College Picks: Upset alerts for Michigan State, Oregon

Nov 2, 2021, 10:41 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2021, 10:42 am
Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown (13) eludes a tackle by Colorado cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (6) dur...

Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown (13) eludes a tackle by Colorado cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (6) during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)

(AP Photo/Andy Nelson)

Michigan State might be fortunate not to be ranked No. 2.

Coming off a big win against Michigan, the fifth-ranked Spartans are heading to Purdue, a program with a long history of being one of the college football’s most prolific giant killers.

Earlier this season, the Boilermakers handed then-No. 2 Iowa its first loss of the season. It was Purdue’s ninth victory as an unranked team over a team ranked No. 2. No other program has more than four such victories.

One of those unranked upsets for Purdue came against Michigan State in 1954. More broadly, the Spartans are 9-4 against the Boilemakers (5-3) when they are ranked but Purdue is not. It’s been a while, though. The most recent of those games came in 1961.

Still, the oddmakers have put the Spartans on upset alert. Michigan State is only a 2 1/2-point favorite in West Lafayette, Indiana, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

On a college football schedule with only one game matching ranked teams, who else is in danger of being tripped up by an underdog?

No. 7 Oregon is less than a touchdown favorite against Washington (4-4), and undefeated and No. 10 Wake Forest is getting points on the road against North Carolina (4-4).

It’s a good reminder that rankings are more rewards for what a team has done than a projection of what a team will do. The picks, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook:


Georgia State (plus 12 1/2) at No. 24 Louisiana-Lafayette

Ragin’ Cajuns are 5-0 in the series, including three games decided by three points of fewer … LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 31-17.


Missouri (plus 39 1/2) at No. 1 Georgia

Bulldogs definitely not on upset alert … GEORGIA 42-10.

Tulsa (plus 22 1/2) at No. 2 Cincinnati

CFP selection committee basically told the Bearcats they need to start routing their weak competition … CINCINNATI 42-17.

LSU (plus 28 1/2) at No. 3 Alabama

Crimson Tide is 17-2-1 in the rivalry when it is ranked and the Tigers are not; the last big LSU upset was in 1993 when it beat No. 5 Alabama as an unranked team … ALABAMA 45-20.

No. 5 Michigan State (minus 2 1/2) at Purdue

Regardless of the rankings, the Spartans have won eight straight against the Boilermakers … MICHIGAN STATE 28-24.

No. 6 Ohio State (minus 14 1/2) at Nebraska

Buckeyes have won six straight meetings by an average of 35 points, with just one game being decided by fewer than 25 … OHIO STATE 38-21.

No. 7 Oregon (minus 6 1/2) at Washington

Ducks have won 14 of 16 against the Huskies … OREGON 24-20.

Navy (plus 20 1/2) at No. 8 Notre Dame

Rivalry was not played last season when the pandemic altered schedules, snapping a run of 93 straight years … NOTRE DAME 35-13.

Indiana (plus 20 1/2) at No. 9 Michigan

Hoosiers snapped a 24-game losing streak to the Wolverines last season, but have come crashing down in 2021 … MICHIGAN 42-17.

No. 10 Wake Forest (plus 2 1/2) at North Carolina

Demon Deacons are the only team in the country that has yet to be held under 35 points in a game … WAKE FOREST 42-38.

No. 11 Oklahoma State (minus 2 1/2) at West Virginia

Mountaineers trying to beat a ranked team for the second straight week, something they have not done since 2012 … OKLAHOMA STATE 24-21.

No. 12 Auburn (plus 4 1/2) at No. 13 Texas A&M

Tigers have won four straight in College Station since Aggies joined the SEC … AUBURN 28-26, UPSET SPECIAL.

No. 14 Baylor (minus 6 1/2) at TCU

Horned Frogs’ last game without Gary Patterson as a member of the coaching staff was Nov. 20, 1997, a victory against SMU to end a 1-10 season … BAYLOR 35-24.

Liberty (plus 10 1/2) at No. 15 Mississippi

Former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze returns to Oxford with the Flames and a possible first-round draft pick in QB Malik Willis … OLE MISS 38-30.

No. 16 UTSA (minus 11 1/2) at UTEP

Roadrunners TB Sincere McCormick is third in the nation in carries with 191 — and 11th in rushing at 111.38 yards per game … UTSA 24-14.

Tennessee (plus 1/2) at No. 18 Kentucky

Wildcats have a chance to secure a New Year’s Six bowl bid if they can win out … KENTUCKY 27-24.

No. 19 Iowa (minus 11 1/2) at Northwestern

Wildcats have won four of the last five against the Hawkeyes, who come in on a two-game losing streak overall … IOWA 23-10.

No. 20 Houston (minus 13 1/2) at South Florida

Cougars’ first game as a ranked team since 2018, which they lost the week after beating a ranked USF team … HOUSTON 31-7, BEST BET.

No. 21 Coastal Carolina (minus 19 1/2) at Georgia Southern

Eagles hired former USC coach Clay Helton this week, but he doesn’t start actually coaching the team until next season … COASTAL CAROLINA 35-21.

No. 22 Penn State (minus 10 1/2) at Maryland

Terps beat the Nittany Lions for just the third time in 43 meetings last year … PENN STATE 35-23.

No. 23 SMU (minus 4 1/2) at Memphis

If Cincinnati is going to have any chance to make the playoff, SMU — and Houston — will need to avoid any more losses not involving the Bearcats … MEMPHIS 35-31.

Boise State (plus 4 1/2) at No. 25 Fresno State

Bulldogs have recently evened out a rivalry the Broncos owned for years, winning three of the last seven meetings … FRESNO STATE 28-27.


Clemson (minus 4 1/2) at Louisville — @AvianDentures

Tigers covered for the first time last week and it took one wacky play for them to do it; Maybe it’s the start of a streak? … CLEMSON 26-20.

Mississippi State (plus 5 1/2) at Arkansas — @shawn_bubba

SEC record for pass attempts in a season belongs to the late Jared Lorenzen, who threw 559 in Kentucky’s Air Raid in 2000; Mississippi State’s Will Rogers is on pace to throw more than 600 in 12 games in Mike Leach’s Air Raid … ARKANSAS 28-24.

Middle Tennessee (plus 14 1/2) at Western Kentucky — @chadstray

Could this Conference USA rivalry be a MAC rivalry soon? … WESTERN KENTUCKY 42-31.

Southern California (plus 8 1/2) at Arizona State — @ArtWMoore

USC lost star receiver Drake London (ankle) to a season-ending injury last week … ARIZONA STATE 31-24.


Last week: 16-7 straight; 12-11 against the spread.

Season: 137-67 straight; 114-90 against the spread.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


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