AP College Picks: Clemson, Iowa St. look to redirect seasons
By RALPH D, RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
For the first time this season, there are no games on the college football schedule matching two ranked teams. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some intriguing matchups.
In the spotlight are a handful of teams that stumbled early and fell out of the rankings, but now have a chance to get their seasons pointed in the right direction.
Clemson’s fall from College Football Playoff contender to unranked with two losses before October has been one of the biggest developments of 2021.
The Tigers have yet to score more than 20 points in regulation against an FBS opponent, but they are still very much in play for a seventh straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
In a role reversal, Clemson (4-2) visits No. 23 Pittsburgh as a dangerous underdog.
Wisconsin (3-3) already has a couple of Big Ten losses and is trying to sort out an offense averaging fewer than 20 points per game.
Still, the Badgers have a reasonable path to win the Big Ten West if they can knock off newly ranked No. 25 Purdue.
Remember Iowa State? The Cyclones started the season ranked in the top 10, got off to their usual slow start and have hardly been heard from since.
Brock Purdy and Co. get a prime chance to re-enter the Big 12 picture when they host No. 8 Oklahoma State. Iowa State is 15-2 in October since 2017. They don’t call it Brocktober in Ames for nothing.
The picks with lines provide by FanDuel Sportsbook:
Tulane (plus 13 1/2)
at No. 21 SMU
Mustangs have won six straight meetings, though four have been by four points or fewer … SMU 35-24.
No. 2 Cincinnati
(minus 27 1/2)
Bearcats have consecutive 50-point games for the first time in program history. Can they make it three straight? … CINCINNATI 38-17.
No. 3 Oklahoma
(minus 38 1/2)
Sooners have won 16 straight against the Jayhawks, none by fewer than 14 … OKLAHOMA 59-14.
Tennessee (plus 24 1/2)
at No. 4 Alabama
Longest winning streak in the history of the rivalry is up to 14 for the Tide … ALABAMA 42-21.
No. 5 Ohio State
(minus 19 1/2)
Hoosiers gave the Buckeyes a scare last season with a furious second-half rally, but Ohio State has won 26 straight in the series … OHIO STATE 31-14.
(plus 23 1/2)
at No. 6 Michigan
Wolverines have outscored opponents 77-10 in the second quarter … MICHIGAN 42-13.
Illinois (plus 23 1/2)
at No. 7 Penn State
No word yet on the status of Penn State QB Sean Clifford, who was knocked out of the Iowa game two weeks ago with an undisclosed injury … PENN STATE 28-10.
No. 8 Oklahoma State (plus 6 1/2)
at Iowa State
Cowboys have a chance to get some serious separation in the Big 12 race — or not … IOWA STATE 27-23.
No. 10 Oregon
(plus 1 1/2)
Ducks have sputtered along since beating Ohio State; can they get back on track against former coach Chip Kelly? … OREGON 31-28.
LSU (plus 9 1/2)
at No. 12 Mississippi
Is this like an job interview for Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin? … OLE MISS 35-28.
(plus 6 1/2)
at No. 13 Notre Dame
Irish have won three straight meetings and have not won more than that consecutively since an 11-game winning streak from 1983-93 … NOTRE DAME 31-21.
No. 16 Wake Forest
(minus 3 1/2)
Interesting style matchup: Army wants to slow the game down; Wake wants to run lots of plays … WAKE FOREST 21-14.
(plus 20 1/2)
at No. 17 Texas A&M
Aggies have won the last two meetings 78-9 … TEXAS A&M 31-7.
No. 18 North Carolina State (minus 2 1/2)
When considering ACC games, lean toward results that would make the division races more complicated … MIAMI 24-21, UPSET SPECIAL.
No. 22 San Diego State (plus 3 1/2)
at Air Force
No. 1 rushing offense (AFA) vs. No. 1 rushing defense (SDSU) … AIR FORCE 23-20.
Clemson (plus 3 1/2)
at No. 23 Pittsburgh
Tigers were last an underdog against an ACC opponent in 2016 when they played Lamar Jackson and Louisville at home … CLEMSON 23-20.
No. 24 UTSA (minus 6 1/2)
at Louisiana Tech
Roadrunners’ first game as a ranked team … UTSA 34-24.
Wisconsin (minus 2 1/2)
at No. 25 Purdue
Boilermakers have not won a game as a ranked team since starting the 2005 season 2-0 … WISCONSIN 20-16.
Syracuse (plus 3 1/2)
at Virginia Tech
Former Big East rivals have played once since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013 … SYRACUSE 24-20.
Nevada (plus 3 1/2)
at Fresno State
Big game in Mountain West’s West Division race that includes San Diego State … FRESNO STATE 31-24.
BYU (minus 3 1/2)
at Washington State
First game for the Cougars after coach Nick Rolovich was let go for failing to comply with the state’s vaccine mandate … WASHINGTON STATE 31-28.
Utah (minus 2 1/2)
at Oregon State
Utes are another one of those teams that started the season ranked, fell out, and are working toward getting back in … UTAH 27-23.
Last week: 11-8 straight; 11-8 against the spread.
Season: 104-56 straight; 88-72 against the spread.