Conference play finally here and that means better games

Now that we are well into October, the pattycakes have cashed their checks -- like Arkansas State getting $1.8 million to play at Georgia -- and are yielding to the conference tilts underway in the Power Five leagues.

On the national level, the top five teams are still unbeaten and seem to be a cut above everyone else. With some key rivalries this weekend that could change. LSU is ESPN’s “Darling of the Month.” The Bayou Bengals host Florida in a big game Saturday.

While ESPN does a good job with pro sports, their college football coverage and especially their announcers have never really understood big-time CFB. If it ain’t Syracuse, Penn State, Notre Dame or the Big Ten, ESPN seems lost. The network is based in Connecticut, not exactly the mecca of CFB, and it shows in their coverage.

Once again, it’s time to mount the dartboard, toss the magic darts and have the nation’s No. 1 forecaster tell you right now who will win this weekend’s big games.  

SYRACUSE at N.C. STATE: A mid-season Thursday night clash  (you know how Fearless feels about these tilts). Syracuse is the flop of the ACC this season, and N.C. State ain’t far behind. All that makes this a huge game, and a Wolfpack win will put them back on track for a bowl bid. Another loss may doom the loser. It’s a total toss-up, so Fearless sez....... N.C. State 28, Syracuse 27.

VIRGINIA at MIAMI: Both are coming off losses, and Miami’s was one of the most bizarre games of the year. It won’t be easy for the Hurricanes to rebound in a short week -- with this one coming Friday night. The stars over Miami point to......Virginia 27, Miami 23.

FLORIDA STATE at CLEMSON: Some pollsters dropped Clemson more than one notch after the near-miss at UNC. Florida State is still a year or two away from regaining national prominence. Did Clemson learn some humility in that 21-20 eker in Chapel Hill? Fearless says — yep they did. Clemson 38, Florida State 20.

LOUISVILLE at WAKE FOREST: The Demon Deacons are ranked and primed for an upset. Can Louisville turn the trick? Only if Wake Forest plays poorly. They won’t. Not a gimme, but a “V” for the Deacs. Wake Forest 33, Louisville 28.

GEORGIA TECH at DUKE: The Ramblin’ Wreck is struggling. New coach, Geoff Collins, doesn’t have the personnel to play offense the way he knows. As for Duke, they must rebound from a tough 33-30 home loss to Pitt, not an easy thang to do. This may be closer than you think. Duke 31, Georgia Tech 23.

OTHER BIG GAMES THIS WEEKEND: Virginia Tech over Rhode Island, Georgia over South Carolina, LSU over Florida, Oklahoma over Texas, Tennessee over Mississippi State (even), Alabama over Texas A&M, Wisconsin over Michigan State, West Virginia over Iowa State (toss-up), Kentucky over Arkansas (close), Notre Dame over USC, Iowa over Penn State (toss-up), Oregon over Colorado, and Appalachian over UL-Lafayette  (Wednesday night game).

TOFF’S COMPOSITE TOP TEN: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Georgia 4. Ohio State 5 Oklahoma 6. LSU 7. Florida 8. Wisconsin 9. Notre Dame 10. Auburn.

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2019