BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Thursday night game for the Saints means an early release of this week's predictions.
After a tough loss to the Broncos, the Saints must bounce back in Carolina against the Panthers to keep their playoff hopes alive. LSU hosts Florida in what has quickly become a grudge match and Southern welcomes the Delta Devils and their 1-9 record to A.W. Mumford Stadium.
Saints (4-5) at Panthers (3-6)
New Orleans travels to Charlotte to face the Panthers on Thursday night. Can the Saints put the ending of the Broncos debacle behind them and focus on beating Carolina? The Panthers also lost a game to the Kansas City Chiefs, blowing a 17-3 lead going into the 4th quarter, losing 20-17. The Saints took the first matchup with Carolina by a score of 41-38, holding off a late charge by the Panthers. There will be no late charge in this one, Saints win.
Saints 31, Panthers 20
No. 23 Florida (7-2) at No. 16 LSU (6-3)
Well, there has been a little bit of a build up to this one. The war of words started soon after the postponement of the game in October due to Hurricane Matthew and will surely carry over on to the field. The Gators have suffered injuries at quarterback, the offensive and defensive lines, safety and linebacker. The game promises to get a little "chippy" and fun to watch, especially for Tiger fans. One win closer to the Sugar Bowl for LSU.
LSU 27, Florida 13
Mississippi Valley State (1-9) at Southern (7-2)
Southern is on a roll but was hit with bad news on Wednesday, receiving five years probation and other penalties for eligibility infractions. Can Southern put that news behind them and focus on the Delta Devils? The Jaguars have won seven games in a row, while Mississippi Valley State is coming off a 61-7 route by Alcorn State. Southern will have an easy time reaching win number eight.
Southern 49, Mississippi Valley State 7
Arkansas (6-4) at Mississippi State (4-6)
Arkansas looks to bounce back after losing big to LSU 38-10, while Mississippi State suffered through a 51-3 defeat to Alabama. State has lost four of its last six games. The Razorbacks are on a Win-Loss cycle. Well, that must mean it's a win for the Hogs, keeping the cycle alive.
Arkansas 33, Mississippi State 23
No. 5 Louisville (9-1) at Houston (8-2)
Early in the season, there was talk of the winner of this game going to the NCAA playoff. Louisville is still in the talk at No. 5, Houston not so much. Losses to Navy and SMU have the Cougars unranked. Houston head coach Tom Herman's name has been linked to Texas and LSU. There is a reason he is a very good coach and will lead Houston to an upset over the Cardinals at home in a shootout.
UPSET OF THE WEEK: Houston 36, Louisville 35
Virginia Tech (7-3) at Notre Dame (4-6)
Notre Dame comes into the game against the Hokies losing three of its last five games. VA Tech was on a roll until it met up with Georgia Tech last weekend and lost 30-20. Something tells me Notre Dame will play strong at home and beat the Hokies in a close one.
Notre Dame 24, Virginia Tech 17
No. 9 Oklahoma (8-2) at No. 14 West Virginia (8-2)
This could be the game of the day. Both teams are playing very good football and are still in the hunt for a Big 12 Championship. The Sooners have won seven in a row after a rough start, West Virginia's lone loss of the season was to Oklahoma State. This game could go either way, but it is hard pick against the Sooners right now.
Oklahoma 31, West Virginia 26
The Jimbo Fisher Watch:
No. 17 Florida State (7-3) at Syracuse(4-6)
Although Jimbo's name continues to be linked to LSU, the Seminoles continue to win. The 'Cuse have lost their last two games, giving up 89 points on defense. Florida State all the way in this ACC matchup.
Florida State 36, Syracuse 20
No. 13 USC (7-3) at UCLA (4-6)
USC is hot and UCLA is not. It is a rivalry, but the Bruins, who have lost four of five, do not have enough to beat the Trojans, winners of six in a row.
USC 35, UCLA 27
LAST WEEK: 5-4, OVERALL RECORD: 66-33