It's Thanksgiving Week, which means an entire feast of great games that should for once prevent Jon from complaining about what I've left him. It also means I'm making an exception to my "Saturday games only" rule, since the student-athletes (insert snarky comment here) are out of class for the holiday.
This week's focus will be on teams needing just one more win to reach a big goal, whether it's the conference championship game or possibly a spot in the College Football Playoff. As always, our picks are For Entertainment Purposes Only.
Last week, Texas Tech and Stanford came through to propel me to an impressive 7-3 record, improving my overall mark to 63-57. Sadly, Jon went 6-4, so he maintains a narrow lead with his 64-56 overall record. Thanks a lot, USC.
|Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth TX
LT: TCU clinches a share of the Big 12 title with a win, which would also ensure that the entire country can make fun of the conference’s "One True Champion" slogan once again. The Horned Frogs could also stay in contention for a Playoff spot, although I think they’ll probably need one of the teams currently ahead of them and Baylor to lose for that to happen. Meanwhile, Charlie Strong and the Longhorns have obviously made a lot of progress this year, so now it’s time to see just how far they’ve come. My guess is not quite far enough to really challenge a motivated and physical TCU team ready to run over Texas as the game wears on. Horned Frogs cover.
JM: Texas is a lot better than they were when I saw them in person last month. But they still don't look like a team that could stand up to K-State, and after what TCU did to the Wildcats I just can't envision the relatively uncreative Texas staff whipping up a recipe to avoid an emphatic loss. Frogs cover.
|Friday, 1:30 p.m.
Faurot Field, Columbia MO
LT: Missouri is one win away from its second straight SEC title game appearance. Think about that statement for a moment. If this game were being played in Fayetteville, I’d probably pick the Tigers. Seriously. But Arkansas hasn’t given up any points to two ranked teams in the past two weeks, and Mizzou has looked incredibly mediocre at home all season. Plus, I’ve underestimated the Razorbacks each of the past two weeks. Arkansas wins.
JM: Err. Well. This is awkward. Your self-loathing disturbs me, Luke.
If Arkansas were just coming off one stunning shutout win, I'd go Tigers. But they aren't. They've persevered and fought and all those other hoary cliches people think matter. In this case, I think they do. Hogs win.
|Friday, 2:30 p.m.
Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA
LT: Despite losses at home to Utah and Oregon, Stanford remains as the only obstacle standing between UCLA and a rematch with the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship. That’s what happens when you beat your top competition, Arizona and Arizona State, who play each other this week for a title berth if UCLA were to lose. Stanford looked good a week ago at California, but now they’ll face a team that actually, you know, plays defense, even if that’s not exactly UCLA’s strong suit. The Bruins will do enough to cover.
JM: Ugh. I thought we were picking good games. Well, that's fine. I'll get my revenge. For now, look. Stanford has one win over a bowl-eligible team, and that's over a 7-5 Washington squad. Their victims have a combined 24 wins -- 4.8 per team.
UCLA's victims have 58. That's 6.2 per. One of these teams is coasting against mediocrity. The other, while still being overrated and not what I look for in a potential 12-win team, is actually winning games against positive competition. And they're only favored by 4.5? At home? (Okay, the Pac-12's backward this year, but still.) Bruins cover.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford MS
LT: Remember when we thought the Egg Bowl might be a matchup of two undefeated teams? Good times. Good times. Still, Mississippi State could probably secure a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win, and if Alabama stumbles, a victory would send the Bulldogs to Atlanta. Ole Miss appears to be falling apart, and Mississippi State’s offense will be too much to handle. Clanga covers.
JM: The better team often loses this game -- it's actually a large part of the reason these two schools have been paired in mediocrity for so long. They can't get over the hump of their main rival when the chips are down. Still, Mississippi State has done everything right this year except beat college football's greatest program of the last half-decade. Mississippi has been prone to the condition clinically known as the herpy-derp. I have a gut feeling that Ole Miss is gonna win this game, but I'm going to let my brain have the say today. State covers.
|Saturday, 6:45 p.m.
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
LT: The stakes are clear for Alabama here. Win and they’re in the SEC title game. Lose and they might not get there, although I’m sure the committee would find a way to put the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff either way. Auburn has been struggling a bit, but Alabama gave up 130+ rushing yards to LSU, Mississippi State and Tennessee. The Tigers probably don’t have the defense to win, but they’ll find a way to cover that spread.
JM: No they won't. Bama's average margin of victory is 21 points, and they've been getting better with age. Auburn's is 12, and they haven't. Goodness, there's even been a few crackpots starting the Fire Gus Malzahn campaign, and as crazy as that seems on the face, hello Gene Chizik. Auburn has really suffered against strong defenses, and while your rushing yards statistic is interesting, here's a couple more: K-State gives up 126 a game, and gave up 128 to Auburn. Alabama gives up 85 a game, and as a result they're going to force Nick Marshall to throw to his disturbingly droppy recievers. Tide covers.
Tomorrow: Turkeys and Goats and Rodents, oh my.