Oklahoma State at Texas, UCLA at Washington and more

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Texas running back Bijan Robinson runs past Oklahoma defensive back Billy Bowman on Oct. 9 in Dallas.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson runs past Oklahoma defensive back Billy Bowman on Oct. 9 in Dallas. (Jeffrey McWhorter / Associated Press)

Each week, The Times’ national college sports reporter J. Brady McCollough will pick the week’s eight best games — that have a combination of big-brand intrigue and a spread within a touchdown — plus the USC and UCLA games (although USC has a bye Saturday). Through six weeks, McCollough is 32-28.

No. 10 Michigan State at Indiana

Indiana put together a nice season a year ago and returned a lot of the same players, but the Hoosiers have taken a step back due to the struggles of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Does Indiana have a big upset in it this year? Michigan State’s offense is one of the most explosive in the country, and the defense is that traditional brand of Spartan tough. Michigan State will roll in Bloomington, staying unbeaten for Michigan on Oct. 30. Michigan State 34, Indiana 21

No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 25 Texas

The Longhorns relived their frustrating decade in the span of four quarters in their Red River Rivalry collapse last week. Texas was back, and then it wasn’t, blowing a three-touchdown lead in spectacular fashion. But it’s clear Steve Sarkisian has an offense, built around running back Bijan Robinson, capable of major numbers. Oklahoma State has a good defense, though, so it may be able to keep it tight in Austin. Texas 38, Oklahoma State 28

Auburn at No. 17 Arkansas

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson attempts to run past Mississippi defensive back AJ Finley on Oct. 9 in Oxford, Miss.

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson attempts to run past Mississippi defensive back AJ Finley on Oct. 9 in Oxford, Miss. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

The Razorbacks lost a heartbreaker on the road at Mississippi last week, as quarterback KJ Jefferson’s potential game-winning two-point conversion pass fell incomplete. Arkansas returns home and faces Auburn, which is still trying to find its footing in Year One under Bryan Harsin. Sam Pittman has Arkansas believing, and the Hogs should respond well and keep their momentum going. Arkansas 28, Auburn 23

No. 19 Brigham Young at Baylor

The Bears have played really well at home this season, upsetting Iowa State and pasting West Virginia last week. BYU comes in after a brutal home defeat to Boise State, needing a win to keep its New Year’s Six bowl hopes alive. Baylor has everything to play for in the Big 12, with Texas and Oklahoma both visiting Waco in the coming weeks. But will the Bears be caught looking ahead? Baylor 24, BYU 20

Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech

The Hokies had Notre Dame on the ropes last week in Blacksburg but let the Fighting Irish steal it at the end. Pitt comes into Lane Stadium after a bye week and has a much better offense than Notre Dame, led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, who is starting to gain Heisman buzz due to his gaudy numbers. The Panthers need this game if they’re going to stay the favorite in the ACC Coastal Division. Pitt 33, Virginia Tech 31

No. 22 North Carolina State at Boston College

After beating Clemson on Sept. 25, North Carolina State is in a battle with unbeaten Wake Forest for the driver’s seat in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack are coming off a bye week so should be fresh for this trip to Chestnut Hill, where Jeff Hafley is building a program that routinely shows fortitude. Boston College’s ceiling is limited by a season-ending injury to quarterback Phil Jurkovec, but it will jump on N.C. State early and hold on. Boston College 28, N.C. State 24

No. 13 Mississippi at Tennessee

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker is lifted in celebration after scoring a touchdown against South Carolina.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker is lifted in celebration after scoring a touchdown against South Carolina on Oct. 9 in Knoxville, Tenn. (John Amiss/ Associated Press)

The Volunteers appear to have found a viable starting quarterback in Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker. They blew out Missouri and South Carolina and have tangible momentum for the first time under first-year coach Josh Heupel. Ole Miss and Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Corral pulled off a thrilling 52-51 win over Arkansas last week, and we should expect similar scoreboard fireworks in this one. Tennessee 45, Ole Miss 42

Stanford at Washington State

The Cardinal are 2-2 in the Pac-12 but still hold that head-to-head trump card over Oregon. They can maintain hope of contending in the North with a win over Washington State, which is coming off encouraging victories against California and Oregon State. Stanford should be able to escape the Palouse with its larger plans intact. Stanford 27, Washington State 21

UCLA at Washington

The Huskies received a much-needed bye week to recover from a 2-3 start and get ready for a prime-time matchup with the Bruins. Washington’s offense has to run the ball well to be successful, and UCLA’s run defense has been solid for most of this season. The Bruins might as well not even attempt passing against the Huskies’ rigid secondary, but they should move the ball on the ground. UCLA 21, Washington 17

No. 18 Arizona State at Utah

The Utes exorcised demons last week by pummeling USC at the Coliseum. Now they return home to Rice-Eccles Stadium for what is likely the deciding game in the Pac-12 South race. Utah’s offense has come to life with Cameron Rising under center, but Arizona State’s defense will try to force him into mistakes. The Sun Devils have the more consistent rushing attack, which will be the difference. Arizona State 27, Utah 23

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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