Rivalry week is something spectacular in college football. You never know what will happen when inner-state or contiguous state rivals collide. The Iron Bowl is the obsession in Alabama this week as it always is. Typically a classic throughout history, but can the Auburn Tigers pull off the improbable or will the Crimson Tide keep on truckin into the college football playoff with a resounding victory with another major hurdle a week from Saturday in the SEC Championship game versus the Georgia Bulldogs (Dec. 1, 3 PM CT, CBS). Can Tua have his way with a rock solid Auburn Tiger defense. Can the Tigers put up enough points against the Crimson Tide lock down defense to keep the game competitive. We’ll find out at 2:30 PM Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium on CBS. Should be another stellar contest as it usually is despite the 2 teams’ differing resumes.
Number 5 Georgia faces the challenge of stopping the Ramblin Wreck’s triple option. The Ramblin Wreck has to try to somewhat control Georgia’s prolific offense. Plenty of other highly competitive SEC and SEC and their rival games this weekend. Michigan goes to Ohio State in a massively important national game at 11 AM CT Saturday on FOX. Michigan is No.4 and an upset loss to the Buckeyes would nullify their chances of making the playoff. Boomer Sooner heads to Morgantown in another majorly important game in the national landscape as West Virginia aims to spoil OU’s chances of winning the Big 12 again and possibly making the playoff.
The action is superb starting tomorrow night with Mississippi State @ Ole Miss. Let’s dig into it and try to figure these rivalries out.
Last week: 23-5
Overall: 205-59, 78%
The 83rd Iron Bowl
Auburn (7-4, 3-4) @ No.1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0)
Bryant-Denny Stadium, 101, 821
2:30 PM CT
Brad, Gary, Jamie
Alabama by 24
The Crimson Tide holds a 45-36-1 advantage over the Tigers. This looks like a mismatch this year, but Auburn’s defense gives them a chance. Tua looked fine last Saturday and was moving around well as was Jalen Hurts, which was surprising. Deonte Brown, Alabama’s outstanding left guard, is close to being back, and he may very well be back on Sunday. Marlon Davidson, Nick Coe, Big Cat Bryant and Derrick Brown need to really step up for the Tigers, andJarrett Stidham and the offense need to put points on the board to keep this game from getting out of hand, and make it an interesting contest. I like Tua and the Tide offense to do enough against a stellar Auburn defense and Quinnen Williams, Mack Wilson and the Tide defense to lock down on the Auburn offense as the Tide moves on in their quest for a 6th national championship under Nick Saban.
Alabama 28, Auburn 7
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate
Georgia Tech (7-4) @ Georgia (10-1)
Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA.
11 AM CT
Tom, JRodg, Cole
Dawgs by 17
Georgia Tech has won 4 in a row and is hitting its stride with quarterback Ta’Quon Marshall, who is a major threat with his legs, handing off to the fullback, or pitching to his RBs. Paul Johnson always has an explosive triple option game so the Georgia defense has its hands full. But so does the Tech defense. With Elijah Holyfield, D’Andre Swift, Jake Fromm, Tyler Simmons, Jeremiah Holloman, Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, Isaac Nauta and the electric Justin Fields among others, this Georgia team is remarkable on offense as well. I don’t see the Tech defense stopping the Dawgs. They’ll score and it’ll be competitive for a while, but the Dawgs keep their national championship hopes alive in Athens.
Georgia 56, Georgia Tech 35
No.7 LSU (9-2, 5-2) @ Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3)
Kyle Field, College Station
6:30 PM CT
Taylor Zarzour, Stinch, Kris Budden
A&M by 2 1/2
Super matchup in the SEC west. Not sure why A&M has become the favorite in this game. I’ve seen a lot more out of the Bengal Tigers this season than I have the Aggies. The LSU Tigers defense and an efficient offense pull off the slight upset in College Station.
LSU 27, Texas A&M 24
The Egg Bowl
No. 18 Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4) @ Ole Miss (5-6, 1-6)
6:30 PM CT
Dave Flemming, Gregory, Laura Rutledge
State by 10 1/2
The Rebels defense couldn’t stop Taylor Swift from running the ball and couldn’t stop Mickey J from passing the ball. Nick Fitzgerald and the State offense perform well and the State defense, which is solid if not spectacular, neutralizes a pretty explosive Ole Miss offense.
Mississippi State 38, Ole Miss 27
The Palmetto Bowl
South Carolina (6-4) @ No.2 Clemson (11-0)
Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
6 PM CT
Steve Levy, Grease, McShay
Clemson by 26 1/2
I see this as a blowout even though Clemson has not been totally prolific on offense as Trevor Lawrence has been good, but not great yet. I don’t see SC can score a lot of points on the Clemson defense. Clemson moves on in its playoff journey.
Clemson 48, South Carolina 20
Tennessee (5-6, 2-5) @ Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5)
Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashvegas
3 PM CT
Dave Neal, D.J, Shockley, Dawn Davenport
Vandy by 3 1/2
This game has a lot on the line with both teams having identical records and both teams competing for a bowl game. I like the way the Commodores have played lately. Give me the Dores.
Vanderbilt 38, Tennessee 31
Arkansas (2-9, 0-7) @ Missouri (7-4, 3-4)
Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO.
1:30 PM CT
Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Rick Neuheisel. John Schriffen
Mizzou by 23 1/2
It’s been a disastrous first season for Chad Morris in Fayetteville. On the other side, Missouri is hot again at the end of the season. Drew Lock and the Tigers’ offense rolls against the Hogs.
Missouri 52, Arkansas 28
No. 11 Florida (8-3) @ Florida State (5-6)
Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee
11 AM CT
Dave Pasch, Gregory, Luges
Gators by 6 1/2
Dan Mullen has produced a pretty successful first season in Gainesville. I know the goals are higher there, but he’s getting his process in place. He may be ready to compete with Georgia in the east next season. Willie Taggert has struggled at FSU, but he’s recruiting well. He’s got a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to stay at FSU for any length of time. Like Feliepe Franks and the Gators here.
Florida 31, FSU 20
The Governor’s Cup
No. 15 Kentucky (8-3) @ Louisville (2-9)
Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY.
6 PM CT
Kevin Brown, Andre Ware
UK by 17
It’s been an awful year for the Cardinals which led to the dismissal of the hapless Bobby Petrino. On the other side, Kentucky has put together a terrific season. I like Benny Snell and the Wildcats to cook at Cardinal Stadium.
Kentucky 38, Louisville 17
No. 4 Michigan (10-1, 8-0 Big Ten) @ No. 10 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1)
Ohio Stadium, Columbus
11 AM CT
Gus, Joel, Jenny Taft
Michigan by 4
Ohio State’s defense is totally dysfunctional and while the Michigan offense isn’t totally stellar, the Michigan defense and enough offense will get the job done. Wolverines senior running back Karan Higdon guaranteed a victory for his team, and, like his Coach, Jim Harbaugh, did in 1986 when he guaranteed victory over Ohio State on the road as the Michigan quarterback, Higdon and his teammates will back it up Saturday. Higdon was a 3 star player in high school who was invited on a recruiting trip to Michigan, but couldn’t make his flight because he had to work on a Friday Night. He caught a flight at 2 AM Saturday and flew into a snowstorm to get to Ann Arbor. He’s rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 TDs this season. When Harbaugh guaranteed victory in 1986, his father was going through a tough time at Western Michigan and about to be fired. His father, Jack, said that Jim did it to get the attention off his situation. That’s great stuff. Karan backs it up on Saturday as well.
Michigan 31, Ohio State 24
No. 6 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) @ No. 12 West Virginia (8-2, 6-2)
Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West VA.
7 PM CT
Sean McDonough, Todd, Holly
OU by 2
Huge matchup for Ou’s playoff hopes. Like Kyler Murray and the Sooners to outscore Will Grier and the Mountaineers. OU’s defensive deficiencies could still keep them out of the playoff though, even if chaos ensues.
Oklahoma 48, West Virginia 45
No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0) @ USC (5-6)
Memorial Coliseum, LA
7 PM CT
Chris, Kirk, Maria
ND by 11
The Trojans are the last team standing in the way of the Irish’s playoff aspirations. I like quarterback Ian Book and the Irish to make a final statement to the committee and solidify their spot.
Notre Dame 37, USC 24
The Apple Cup
No. 16 Washington (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) @ No. 8 Washington State (10-1, 7-1)
Martin Stadium, Pullman
7:30 PM CT
Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman
Washington State by 2 1/2
I see Mike Leach and his quarterback, Gardner Minshew, to strongly present their case even further to the committee as they play for the Pac-12 championship next week. But they’ll have to overcome a tough opponent in the Huskies. I see them getting over the top at home.
Washington State 31, Washington 28
No.9 UCF (10-0, 7-0 American) @USF (7-4, 3-4)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
3:15 PM CT
Clay Matvick, Dan Orlovsky, Paul Carcaterra
UCF by 14
I’m a believer in UCF whether or not they get in the playoff. McKenzie Milton is a sensational quarterback and they played some excellent defense against Cincinnati last Saturday Night in prime time holding the Bearcats, a good offensive team, to 13 points in a 38-13 victory. This team is building a stronger and stronger case to be included in the playoff. They’re for real in my book regardless of the committee’s final decison.
UCF 45, USF 28
No. 21 Utah State (10-1, 7-0 Mountain West) @ No. 23 Boise State (9-2, 6-1)
Albertson’s Stadium, Boise, Idaho
9:15 PM CT
Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey, Ed Aschoff
Boise State by 2 1/2
Since 1999, Boise State is 120-8 in Albertson’s Stadium. That’s pretty astounding. I like them to knock off the Aggies and play Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship next Saturday. They’ll earn a very good bowl berth with success this Saturday and next Saturday, though both games will be close and I haven’t decided on the Fresno State pick yet.
Boise State 35, Utah State 30
The Commonwealth Cup
Virginia (7-4, 4-3 ACC) @ Virginia Tech (4-6, 3-4)
Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA.
2:30 PM CT
Adam Amin, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
UVA by 5
If the Hokies can emerge victorious they will play another game versus Marshall to become bowl eligible. If they can defeat Marshall too on December 1st they’re in a bowl. I like the Hokies to give themselves that opportunity by pulling off the upset in a highly entertaining game.
VA Tech 34, Virginia 31
No. 19 Northwestern 42, Illinois 17
2:30 PM CT
Big Ten Network
Northwestern by 17
The Wildcats cap off their stellar regular season with a rivalry victory at home over the Illini. The Wildcats move to 8-4 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten as they await the Michigan-Ohio State winner which I’m predicting to be Michigan. Michigan only defeated Northwestern 20-17 earlier this season, so that’s interesting. Love the heart of this team.
No. 17 Utah 38, BYU 24
9 PM CT
Fox Sports 1
Guy Haberman, Evan Moore
Utah by 12
Like the Utes to roll into the Pac-12 title game next Friday at Levi’s Stadium to face Washington State with a lot of momentum. They lost starting quarterback Tyler Huntley to injury for the season against Arizona State a couple of Saturdays ago, but freshman Jason Shelley has figured it out, and the Utes are cruising now. They move to 9-3 and 6-3 in the Pac 12 South with a matchup next Friday Night with Washington State on the docket.
Oregon 49, Oregon State 28
3 PM CT
Chris Myers, Evan Moore
Oregon by 17 1/2
The Ducks move to 8-4 overall and finish 5-4 in the Pac-12 North with an emphatic victory as they’ll await a bowl invitation. Friday’s going to be a classic day as well.
Miami 28, Pittsburgh 24
2:30 PM CT
Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Roddy Jones
Miami by 4 1/2
Like an extremely close game here, but for the Canes to move to 7-5 on the season and 4-4 in the ACC Coastal Division. Pitt drops to 7-5, and 6-2 in the Coastal but will represent the division against Clemson next Saturday Night in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (7 PM CT ABC).
UAB 38, Middle Tennessee 34
2 PM CT
UAB by 3
Like the Blazers to keep building their foundation with a highly successful regular season record of 10-2 and 8-0 in C-USA as they’ll play for a C-USA Championship next Saturday versus, most likely, Florida International.
App State 35, Troy 31
1:30 PM CT
App State by 10 1/2
Like the Trojans to give App State everything they want but to come up just short. Still, they’ve put together an awesome season yet fall to 9-3, 7-1 in the Sun Belt East as App State takes the Sun Belt East title and plays in the Championship game versus Louisiana, Ark State or LA Monroe pending the outcome of Saturday’s games.
The Duel in the Desert
Arizona 45, Arizona State 42
2:30 PM CT
Fox Sports 1
Chris Vosters, Petros Papadakis
Zona State by 2
Like Kevin Sumlin and the Wildcats to pull off the slight upset at home and earn a spot in a bowl game at 6-6. ASU falls to 6-6 but also gets a bowl bid.
UCLA 38, Stanford 35
2 PM CT
Stanford by 7
Like the Bruins coming off their upset of SC last week, 34-27, to finish the season by upsetting the Cardinal. The Cardinal under David Shaw always let you down, but I see the Bruins on an upswing for next season with 2 straight big time victories over USC and Stanford to move to 4-8. While the overall record is underwhelming the finish is relevant to next season. Running back Josh Kelley ran for 289 yards and 2 TDs last Saturday. He’ll put on another classic performance against Stanford.
Houston 35, Memphis 34
11 AM CT
Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
Memphis by 7
The Cougars pull off the upset on the road and face UCF in a gigantic American Conference Championship game at 9-3 and 6-2.
Duke 34, Wake Forest 31
11:30 AM CT
Duke by 11 1/2
A scrappy Wake team, with a bowl game on the line, gives Duke all it wants. Duke moves to 7-4 and 4-4 in the ACC Coastal and anxiously awaits the postseason.