AP college football picks: Alabama has a tough follow-up; Baylor braces for its big test _lowres

Associated Press photo by LM OTERO -- Baylor coach Art Briles yells from the sideline during a game against Lamar on Sept. 12.

No. 3 Alabama has to deal with a tough turnaround while No. 4 Baylor — finally — faces a major test.

It’s not quite a showdown Saturday or separation weekend in college football, but at this point the stakes are permanently high.

The Crimson Tide goes to No. 20 Mississippi State on Saturday to play Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs after grabbing control of the SEC West with a victory against LSU and a loss by Mississippi last week.

No time to enjoy the accomplishment. Alabama needed to get refocused immediately.

“So far, so good,” Nick Saban said Wednesday about his team’s preparation.

The Tide (8-1) also seems to be in control of its playoff hopes now, coming in second in the committee’s rankings Tuesday night.

Baylor (8-0), which sits at six in the playoff rankings, hopes to make its move this month. All the Bears’ toughest opponents are ahead of them, starting with Oklahoma.

The Sooners haven’t provided much resistance to Baylor the last two seasons, losing two games by a combined 63 points. Oklahoma (8-1) is hoping to work its way back into the playoff picture, too.

The picks:

MARQUEE MATCHUPS

No. 3 Alabama (minus 7½) at No. 20 Mississippi State

Tide TB Derrick Henry made a push in the Heisman Trophy race last week; Prescott would vault to near the top of the charts if he can lead an upset ... Alabama 28-18.

No. 12 Oklahoma (plus 2½) at No. 4 Baylor

Another QB who could make a late Heisman run? OU’s Baker Mayfield ... Baylor 52-35.

No. 25 Memphis (plus 6½) at No. 16 Houston

Cougars can set up a possible winner take the AAC West regular-season finale against Navy; Or Memphis can get back into the division race ... Memphis 45-42.

STAYING UNBEATEN

No. 1 Clemson (minus 28) at Syracuse

Orange have lost six straight, putting coach Scott Shafer on the hot seat ... Clemson 45-14.

No. 2 Ohio State (minus 15½) at Illinois

Buckeyes get QB J.T. Barrett back after one-week suspension ... Ohio State 31-17.

No. 5 Oklahoma State (minus 14) at Iowa State

Last time Cowboys went to Ames in November with national championship hopes was 2011. Didn’t go well for Oklahoma State ... Oklahoma State 31-24.

Minnesota (plus 12½) at No. 8 Iowa

Floyd of Rosedale, the greatest of all trophy game trophies, is on the line ... Iowa 31-17.

PLAYOFF CONTENDERS

Wake Forest (plus 27) at No. 6 Notre Dame

#GoACC ... Notre Dame 45-14.

Oregon (plus 10) at No. 7 Stanford

Teams have split last six games ... Stanford 41-28.

No. 10 Utah (minus 6) at Arizona

Wildcats need a win here or in rivalry game against Arizona State to get bowl eligible ... Utah 28-23.

No. 11 Florida (minus 8) at South Carolina

Gamecocks defense, second-to-last in the SEC in yards per play (6.0), should be a welcome sight to Gators offense ... Florida 30-17.

Kansas (plus 45½) at No. 13 TCU

Jayhawks are last in Big 12 in yards per play (4.54) and yards per play against (7.30). Not great ... TCU 55-14.

Maryland (plus 15) at No. 14 Michigan State

Spartans can still work their way back into playoff race after last week’s Nebraska loss ... Michigan State 35-17.

CONFERENCE CALLS

Arkansas (plus 8) at No. 9 LSU

Razorbacks QB Brandon Allen leads the SEC in passer rating (164.67) ... LSU 34-24.

No. 15 Michigan (minus 13½) at Indiana

Hoosiers have gone from 4-0 to scrambling to get bowl eligible after five straight losses ... Michigan 28-20.

Miami (plus 13) at No. 17 North Carolina

Tar Heels have become the most overlooked good team in the country ... North Carolina 38-21.

Washington State (plus 10) at No. 18 UCLA

Hard to get past what Kyle Whittingham has done at Utah, but if the Cougars can win a couple more games how about Mike Leach for Pac-12 coach of the year? ... UCLA 37-31.

North Carolina State (plus 10) at No. 19 Florida State

Seminoles are accustomed to playing for high stakes in November. How do they respond when not? ... Florida State 28-20.

No. 21 Temple (minus 3) at South Florida

Owls can clinch American’s East division ... South Florida 20-17.

SMU (plus 21½) at No. 22 Navy

Midshipmen are in position to make the playoff selection committee work overtime ... Navy 38-21.

Purdue (plus 16) at No. 24 Northwestern

Wildcats are the favorite team of Stanford and Iowa ... Northwestern 28-14.

TWITTER REQUESTS

Pittsburgh (plus 3½) at Duke

Combined score of last two games between Panthers and Blue Devils: Duke 106, Pittsburgh 106 ... Duke 27-24.

Georgia (plus 2) at Auburn

Bulldogs last trip to Auburn was the Prayer at Jordan-Hare game ... Auburn 28-24.

Texas (plus 8) at West Virginia

Would be nice for the top of the Big 12 if a team or two in the middle assert itself; Mountaineers are mostly likely ... West Virginia 31-24.

Washington (plus 2½) at Arizona State

Couple of four-win teams trying to get bowl eligible ... Washington 27-23.

LAST WEEK

20-5 straight; 15-10 vs. spread.

OVERALL

158-51; 103-99-3.