SEE THE TRAP, RECOGNIZE THE TRAP, TURN THE TRAP TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
The Saturday slate is dotted with potential pitfalls for ranked teams—most, but not all, on the road. The Dash identifies who is on upset alert, and why:
Michigan at Indiana (31). Time: Noon ET. Line: Michigan by 22. Why it’s a trap: Second straight road game for the Wolverines, coming off a feel-good victory at Iowa. This sets up like last year, when Michigan smoked Wisconsin in Madison and then was life-and-death to beat Nebraska the following week in a rebound road game.
Upset threat level: small. Indiana isn’t good enough unless the Wolverines give the game away, which is something they’ve been excellent about avoiding so far. Michigan leads the Big Ten in fewest turnovers with two and fewest penalties with 14. But the Hoosiers have a chance to cover.
Dash pick: Michigan 34, Indiana 14.
Tennessee at LSU (32). Time: Noon. Line: Tennessee by three. Why it’s a trap: For starters, the 4–1 Tigers are legitimately pretty good. And the Volunteers could flatten out a bit after an open date that followed a hot 4–0 start. Then there is the Alabama game looming next week. It’s hard to look at a game in Death Valley as a letdown spot, but where it falls on the calendar is problematic.
Upset threat level: significant. LSU doesn’t panic when it falls behind, as it’s shown three times already this season. If Tennessee gets a lead, it will have to finish the deal because LSU won’t lie down. Then there is the ankle surgery for receiver Cedric Tillman—he’s not been ruled out for this game, but will he be back and fully functioning? Still, Tiger Stadium at 11 a.m. ain’t Tiger Stadium at night.
Dash pick: Tennessee 27, LSU 23.
Clemson at Boston College (33). Time: 7:30. Line: Clemson by 20.5. Why it’s a trap: The Tigers are coming off what might be their two biggest ACC games of the season, beating Wake Forest and North Carolina State in anticipated showdowns. The latter was accompanied by the hoopla of “College GameDay” as well. And BC has pushed Clemson to the limit in two meetings under Jeff Hafley, covering the spread easily both times.
Upset threat: Low. But this could be a bit of a struggle against a team that played its best game of the season Saturday to beat Louisville. The Eagles certainly will try to test Clemson’s suspect secondary with the pass-catch combination of Phil Jurkovec and Zay Flowers.
Dash pick: Clemson 27, Boston College 17.
Washington State at USC (34). Time: 7:30. Line: USC by 11. Why it’s a trap: The Cougars (4≠1) gave Oregon a scare in their only defeat and started the panic at Wisconsin with a win in Camp Randall. The Trojans could be peeking ahead to next week at Utah.
Upset threat: moderate. Cam Ward is a talent at quarterback for Wazzu, but he can’t keep living dangerously—he’s thrown seven interceptions, and USC leads the nation in picks with 12. If he takes care of the ball, this could be close.
Dash pick: USC 34, Washington State 31.
Army at Wake Forest (35). Time: 7:30. Line: Wake Forest by 15.5. Why it’s a trap: Slipping the Cadets into the schedule immediately after ACC showdowns against Clemson and Florida State is like a Spanish teacher giving a pop quiz in German. The preparation totally changes against the Army option attack, and the chance of a letdown is real.
Upset threat: high. This isn’t a great Army team (just 1–3) but the Cadets put more than 500 yards and 56 points on Wake last year—of course, the Demon Deacons countered with 70 points of their own.
Dash pick: Wake Forest 49, Army 42.
Mississippi at Vanderbilt (36). Time: 4:00. Line: Ole Miss by 19. Why it’s a trap: The Rebels are coming off a high-profile thriller against Kentucky and now go on the road to face an opponent coming off an open date and a chance to rest, tinker and prepare. Vandy covered the spread easily against Ole Miss last year.
Upset threat: low. Vandy does not have a good run defense, and the Rebels lead the SEC in rushing. If Lane Kiffin’s team shows up ready, this shouldn’t be close.
Dash pick: Mississippi 45, Vanderbilt 24.
DELLENGER: The Lane Train Is Humming at Ole Miss
STAT OF THE WEEK
Michigan State (37) has not led for a single second against a Power 5 opponent thus far this season. After being blown out from the get-go by Washington and Minnesota, the Spartans were playing catch-up all game Saturday against Maryland. They’ve been shut out in six of 12 quarters against P5 competition—and now here comes Ohio State. Michigan State (2–3) is solidly in the running for most disappointing team of the year.
COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK
Jim Mora (38), Connecticut. Getting back into coaching to take one of the worst FBS jobs in the country seemed like a questionable life choice when Mora did it this offseason, but he pulled off the program’s biggest win in five years Saturday by beating Fresno State. (Truth be told, the only UConn wins from 2018 until last week were over Rhode Island, Wagner, Massachusetts, Yale and Central Connecticut State. So, yeah.) Mora hit the transfer portal hard to revamp the UConn roster, and now could have a chance at an actual winning streak—next game is at miserable Florida International.