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College football predictions: OU needs an LSU victory

Alabama hosts LSU on Saturday, and the winner is almost surely headed for the SEC Championship Game. The loser is headed for the College Football Playoff.

Or is it? LSU is ranked second in the CFP rankings; Alabama is third. The loser, if it finishes 11-1, seems a likely candidate for one of the four playoff spots. But LSU at 11-1 is different than Alabama at 11-1.

LSU at 11-1 would have wins over Florida and Auburn, both currently ranked in the top 11, plus Texas, which isn’t in the playoff committee’s top 25 but is certainly a nice notch on LSU’s belt, especially since the win came in Austin.

Alabama at 11-1 would have a win at Auburn. A much better resume’ for LSU than for Alabama.

Which means the college football world – the Oklahomas and Oregons and Utahs hoping to snag one of the coveted slots – needs an LSU victory Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

It’s only natural to cheer against Alabama anyway, but it really matters now. And it’s counter-intuitive, to think that in a judging contest, you’d rather go against Bama than against LSU. But it’s the truth.

Of course, Auburn could help the whole process by beating Alabama or Georgia or preferably both, which would send the SEC into light chaos and probably keep the Godzilla conference with only one playoff participant. But the other road to such a result is for LSU to beat Alabama.

Alabama would win the eye test with a 12-1 OU, a 12-1 Oregon or a 12-1 Utah. But the Crimson Tide’s resume’ would be no better than any of that trio, and any of that trio would have a conference championship to flash.

Let’s get to the predictions.

Iowa State at Oklahoma: Sooners 42-28. The Cyclones have beaten the Sooners six times. Not six times in Norman. Not six times in Ames. Not six times in the Big 12 era. Not six times since World War II. Six times period. But Iowa State won in its last trip to Owen Field.

Kansas State at Texas: Wildcats 27-24. The idea that OU and the Big 12 needs the Longhorns to rise up and be the Texas it ought to be? There’s a lot of merit to that theory. Just not this year. OU and the Big 12 need OU, Baylor, Kansas State and OSU to win out, unless they’re playing each other. 

Baylor at TCU: Bears 23-10. If I knew Horned Frog quarterback Max Duggan was completely healthy, I’d consider this for an upset. But without Duggan, the Frogs looked limited against a really good Baylor defense.

Texas Tech at West Virginia: Red Raiders 28-24. The loser will finish in last place, perhaps tied with Kansas.

LSU at Alabama: Crimson Tide 31-23. LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in November 2011. Since then, LSU is 0-8 against the Tide and has scored 0, 17, 17, 13 with overtime, 16, 0, 10 and 0 against Bama. That’s nine points a game.

Missouri at Georgia: Bulldogs 44-22. Mizzou was 5-1 in mid-October. Then the Tigers lost back-to-back at Vanderbilt and Kentucky, and quarterback Kelly Bryant might not play against Georgia.

Appalachian State at South Carolina: Mountaineers 29-24. If only Appalachian State had beaten Georgia Southern last week, the Mountaineers could be playing for a major bowl berth. Beat the Gamecocks, and Appalachian State still can dream. 

Tennessee at Kentucky: Volunteers 21-19. Tennessee has to beat either UK or Missouri to be bowl eligible.

Vanderbilt at Florida: Gators 42-3. Vandy is down to its third quarterback. That’s no recipe for success.

Western Kentucky at Arkansas: Razorbacks 38-30. Arkansas might be the most despondent fan base in college football, and if things go south in the Ozarks on Saturday, it could get ugly.

New Mexico State at Ole Miss: Rebels 49-16. Nothing screams college football like a New Mexico State-Mississippi showdown on a crisp November day.

Penn State at Minnesota: Nittany Lions 41-7. Biggest game in Minneapolis, well, not counting the Vikings, in decades. But one team is legit. The other is a fraud.

Iowa at Wisconsin: Badgers 26-7. The winner gets to play Minnesota in what could be for the Big Ten West title.

Maryland at Ohio State: Buckeyes 55-7. This one will get ugly quick and then stay that way.

Illinois at Michigan State: Spartans 26-17. What a year for the Illini. Somehow, Lovie Smith has coached Illinois to a 3-3 conference record and likely bowl eligibility.

Purdue at Northwestern: Boilermakers 29-14. What happened to the Wildcats? They are 1-7 overall, 0-6 in the Big Ten.

Wake Forest at Virginia Tech: Hokies 30-24. Justin Fuente has done a nice job with these Hokies. After a rough start, they’ve got a chance to win the ACC Coastal.

Notre Dame at Duke: Fighting Irish 38-17. The Blue Devils beat Notre Dame 38-35 back in 2016, their most recent meeting.

Clemson at North Carolina State: Tigers 48-10. The Wolfpack is 4-4 and could make a bowl. The ‘Pack has beaten East Carolina, Western Carolina, Ball State and Syracuse. What a country.

Georgia Tech at Virginia: Cavaliers 30-19. The revamped Yellow Jackets are getting better, but not good enough to stand up to UVA.

Louisville at Miami: Cardinals 31-30. The Hurricanes have become so irrelevant, losing to them now costs coaches their jobs.

Florida State at Boston College: Eagles 41-35. How did the Seminoles fall so far so fast?

Washington at Oregon State: Huskies 35-25. Give the Beavers credit. They have made great strides since that season opener against Oklahoma State. Oregon State is 3-2 and in second place in the Pac-12 North.

Southern Cal at Arizona State: Sun Devils 31-28. These are Clay Helton’s last days with the Trojans.

Stanford at Colorado: Buffaloes 31-28. CU has the worst conference record in the Pac-12, 1-5, and give the league some credit. The Buffs aren’t that bad.

Washington State at California: Cougars 30-27. The two last-place teams in the Pac-12 North, which is one of college football’s more interesting divisions.

Central Florida at Tulsa: Knights 44-20. Josh Heupel returns to Oklahoma.

East Carolina at SMU: Mustangs 51-31. Hang in there, SMU. The American Conference title and a Cotton Bowl berth isn’t totally out of your reach.

Temple at South Florida: Owls 26-14. I wonder if USF folks ever wonder how Central Florida took off and South Florida faltered?

Connecticut at Cincinnati: Bearcats 32-0. There are a thousand reasons why we should be sad when college football season is over. But the best reason to be happy is that there will no more UConn games.

Wyoming at Boise State: Broncos 32-23. This is a big game. With a win, the Cowboys move to the top of the Mountain West’s Mountain Division.

Nevada at San Diego State: Aztecs 25-7. San Diego State moves one step closer to the Mountain West title game.

San Jose State at Hawaii: Spartans 31-21. San Jose State is 1-4 in the Mountain West, but the Spartans are better than that.

Utah State at Fresno State: Bulldogs 27-26. The Aggies have started to sputter in Gary Andersen’s first season back as the USU coach.

Liberty at Brigham Young: Cougars 31-24. You want some awful news? One of the bowl projections has Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl (Houston) against, wait for it, Liberty. The SEC might not fill all its bowl slots.

Massachusetts at Army: Black Knights 30-10. UMass will help the Cadets get back on the right track.

Last week: 27-8. Season: 354-109.

Related Photos
Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis (13) tackles LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis (13) tackles LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ed3490f63e429c1ae37bb6e24459d3a5.jpg" alt="Photo - Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis (13) tackles LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)" title="Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis (13) tackles LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)"><figcaption>Auburn defensive back Javaris Davis (13) tackles LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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