The biggest weekend to date of the 2022 college football season is upon us.
Six ranked matchups will take place across all of the power five conferences on Saturday.
I felt confident enough in three of those games to lay some money on them.
The Alabama-Tennessee, USC-Utah and Mississippi State-Kentucky games are hard to figure out because of injuries and other things surrounding those games.
I have much more clarity when it comes to the expected defensive battle between Penn State and Michigan, Oklahoma State's trip to TCU and Syracuse's home game with a banged-up NC State squad.
There are plenty of other spots worth looking at outside of the six main entrees. Group of Five title races are starting to come into picture and one of those teams has some remarkable trends going in its favor.
Penn State at Michigan (Under 50.5) (Noon ET)
Michigan and Penn State both rank in the top 15 in scoring defense and sit in the top 10 in rushing defense.
If the rushing lanes are clogged up, Sean Clifford and J.J. McCarthy will be tasked with making big plays out of the pocket to either extend drives, or put points on the board.
Throwing the ball could be difficult, especially for Michigan, since Penn State ranks first in passes defended and pass breakups.
Penn State is also ninth in opponent red zone conversion percentage. Michigan isn't too far behind in 20th place.
Every defensive stat from both teams suggests we are in for a grind-it-out type game that ends somewhere around 20-17.
Iowa State at Texas (-16) (Noon ET)
Iowa State has fought hard over the last few weeks despite losing to Kansas State and Kansas by a total of four points.
That changes on Saturday, when the Cyclones have to visit Austin.
Texas looked beyond impressive with Quinn Ewers at the helm of the offense against Oklahoma. The Longhorns are averaging 15.6 more points per game than Iowa State.
I think this is where we find the breaking point for the ISU defense after weeks of barely holding on. Ewers and Co. could tear apart the Cyclones defense and put the game away in the first half.
Old Dominion at Coastal Carolina (-11) (Noon ET)
Old Dominion has not been good on the road.
The Monarchs lost to East Carolina by 18 points and then scored just 14 points against Virginia. They then returned home and lost by 14 points to Liberty.
Coastal averages 13.5 more points and 137 more total yards than Old Dominion. The Chanticleers defense also concedes 55 fewer yards per game.
Central Michigan (-14) at Akron (Noon ET)
Central Michigan is not your typical 1-5 team.
The Chippewas took some knocks in nonconference play and barely lost last week against Ball State.
A trip to Akron, who is the worst team in the MAC, feels like the perfect time for Daniel Richardson, Lew Nichols and Co. to unleash a high-scoring total on an opponent.
The Chippewas are averaging 402.8 total yards per game and they could run rampant against an Akron defense that allows 40.8 points per game.
Oklahoma State (+155) at TCU (3:30 p.m. ET)
Oklahoma State-TCU comes down to which team I can trust most.
Oklahoma State is battle-tested and already has a Top 25 conference win on the road over Baylor.
I think that is a much more notable win than TCU's triumph over Kansas in Lawrence last weekend.
TCU has all the pressure on it in this game to win at home and stay on top of the Big 12.
I think Mike Gundy and Spencer Sanders' experience in these situations help the Cowboys deal with the road environment and come out on top.
NC State at Syracuse (-3.5) (3:30 p.m. ET)
NC State will likely be without quarterback Devin Leary.
Even if he plays, Leary will not be at 100 percent.
Syracuse's defense could be able to keep Leary in check even if he plays. The Orange give up 271.6 yards per game and 14 points per contest.
The Orange could make life difficult on whichever quarterback starts for NC State, who is coming off two weeks of battles with Clemson and Florida State.
This could be the perfect spot for Syracuse to win at home against a tired and banged-up Wolfpack team.
Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan (-2.5) (3:30 p.m. ET)
Eastern Michigan has put things together since it s 50-31 loss to Buffalo.
The Eagles rolled past Western Michigan as an underdog last week and they are in a great spot to roll Northern Illinois at home on Saturday.
NIU is 1-5 with five straight 30+ point concessions. The Huskies rank 108th in total yards conceded and 112th in yards per play allowed.
Eastern Michigan has had to problem putting up points this season and it should take advantage of NIU's poor defensive totals.
Tulane (-12) at South Florida (Under 55.5) (4 p.m. ET)
Tulane is 8-2 to the under in its last 10 games.
The Green Wave are also 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games against FBS opposition.
Tulane ranks seventh in scoring defense and it sits 62nd in scoring offense.
The Green Wave have not scored over 30 points in their last four games, so they could win the game with ease and be comfortable scoring 20-24 points.
Arizona at Washington (-14) (5:30 p.m. ET)
This is a bounce-back spot for Washington.
The Huskies return home after losses to UCLA and Arizona State.
Michael Penix Jr. and Co. should get back on track against an Arizona defense that allows 430.7 yards per game.
Washington ranks 13th in scoring offense and Arizona is 115th in scoring defense.
Clemson (-3.5) at Florida State (7:30 p.m. ET)
Clemson as a favorite under a touchdown is a near automatic bet for me.
The Tigers know how to handle a tough road environment and their defense will make it tough for Florida State to score.
Clemson held five of its six opponents to 20 points or fewer. They reverted back to normal in the last two weeks after conceding 45 points on the road to Wake Forest.
Florida State struggled to put up points in the last two weeks against Wake and NC State and that could be bad news for the Seminoles heading into their home clash with the titan of the ACC.
North Carolina (-7) at Duke (8 p.m. ET)
North Carolina is simply the better team than Duke.
Duke started to fade after its 3-0 start, as it lost on the road to Kansas and fell by three points to Georgia Tech in two of the last three weeks.
Five of UNC's last six weeks in the Tobacco Road rivalry have been by more than one score.
I expect Drake Maye and the Tar Heels to extend that trend against the sputtering Blue Devils.