Clemson was No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff rankings and the Tigers have moved to No. 1 in the latest AP Top 25 poll. So much for Ohio State going wire-to-wire there.
#1 Clemson vs. Syracuse +26.5
The Tigers are top-ranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time since the final poll of the 1981 season, when Clemson won its only AP national title. And presumably Clemson will remain No. 1 when the next College Football Playoff rankings are released on Tuesday night. But wow does this feel like a letdown game. The Tigers clinched the ACC Atlantic Division with Saturday's come-from-behind win over rival Florida State. It's only natural for the players to let their guard down a bit here. It's also a bit of a different animal in playing at Syracuse because of the Carrier Dome. The Orange have lost six straight contests, albeit two on game-ending plays. They also might not have starting QB Eric Dungey for this one as he suffered a head injury in garbage time of the loss to Louisville on Saturday. Syracuse only lost 16-6 in Clemson last year.
#2 Ohio State vs. Illinois +17 at Bet365
Here's another potential trap game. The defending national champion Buckeyes had been first in the AP poll since the preseason when they became the first team to be a unanimous preseason No. 1 in the 79-year history of the AP rankings. I don't think the fact that OSU fell to No. 2 in the polls will matter. But I do think those players will overlook a mediocre-to-bad Illinois program because OSU's next two games are against ranked Michigan State and Michigan. The Buckeyes do get back quarterback J.T. Barrett for this one after he was suspended for Saturday's game against Minnesota. Barrett had been named the team's starter before that suspension and it's not yet clear whether he will get the call here or if it's Cardale Jones, who has started every game this year. Ohio State has won 10 straight games.
#25 Memphis vs. #16 Houston -6
Huge game in the American Athletic Conference's West Division here, although it lost a bit of allure when Memphis was upset this past weekend by Navy. That leaves the Tigers one game out of first in the West behind Houston and Navy. If the Cougars win this game, they should have a clear path toward the Group of 5's spot in a New Year's Six bowl game. After this, the Cougars are at UConn and home to Navy. Then would be the AAC title game, likely against Temple. Memphis entered last week No. 13 in the first College Football Playoff rankings and the frontrunner to represent the Group of 5 in the New Year's Six bowl. This matchup also features two very in-demand offensive head coaches in Memphis' Justin Fuente and Ohio State's Tom Herman. It would be a minor upset if both guys are in the current jobs next season. Houston won in Memphis 28-24 last season.
Oregon vs. #7Stanford -9 at Heritage
The Cardinal can clinch the Pac-12 North Division with a victory over the Ducks. Stanford has won eight straight since a puzzling season-opening loss at Northwestern. Fourth-year starter Kevin Hogan passed Andrew Luck as the winningest quarterback in Stanford history on Saturday at Colorado in a 42-10 win, Hogan's 32nd victory. The Cardinal also have a legitimate Heisman candidate in running back Christian McCaffrey, whose 241.6 all-purpose yards per game average leads the country by more than 25 yards. Oregon would need a win here and still some help to return to the Pac-12 title game. The Ducks are playing much better of late and have won three straight. This is their final road game of the season. Oregon and Stanford might be the two most polar opposite teams in the nation. The Ducks are the quick-strike offense while the Cardinal lead the nation in time of possession (35:00 per game). Stanford has won two of the past three meetings.