It’s only human for college football players to look ahead on the schedule.
A member of the BTB Sports Betting Forum started threads the first few weeks about teams that might be looking past their current opponents, and we’ve decided to take that idea and run with it.
There were quite a few games to choose from this week, but here’s our top five college football teams that might be peeking ahead.
A quick note: Since we started this feature a couple weeks ago, it’s 7-3-1 against the spread, but now that we mentioned that it’ll probably come crashing back down to earth. So proceed carefully. The overall purpose of this now-recurring column is to make sure you’re identifying tough schedule spots as part of your college football handicapping.
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This week: at Washington State (-7)
Next week: vs. No. 17 Stanford
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Cal got off to a 1-4 start but looked fantastic in a 43-17 stomping of UCLA last weekend. Now, the Golden Bears have a classic “sandwich game” against downtrodden Washington State, a team that’s lost three straight and is filled with seniors whom coach Mike Leach called “zombie-like” earlier this week. The Cal-Stanford football rivalry includes perhaps the most stunning play in college football history and is so huge that fans simply named it the “Big Game.” Stanford has taken the past two meetings and leads the all-time series 57-46-11.
4. ARIZONA STATE
This week: at Colorado (-22.5)
Next week: vs. No. 2 Oregon
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Arizona State is 2-0 in conference play and is the surprising early leader in the Pac-12 South ahead of USC. After Thursday night, that’ll likely be a 3-0 record. But will the Sun Devils cover such a large spread on the road? This band of misfits doesn’t seem to think so. Arizona State is significantly better than expected this year, but this is far from an ideal spot for them. It’d be foolish to assume that at least some players aren’t chalking this up as a win and already looking forward to the showdown at home with Oregon next week.
This week: at Vanderbilt (-8.5)
Next week: vs. No. 3 South Carolina
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Florida, now ranked fourth in the country and looking like a strong contender for both the SEC and national titles, knocked off LSU last weekend and gets the third-ranked Gamecocks in one week. Nestled awkwardly in between those two titanic matchups, however, is this road trip to Vanderbilt, a team with a good enough defense to hang tough against superior opponents. The Commodores already gave South Carolina a run for its money in the season-opener and has the capacity to give the Gators a similar scare.
2. KANSAS STATE/WEST VIRGINIA
This week: Kansas State (-6.5) at Iowa State; West Virginia (-3.5) at Texas Tech
Next week: No. 6 Kansas State at No. 5 West Virginia
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Statements that could only apply to the whacked-out 2012 version of college football: A Week 8 meeting between Kansas State and West Virginia could decide the Big 12 football title. Before we get there, though, both teams have to get past sneaky-tough road tilts against two of the conference’s weaker opponents. Both Iowa State and Texas Tech pull off an upset or two every year in the Big 12, and both have more than enough ability to win these matchups. For a discussion of the West Virginia-Texas Tech game, click here, and for the Kansas State-Iowa State game, click here.
1. MICHIGAN STATE/MICHIGAN
This week: Michigan State (-9) vs. Iowa; Michigan (-24.5) vs. Illinois
Next week: Michigan State at No. 25 Michigan
Why they might get caught peeking ahead: Neither Michigan nor Michigan State have been nearly as good as expected so far this season, but they’ll both still be at or near the top of the Big Ten Legends Division when it’s all said and done. This week, however, they both have to get past home games against two of the worst teams in the conference. The Wolverines are probably more prone to be sleepwalking, as they’ve lost to the Spartans four straight times and will undoubtedly be anxious to end that streak.
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Honorable mentions: Northwestern (at Minnesota; vs. Nebraska), Virginia Tech (vs. Duke; at Clemson), Texas A&M (at Louisiana Tech; vs. LSU)