Feels like just yesterday, doesn’t it? The college football season had just started. We were all excited for the footballing to come. The kickoff games, Labor Day, kickoffs in the sweltering heat, all of it. And then the football happened, and, as it does, it left a mass of crushed spirits in its wake. Now it’s almost gone. The end of the regular season is here. Hopefully in this short time we’ve all learned something about ourselves and have grown as individuals.
Everyone rebounded pretty nicely from the previous week. There were high scores all around, and no one did worse than 2/5. Less than half of you got the SMU/Navy pick right, though, and that’ll teach you all to disrespect the troops like that. Congrats to BuzzForPresident, monorail_yellowjacket, mrbuzz1885, and Osmosis Jones for all getting perfect 5s. Kenny B remains in first place as we approach the home stretch, but keep in mind that in rivalry week, you’ve got to throw the records out. Enjoy turkey time, but don’t forget about your picks!
#24 Virginia Tech Hokies (-2.5) @ Virginia Cavaliers
Do I need to remind Virginia their losing streak in the Commonwealth Cup stretches back fifteen years now, beginning in 2004, and they blew what was almost certainly their best chance to win it back in ages last year? Probably not, but I’m doing it anyway! This year’s Cup has some extra stakes, as the winner will not only earn state bragging rights but the honor of being ritually sacrificed to Clemson at the ACC championship next week. Yes, it’s all down to this one game, and all the Cavaliers have to do to finally win the Coastal and complete the #ACCCoastalInfinityGauntlet is win it. You know, the game they haven’t won since 2003.
Pick: Virginia Tech
#19 Cincinnati Bearcats @ #18 Memphis Tigers (-11)
In a year full of interesting AAC games you probably should have watched, why not have one more before next week’s championship? All Memphis has to do to make the AAC championship is beat Cincy and they’ll get a rematch next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel. Lose, and that opens the door for Navy, who would only need to take care of business vs. Houston. But is this as daunting a task for the Tigers as the records might indicate? Sure, Cincinnati is undefeated in conference play, and their only loss is a 42-0 drubbing from Ohio State, which is fine, given that it’s Ohio State. But three of their last four wins have been by a field goal or less, and the fourth was over UConn. How’d they score exactly 15 points last week vs. Temple? By blocking a PAT and running it back for two points. That was the difference maker. The Bearcats might have to dig a little deeper to beat Memphis. Or they can just try again next week. Whatever.
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes (-8.5) @ Michigan Wolverines
The last time Ohio State lost to Michigan, they didn’t even have a real head coach. (Which is not to say Luke Fickell isn’t a real head coach now, but in 2011 he was just the guy that drew the short straw after Jim Tressel got fired for cause.) Jim Harbaugh is 0-4 against the newly minted #1 Buckeyes, and that fourth loss has to hurt extra bad, given his Wolverines came into to that game favored, and turned it into a 23 point loss — their third-worst in the last half century. So avoiding 0-5 would be extra nice, but we did just see the Buckeyes mess around for most of their game against Penn State and still win comfortably, so you might have to eat some feelings here, Wolverines.
Pick: Ohio State
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide (-3.5) @ #15 Auburn Tigers
For the 500th consecutive year, the Iron Bowl will air on CBS. Y’all will never be free of Gary Danielson. Auburn has yet to truly sow the chaos that is their trademark this year, having suffered close losses to LSU, georgia, and Florida. But look, over yonder! It is an Alabama, minus Tua Tagovailoa. Sure, they’ve been without him in other games this season, but..... Arkansas and WCU aren’t exactly Auburn, you know? And the Tide absolutely have an inside shot of climbing back into the playoff. That’s a nice shot there, Alabama. It’d be a shame if Auburn ruined it.
#12 Wisconsin Badgers (-3) @ #8 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Before I forget, I need to point out this series was once played for the Slab of Bacon, which was actually just a piece of wood with the word “BACON” stamped on it. That might be the most Big Ten trophy in history. Anyway, this year’s battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe may be the biggest one.... ever? Or at least in a while, it’s hard to tell in a series that’s skipped exactly one year since 1890. The Badgers had previously won fourteen in a row over the Gophers to take the series lead, but last year PJ Fleck rowed his boat across Lake Mendota to tie it all back up at 60. (He uses the Axe as his oar now.) The winner will not only reclaim the series lead, but will up the Big Ten West and get a shot (or a second shot, in Wisconsin’s case) at Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. The loser.... well, third overall in the conference isn’t the worst thing. At least you probably have some other trophies.
#7 Oklahoma Sooners (-13.5) @ #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Sure, let’s pretend Bedlam is important this year. The only stakes are state pride — the Sooners locked up a spot in the Big 12 championship a while ago. But both the Oklahoma teams are ranked, and the rest of the Big 12 schedules is *gestures vaguely* so, sure, why not? This is a rivalry game, after all, and like all rivalry games, you gotta throw the records out. In this case it’s because OU always wins. Always. But they haven’t won a game convincingly since mid-October: a loss to Kansas State, a 1 point win over Iowa State, a 3 point win over Baylor, and a 4 point win over TCU. Is this all just a ploy to give the Cowboys hope? That’s what it is, isn’t it?
Pick: Oklahoma State
(if you’re having trouble viewing the form on mobile, click here to view it directly)