This weekend marks the halfway point of the regular season for 74 teams. UMass hit the midway point last week. So far, according to the Congrove Computer Rankings of all 130 FBS teams (CCR Top 130), the ACC is the strongest conference in 2017. The PAC-12 is second, followed by the SEC. By divisions, the ACC Atlantic is No. 1 in overall power rating with the PAC-12 North in 2nd. After that comes the SEC West, Big Ten East and ACC Coastal.
The ACC has 4 schools among the Top 16 of the 130 programs with Clemson 3rd, Miami 10th, Georgia Tech 14th and Virginia Tech 16th. Four more ACC teams are on the cusp of the Top 25 with N.C. State checking in at No. 26, Florida State at 27, Wake Forest 28th, and Louisville at No. 30. That gives the conference 8 teams in the top 30.
115 FBS teams see action this week with 58 games to be played. One school faces a FCS squad as Indiana hosts Charleston Southern. The Hoosiers scheduled that game after losing the FIU home contest due to Hurricane Irma.
The highest-ranked idle team this week is 12th-ranked USF. The only other Top 25 teams with a bye week are No. 14 Georgia Tech and No. 15 Oklahoma State.
Top-ranked Alabama visits No. 34 Texas A&M as an 18.67-point favorite. The Tide have outscored their last two opponents by a combined 125-3 as they obliterated Vanderbilt 59-0 and dismissed Ole Miss 66-3.
No. 2 Penn State is an 11.30-point computer pick at No. 43 Northwestern. The Nittany Lions have outscored their five opponents by an average of 41.4 to 9.4, but none were ranked in the Top 25.
3rd-ranked Clemson, on the other hand, has knocked off Auburn when that program was ranked 8th, and Virginia Tech when the Hokies were ranked 7th. Clemson also won at Louisville when the Cards were ranked 28th by the computer. Dabo Swinney's team is a 16.19-point favorite this Saturday when it hosts a Wake Forest bunch that was handed its first loss of the season last week, 26-19, by Florida State.
No. 4 Oklahoma is a 32.01-point home pick over No. 87 Iowa State (2-2) which has the nation's 28th-ranked rushing defense.
5th-ranked Wisconsin hits the road as a 16.45-point pick at troubled Nebraska, ranked 63rd. Thus far, the Cornhuskers would vie for the label of "worst 3-2 team in college football", especially given their stature. Nebraska has a narrow win over Arkansas State, a mere 10-point victory over an awful Rutgers team, losses to Oregon and Northern Illinois, and a 28-6 victory over another Big Ten cellar-dweller in Illinois.
No. 6 Washington hosts No. 74 Cal as a 23.78-point favorite. The Huskies top the PAC-12 in total defense and scoring defense, and are 2nd in turnover margin. They are tied for 6th nationally in takeaways with 12.
Not a single game this week pits two Top 25 teams against each other, but Washington State, Miami, Michigan and Kansas State have notably tough outs. The 9th-ranked Cougars visit No. 35 Oregon as a 6.26-point favorite, while 10th-ranked Miami goes to Tallahassee to take on 27th-ranked Florida State as a 7.15-point computer underdog. 17th-ranked Michigan hosts 40th-ranked Michigan State as an 8.51-point computer choice, and 25th-ranked Kansas State goes to Austin as a 1.92-point computer pick over Texas.
Miami and Utah are the only Top 25 teams projected to lose this week. The 19th-ranked Utes are on the wrong end of a 7.17-point computer margin at home vs. No. 29 Stanford.
I would normally call No. 23 Florida's home game a tough out against 42nd-ranked LSU, but the Bayou Bengals appear to be in a major funk as they head to Gainesville as a 5.94-point underdog. If the Gators had an offense, that number would be much higher.
Notre Dame's status as a 4.56-point anticipated victor at North Carolina is another game in which the computer spread is close, but the expectations are for a much wider margin.
Here is the rest of the schedule and predictions for Top 25 teams seeing action this week:
- No. 7 Georgia (-8.82) at No. 56 Vanderbilt
- No. 8 Ohio State (-26.85) vs. No. 49 Maryland
- No. 11 Texas Christian (-13.60) vs. No. 38 West Virginia
- No. 13 Auburn (-26.78) vs. No. 88 Ole Miss
- No. 16 Virginia Tech (-10.84) at No. 83 Boston College
- No. 18 USC (-26.92) vs. No. 113 Oregon State
- No. 20 Navy (-7.46) vs. No. 81 Air Force
- No. 21 San Diego State (-10.83) at No. 90 UNLV
- No. 22 UCF (-16.24) at No. 110 Cincinnati
Indiana hosts Charleston Southern in the only FBS vs. FCS battle this week. FBS teams are 81-9 (.900) vs. the FCS this season, and 1,211-117 (.912) since 2003.
These are the FCS victories in 2017:
September 23: Western Illinois 52, Coastal Carolina 10
September 16: North Carolina A&T 35, Charlotte 31
September 16: Idaho State 30, Nevada 28
September 9: South Dakota 35. Bowling Green 27
September 9: New Hampshire 22, Georgia Southern 12
September 2: Liberty 48, Baylor 45
September 2: Howard 43, UNLV 40
September 2: James Madison 34, East Carolina 14
August 31: Tennessee State 17, Georgia State 10.
We're back to 98 FBS teams playing 98 games vs. FCS members this year after UCF scheduled Austin Peay for October 28th to make up for a game lost by Hurricane Irma. The 98 games is down substantially from the 110 FBS schools that played 113 games vs. FCS squads last year.
Alabama - Won 39 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 15 straight home games (FBS longest). Won 12 straight road games. Won 19 straight conference games (FBS record). Visits Texas A&M on Saturday.
Oklahoma - Won 14 straight overall (FBS longest). Won 13 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts Iowa State on Saturday.
Fresno State - Halted a 15-game losing to FBS teams (FBS longest). Visits San Jose State on Saturday.
Rutgers - Lost 15 straight conference games (FBS longest). Idle this week.
Massachusetts - Lost 9 straight overall (FBS longest). Idle this week.
Kansas - Lost 42 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts Texas Tech on Saturday.