After a couple weeks that seemed to be missing more than a single marquee matchup, Saturday delivers two afternoon showdowns between undefeated top 25 teams, including the latest “Game of the Century” when No. 3 Alabama hosts No. 2 LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. Will the Crimson Tide continue their extended winning streak over the Tigers, or is LSU’s newfound offense enough to get past an Alabama defense that has struggled with consistency?
With action starting early in the day and continuing late into the night, let’s take a look at the biggest games on the schedule Saturday along with our college football picks and predictions for what will transpire in those contests. Our CBS Sports college football experts have picked every game both straight up and against the spread, giving you ample opportunity to decide how to make your picks ahead of kickoff.
All times Eastern
No. 4 Penn State (-6.5) at No. 17 Minnesota — Noon on ABC: I don’t want to take anything away from what Minnesota has accomplished in 2019. This is a program on the rise, and P.J. Fleck has worked wonders. Minnesota is headed in the right direction, but I think it’s a bit out over its skis right now. The Gophers have taken advantage of some breaks that have come their way. Their nonconference schedule wasn’t challenging, yet they struggled to get through unscathed. All five of their Big Ten wins have come against teams who either started a backup quarterback or had to turn to one for the majority of the game due to injury. Only one of their Big Ten wins — Illinois — came against a team that currently has a winning record. Penn State is a much better team than any Minnesota has faced this season, and it’s also a team that’s used to playing in these kinds of games. I think the talent and experience edge will be enough for Penn State here. It isn’t going to blow Minnesota out, but it will cover this spread. Pick: Penn State -6.5 — Tom Fornelli
No. 2 LSU at No. 3 Alabama (-6.5) — 3:30 p.m. on CBS: LSU’s defense has been a bit of a mystery this season, and it’ll come back to bite the Tigers. They’re tied for seventh in the SEC in opponent’s passing plays of 20 or more yards with 23, which will be a killer on Saturday afternoon against a Crimson Tide passing attack that has made a living with big plays. Auburn’s defense had success against the LSU offensive line two weeks ago and gave Nick Saban a blueprint on how to attack Joe Burrow and the offense. I’ll put my money on the combination of Saban and time to find a way to get the win, but I do think that the Tigers offense will have enough success to keep it close deep into the fourth quarter. Pick: LSU (+6.5) — Barrett Sallee
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No. 18 Iowa at No. 13 Wisconsin (-8.5) — 4 p.m. on FOX: This feels like it’s going to be an old-school, defensive slugfest between two teams with traditionally stout defenses and run-first, play-action offenses. Because of that, I’ll keep it simple and side with the team with the best player on the field. Jonathan Taylor has been one of the best players in college football from the moment he stepped on the field as a freshman two seasons ago, and he has expanded his role as a receiver out of the backfield during his junior season. The off week will allow the Badgers staff to hit the reset button; they’ll get creative with Taylor and gut out a big home win — but not a cover — to keep pace in the Big Ten West. Pick: Iowa (+8.5) — Barrett Sallee
Missouri at No. 6 Georgia (-16.5) — 7 p.m. on ESPN: I believe Georgia to be one of the best teams in the country, but the boa constrictor method of leaning on teams and overpowering them in the trenches isn’t a style that’s built for blowouts. When you factor in a little bit of a letdown following the Florida win, I think Missouri will be able to hang around in a one-score Georgia win. Pick: Missouri (+14.5) — Chip Patterson
Iowa State at No. 9 Oklahoma (-13.5) — 8 p.m. on FOX: Iowa State is probably a little better than 5-3 would tell you, and they have the tools to beat Oklahoma, including a legit dual-threat quarterback in Brock Purdy and a well-coached defense. This is a battle of two of the best teams in the Big 12, though a rematch in Arlington, Texas, probably only happens if Iowa State wins in Norman, Oklahoma. I like the Sooners straight up coming off a loss and an extra week to think about it, but if you can get two touchdowns on this game, take the points. Pick: Iowa State +13.5 — Ben Kercheval