College Football Picks: Another milestone for ’Bama, Saban
Nick Saban is on the verge of another milestone victory, another number that shows just how dominant his teams have been at Alabama.
A victory by the Crimson Tide against Mississippi State on Saturday in Tuscaloosa would be Saban's 40th when Alabama is ranked No. 1, matching Bobby Bowden and Woody Hayes for the most wins coaching an AP No. 1 team.
Saban is currently 39-5 in games when the Tide is No. 1. Bowden was 40-5 with Florida State as No. 1. Hayes went 40-6 with Ohio State. The difference? Bowden coached Florida State for 34 seasons. Hayes was at Ohio State for 28 years. Saban is in his 10th season with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama has been ranked No. 1 in 33 percent of its 132 games coached by Saban. Florida State was No. 1 in 10.8 percent of the 417 games Bowden coaches. Ohio State was No. 1 in 16.7 percent of the 276 games Hayes coached.
One more note on Alabama: The Crimson Tide's game against Mississippi State will be its first against an unranked opponent since Oct. 1 versus Kentucky. Alabama became just the third top-ranked team to play and win four consecutive games against ranked opponents when it beat LSU last week.
In 1943, No. 1 Notre Dame played ranked opponents in four straight games and beat them all. In 2001, No. 1 Miami had a four-game winning streak against ranked opponents over a five-week span that included an open date.
THURSDAY NIGHT THROWDOWNS
No. 15 North Carolina (minus 10½) at Duke - The Blue Devils need to win out to reach six wins and bowl eligibility, but the path is tough (at Pitt and at Miami after this week) ... NORTH CAROLINA 38-30.
No. 13 Utah (minus 5) at Arizona State - The Utes hoped QB Troy Williams would give them more offensive balance this season, but he is ninth in the Pac-12 in passer efficiency rating (123.19) and has thrown only nine TD passes ... UTAH 24-21.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Boston College (plus 21) at No. 20 Florida State - Just when it looked as if Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook was going to make a late Heisman push, he ran for 65 yards on 18 carries last week against N.C. State ... FLORIDA STATE 38-10, BEST BET.
Mississippi State (plus 30) at No. 1 Alabama - Matchup of the top two rushing quarterbacks in the SEC; the Bulldogs' Nick Fitzgerald has 839 yards and eight touchdowns and the Tide's Jalen Hurts has 635 yards and 10 scores. .... ALABAMA 35-14.
No. 2 Michigan (minus 22) at Iowa - The Wolverines' first road game against a team with a conference victory ... MICHIGAN 31-13.
Pittsburgh (plus 21) at No. 3 Clemson - The Panthers' pass defense has been a major issue all season — and now here comes Deshaun Watson ... CLEMSON 42-17.
Southern California (plus 9) at No. 4 Washington - The Trojans have won five straight since a tough start to the season and have scored at least 41 points in four of the games ... WASHINGTON 35-28.
Wake Forest (plus 34½) at No. 5 Louisville - Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson is 247 yards passing away from becoming the eighth FBS player with at least 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing ... LOUISVILLE 45-7.
No. 6 Ohio State (minus 29) at Maryland - The Terps are coming off a blowout at Michigan and it is unclear how much QB Perry Hills (shoulder) will be able to play ... OHIO STATE 42-17.
Illinois (plus 26) at No. 7 Wisconsin - The Badgers have allowed five touchdown passes, tied for the second fewest in the FBS ... WISCONSIN 31-7.
No. 8 Auburn (minus 10½) at Georgia - No SEC team throws fewer passes per game than Auburn at 22.3 ... AUBURN 28-20.
No. 25 Baylor (plus 15) at No. 9 Oklahoma - The Bears are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2012 ... OKLAHOMA 52-28.
Mississippi (plus 10) at No. 10 Texas A&M - Matchup of backup quarterbacks after injuries ... TEXAS A&M 35-23.
No. 11 West Virginia (plus 2) at Texas - The Longhorns have the second most rushing touchdowns in the Big 12 with 24; the Mountaineers have allowed the fewest rushing TDs in the Big 12 with seven ... TEXAS 31-27.
No. 12 Penn State (minus 7) at Indiana - The Hoosiers are 1-18 against the Nittany Lions since Penn State joined the Big Ten ... INDIANA 28-24.
No. 16 Colorado (minus 16) at Arizona - The Wildcats have lost six straight and haven't lost seven in a row since 2004 ... COLORADO 31-13.
Texas Tech (plus 13) at No. 17 Oklahoma State - Better budget some time for this one: Red Raiders QB Patrick Mahomes and Cowboys QB Mason Rudolph combine to average 764 yards passing per game ... OKLAHOMA STATE 49-35.
Georgia Tech (plus 15) at No. 18 Virginia Tech - Seven of the last eight meetings have been one-score games, and the Hokies have won five of them ... VIRGINIA TECH 28-21.
No. 19 LSU (minus 3) at Arkansas - After facing Alabama, Leonard Fournette gets a crack at the worst run defense in the SEC ... LSU 33-24.
Minnesota (plus 8) at No. 21 Nebraska - The Cornhuskers are hoping to get QB Tommy Armstrong (concussion) back for what amounts to an elimination game in the Big Ten West ... MINNESOTA 27-23, UPSET SPECIAL.
South Carolina (plus 11½) at No. 22 Florida - The Gamecocks could win the SEC East at 4-4 with some help ... SOUTH CAROLINA 17-14.
California (plus 15) at No. 23 Washington State - The Bears have won 10 of 11 meetings ... WASHINGTON STATE 52-21.
No. 24 Boise State (minus 17½) at Hawaii - The Broncos have won the last five meetings by a combined 45-7 ... BOISE STATE 35-14.
Appalachian State (plus 1) at Troy @matthewepley - Two of the three Sun Belt teams, along with Arkansas State, that are undefeated in conference ... APPALACHIAN STATE 27-24.
Kentucky (plus 13½) at Tennessee — @WClark840WHAS - Instead of trying to determine a winner in the SEC East, maybe they should all join forces to face the West champion in Atlanta ... TENNESSEE 27-21.
Rutgers (plus 13½) at Michigan State — @jamdraper - An unexpected battle for last place in the Big Ten East. At least it was unexpected for the Spartans ... MICHIGAN STATE 28-14.
Stanford (minus 3) at Oregon — @sylvioso - The Cardinal and Ducks have combined to win the last seven Pac-12 championships, but this year's meeting is mostly about whether Oregon coach Mark Helfrich can manage to keep his job ... STANFORD 37-33.
RECORD: Last week 20-5 straight; 10-15 vs. points.
Season: 149-57; 93-108-3.
Upset specials: 3-7.
Best bets: 1-9.