The first college football playoff committee rankings were released Tuesday night with Alabama at No. 1 and Clemson 2nd, followed somewhat surprisingly by LSU in 3rd and Notre Dame 4th.
Michigan is the first team out, followed by Georgia, Oklahoma, Washington State, Kentucky and Ohio State.
The rankings set up an epic showdown this Saturday when 'Bama visits LSU as a 2-touchdown favorite. The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com like the Bayou Bengals to keep this one closer than most people expect as it projects a margin of 8.30.
Meanwhile, Clemson is a huge 35.11-point pick at home over struggling Louisville.
No. 4 Notre Dame heads to Northwestern, which is unranked but is also coming off a 31-17 home win over Wisconsin. The computer likes the Irish by just 1.38 to narrowly escape the upset.
The committee makes the Georgia-Kentucky clash a 6 vs. 9 affair. Again, the computer likes the underdog to cover as it has the 'Dawgs winning by 3.71 which is well under the 9-1/2-point spread.
Michigan also gets a test as the 5th-ranked Wolverines host No. 14 Penn State. The sportsbooks favor Big Blue by 10 while the computer has it at 8.92.
The biggest surprise might be Virginia at No. 25. The Cavaliers are just 6-2 with losses at Indiana at N.C. State. The Cavs are a 5.74-point home pick by the computer this week versus Pittsburgh.
As for the burning question of how high the committee would rank UCF, the answer is not very high. The Knights are only No. 12, despite a 20-game winning streak. UCF hosts Temple on Thursday as a 14.36-point computer choice.
My ballot in the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll has the Knights at 13. While the 20-game run is noteworthy, the calibre of competition isn't nearly equal to what teams in the Group of 5 conferences face on an almost weekly basis.
In some of the week's other big games, the computer likes LSU to keep Bama under the spread, Boise State to cover at home over BYU, Purdue to cover at home versus Iowa, and Texas to cover at home vs. West Virginia
Of course, the biggest game to watch this week is No. 130 UTEP at No. 129 Rice. The computer likes UTEP to end its 20-game overall losing streak AND its 13-game road losing streak as the Miners are favored by all of 0.20.
Our feature picks tore it up last week, going 10-6 on outright winners and 12-4 against the spread. Most impressively, the computer tagged 11 upsets picks last week and was 9-2 against the spread on those games. It correctly forecasted Northwestern over Wisconsin and Penn State over Iowa.
The computer's upset picks are 59-27 against the spread going back to last November, and 49-37 outright.
In addition to the games I've already outlined above, check out this week's Feature Picks of Air Force-Army, Boston College-Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech-North Carolina, Utah State-Hawaii, Missouri-Florida, and Syracuse-Wake Forest.
New Mexico State is the lone FBS team facing a FCS opponent this week. FBS teams are 95-7 (.931) vs. the FCS this season, and 1,314-124 (.914) since 2003.
Here are all of the FCS victories over FBS teams, so far, in 2018:
August 30: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19
UCF - Won 20 straight overall (FBS longest), Won 13 straight conference games including AAC title last year (FBS longest). Hosts Temple on Thursday.
Alabama - Won 23 straight home games (FBS longest). Visits LSU on Saturday.
Oklahoma - Won 18 straight true road games (FBS longest). Visits Texas Tech on Saturday.
UTEP - Lost 20 straight overall (FBS longest). Visits Rice on Saturday.
UTEP - Lost 12 straight conference games (tied for FBS longest). Visits Rice on Saturday.
Rice - Lost 12 straight conference games (tied for FBS longest). Hosts UTEP on Saturday.
UTEP - Lost 13 straight road games (tied for FBS longest). Visits Rice on Saturday.
Kent State - Lost 13 straight road games (tied for FBS longest). Visits Bowling Green on Tuesday.