Week 14 of the college football season is here, and there are many games to be thankful for. Maybe none more so than the Iron Bowl pitting 1Alabama against 4Auburn. At the beginning of the season this one did not have the makings of an exciting game, but now the winner will go to the SEC Championship. While Thanksgiving means great football, it also means we are almost done with the season. But before that, there are plenty of exciting games ahead, and that is just this weekend.
Winner-Take-West Iron Bowl For the first time since the SEC was divided into conferences, the Iron Bowl will decide who goes to Atlanta to play in the SEC Championship game. I don’t think many circled this as Alabama’s toughest game. Auburn didn’t win any SEC games last season, 0-8 in conference, going into this game, they are 6-1 in the SEC and are ranked 4th in the BCS. Alabama is where everyone thought they would be, 11-0 and 1st in the BCS. The winner of the Iron Bowl has won the last 4 National Championships. Alabama has won the last two times they have gone to Auburn, and that is where they will be this weekend. I have seen both of these teams play in person this season, and I would have to say Alabama was the more impressive team. And I just can’t bring myself to pick against the Tide. But if the Alabama team that showed up to the Mississippi State game shows up, I think Auburn will win. That is a big if though. I am picking Alabama by a TD.
Aggies Get Another Chance to Take Down Tigers When I turned on the LSU vs Texas A&M last week, I was expecting one of the most exciting games of the season. I was sadly disappointed. Johnny Manziel had the worst game of his career, and possibly lost the Heisman in the effort. They had no answer to anything LSU did. Missouri, on the other hand, got a big win over a pretty good Ole Miss team in Oxford. If Missouri can win this game, they advance to the SEC Championship game, but if they lose, South Carolina will get that spot in Atlanta. The return of James Franklin helped the Tigers last week, and I don’t think it will be any different this week. Texas A&M also is extremely lacking on the defensive side of the ball. I just don’t think the Aggies will be able to overcome that. I am picking Missouri by a TD.
Huge Rivalry Game in South Carolina? On any other weekend this would have probably been the most important game. But when an Iron Bowl featuring 2 top 4 teams and an SEC Championship berth on the line, everything else gets a little overshadowed. 6th ranked Clemson goes to 10th ranked South Carolina this weekend. When getting my notes together for this game, I could not get a good read on how this game would go. I think Clemson has the better team, but in a game like this, that is only half the battle. South Carolina has been up and down all season. I haven’t seen enough consistency to pick them over a very good Clemson team. That being said, even if South Carolina loses this game they could go to the SEC Championship game. This makes me worry about the mindsets of the SCAR players. Even though this is one of the biggest rivalries, will their minds be focused on Atlanta rather than Columbia? Clemson isn’t going to the ACC Championship game, but as long as Florida State wins out and can make it into the National Championship, Clemson has the inside track to the BCS. I am picking Clemson by a TD.
Title Once again, Notre Dame is raked in the top 25 and is sitting at 25. I don’t think they deserve it, but does it really surprise anyone? I mean, Notre Dame and the BCS have a special relationship. And by that I mean, they get special privileges with a easy way to get in. I don’t think they will be able to this year, but what do I know. If Notre Dame is somehow able to pull the upset on 8Stanford, I would be impressed and might have a little different view of where they should be in the postseason. But all the times I have seen the Irish play this season, I was unimpressed. I have been impressed with Stanford and think they have the edge because of the way they play. A low scoring game favors the Cardinal, and that is what I think will happen in this game. I am picking Stanford by a TD or more.
Battle of the Upsetters Both Arizona and 12Arizona State made a mess of the Pac 12 last week. Arizona knocked off Oregon and because of it, gave Stanford the Pac 12 North crown. Arizona State was able to beat UCLA and clinch the Pac 12 South. I believe Arizona State is the better team and should be able to win convincingly. The game is also being played at Arizona State, giving them the upper hand. I don’t know if it will be a blowout, but I am pretty sure it won’t be very close. But, watch out for Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey. If you give him a little room, he can run wild. I am picking Arizona State by 2TDs.
Can Ducks Rebound in Civil War? Last week, Oregon got beat once again and handed Stanford a bid to the Pac 12 Championship, which Stanford had given to the Ducks when they lost to USC. Oregon needs a big win in this rivalry game. They probably won’t make the BCS, so they are playing to get to a good New Year’s Day bowl. This Oregon State team seemed pretty good at the beginning of the season, but in recent weeks that hasn’t been the case. I didn’t think there was a chance Arizona could beat Oregon, but the Ducks head home for this game. I think Oregon will score a lot of points, and won’t let up. The senior’s final game in Eugene on Friday will probably reflect the Oregon offense we have come to expect. If this game was close for more than 5 minutes I would be very surprised. I am picking Oregon by more than 2TDs.
Major Battle for Los Angeles 22UCLA at 23USC face off this weekend. UCLA is coming off a heartbreaker last weekend against Arizona State where the Sun Devils clinched a bid to the Pac 12 Championship to play Stanford. I don’t know if the UCLA players will be able to overcome that mentally. USC is riding high and a win on Saturday brings the Trojans to 10-3 and possibly a January 1st bowl. UCLA is a very good team, but the momentum USC has coming into this game might be too much. This is a huge rivalry, and I have friends on both sides and have seen the posts about beating SC and about beating UCLA, and that tradition might make this one of the better games of the weekend. I am going to pick the Trojans to get to 10 wins and complete their season with a huge win. A win here might also remove “interim” from USC coach Ed Orgeron’s job title. I am picking USC by less than a TD.
Can Duke Make History? Rooting for Duke is something I never thought I’d do. People always ask me why I don’t like Duke. The answer is because everyone in my family hates them because of basketball. This is what I have been told: both Arkansas(1994) and UNLV(1990) beat Duke to win the National Championship in basketball, and both lost to Duke in the Final Four, Arkansas in 1990 and UNLV in 1991. Sadly, I was not around then to experience those great basketball times. So, that’s why I don’t like Duke. I also grew up knowing Duke sucked at football. This year, all bets are off though. I am definitely rooting for the Blue Devils to go to their first ever ACC Championship game and I would love to see them upset Florida State. But, North Carolina is no cupcake. The Tar Heels put 80 on Old Dominion last weekend, and that is not something you see very often. I think Duke will get the Tobacco Road win, but it will be close. I am picking Duke by less than a TD.
Must Win Egg Bowl For Bulldogs On Thanksgiving Day, Ole Miss and Mississippi State face off in the Egg Bowl. A win for Mississippi State would mean bowl eligibility for the Bulldogs and it would mean Ole Miss would end up only one win above .500. This year’s Ole Miss team has been good, but a loss to Mississippi State would end the season on a bad note. Mississippi State is coming off a big overtime win in Little Rock against Arkansas. Will the Bulldogs be able to carry the emotion and momentum to this game? I think the answer to that is yes, but it won’t be enough to win the game. I think Ole Miss will get this win and finish off a successful regular season. I am picking Ole Miss by a TD.
Huge Game in C-USA Race East Carolina heads to Marshall on Friday in a game that will decide who represents the East Division of CUSA in the conference championship game. Both of these teams have had successful seasons. Marshall is 8-3 and ECU is 9-2. Because these teams are in CUSA, I haven’t had much of a chance to watch either of these teams, but I do know they are pretty evenly matched. Both teams are in the top 15 of points scored in the country. I am picking the Thundering Herd because of their rushing attack. I think this will be a great game, and it should be close. I am picking Marshall by less than a TD.
Can the Cougars Upset the Huskies in Seattle? Friday’s Apple Cup features two very good teams. But, because of the strength of the Pac 12 this season, they have been overlooked. Both Washington and Washington State are bowl eligible and looking to improve which bowl they will go to. The reason I am leaning toward the Huskies is because how impressive they looked last week at Oregon State. I believe Washington has the better team, but the Cougars could give them a run for their money. I don’t think the final score will reflect the game because Washington will wear out Washington State. But I do think it will be close most of the game. I am picking Washington by 2TDs.
Can the Hogs Do the Impossible? The Razorbacks play their final game of the season when they go to Baton Rouge on Friday. Arkansas goes into Death Valley as a 25 point underdog to the 17th ranked LSU Tigers. The Hogs played a good game last week against Mississippi State, but were unable to get the win. LSU is coming off a big win over Texas A&M and is looking to get a spot in a January 1st bowl. To do that, they will have to beat Arkansas in a big way. Arkansas almost upset the Tigers last season, but an amazing TD catch secured a win for the Tigers. I was at that game last year, and it was one of the best I’ve been to. I will be in Baton Rouge on Friday in Death Valley to cheer on the Hogs, something I have been looking forward to all season. I hope Arkansas plays their best game of the season because they have nothing to lose. I also hope they have fun and make the game a memorable one. This will be the last time in a while that these two teams will fight for the Golden Boot the day after Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to walk into Tiger Stadium and cheer for my Arkansas Razorbacks for the 9th time this season. Go Hogs!
2Florida State at Florida
3Ohio State at Michigan
9Baylor at TCU
Minnesota at 11Michigan State
14Northern Illinois 33 Western Michigan 14 (Tuesday)
Penn State at 15Wisconsin
16Fresno State at San Jose State (Friday)
South Florida at 19UCF (Friday)
Texas Tech at Texas (Thursday)
San Diego State at UNLV
Georgia at Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech at Virginia
ULM at ULL
Tennessee at Kentucky
Wake Forest at Vanderbilt
I hope everyone has a fun, relaxing, and safe Thanksgiving break, and thank you so much for reading!