Boston College? Maybe Colorado? Can an Iowa State-type upset be in store with few big games?



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Boston College is in position to be this season's Iowa State.

That doesn't necessarily sound like a compliment, considering the shape the Cyclones (2-7, 0-6 Big 12) are in these days. But only a few years ago — 2011 to be exact — Iowa State shook up the national championship race with the upset of the year.

Oklahoma State was undefeated and a couple of victories away from playing in the BCS championship game when the Cowboys were shocked 37-31 in double overtime by a Cyclones team that was just trying to become bowl eligible. The Cowboys ended up getting the BCS snub and LSU and Alabama rematched for the national title.

This Saturday's schedule has very little appeal outside of the Pac-12 South. Then again nobody expected a Friday night game in Ames, Iowa, to be the biggest game of the year in 2011, either; which brings us back to BC.

The Eagles (6-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) visit No. 1 Florida State already bowl eligible, with a victory against USC to its credit.

Still, they are 19 1/2-point underdogs. The Seminoles (10-0, 7-0) have mastered the art of the comeback, but continually flirting with disaster is a tough way to stay unbeaten."

"I was a part of two national championship teams and there were some ugly wins along the way," said BC coach Steve Addazio, who was an assistant at Florida under Urban Meyer. "These guys find a way to win and they play the best at their most competitive moments. That's usually what great teams do."

Looking for other possible upsets to playoff contenders? Colorado (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) brings one of the worst defenses in the country to face Marcus Mariota and No. 3 Oregon. Indiana (3-7, 0-6 Big Ten) is at No. 7 Ohio State, where the hapless Hoosiers haven't won since 1987. No. 4 Mississippi State hosts Vanderbilt (3-7, 0-6 SEC), which has reverted back to more traditional Vandy form this season. Should we even mention No. 2 Alabama plays Western Carolina?

Here's one: Oklahoma State at No. 6 Baylor. The Cowboys (5-5) are scrambling to get bowl eligible in a down year against a Big 12 rival with championship hopes. Sounds familiar.

The picks:

THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

No. 12 Kansas State (plus 2) at West Virginia

Mountaineers trying to keep a promising turnaround season from fizzling at the finish ... WEST VIRGINIA 31-28.

BEST BET

North Carolina (plus 6 1/2) at No. 25 Duke

No basketball jokes anymore. Blue Devils are two wins away from second consecutive trip to the ACC championship game ... DUKE 38-24.

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS

Boston College (plus 19 1/2) at No. 1 Florida State

QB Tyler Murphy (1,011 yards rushing) leads a BC offense that is run first — and second and sometimes third .... FLORIDA STATE 34-20.

Colorado (off) at No. 3 Oregon

Sophomore QB Jordan Gehrke could get first start for Buffaloes if Sefo Liufau (concussion) can't go ... OREGON 52-21.

Vanderbilt (plus 30) at No. 4 Mississippi State

Commodores and Bulldogs haven't played since 2009 ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 45-10.

Oklahoma State (plus 27) at No. 6 Baylor

Cowboys offensive line has been leaky and injuries could leave OSU playing with a freshman quarterback coaches hoped to redshirt ... BAYLOR 48-17.

Indiana (plus 33 1/2) at No. 7 Ohio State

Underrated running back: Hoosiers star Tevin Coleman ran for 307 yards against Rutgers as Melvin Gordon was getting 408 against Nebraska. ... OHIO STATE 56-17.

UPSET SPECIAL

Minnesota (plus 10 1/2) at No. 21 Nebraska

Huskers return home humbled after being embarrassed at Wisconsin. How will they respond? ... MINNESOTA 28-21.

CONFERENCE CALLS

No. 8 Mississippi (minus 3) at Arkansas

Razorbacks try to make it two straight after breaking long SEC skid ... MISSISSIPPI 24-14.

Rutgers (plus 22) at No. 10 Michigan State

Underrated receiver: Scarlet Knights' Leonte Caroo averages 20.3 yards per catch with eight touchdowns ... MICHIGAN STATE 42-14.

No. 24 Southern California (plus 3) at No. 11 UCLA

Underrated quarterback: USC's Cody Kessler has thrown 29 TD passes and three interceptions ... UCLA 31-23.

Washington State (plus 16 1/2) at No. 13 Arizona State

Cougars freshman Luke Falk has thrown for 817 yards and seven TDs in his first two career starts ... ARIZONA STATE 48-14

No. 14 Wisconsin (minus 9 1/2) at Iowa

Gordon is 719 yards behind Barry Sanders' FBS single-season rushing record of 2,628 and could have four more games to get it if Badgers play for Big Ten title game. NOTE: Sanders set the record in 11 games. Gordon could play 14 ... WISCONSIN 31-14.

No. 15 Arizona (plus 4) at No. 20 Utah

Utes lead nation in sacks at 4.7 per game. Wildcats rank 79th in sacks allowed at 2.2 per game ... UTAH 27-21.

No. 18 Marshall (minus 20) at UAB

It's not just Rakeem Cato making that Thundering Herd offense go; Devon Johnson is fourth in the country at 155.8 yards per game ... MARSHALL 42-21.

No. 19 Missouri (plus 3 1/2) at Tennessee

Tigers are two wins away from clinching second consecutive SEC East title; Vols are trying to get bowl eligible — and Tennessee is favored? Hmmm ... MISSOURI 24-21.

New Mexico (plus 22) at No. 22 Colorado State

Early loss to Boise State is only blemish on Rams' record ... COLORADO STATE 45-21.

Kansas (plus 25) at No. 23 Oklahoma

Sooners will play again without QB Trevor Knight (concussion) ... OKLAHOMA 35-14.

BONUS PICKS

Yale at Harvard

Bulldogs can earn a share of the Ivy League title with Crimson ... HARVARD 42-35.

Lehigh vs. Lafayette at Yankee Stadium in New York

150th meeting of college football's oldest rivalry ... LEHIGH 23-21.


Last week: Record straight: 8-7; vs. points 6-9.

Season: Record straight: 162-51; vs. points 97-113-2.

Best bet: 5-7.

Upset special: 4-9.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at http://www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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