Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll! Though this holiday may be all about the NFL and eating and drinking as much as humanly possible and then some, there are some great collegiate football games this weekend for rivalry week. Following a 20-3 week, I went 16-5 with my picks last week as big upsets occurred, most notably against K-State and Oregon. The rankings made a huge shift. Notre Dame is the new No. 1 and Nick Saban is just as surprised as we all are that Alabama is back in the hunt.
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Teams noted in BOLD are my picks for the week
TCU @ No. 16 Texas
Though TCU has kept up with ranked opponents for the most part this year, they ultimately lose the games. The Horned Frogs have struggled since losing guys like Andy Dalton to the NFL and their struggle will continue this week as they travel to Texas Memorial Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. Hook ‘Em Horns!
Ohio @ No. 23 Kent State
Irrelevant MAC game of the week goes to…
No. 14 Nebraska @ Iowa
Iowa continues to slump terribly this season. They’re now on a 5-game losing streak after falling to Michigan in a wupping last week in Ann Arbor, they’ve suffered some embarrassing losses at home this season, most notably against Central Michigan (my alma mater—Fire Up Chips!) and Iowa State, and most importantly, Iowa can’t put up points to save their lives. Nebraska continues to have an amazing run in their inaugural BIG 10 season. Corn Huskers continue to get it done on the road—and by a bundle.
No. 7 LSU @ Arkansas
Led by their great defense, the Tigers are having a great year. Their only two losses were close ones to top-ranked Alabama (a 4-point loss) and Florida (an 8-point loss in the Swamp). Les Miles continues to motivate his teams to push hard and finish strong (no sexual innuendo intended) as they proved last week in a win against Ole Miss. The Razorbacks are a good team, but they’ve struggled all year long after coming into the season overrated. Tigers roar on the road.
No. 25 Washington @ Washington State
Despite the Cougars high-powered passing arsenal, they’ve struggled to win games, with a total win/loss at 2-9 and 0-8 in PAC 12 play. The Huskies on the other hand, are coming off a 4-game win streak, one that includes a huge upset against Oregon State, starting the Beavers fall from the ranks. Their defense can play at a high level and has been on a roll. Cougars get shut down at home in the first major rivalry game of the week.
Arizona State @ No. 24 Arizona
Really evenly matched rivalry game. Both teams have pretty balanced offenses, but split where Arizona gets the go-ahead for better offense and State getting the nod for the better defense. Matt Scott is a beast behind center, counting for over 3000 yards in the air this season, but he’s been beat up since their meeting with UCLA a couple weeks ago, not playing last week. So the Wildcats will rely heavily on their guy on the ground, Ka’Deem Carey. The tailback gained over 200 rushing yards last week and leads the nation with 144.1 yards per game this season. If the Sun Devils have a chance in hell, they’ll need to shutdown Carey completely. Wildcats win at home.
Georgia Tech @ No. 3 Georgia
Georgia really should be considered for the national championship game if these BCS rankings remain consistent till judgment day. They’ve been steamrolling the competition all season long and will continue to do so this week against a relatively terrible (other than their rushing attack) Yellow Jackets team. The ‘Dawgs will come out and prove their contention for the ‘ship while at home this Saturday.
No. 18 Rutgers @ Pittsburgh
Less than a week after the Scarlet Knights said they were headed to the BIG 10, they’re set to take on the Panthers in Pittsburgh. Rutgers defense has been stellar all year long, but they haven’t been as battle-tested as Pittsburgh so far with their relatively easy schedule. The Panthers lasted 3OT’s with Notre Dame (the new number 1 in the nation in case you didn’t know) and played very closely till the end with ranked Louisville. Bottom line, they need to finish games to get respect. It’s nice to see they can keep up, but they can’t finish. Rutgers can.
No. 19 Michigan @ Ohio State
Funny calling this game considering Ohio State would probably be in the top 3 in the nation if it weren’t for their post-season suspension. I almost feel bad for them. Almost. Michigan has been great with their tandem duo of Gardner and Robinson, but the loss of Touissant for the season will hurt. They’ll have to rely on a very predictable running game of injury-prone Denard Robinson, which won’t take long to figure out. Sophmore QB Braxton Miller and the undefeated Buckeyes will take out their post-season absence-related anger on the Wolverines in this matchup at home.
Connecticut @ No. 20 Louisville
Even after a tough loss at Syracuse on November 10th, I’m sold on Teddy Bridgewater. Somehow his team managed to fail him after a 424 yard, 3 touchdown performance in the Carrier Dome. They’ll bounce back this week at home and look well rested after having last week off.
No. 5 Oregon @ No. 15 Oregon State
Chip Kelly and the Ducks look to bounce back against the Beavers after a tough loss to Stanford. The Cardinals were able to run all over a tough Oregon defense. If a rush defense is their one weakness, it won’t be tested this week as State has one of the worst rushing yard averages in Division 1 football. Oregon State has a great squad who has remained consistent all season, but I wouldn’t bet my chips against Chip and the ‘Quack Attack’ after a loss.
Auburn @ No. 2 Alabama
Alabama is back in contention. Surprise, surprise. The Crimson Tide look to take advantage of the computers and womp on a struggling Tiger team. As if they weren’t having a bad enough season, now Auburn and Gene Chizik are under investigation by the NCAA. No Bueno, Gene. Does it date back to the Cam Newton Heisman/Championship era? Stay tuned ‘cuz someone could get Paterno’ed.
No. 4 Florida @ No. 10 Florida State
The battle of the 10-1 Florida rivals. Regardless of my feelings that the Gators are overrated at fourth in the nation, their offense doesn’t even come close to that of the Seminoles. Yes, the Gators have proven they can hang against ranked teams, beating Tennessee, South Carolina, and LSU, but can they win on the road (most importantly, against their main rival)? EJ Manuel is a big, Senior quarterback that has improved drastically over the course of this season. He’ll be tested against a tough Gator defense, but they won’t have the Swamp crowd behind them on the road in Doak Campbell Stadium. “Ohhhhhh, Ohhhhhh, Ohhhhhhhh” *Continous Tomahawk chop*
No. 21 Oklahoma State @ No. 13 Oklahoma
Although I rode the Cowboys to victory last week against Texas Tech, the Sooners will rein supreme this week in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Landry Jones is a NFL-ready quarterback that is an absolute stud (in football terms) behind center—he’ll be sure to be taken in the Top 10 of next year’s draft. The Sooners’ only two losses were against top-ranked Notre Dame and Kansas State. They don’t call it the “Sooner State” for nothin’.
No. 8 Stanford @ No. 17 UCLA
UCLA can hang with the big dogs, and they proved it last week while putting a bruising on future No. 1 pick Matt Barkley (injuring him for the remainder of the game and this week) and the rest of the Trojans. Their offense has consistently put up a crazy amount of points all season long while their defense contains offensive powerhouses. The air attack led by Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley could put his name in the pile for a Heisman bid with amassing almost 3000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns so far this year—not to mention the 300 yards on the ground with 8 rushing touchdowns. If anyone can test Stanford’s defense, it’s the combination of Hundley and Senior running back Johnathon Franklin (1441 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns this year). Bruins are victorious in Rose Bowl Stadium.
How can you hate Freshman QB Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football?! The kid should be on the top of everyone’s ballot this year with over 3000 passing yards and 21 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Did I also mention the kid can run? He’s tacked up over 1110 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on the ground. The dude is a machine. He’s hopped up the ranks to be my new favorite for the Heisman Trophy—sorry Colin Klein.
No. 12 South Carolina @ No. 11 Clemson
I’m continuing the ride on the Clemson Tiger bus. I’ve stuck by them all year long and will continue to do so in the very end. With Lattimore out indefinitely with a career-jeopardizing knee injury, its been tough for the Gamecocks to get anything done on the ground. Clemson’s Junior QB Tajh Boyd is small, but he packs a big punch. He’s got almost 500 yards rushing with 8 touchdowns to go with his 3300+ yards passing and 33 passing touchdowns. He’s an absolute beast and my money is on him to get it done at home in Memorial Stadium this weekend. Sorry Spurrier.
No. 1 Notre Dame @ USC
Everyone has this game highlighted as an “upset alert” for this week—frankly, I don’t see it happening. Without Matt Barkley, USC proved what they could do, and that was losing to UCLA. Their wideouts are stellar but they’ve gotta have someone who can deliver them the ball. The team goes from having the potential No. 1 overall of next year’s draft passing to them, to a Freshman QB. It’ll be hard for them to all get on the same page in a week, regardless of backup Wittek going 8-for-9 last week with a touchdown after Barkley left the game. The Fighting Irish have the No. 1 defense in all of the land and are the top-ranked team in the nation for a reason. They’re battle-tested and will prove their championship contention this week against a young, terrified quarterback. He’ll have time to play well, three more years of it, just won’t be this week.