Instead of focusing on the teams that are off this weekend in college football — and there are a lot of good teams not playing — let’s enjoy the ones that are in action.
No. 6 Florida against No. 8 Georgia has become a big game again in the Southeastern Conference after a brief hiatus. For five straight seasons from 2013-17, no more than one of the participants in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was ranked when they faced off in Jacksonville, Florida.
Now, for the second straight season, it’s a top-10 matchup with the winner holding the inside track to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
In Memphis, the 24th-ranked Tigers and No. 15 SMU are good enough to bring ESPN’s “College GameDay” to Beale Street. It’s a game with huge implications in the American Athletic Conference and the race for the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six bowls.
The Pac-12 has renewed hope of sending a team to the College Football Playoff for the first time in three seasons after a spate of upsets in recent weeks. The league’s top contenders, No. 7 Oregon and No. 9 Utah, are on the road against teams that have been in and out of the rankings this season.
The Ducks head to Southern California, which beat Utah in September. The Utes are at Washington, which nearly knocked off Oregon two weeks ago.
See, you won’t miss No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State, No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Iowa and No. 25 San Diego State at all. The picks:
West Virginia (plus 17½) at No. 12 Baylor
Major college football teams averaging more than 7.0 yards per play on offense and fewer than 5.0 allowed on defense: LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, UCF and Baylor … BAYLOR 38-14.
Georgia Southern (plus 15) at No. 20 Appalachian State
App State is 3-2 against its former FCS Southern Conference rival since they both moved to the Sun Belt in 2014 … APP STATE 35-17, BEST BET.
Wofford (no line) at No. 4 Clemson
Tigers might as well be off, too … CLEMSON 56-10.
No. 6 Florida (plus 6½) vs. No. 8 Georgia at Jacksonville, Florida
Gators will have their two stud pass rushers, Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga, back and healthy together for the first time in a while … GEORGIA 24-14
No. 7 Oregon (minus 4½) at Southern California
Trojans defense is riddled with injuries, but USC has yet to lose at home … USC 34-31, UPSET SPECIAL.
No. 9 Utah (minus 3½) at Washington
Huskies complete Pac-12 playoff doomsday scenario … WASHINGTON 28-27.
Mississippi (plus 19) at No. 11 Auburn
Tigers QB Bo Nix has completed 46% of his passes in five games against teams with winning records and 73% against losing teams. Rebels are 3-5 … AUBURN 38-17.
No. 14 Michigan (minus 21) at Maryland
Wolverines fixed the offense by going back to the old offense? Not exactly, but running heavy should work against the Terps … MICHIGAN 42-17.
No. 15 SMU (plus 5½) at No. 24 Memphis
Tigers would be in great shape to reach a third straight AAC title game with a win after already beating division rivals Navy and Tulane … MEMPHIS 38-31.
Virginia Tech (plus 17½) at No. 16 Notre Dame
Fighting Irish struggle to stop the run, but it seems like the Hokies haven’t been able to run the ball well since Kevin Jones left Blacksburg in 2004 … NOTRE DAME 35-21.
No. 17 Cincinnati (minus 23½) at East Carolina
Bearcats have won four of five since ECU joined the American … CINCINNATI 28-13.
No. 22 Boise State (minus 17½) at San Jose State
Broncos are 12-0 against the Spartans, average score 45-17 … BOISE STATE 45-17.
No. 22 Kansas State (minus 6) at Kansas
Wildcats have won 10 straight in the Sunflower State Showdown … KANSAS STATE 31-23.
North Carolina State (plus 7½) at No. 23 Wake Forest
Wake has won two straight against the Wolfpack, both times throwing a wrench in otherwise good seasons. Payback? … WAKE FOREST 31-28.
TCU (plus 3) at Oklahoma State — @janorman74
Big 12’s second tier is tightly packed and highly competitive … TCU 31-28.
Miami (plus 3½) at Florida State — @Aintropy
It’s not so much about who wins between the struggling rivals but who avoids losing … MIAMI 27-24.
Virginia (plus 2½) at North Carolina — @Mjg5250
Big game in the ACC, and basketball doesn’t start until next week … VIRGINIA 24-21.
Mississippi State (minus 7½) at Arkansas — @chriswilliams2
Not many fans happy with their second-year coach on either side … MISSISSIPPI STATE 35-23.
BYU (plus 3½) at Utah State — @snoker
In a rivalry long dominated by the Cougars, the Aggies have won two straight and three of the last five … UTAH STATE 28-23.
Nebraska (minus 3) at Purdue — @saunders45
The Squashed Hopes Bowl … NEBRASKA 30-24.
Last week: 14-5 straight; 10-8-1 against the spread.
Season: 158-45 straight; 109-87-6 against the spread.
Upset specials: 3-6 (straight up).
Best bets: 3-5-1 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25