again. Now about those starts? ... ARKANSAS 28-21.

Arizona (off) at Arizona State - (at)OxChargerSports

Wildcats QB Anu Solomon might sit out Territorial Cup because of a concussion ... ARIZONA STATE 34-24.

Duke (plus 2 1/2) at Virginia - (at)MBeutell25

Blue Devils defense has fallen apart the last four games ... DUKE 28-24.



Last week's record: 16-9 straight; 12-13 vs. spread.

Overall: 174-60; 115-112-3.

Upset specials: 4-8.

Best bets: 3-7.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at




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