College Football Picks: Fall cupcakes are back in the South

Nov 16, 2021, 7:41 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2021, 9:43 am
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's NCAA...

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

While most of the country breaks out the sweaters and fleece jackets to embrace fall, down in the South you can still find hints of summer — on the football schedule.

Charleston Southern at No. 1 Georgia. Prairie View at No. 16 Texas A&M. Outside the AP Top 25, New Mexico State is back in Southeastern Conference country, visiting Kentucky a week after playing at Alabama. Louisiana-Monroe is at LSU.

The SEC may have started this fall cupcake trend — is there a Pumpkin Spice University — but the Atlantic Coast Conference has gotten in on it, too.

Clemson hosted UConn last week and North Carolina will tune up for its Thanksgiving weekend rivalry game against North Carolina State by playing Wofford this Saturday.

The majority of Power Five teams play at least one nonconference game per season against a team they know they can roll. Usually those teams come from the very bottom of the FBS or from the wide choice of options in the FCS.

Sometimes it backfires on the big boys. See: Florida 70, Samford 52. But strategically working in a glorified scrimmage so late in the season, when championships are on the line, will always feel like gaming the system.

There already are signs the eventual expansion of the College Football Playoff will encourage more aggressive scheduling. The cupcake games probably will never go away for good, but here’s hoping they can at least be limited to the first two months of the season.

The picks, with lines from FanDuel Sportsbook. And we’ll pass on some of those cupcakes:


Memphis (plus 8 1/2) at No. 17 Houston

So much attention on Cincinnati trying to make the playoff, but the Cougars have to be thinking New Year’s Six bowl if they can win out … HOUSTON 34-23.

No. 23 San Diego State (minus 10 1/2) at UNLV

Here’s to the Rebels, who snapped a 14-game losing streak and have now won two straight games, both by two touchdowns … SAN DIEGO STATE 27-15.


No. 21 Arkansas (plus 21 1/2) at No. 2 Alabama

Razorbacks have lost 14 straight to the Crimson Tide since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa … ALABAMA 34-17.

SMU (plus 11 1/2) at No. 3 Cincinnati

No need for style points this week, Bearcats; Just win, baby … CINCINNATI 34-27.

No. 4 Oregon (plus 3 1/2) at No. 24 Utah

Oddsmakers remain more skeptical of the Ducks than poll voters and the CFP selection committee … OREGON 31-28.

No. 7 Michigan State (plus 19 1/2) at No. 5 Ohio State

Spartans will need another Heisman-worthy game from RB Kenneth Walker III to keep up with the Buckeyes … OHIO STATE 45-28.

Georgia Tech (plus 17 1/2) at No. 6 Notre Dame

Fighting Irish have won 23 consecutive regular-season games against ACC opponents — not counting last season’s conference title game against Clemson … NOTRE DAME 42-20.

No. 8 Michigan (minus 14 1/2) at Maryland

Sandwich game for the Wolverines between come-from-behind win at Penn State and The Game against Ohio State … MICHIGAN 38-21.

No. 9 Oklahoma State (minus 10 1/2) at Texas Tech

Cowboys have won 10 of 12 against the Red Raiders, including five of six in Lubbock … OKLAHOMA STATE 35-23.

Vanderbilt (plus 36 1/2) at No. 10 Mississippi

Commodores have lost 19 straight SEC games … OLE MISS 49-14.

No. 11 Baylor (plus 1/2) at Kansas State

Wildcats quietly have won four straight and have a shot to get to nine wins … BAYLOR 27-24.

Iowa State (plus 3 1/2) at No. 12 Oklahoma

Last six meetings have been decided by 10 points or fewer … IOWA STATE 31-28.

No. 13 Wake Forest (plus 4 1/2) at Clemson

Demon Deacons need one victory in their last two games to lock up the ACC Atlantic; No gimme … CLEMSON 28-26.

No. 14 BYU (minus 19 1/2) at Georgia Southern

Cougars closing in on back-to-back double-digit win seasons for first time since 2009 … BYU 45-21.

UAB (plus 4 1/2) at No. 15 UTSA

Roadrunners can clinch a spot in the C-USA title game against the reigning champions … UTSA 21-17.

Illinois (plus 11 1/2) at No. 18 Iowa

Hawkeyes have won seven straight meetings … IOWA 23-14.

Nebraska (plus 8 1/2) at No. 19 Wisconsin

Badgers have won seven straight meetings, only two of which were one-score games … WISCONSIN 34-17 BEST BET.

Virginia (plus 14 1/2) at No. 20 Pittsburgh

Cavaliers QB Brennan Armstrong (ribs) was held out against Notre Dame in hopes of getting him back for this game that could decide the ACC Coastal … PITT 38-28.

No. 22 Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 4 1/2) at Liberty

Now here’s an interesting late-season nonconference game for the Ragin’ Cajuns … LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 28-27, UPSET SPECIAL.

Syracuse (plus 11 1/2) at No. 25 North Carolina State

Orange take another crack at getting bowl eligible … N.C. STATE 27-17.


Florida (minus 9 1/2) at Missouri — @Stevencalcutt

Who knows what to expect from the Gators? … FLORIDA 49-35.

UCLA (minus 3 1/2) at Southern California — @jlipscomb02

Trojans have allowed 41 points per game against four Pac-12 opponents at home … UCLA 42-35.

Virginia Tech (plus 7 1/2) at Miami — @shawn_bubba

One team that has fired its coach (VT) and another that might be soon … MIAMI 34-28.

Wyoming (plus 4 1/2) at Utah State — @VegasAggie

First-year coach Blake Anderson has Aggies in position to reach Mountain West title game … UTAH STATE 24-21.

Rutgers (plus 17 1/2) at Penn State — @trentcondon

Nittany Lions have won 14 straight against the Scarlet Knights, who really want to turn this into a rivalry game … PENN STATE 24-13.


Last week: 18-6 straight; 11-13 against the spread.

Season: 155-73 straight; 125-103 against the spread.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


More AP college football: and Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Men weep as they offer prayer outside Kanjuruhan Stadium where a soccer stampede killed more than 1...
Associated Press

Indonesian leader says locked gates contributed to deaths

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday that locked gates had contributed to the crush at the soccer stadium that left 131 dead and over 400 injured when police fired tear gas and set off a panicked run for the exits. Widodo made the statement after touring the Kanjuruhan soccer stadium […]
1 day ago
Fans reach for a foul ball by New York Yankees' Aaron Judge during the second inning in the second ...
Associated Press

Home run hands! Dallas fan catches Judge’s 62nd homer on fly

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — As he walked through a concourse in the outfield at Globe Life Field, high-fiving with fans and surrounded by a sea of cameras, it was almost as if Cory Youmans had hit a huge home run. Instead, he hit the jackpot. Youmans made the catch of a lifetime Tuesday night, snagging […]
1 day ago
Cleveland Guardians relief pitcher Emmanuel Clase celebrates a 5-3 win against the Kansas City Roya...
Associated Press

MLB playoff picture all set, best-of-3 matchups start Friday

Albert Pujols taking his final swings in October, Julio Rodríguez stepping in for the first time. Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom facing Manny Machado and Juan Soto. Bryce Harper, back at last. José Ramírez and his Cleveland teammates trying to break a long drought — with a new name. And Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts and […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Ukraine basketball players find homes at Canadian college

The squeak of their shoes and the thump of the ball on the court feels blessedly normal for Vika Kovalevska and Vlada Hozalova. Basketball provides a brief sanctuary from the ceaseless undercurrent of tension they feel about what’s happening at home in Ukraine. The game also helps ground them in their new life in southern […]
1 day ago
This photo provided by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne shows Sophie Hernandez compet...
Associated Press

Olympic pentathlon eyes ‘Ninja Warrior’ courses for survival

The path to saving modern pentathlon from Olympic removal may just be filled with obstacles. As in, ring swings, rope mazes, balance beams and warped walls. Imagine an “American Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course set up in the middle of the Coliseum for the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games. That sort of scene could rescue […]
1 day ago
Umpires look toward the sky after a drone was seen above the field during the third inning of a bas...
Associated Press

Rockies beat Dodgers 5-2 after Urias departs in last start

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Julio Urias made his final tune-up for the postseason and case for the Cy Young Award a solid one, though the Colorado Rockies went ahead after he left and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 on Tuesday night. Urias pitched five innings and allowed two runs — both on solo homers. […]
1 day ago
College Football Picks: Fall cupcakes are back in the South