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Illuminati Picks, Week 14: The truth is unveiled

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GREETINGS, EARTH CITIZENS. THE MIDNIGHT HOUR APPROACHES. THE PIECES ARE IN PLAY. SOON OUR MACHINATIONS SHALL BECOME CLEAR TO YOU. NOT ALL OF YOU WILL SURVIVE, BUT THAT IS A SACRIFICE WE ARE WILLING TO MAKE. IT IS TIME TO SEE IF YOU KNOW THE SAVIORS WE HAVE CHOSEN FOR YOU. GOOD LUCK.

Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Buffalo Bulls (-3.5)

Tuesday Night #MACtion is getting the annual upgrade to Friday night as Buffalo meets NIU in the football cathedral that is Ford Field. The Bulls are looking to repeat their championship win from their only other appearance a decade ago, and on paper it doesn’t look like the Huskies match up. But in twelve previous meetings the Bull have only emerged victorious once — the first time, in 1968. So really, they’re fighting the Huskies and history. Might be tough.

Illuminati pick: Buffalo

#17 Utah Utes vs. #9 Washington Huskies (-5.5)

Finally, finally, finally, the Utes are in the Pac-12 Championship. The good news for them is they’re just one win away from their first major bowl in a decade. (You do remember when they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, right? Because it absolutely happened.) The bad news is they’ve beaten Washington once, ever, and it didn’t come when they met back in September. Like in September, you’re going to see a lot of defense here and not a lot of points. Hopefully the Utes can score more than they did last time.

Illuminati pick: Washington

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns @ Appalachian State Mountaineers (-16.5)

Cajuns? And western Carolina mountain men? In one place? Y’all, the first ever Sun Belt championship game is a recipe for disaster in pretty much every way imaginable. The Mountaineers have been en fuego as usual with Scott Satterfield at the helm, looking to win their third straight Sun Belt championship and book a trip to New Orleans. All they have to do is beat the Cajuns, again, but who knows that voodoo magic they might be bringing with them from Lafayette this time?

Illuminati pick: Louisiana

#14 Texas Longhorns vs. #5 Oklahoma Sooners (-8)

Ohhhhhhhh it’s a Red River Shootout rematch, just a few miles up the Trinity from the first one. The Longhorns are the 1 in OU’s 11-1, and you’d better believe the Sooners are looking to exact their revenge and punch their ticket to the playoff. For the Horns, it feels like it’s been a while since they’ve been this good — probably because it has. But that season opening loss to Maryland (seriously, what?) is way in the rearview mirror, and their first conference title since 2009 — you know, the year they made the BCS title game — would be a pretty nice feather in the cap for Tom Herman in his second year.

Illuminati pick: Texas

UAB Blazers @ Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (-1)

I couldn’t tell you what UAB football was doing two years ago, because it literally didn’t exist. Left for dead thanks to the politicians in the University of Alabama System, Bill Clark has seen the Blazers through death rebirth, coaching them to their most successful season ever in life two, year two. There is one minor obstacle in the way of claiming their first ever conference championship: the Blazers already visited Murfreesboro just last week, and that trip did not go particularly well for them. They’re going to need to cram a lot of learnin’ in this week if they want to take the C-USA crown.

Illuminati pick: UAB

Stanford Cardinal (-2.5) @ California Golden Bears

“Hooooooold on a minute,” you’re already saying, “this isn’t a conference championship game! I’ve seen this already. In fact, these teams kind of stink!” Hey, there are multiple seven win teams playing in championship games this weekend, I’ll have you know. Anyway, yeah, this was a week 12 pick before it was postponed due to, you know, the massive fires going on in northern California. Now that the fire’s been put in it’s place, it’s time to play the Big Game for real. Cal hasn’t won this decade, so it might be time for some last minute magic a la The Play.

Illuminati pick: Stanford

Memphis Tigers @ #8 UCF Knights (-3)

Memphis almost derailed UCF’s quest for a second straight New Year’s Six bowl bid back in October — the Knights trailed 30-14 seconds before halftime before ultimately winning 31-30, and even then, the Tigers were just short of being in position to kick a game winning field goal. This time, they have the advantage of playing at home.... but they’ll be without star quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a knee injury last week against USF that I can not in any good conscience suggest you look up. UCF wins, they’re looking at another cushy Peach Bowl bid. Lose, and we’re getting G5 chaos, baby.

Illuminati pick: UCF

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-13.5) vs. #4 Georgia Bulldogs

Alabama vs. Georgia in the Benz. Hmm, has this happened already this year? Kirby Smart is angling to accomplish the one thing no other Saban acolyte has been able to do: actually beat Saban himself. Is it possible? Look, seven months ago NASA launched a probe to Mars, and on Monday it landed, upright and intact, inside a landing zone that’s a relatively small 81 miles long. Anything is possible, including a Saban assistant beating Bama. Do I believe it? I dunno, do you?

Illuminati pick: Alabama

#25 Fresno State Bulldogs @ #22 Boise State Broncos (-2.5)

Boise and Fresno keep doing this dance, and it really just doesn’t seem like the Bulldogs are ever getting any closer to the Broncos. Just like last year and 2014, they’re meeting again in Boise for the Mountain West Championship, and just like both of those times, it’s a rematch from earlier in the season. Only one of those five games has gone Fresno State’s way — the only one of those which was played in Fresno, and the Bulldogs parlayed that into a 3 point loss in Boise a week later for the championship. In fact, they’ve only beaten Boise in Boise once — in 1984, well before the Broncos made the jump to the top flight. That’s some serious history they’re going to have to shake if they want to win their first conference title since 2013.

Also, I just found out Boise-Fresno is a trophy game, when it’s a regularly scheduled game. They play for the Milk Can. No, I don’t understand it.

Illuminati pick: Boise

#21 Northwestern Wildcats vs. #6 Ohio State Buckeyes (-14)

Yep. That’s Northwestern. You’re probably wondering how they got here, in the Big Ten Championship. It’s a long story, but it involves 1) the B1G East being mega-ass, 2) getting everyone at just the right time anyway, and 3) drawing Rutgers in cross-division play. (The Wildcats needed a fourth quarter TD to beat the Scarlet Knights 18-15. They gave up a safety. To Rutgers.) On the other side is, you know, Ohio State. I mean, it was supposed to be Michigan, but it turns out they still have the Columbus Yips, so we’ll just have to see Coach Khakis on New Year’s. Anyway, the Big Ten put in an 8-4 division champion that lost all of its non-conference games — one to an ACC Coastal team — and everyone’s just going to give them a pass for it. No, I’m not mad about this at all.

Illuminati pick: Ohio State

#2 Clemson Tigers (-27.5) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

I’m not even sure you could say Clemson has really been challenged at any point this year. Okay, sure, there were some early season jitters at Texas A&M (darn you, Jimbo Fisher!) and Syracuse continues to be their kryptonite. But other than that.... shoot, it’s really just measuring how long it takes until the Tigers go full “[Fleet Foxes] it” and put their terrifying DBs in as RBs, or even put Dabo Swinney’s son in.

Enter Pitt. Pitt, your 7-5 Coastal kings. Pitt, the slayer of giants. The Panthers have been here before, outmatched against top 3 teams, and have walked away victorious more than once. Shoot, y’all, one of those times was against Clemson two years ago! They’ve never been more dangerous, and with Clemson having a guaranteed playoff spot with a win.... there’s potential for the most #goacc moment in history.

God help us all.

Illuminati pick: Pitt

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