It’s Rivalry Week in college football, and while conference realignment has obliterated too much of that sacred tradition there are a few tasty morsels remaining. One game we will not be picking though is Ohio St./Michigan. Y’all know we don’t pick Steelers, WV Mountaineers, or Marshall Thundering Herd games specifically because Zach & I both love the Steelers, I’m a Marshall alum, & we’ve both grown up as Mountaineer fans. So it dawned on me that perhaps it is a bit unfair to make Zach pick games involving his beloved Wolverines, atleast when the game is as important as this one. Fortunately there are enough interesting options that we have a full slate+ even without that game. Some of these occur on Black Friday, most are on Saturday. I won’t remember exactly which is which, but The Manoverse is smart enough to figure it out. Best wishes to all for a Happy Thanksgiving.
My Season: 42-33
Zach’s Season: 37-38
Cincinnati at Memphis (-10.5)
We don’t pick a lot of “Group of Five” games, but this one is kind of important. The best team from the “other” five conferences gets an opportunity to face one of the big boys in a New Year’s bowl game, and right now it looks like the winner of this game will have a leg up on the competition, although Boise St. is in the mix as well. On top of all that, Cincinnati has already clinched a spot in the AAC title game, and Memphis could do the same with a victory, so there could be a rematch next week. Actually a rematch is pretty much a done deal because Memphis would hold tiebreakers over both Navy & SMU. At any rate, the Tigers have the home field and are riding a five game win streak, while the only blemish for the Bearcats is an early September loss to Ohio St., which is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not sure why Memphis is a double digit favorite even playing at home. The points are enough to scare me off and choose Cincinnati. Zach concurs and thinks it’ll be a high scoring affair decided by single digits.
My Pick: Cincinnati
Z’s Pick: Cincinnati
Oregon State at Oregon (-19.5)
They call this game The Civil War and it goes back 125 years. The Ducks were in the playoff hunt but got upset last week. They’ve already sewn up a spot in the Pac 12 title game though, so they can focus their attention on battling Utah for a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Beavers are 5-6 and need a victory to achieve bowl eligibility. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but what about the points?? 19 & a half is a lot…but I’m rolling the dice and taking the home favorites to cover. Zach agrees. He likes the Ducks to rebound from that heartbreaking loss and win this one in a blowout.
My Pick: Oregon
Z’s Pick: Oregon
Clemson (-27) at South Carolina
Has Clemson actually played anyone other than Texas A&M?? Why are they in the playoff conversation?? I was under the impression that what happened last year isn’t supposed to matter, but clearly the committee takes reputation into account. Having said that, I don’t think South Carolina can pull off another upset like they did against Georgia back in October, but can they stay within four TDs?? The Gamecocks have the home field, and if they have a shred of pride & an ounce of fight left in them I surely hope they can atleast keep it respectable. Zach thinks Clemson is overrated but concedes that they will be in the playoff. With that in mind he foresees Dabo Swinney calling off the dogs and playing conservatively in the second half.
My Pick: South Carolina
Z’s Pick: South Carolina
Arizona at Arizona State (-13.5)
We were all over our pal Herm Edwards and his early season success with the Sun Devils, but they’ve kind of fallen off a bit in the past couple of months…until last week’s huge upset of Oregon. At 6-5 State has already achieved bowl eligibility, while the 4-7 Wildcats aren’t going anywhere but home after this game. They call this the Duel in the Desert, but I don’t anticipate much of a contest. It might be fairly close for 2 or 3 quarters, but I think State is clearly the superior team and will win easily. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Arizona State
Z’s Pick: Arizona State
Wisconsin (-2.5) at Minnesota
There are games that will get more attention, but we shouldn’t overlook the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, a rivalry that goes back 128 years. On top of the long history this year’s contest features two teams hoping for a Top Ten finish, even if it is likely they’ll both miss the playoff. The winner will receive the opportunity to get beaten by Ohio St. in the Big Ten title game, but both teams will land in very nice bowl locations. The Badgers are 9-2 and have to be kicking themselves for that close October loss to Illinois. The 9-2 Gophers were an early playoff contender, but losing at Iowa a couple of weeks ago killed that dream. I’m predicting a good old-fashioned slugfest…classic smashmouth football. In that case I like Wisconsin’s offensive line to wear down the opposition and snag a win in the 4th quarter. Zach agrees and thinks Wisconsin will ride Heisman Trophy candidate & the nation’s second leading rusher Jonathan Taylor to victory.
My Pick: Wisconsin
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin
Oklahoma (-13) at Oklahoma State
They call this game Bedlam, and that could be the case if the Cowboys pull off the upset at home. For some reason there are still a few talking heads who seem to believe that the Sooners have a shot to make the playoff. Anything is possible, but they’d need to have three teams currently ranked above them fall. One definitely will (the loser of the SEC title game). Two is possible. Three is probably asking too much. Nevertheless, they do have a date with Baylor in the Big 12 title game, and finishing the season with two big wins could impress the committee. State has shown me no reason to believe that they can hang with their in-state rival, so I think this is going to be a rather easy win for the road favorites. Zach agrees.
My Pick: Oklahoma
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
Alabama (-3.5) at Auburn
The Iron Bowl is always entertaining, but when there is something on the line besides bragging rights it’s even more fun. I’ve always thought that the playoff committee would do everything they possibly could to get the Tide into the playoff no matter what, and this season is no exception. Georgia will meet LSU in the SEC title game, but since ‘Bama is currently ranked fifth it feels like that fourth spot will come down to Utah (if they win the Pac 12 championship), maybe Oklahoma, possibly the loser of the SEC championship (especially if that is LSU)…and Alabama. In that scenario don’t be surprised if Nick Saban gets an early Christmas gift. But…but…they have to take care of business this week first and that’s easier said than done. Auburn is 8-3 but all three losses have come in the past six weeks. I really don’t know what to expect, but I think it’ll come down to the final five minutes and be decided by less than a field goal. Conversely, Zach thinks ‘Bama will be able to run the ball and get a decisive win.
My Pick: Auburn
Z’s Pick: Alabama