By Flint Wheeler
The No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams (all unbeaten entering this week) lost in the same week for the first time since 1985 and five Top 10 teams went down. One of the beneficiaries will play early on the Week 12 docket, on Thursday night.
No. 3 Louisville Cardinals at Houston Cougars (no line)
Louisville has only one loss this season, at Clemson in a barn-burning 42-36 setback as a 1-point chalk back in Week 5. That had the Cardinals on the outside looking in for a shot at the four-team College Football Playoff. But not anymore, since Clemson lost a shocker to Pittsburgh Saturday, 43-42 as a 22-point favorite.
The Cardinals (9-1 SU, 5-4-1 ATS) have won five in a row since the loss at Clemson, including Saturday’s 44-12 rout of Wake Forest, though they fell short as massive 34.5-point faves.
Houston had its dream season ruined by two huge upset losses in three weeks, at Navy and at Southern Methodist. The Cougars (8-2 SU, 4-6 ATS) have bounced back to win their last two, but they were hardly impressive Saturday in a 30-18 home win over Tulane laying 26 points. Starting QB Greg Ward and backup Kyle Postma both got dinged up in that contest.
I sat down for a quick five minutes with Lenny Vargas – A Local Professional Better. “It appears that Louisville controls its own destiny regarding the College Football Playoff. “Houston has been up and down of late, and Ward is injured, so we won’t post a line until his status has more clarity. It’s a short week with travel for the favored Cardinals, but we fully expect the square bettors to support them here.”
No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers (+3)
Oklahoma is plowing its way toward another Big 12 title, though that might not be enough to earn a CFP berth next month. The Sooners (8-2 SU, 4-6 ATS) have ripped off seven consecutive victories (4-3 ATS), including a 45-24 rout of Baylor giving 17.5 points at home Saturday.
West Virginia (8-1, 4-5 ATS) is 6-1 SU in conference play and could certainly upset the apple cart of the Sooners, who are 7-0. The Mountaineers held off Texas 24-20 as a 1-point road favorite Saturday.
“By winning out, could one of these teams sneak into the playoff picture? Anything is possible with the way this final month might unfold,” Lenny said. “But West Virginia is a pretty salty team, and this will be no walk in the park for Oklahoma. The Mountaineers certainly have the better defense, and that may end up being the difference.”
No. 19 Southern California Trojans at UCLA Bruins (+10.5)
Southern Cal appears more than ready for its annual crosstown rivalry game with UCLA. Since a 1-3 SU and ATS start, the Trojans (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) have won six in a row and cashed in five of those games. On Saturday, USC knocked off previously undefeated Washington 26-13 as a 10-point road underdog.
UCLA (4-6 SU and ATS) is having a much less successful season, but a win over its archrival would surely provide a big boost. The Bruins halted a four-game slide on Saturday, topping Oregon State 38-24 as an 11.5-point home fave.
“The aforementioned Sooners have a great win streak going, but USC has looked more impressive during its recent run,” Lenny said. “Outside of Alabama, the Trojans may be the hottest team in the country. They certainly have the talent to win this by two touchdowns, but it’s a massive rivalry game, and as we know, anything can happen in that scenario.”
No. 18 Florida Gators at No. 14 Louisiana State Tigers (-14)
This game was originally scheduled for Oct. 8 in Gainesville, but was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. The Gators (7-2 SU, 3-5-1 ATS) are coming off a 20-7 victory over South Carolina, pushing as a 13-point home favorite Saturday.
Florida QB Luke Del Rio (knee) sat out the last two games, but could return this week.
LSU (6-3 SU, 4-5 ATS) bounced back from its 10-0 home loss to Alabama by rolling over Arkansas 38-10 laying 9.5 points Saturday.
“It’s such an important game for both teams, considering Florida’s conference championship representation and LSU’s potential path to the Sugar Bowl,” Lenny said. “LSU is just in a better state regarding momentum and health right now, and all the hype is around the Tigers.”