Thank goodness for the Pac-12, or this would be the worst college football weekend of the season. Seriously, have you seen the schedule? Just about every powerhouse is playing a nonconference cupcake before full-on conference play begins:
No. 1 Ohio State vs. Western Michigan; No. 2 Michigan State vs. Central Michigan, No. 5 Baylor vs. Rice, No. 6 Notre Dame vs. UMass, No. 7 Georgia vs. Southern, No. 12 Alabama vs. Louisiana-Monroe. And so on. It's like watching exhibition hockey. I do generally like to take the huge spreads on those smaller schools because the powerhouses are likely looking ahead to next week.
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The Pac-12 brings us the only two ranked matchups of the week, it's just you have to wait until the night to see them: No. 18 Utah at No. 13 Oregon and No. 9 UCLA at No. 16 Arizona. Here's some news, notes and any line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
No. 9 UCLA at No. 16 Arizona (+3): I touched on this game in Monday's Opening Line Report, but a couple of key player notes have happened since then. UCLA got terrible news in losing superstar linebacker and occasional running back Myles Jack as well as cornerback Fabian Moreau for the season to injuries. There is one bright spot in that fellow cornerback Ishmael Adams has been reinstated from suspension. As for Arizona, it looks to get the best defensive player in the nation last year back in Scooby Wright. The All-American linebacker underwent surgery about 2 1/2 weeks ago to fix a torn lateral meniscus. The team initially hoped to have him back in four weeks, but he has been at practice this week. It's still not a lock he will play.
No. 18 Utah at No. 13 Oregon (-12.5): This line has risen a point. The interesting thing here is we still don't know if either starting quarterback, the Utes' Travis Wilson or Ducks' Vernon Adams, will play. Both coaches are being vague about it after both QBs sat out last week's games. Wilson sprained his shoulder in a victory over Utah State in Week 2. Adams broke his index finger in Week 1 but continued to play in Week 2 against Michigan State. He certainly wasn't needed Week 3 vs. Georgia State. I think it's almost a sure thing that Adams plays -- the Ducks pretty much have to win out now to reach the College Football Playoff after the loss to the Spartans. I'm not sure on Wilson.
Bowling Green at Purdue (+2.5): This opened with the Boilermakers at -1. I think I know why the big move here and why BGSU is taking the lean. It's because Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, who is going to be fired after this season, is replacing junior QB Austin Appleby with redshirt freshman David Blough. It is the third time in Hazell's three seasons at Purdue that the Boilermakers have changed starting quarterbacks in September or October. Appleby started the first three games this year and was ghastly last week in a loss to Virginia Tech, completing 9-for-28 for 110 yards and two picks. He has six picks on the year. Blough completed 3-for-7 passes for 11 yards in the fourth quarter against the Hokies.
Tennessee at Florida (+1): This line opened with the Gators at -2. They will be without two suspended players in starting cornerback Jalen Tabor and former starting QB Treon Harris. Tabor was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team last year and has returned a pick 39 yards for a score and leads the team with five passes defensed in 2015. Harris started Week 1 but has lost his job to redshirt freshman Will Grier. Earlier this week, UF coach Jim McElwain said he wouldn't commit to Grier as the starter against the Vols, but that was hogwash since Harris didn't play last week against Kentucky. It's a moot point now. Tennessee hasn't beaten Florida since 2004. UT has 138 points over its first three games, its most through three games since 1914.
Western Michigan at No. 1 Ohio State (-31.5): This has risen from an open of 28. The Buckeyes' offense has gained just 363 and 298 yards the last two weeks, and they were fortunate to beat MAC school (like Western) Northern Illinois last Saturday. The news here is that Urban Meyer has said he is sticking with Cardale Jones as his starting quarterback. J.T. Barrett played better than him in relief last week against NIU. Western covered in a 37-24 loss to Michigan State in Week 1, but that was a WMU home game.
Central Florida at South Carolina (-15): This is risen by a point even though Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier has announced that he is benching starting QB Perry Orth for true freshman Lorenzo Nunez. Orth, a former walk-on, was 6-for-17 in last week's blowout loss to Georgia for 66 yards and a pick. Nunez was 4-for-5 for 18 yards and rushed 10 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Connor Mitch started the first two games but is out several more weeks with a shoulder injury. Central Florida has been a disaster this season at 0-3 and kicked running back William Stanback, an All-AAC selection last season, off the team earlier this week.
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