RedZoneAction.org Blog, tagged with Block of Granite
2021-12-02 09:06

This weekend was a killer on my picks.
But that keeps the season interesting, I guess.

The results did create some interesting matchups in the championship games and it did create some shuffling on the playoff race.

Before I do recap the past games, some news on the coaches front.

Some positions were filled this weekend.

The first is the HC position at Florida. Billy Napier, right now HC of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, will be the next HC of Florida.
He was 4 seasons with Louisiana and in discussion for power 5 HC positions since the past few seasons.
His record at Louisiana is 39-12 so far, he won 10+ games in the past 3 seasons each and won the division 3 times in a row, the SUN BELT in 2020 and has the chance to win it again in the upcoming weekend.
For Florida this is hopefully a hire which last longer than the past few HCs. None of the coaches after Urban Meyes 2 National Title run in 6 seasons did last longer than 4 seasons and all ended with firing the coaches based on their results.
The interesting fact is, all new coaches did start good, if not great and had double digit wins at least in their 2nd season, but the team then did decline.
It seems the new coaches always were able to inspire the talent they found, but were unable to sustain that intensity level over the seasons.
So, maybe we will see also a fast resurrection of the Gators the next 2 seasons, but the final verdict on Napier will then come in season 3 and 4.

The next position is the HC position of USC. This is always a big thing (for whatever reason, I'm afraid the significance of that is beyond my German point of view here) and the university had the luck, or stamina, or influence, to hire a big name.
Lincoln Riley, right now the HC of Oklahoma, will become the next HC of USC.
That's likely the hottest hire USC did manage to make since Pete Carroll became the Trojans HC in 2001.
Since Carroll left after 2009, the program had a lot of trouble with their HCs.
Lane Kiffin did not met the expectations, Steve Sarkisian had his alcohol problem and Clay Helton did seemed to underperform every season (even when he won the conference in 2017).
Riley got the gig at Oklahoma when his predecessor Bob Stoops decided to quit coaching for the Sooners after 18 seasons (2017) and suggested his then OC Riley (with the team since 2 season and at that time 33 years old) as successor. The university accepted and Riley did answer this commitment with 4 conference titles in a row and only this season the team came up short to get a spot inside the BIG 12 Championship game.
The Sooners will be coaches by Bob Stoops in the upcoming Bowl game, a tremendous thing, since usually an existing coaching staff member does take over for the bowl as interims coach. Of cause (likely) Stoops will not be the coach in next season. Rumor is the school wants Kliff Kingsbury, HC of the Arizona Cardinals, as new HC, but honestly the Cardinals are 9-2 right now and Kingsbury has 1 year left on the contract.
I wouldn't be surprised to see in short time the news of a prolongation with the Cardinals.
USC gets a young and likely relentless coach, who hopefully for USC, brings in some quality, the team did lack since some time. His record with the Sooners overall is 55-10.

And another blockbuster move was announced late Monday. LSU did land current Notre Dame HC Brian Kelly. Kelly is HC for the Irish since 2010 and has a record of 92-39 officially, but 21-1 games are missing, thanks to some NCAA sanctions for 2012 and 2013. With those games included, he is the Irish coach with most wins in Irish history, which means a lot. I would call Kelly a hard worker, who was never able to accomplish what other great Notre Dame coaches were able to do, win it all. He did guide the Irish to the BCS Championship game in 2012 and the team was crushed big time, and the team went to the Semi-finale in 2018 and 2020 and did lose also big time.
This is overall a surprising move, since Notre Dame is since ages thought to be a dream position, so a coach leaving for another program is a bad sign from my point of view. Now Notre Dame has to find the next coach, which won't be easy. Notre Dame had a big problem finding a good one in decades. Whether LSU now has the answer to all the loaded SEC teams, I'm not sure. That will only time tell.

Washington got their man with Fresno States Kalen DeBoer. DeBoer did coach the Bulldogs for 2 seasons, started 3-3 and had so far 9-3 this season.
He was very successful with NAIA program Sioux Fall in 2005 to 2009 and served as OC until he become the Bulldogs HC. He is an offense minded coach, who was in talk for several openings.

And another info did come in, Sonny Dykes, the current HC of Southern Methodists (SMU) was hired to become the next HC of TCU.
His name was all over the place for several positions open, but TCU got the man and does likely hope to get a guy like their last HC.
That guy, Patterson, ran the program for 21 seasons, basically build the team to its strength and made it the attractive school it is now.
Dykes had some success at Louisiana Tech in 3 seasons (22-15), which got him a job at his 1st power 5 program, Cal.
He stayed there for 4 seasons, but was fired in 2016 (19-30).
After a season he was hired to take over SMU and did actually coach already the bowl of the 2017 season. He then did build SMU new and had his best season in 2019 with 10 wins. Overall, his record is 30-18.
I'm not 100% sold with Dykes, but it's hard to judge his results from far away. He never won any title, expect with LT in 2011 (Conference title WAC).

And SMU seems to be on time and hired already the successor of Dykes, the current OC of Miami and former OC of SMU.
It would be his 1st HC gig. At age of 38 he is also quite young. Prior to Miami he was OC for several other colleges.

Also announced was that the interims coach of Washington State, Jake Dickert, is now the permanent coach for the next few seasons.
He took over when Nick Rolovich was fired because of his vaccination status, and guided the team to a 3-2 record, including a win over rival Washington Huskies.
The Cougars will get to a bowl this season also, so the season is not over, yet.

And Louisiana Tech, see firings below, did hire a new HC. Interims HC of Texas Tech, Sonny Cumbie, also designated to stay as OC at the school did get the call and responded with a 'yes' to become the next Bulldogs coach. It's his first regular HC gig.

Virginia Tech found their guy with Brent Pry, right now the DC of Penn State. He started as Graduated Assistant at VT mid-90s and then developed in the usual way. Not sure he is the answer, but with those 1st time gigs it can only be judged after some seasons.

And as last news, Jerry Kill will take over New Mexico State. Kill is right now interims coach of TCU and was once HC of Minnesota.
Kill had health problems in the past, based on some cancer variations.
I hope this is all under control again and he can bring in his full energy.
The Aggies will need this, since the program did suffer since several seasons.
Their last HC did not win more than 3 games, expect in 1 season (2017) with 7.

So much for the hiring, now to the firings.

Louisiana Tech did part way with Skip Holtz after 9 seasons (64-50) and after a 3-9 season. In 2019 he did last win a division; his Bulldogs never won the conference. The expectations for the program are usually that the teams wins a lot. All coaches in the past who were fired were fired after ONE losing season.

A sad move for me is that Dukes HC David Cutcliffe and the school decided to part ways. Cutcliffe did elevate the program to several great seasons and coached it for 14 seasons. He is likely one of the best coaches the program ever had, maybe the best, despite a 77-97 record. He won the division only once, but went to a bowl 6 times, with a program which had prior to that only 8 bowl games since more or less 100 years! Duke was never a winning team, academic were more important than football, basketball was more important than football. Cutcliffes success did decline over the past 3 seasons, this season the team won only 3 games. I'm curious to see, who will succeed him.

And last so far, Temple did fire Rod Carey after 12-20 campaign. This season the team was 3-9 and that was not enough. Carey had a lot of success at Northern Illinois, but was unable to bring this to Temple as it seems.

Now, let's have a look on my failed picks. Haha.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE GAMES FOR WEEK 13

Sat. Nov 27
#2 Ohio State @ #5 Michigan
I'm was truly stunned to see Ohio State falling to Michigan.
I cannot understand how those Buckeyes playing MSU and those Buckeyes playing Michigan were the same team.
The Buckeyes offense was toothless and did only score when the not really strong playing defense did create opportunities.
And that was only in the 1st half, with Michigan leading 14-13.
The 2nd half was ALL Michigan and both Ohio State units did look like schoolboys.
Well, fine. Michigan got the game and therefore the spot in the championship game.
They did jump to #2 in AP Polls, while Ohio State did drop big time and they can concentrate on a bowl game coming.
The Wolverines now have the chance to win the BIG 10, something they did not do since 2004.
Their opponent will be Iowa, which will be an interesting game, for sure.
#2 Ohio State 27 @ #5 Michigan 42 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Scores: 28-11

Oregon State @ #11 Oregon
I picked the Beavers, but did already state that their chances were slim.
The 1st quarter was totally in Ducks hands, leading 24-3.
But then the Beavers did try their best and their only problem was, they were unable to stop the Ducks often enough.
In fact, the only reason why Oregon State did manage to get closer was, they did recover a surprising onside-kick and scored therefore 2 times in a row and they scored last and the Ducks did run down the clock in the next drive.
That means Oregon gets the ticket to the Championship game, and the Beavers have to wait for their Bowl invitation.
The Ducks will face Utah in a rematch, hoping for a better result than the regular season game.
Oregon State 29 @ #11 Oregon 38 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Scores: 28-12

#10 Oklahoma @ #7 Oklahoma State
This went a bit as expected, except that in the 1st half the teams did score a lot and in the 2nd they did almost play only defense as it seems.
A lot of turnovers and errors were also quite unusual.
Both teams were tied at 24 at the half and OSU did only win this with good defense work, creating turnovers in crucial moments.
At the end did OSU prevail and break the Sooners streak.
OSU was already set for the Championship game and with the win (and because Baylor won their game) will face Baylor again.
During regular season they did win this one.
By that win they did also rise in the AP polls to #5.
Oklahoma now has several things to swallow.
They lost the rivalry, they lost their star HC for some West-Coast-School and they need to find a new HC who can guide Oklahoma further, including the transition to the SEC. Not sure they will actually enjoy the Bowl game they will play.
#10 Oklahoma 33 @ #7 Oklahoma State 37 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Scores: 29-12

Other interesting games:

Thur. Nov 25
#9 Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
Ole Miss did play great, while Mississippi State did not. The Bulldogs did adjust the score in garbage time, but overall did Ole Miss dominate the game and win 31-21.
Great season for Ole Miss, having won 10 games so far. Had not a really bad season, given the fact they did 3 more games than last season and will play in a bowl again.
Jacks interesting games Score: 22-20

Fri. Nov 26
#16 Iowa @ Nebraska
Another game, which does represent the Huskers season perfectly.
Nebraska did lead 14-6 at the half and did extent it to 21-6 shortly afterwards.
But then the Hawkeyes did start a comeback and successful won the game 28-21.
The Hawkeyes will face not red-hot Wolverines in the Conference Championship game, which will be interesting, while Nebraska close the season and I think next season will be either a massive turnaround or a fired coach.
Jacks interesting games Score: 22-21

North Carolina @ #20 NC State
This was a perfect rivalry game, as long as you are not fan of the losing team.
Open 'till the end, a comeback with an onsite-kick.
UNC was then the unlucky team which lost this, while they looked like a clear winner with 2 minutes left to play.
NC State managed to win 34-30, but thanks to the Wake Forest win they did not get the Championship game spot.
Still, a great season for them.
Both teams will wait for a bowl spot.
Jacks interesting games Score: 23-21

Washington State @ Washington
I went with the Huskies, but my gut feeling was, they would lack the motivation.
You can never guess / anticipate motivation (which will be also a factor for bowl games) so, fine.
I gambled on their pride and Wazzu did school them this season winning the game 40-13.
Their interim coach got the interims tag dropped afterward and while the Cougars will wait for the bowl spot, the Huskies can concentrate on their coaching search and X-Mas.
Jacks interesting games Score: 23-22

Sat. Nov 27
#1 Georgia @ Georgia Tech
This was one-sided, Georgia won 45-0. Nothing nice for the Yellow Jackets in transition of their program from longtime option-offense team into a more open passing-team.
GT has now holidays, Georgia plays Alabama for the SEC crown.
Jacks interesting games Score: 24-22

Florida State @ Florida
I was really disappointed by the Noles. Florida did play OK, but the Noles did play bad.
It was really only Floridas bad execution which gave FSU the chance to actually winning the game after trailing for almost the whole game.
When FSU scored last and tried for an onside kick, it looked symptomatic that the trick kick did fail in an epic way so Florida got the ball without any effort and was able to run down the clock.
The Gators can dream on a bowl bid, FSU is finished for the season.
I did expect eventually a coaching change, but so far nothing.
Jacks interesting games Score: 24-23

#3 Alabama @ Auburn
Almost no scoring in the 1st half, the 2nd half did look quite Auburn dominated, but Alabama changed their mind on losing the game on their last drive of the 4th quarter and scored the tying 10-10 Touchdown after marching over the whole field.
In OT both teams did score on the 1st possession (TDs) and on the 2nd (FGs) and then the 1-play-periods did start.
Alabama did score first, Auburn did match and then Auburn missed the next play, was unable to score and Alabama got the score and win, 24-22 in 4 OTs.
MUCH closer than anticipated, which did cost Alabama a spot in the AP poll, but they will face now Georgia in the SEC Championship game and waits for the bowl bid.
I'm curious how they vaccination drama with their HC will turn out, so far, I did not read any official 'yes he did it' news, so at the moment it seems he is in contradiction to the schools demand, and they might need to fire him beginning of December.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-23

Virginia Tech @ Virginia
Up to the half, this was Virginias game, but then the game did lean toward VT.
End of the 3rd did the Hokies tie the game and from that onwards did the Cavaliers somehow not manage to make any scoring drive.
Some decisions on Cavaliers side were strange, sure a 54 yarder is not easy, but a punt is also not really helpful on that position, right?
Sure, also turnovers did not help, still, when Virginia had their last drive and was at VTs 9 yard line, the team was unable to punch it in, hence you deserve to lose the rivalry game, by 5 points. VT won 29-24.
Both teams are bowl eligible, so they wait for the bowl spot.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-24

#14 Wisconsin @ Minnesota
One of the most disappointing wrong picks this weekend.
The Badgers did lose the game in the 3rd quarter by a great interception, 2 scoring drives and holding Wisconsin to a field goal after a long drive.
That did swing the game into their favor and the Gophers did not let Wisconsin back into the game.
Gophers won 23-13, leapfrog the Badgers for 2nd place in the division and got the trophy of cause.
Both teams are bowl eligible.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-25

UL Monroe @ Louisiana
Not the showing of strength of the Cajuns, but they won 21-16.
The Warhawks still had a good season, compared to the past few.
Only con is, they will lose their OC, Rich Rodriguez to FCS Jacksonville State as HC there.
Louisiana will play the championship game next, as perfect SUN BELT team.
ULM finished the season.
Jacks interesting games Score: 26-25

Arizona @ Arizona State
As expected, did Arizona State win this rivalry game, 38-15.
It was announced that the rumor regarding their HC leaving is not true and that he will be at the sideline in 22.
Arizona has a really bad season; I hope they will get better next year.
ASU will play a bowl.
Jacks interesting games Score: 27-25

#23 Clemson @ South Carolina
Clemson did show they got their business together and won this game with a statement 30-0 victory.
Both teams are bowl eligible, Clemson will get a much better one, for sure.
And I'm curious to see, whether Clemson will bounce back next season.
Strong finish by them.
Jacks interesting games Score: 27-26

Kentucky @ Louisville
Here Kentucky did bring it all and won 52-21.
Louisville is far from the strength it had in the past, Kentucky is facing a potential coaching change, since the rise of Kentucky over the seasons did raise some eyebrows on other teams.
Here also both teams will play a bowl, Kentucky a much better one.
Jacks interesting games Score: 28-26

Other funny results?
Western Michigan won against NIU 42-21. Still NIU will play for the MAC Championship.
Texas broke their losing streak by beating Kansas State 22-17. I think the expectations in Texas were different when they did hire their new HC.
CMU won against EMU 31-10 and did by that win the Michigan MAC trophy, which is played out between CMU, WMU and EMU and is granted to the winning team when every team played each other. With a tie the trophy stays with the last season winner. CMU won it by beating all teams and got the trophy from WMU.
Baylor won their crucial game against Texas Tech 27-24 and did by that win a trip to the BIG12-Championship game.
Michigan State won the game against Penn State 30-27. Not the finish the Lions had in mind, I guess. They had high hopes this season,, but lost 5 of their last 7 games. Still bowl eligible.
BYU won against USC 35-31. A quite good season for BYU by those results they had. Now ranked at #12.
LSU did give it all and won against Texas A&M 27-24. Their HC did announce he will skip the bowl for coaching, for whatever reason. He is basically now out of work by that.
Wake Forest won their last game, against Boston College, 41-10 and did by that get the spot in the ACC Championship game.
Quite a stunner was North Texas winning against UTSA 45-23. Big stunner for UTSA, since this will lower their big-bowl-chances. Still they will play for the CUSA Championship game of cause.
Kent State won a thriller against Miami (OH) in OT 48-47. By that is Kent State playing in the MAC Championship game.
Western Kentucky won their game against Marshall 53-21 and got the ticket for the CUSA Championship game by that.
Tulsa won against SMU 34-31. Again, a bad finish for SMU, losing 4 of last 5 games.

So, that was the past weekend. The results did shift a bit the playoff race.
I will go through the list as last week and will give an update.
Georgia - No change. If they win the Championship game against Alabama, they are in at #1 for sure, if they lose, they will likely be #3 or #4. I can't see them dropping out with 1 loss against 1 of the best teams in the country.
Ohio State - Big Change. They are from my point of view out with 2 losses and no championship game coming. Even if Iowa wins against Michigan, I think Michigan would be rated higher, wherever that would be.
Alabama - Small change. If they win the SEC against Georgia, they are in, likely at #2, maybe #3. If they lose, this can become tricky. They are then a 2-loss team, losing only to A&M and Georgia. Is that bad enough to kick them from the TOP 4, or are they still better than a 1-loss Notre Dame, Oklahoma State or even a perfect Cincinnati? Tough call. With the close win against Auburn they are likely graded a little bit weaker than last week.
Cincinnati - Small change. If they win the American, they likely are in at #3 or #4. The thing is Cincinnati has a quite weak schedule, much weaker than many of the other teams. This argument is quite old of cause, but it will come up. If they lose, they are out.
Notre Dame - No change. A quite special case. They have 1 loss (against Cincinnati) and beside that also a quite weak schedule. Biggest win is likely the game against Wisconsin, but those did lose also several games now. And they don't have no championship game, so they will sit and wait in the championship game week. I think they need some chaos to get into the playoffs.
Michigan - Big Change. They won against Ohio State, and in a big way, so they are right now right behind Georgia. If they win the BIG 10 they are in. likely at #2 or #3. If they lose, they are likely out.
Oklahoma State - Big Change. They won the game against Oklahoma and are right now in AP polls behind Cincinnati. But they will play Baylor for the Championship and if they win they can leapfrog them eventually. If they lose, they are out.
Oklahoma - Big Change. They are from my point of view now out.

That leaves Georgia, Alabama, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Michigan and Oklahoma State for the last week as realistic options.
But ... what happens if those highest rated teams of their conference would fall? ALL!
As Said if Georgia loses, they are still in I think. Alabama would be then a lock, which makes 2 teams in.
I think Notre Dame would get a spot then, makes 3 teams and then .... I guess it's anybody’s guess. A 1-loss-Cincinnati team? likely not. Then it HAS to be a 2-loss team. Best bet right now would be either one of the championship losers, Michigan maybe, or actually a 2-loss champions, Baylor maybe.

we will see, maybe.

Which brings us to the Championship game weekend.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE GAMES FOR WEEK 14

Sat. Dec 4
SEC Championship Game
#1 Georgia vs #3 Alabama

It seems this is a game we see every season as rematch. But last year it was Florida getting the boot by Alabama.
This season the circumstances are different to the last meeting of both teams inside the Championship game (2018), since Alabama is now the lower ranked team.
Georgia has played a great season, is unbeaten, and is 6.5-point favorite in this game here.
Alabama did show some weaknesses, even they did lose only once (against A&M).
It did of cause not help them to almost lose against rival Auburn.
If Alabama loses, I think they might drop out of the playoffs as 2-loss-team, but it's not given, since they lost against very good teams.
Hard to judge, but likely the 2-loss amount will count more than the quality of losses.
If they win, they are of cause in, but also Georgia won't drop deep, if they lose just 1 game against the right now at #3 ranked team.
This game will likely decide, which team from other conference, including Cincinnati, gets a chance or not.
I see Georgia as favorite also, but don't underestimate Sabans preparation skills and how he treats his players.
Bulldogs win.

Big Ten Championship Game
#2 Michigan vs #13 Iowa

Michigan did it this season, they won the crucial game against Ohio State and is now #2 in the country.
I don't see them at that place, but fine, they DID win and did only lose on the road against a strong MSU team, so maybe they ARE #2.
They play here Iowa, who had a mixed season, with 2 losses against Purdue and Wisconsin.
They made it to the Championship game, so at the end mission accomplished, but the team is not recognized the way it was recognized at season start.
Thanks to that, the Wolverines are 10.5-point favorite and I will not pick against it.
My feeling is, that Iowa still has a good chance to win, it depends on how the teams will get into the game.
Wolverines win.

Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship
#9 Baylor vs #5 Oklahoma State

Interesting that Baylor dropped a spot despite they won and made it to the Championship game, but OK.
Oklahoma State gains big time by the win over Oklahoma and they might gain another crucial step forward by winning against Baylor.
My guess is, they would need a big win to leapfrog a likely Cincinnati Championship team, but they are right now only 5.5-point favorite.
Means they expect a close game here.
Baylor did outplay the expectations big time and their HC is in big discussion for several openings, so far none did come to reality.
But the season is not over yet and maybe Baylor prolongs him with a big wage also. Money seems to be there right now.
The Cowboys did also surprise me, this is likely the best team Gundy did field since he took over the Cowboys, which is a long time ago now.
I pick the Cowboys as winner, with key plays by the OSU defense to secure the win.
Cowboys win.

American Athletic Conference Championship Game
#21 Houston @ #4 Cincinnati

This is likely the most crucial game for a group of 5 team ever. Win and the chance for a playoff spot is good.
Right now Cincinnati is ranked by the CFP-Committee at #4, with Oklahoma State behind them.
Houston is ranked, but not as high as the Cowboys opponent, so hard to guess what happens if both teams win, but my gut feeling is, Cincinnati could get the spot.
The Bearcats are favored by 10.5 points.
Houston had so far also a very good season, lost only 1 game, at season start against Texas Tech. Not good for the overall resume, but also not bad, since they won all since then.
I don't see Cincinnati as unbeatable, but they DID win all games, including some tougher cookies, so I pick them to win it all.
But I expect a close game.
Bearcats win.

Other interesting games:
Fri. Dec 3
Pac-12 Championship Game
#10 Oregon vs #17 Utah

A rematch of the game 2 weeks ago, where Utah did spank Oregon big time, 38-7, at home.
Now on neutral site this could change a bit, but Utah is 8-1 in conference play this season, while Oregon is 7-2.
I'm not saying Oregon has no chance, but Utah is clearly for me the favorite to win again.
But they are only 3.0 points favorite at Vegas.
Utes win.

Ryan Conference USA Championship
Western Kentucky @ UTSA

The Roadrunners are 11-1 this season but lost last week against North Texas.
For whatever reason is now Western Kentucky favored by 1.0 point, even they played 8-4 so far and lost to UTSA at home 52-46.
Now they play on the road, which does lead me just to one pick.
Roadrunners win.

Sat. Dec 4
ACC Championship Game
#15 Pittsburgh vs #16 Wake Forest

A quite unusually matchup for the Championship game.
Since the Panthers joined the ACC, they did win the division only once before, in 2018 and lost in the Championship game.
Wake Forest did win actually the conference twice, in 1970 and 2006 (with record 11 wins).
This season the have so far 10-2 and a record 7 conference wins.
The same has Pittsburgh, only that they have a 4-game winning streak, while the Demon Deacons have lost 2 of the last 4.
No wonder is Pitt a 3.0-point favorite.
They did not meet during the season and we hopefully see a close game here.
I'm torn between a great Wake Forest team, which did accomplish much more than expected and a Pitt team which played tough football for almost the entire season.
Everything is possible and I'm leaning towards Wake Forest to get this done, maybe more a wish than believe ...
Demon Deacons win.

Mountain West Championship Game
Utah State @ #19 San Diego State

This season the Mountain West did not make that much noise than in the past, some programs did underperform compared to recent years.
Seeing Utah State here is a bit of a surprise, no wonder they are 5.5-point underdog against the almost perfect SDSU.
Both teams did not meet during the season.
I'm not betting against the Aztecs here, they did play too good this season.
But THIS season everything can happen.
Aztecs win.

Sun Belt Conference Championship Game
Appalachian State @ #24 Louisiana

This looks like a done deal with Louisiana playing perfect inside the SUN BELT, but the Mountaineers are 7-1 inside the conference and that loss was mid-October against Louisiana (41-13 on the road). Appalachian State is actually favored by 2.5 points, which is likely a reaction on the past narrow wins of Louisiana against SUN BELT opponents. Will the Cajuns give their last for their leaving HC? Or will they be disappointed by his bolting?
I think the Cajuns will play best they can.
Ragin't Cajuns win.

Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Championship Game
Kent State vs Northern Illinois

I see Kent State a bit favored here, as does Vegas with 2.5 points. But both teams are 6-2 inside the conference and this is as open as it can be.
NIU lost the regular season game against Kent State 47-52, we might see a rematch with same point amount. That loss by NIU last week was bad but might motivate them at the best time to do better.
Still ...
Golden Flashes win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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2021-11-25 07:48

Oh man, this might get ugly.

I did watch the first half between Ohio State and Michigan State and it was almost like a FCS team playing against a very good FBS team.
I have no problem with that, expect that we might get some discussions at the end when the best 4 teams should be selected for the damn 4-team-playoffs.
From my point of view, I have major doubts Cincinnati is in that league as Georgia and Ohio State are right now.
But that's only 2 teams, 2 spots left and that will be the spots with major discussion, I think.

We will see.

Before I start the recaps, some coaching changes did happen, again.

After the quite disappointing game against Samford (FCS) and a loss against Mizzou in OT the university of Florida did pull the trigger and fired Dan Mullen in his 4th season with the team.
His record is overall 34-15, but the decline was significant, which is not tolerated in Gators-Country.
Having 11 wins in 2019, he had just 8 wins in 2020 and now the team is 5-6 with 1 game left to play against rival Florida State. A win there is needed to get a bowl spot.
Mullen had good success in Mississippi State, which landed him the Florida gig, but the expectations are much higher on that campus than with the Bulldogs.
He will get a new job, somewhere, for sure.
Greg Knox, the RB coach and special team coordinator, will serve as interims coach.
He was so far a loyal Mullen assistant, following him from Mississippi to Florida and served him since Mullen got the job with the Bulldogs in 2009. He served as interim HC in a bowl game also when Mullen left for Florida.

Looks like the SEC will look for some major coaching spots now, with LSU and Florida open. And the season is not over. There is still that thing at Auburn burning (Harsins vaccination status).
The remaining coaching spots do look secure, but we might see some of the coaches switching programs to ... get forward, I guess.

Then there is the firing of Troy Tojans HC Chip Lindsey after almost 3 seasons.
He came in as successful coordinator and all he managed to do was keeping the status quo on a low level.
The Trojans team he got had a record in 2018 of 10-3. Their HC then, Neal Brown, got the call from West Virginia and he left.
Lindsey got the gig and managed 5-7 in his 1st season. Everyone said (likely) 'transition season'.
But last year he also won only 5 games. Maybe they said 'COVID'?
This season the team won so far also 5 games and lost now 2 in a row.
It does not really look fair, but those jobs are never fair, right?
The last game of the team will be against Georgia State, led under interims coach Brandon Hall, the DC.
Troy become in the past decade a team, with potentials, so this job could be very interesting for several coaches, coordinators or fired HCs looking for a second chance.

And one hire was announced. UMass did s e l e c t Arizonas DC Don Brown as new HC.
He was the UMass HC between 2004 and 2008 (43-19 record, at that time UMass was a FCS team).
Brown did leave the team for a DC position at Maryland, from coaching position point of view a step up, since it was a jump from HC on FCS level to coordinator on FBS level on a power 5 school, often a stepping stone to become a HC on FBS level.
He stayed on coordinator level so far, serving on several teams, last at Arizona since start of this season.
This looks like a boring hire, like a retirement gig.
Only time will tell whether he is really able to build UMass into a real FBS team.
So far UMass did fail to make the transition in full.

And there are three prolongations announced, which today usually means, for the next few seasons I'm locked, since the buyout is quite high, but if things get right in 2-4 seasons, I'm on the market again, regardless how long the contract time really is.
The truth is, the next contract does always appreciate the results you did make in the past few seasons, so you get a raise in wage and buyout. If you fail to deliver then, you fall from grace fast.
A long contract is in that situation a message saying ‘we believe in you, for now’.

The first prolongation is really a surprising one, since it was expected that the coach would seek for the next bigger power 5 job.
Hugh Freeze of Liberty got himself a deal worth about 4 mio annual until 2028, which is already power 5 level, but Liberty is only an independent not too long in the FBS playing school. How is that possible? Likely some boosters and likely they do also gamble on the payout in a season or so already.
Freeze had compared to the schools position really big success and made the school a national phenomenon.

The next one is not really surprising, only that the coach is now off the list of all openings. James Franklin of Penn State got himself a deal until 2031 with 7.5 mio annually. Those college football coaches wages are going through the roof. He did good at the school, no question about it, so Penn State can be happy with this. Not sure the school would have gotten that deal if the team wouldn't have fallen apart mid-season.

And the third came in on Wednesday, when Mel Tucker did prolong for 10 years worth 95 mio dollars. Sponsored by some boosters, this is on one hand a good news for the school, but my feeling is, this is also a bad news for the sport (all the prolongations in fact) since it looks like the wages are going beyond a reasonable level. And if it becomes more common to sustain the coaches by big boosters, the schools leave their decision making to outsiders. Tucker has now the chance to build something special at MSU, but the next escalation level will come for sure.

After the last weekend, there are not many Championship game spots left to fill up.
A quick look on the conferences again.

The American Athletic
Fixed, it's Houston against Cincinnati. It looks like of Cincinnati win their last regular season game, then they will host the championship game, otherwise Houston will host it.

Atlantic Coast Conference
It's Pittsburgh against some team from the other division, played in the neutral stadium of the Carolina Panthers.
Wake Forest has the best chance to get the spot, playing Boston College and having 1 loss less than all other teams in the mix.
If they lose, and North Carolina State wins (against North Carolina), NC State gets the spot.
If both teams lose, Clemson gets the spot, they play a non-conference game upcoming weekend and have finished their conference schedule with a 6-2 record.

BIG 12 Conference
Here Oklahoma State plays against either Oklahoma or Baylor.
Oklahoma will play Oklahoma State. If they win, they are in and will play OSU again in the Championship game.
If they lose it depends on Baylor. If Baylor wins against Texas Tech, they would be in then, if they lose, then Oklahoma still would make the Championship game.
The game itself is played inside the Dallas Cowboys palace. ;-)

BIG TEN Conference
This is right now quite open. It's played in the stadium of the Indianapolis Colts.
It's the winner between Ohio State and Michigan from the East against the West champ.
The West champ is battle between Wisconsin (playing Minnesota), Iowa (playing Nebraska), Minnesota (playing Wisconsin) and Purdue (playing Indiana).
Right now, Wisconsin has the edge, if they win, they are in.
If they lose and Iowa wins, they are in.
It starts to get interesting if both teams lose.
Then Minnesota and Wisconsin and Iowa have 3 losses, if Purdue also wins, they are also in the mix.
I spare myself the tiebreaker, since this can become quite complicated.
To spice things up, the 2 leading teams do have road games.

Conference USA
It's UTSA hosting the game against the winner of Western Kentucky against Marshall.

Mid-American-Conference
This is played inside the Detroit Lions dome.
It's Northern Illinois against the winner of the Miami (OH) against Kent State.

Mountain West Conference
And the other conference (beside the BIG 10) which is quite open and can't name any participant right now.
The Mountain Division features 3 teams with the same loss amount (2 losses), Utah State, Boise State and Air Force.
If all win, Air Force would make it, if one wins and all other loses, the winner makes it, other than that it depends on who wins and losses.
The West Conference is all San Diego State, with 1 loss so far. If they win (against Boise State) they get the home field and the spot of cause.
Then there is Fresno State, which would get the spot if SDSU loses, and they win.

PAC 12
It's Utah at home team against either a team from Washington or from Oregon.
Oregon plays Oregon State. If the Ducks win, they are in.
If the Ducks lose, it depends on the Washington vs Washington State game.
If Wazzu wins in this scenario, they are in, if they lose, Oregon State get the spot.

SEC
This is fixed, it's Alabama vs Georgia, played in the dome of the Atlanta Falcons.

Sun Belt Conference
This is also fixed, it's Louisiana vs Appalachian State.
The Ragin' Cajuns do have home field advantage.

Some stuff open, with some great games coming.

Let's have a look on the recaps of last weeks games.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE GAMES FOR WEEK 12

Sat. Nov 20
#7 Michigan State @ #4 Ohio State
As written above, this was a pain to watch.
Far from being exciting, more embarrassing seeing the Spartans acting so bad.
Ohio State did not really look THAT great (sure they made some great plays, but not really every play), more did Michigan State look in bad shape and adjusted poorly on special situations and did poorly execute defense plays.
The game was basically over at halftime, with OSU leading 49-0.
The 2nd half was then equal in scoring, but with that score it was for the Buckeyes already garbage time and still MSU was unable to do anything.
Summery is, Ohio State looks like the real deal, while MSU has to find ways to improve further.
#7 Michigan State 7 @ #4 Ohio State 56 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Scores: 26-10

#10 Wake Forest @ Clemson
This actually went as expected.
Clemson took the lead and never gave it back.
Wake Forest never was able to stop Clemsons offense, which may be found their rhythm finally.
But the Demons only have to win against Boston College and get to the big dance.
Clemson can only hope for Wake Forest AND NC State losses to get back into the Championship game.
Funny sidenote, their rivalry game against South Carolina might be tougher than expected.
#10 Wake Forest 27 @ Clemson 48 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Scores: 27-10

Virginia @ #18 Pittsburgh
Until the half, this did look open.
I was worried that Virginia might pull an upset here.
But Pitt did slowly outscore the Cavaliers and won it with a team effort, from my point of view.
They got the division title that way.
Virginia played an up and down season, still they are already bowl eligible and can get an additional win also against rival VT next week.
Virginia 38 @ #18 Pittsburgh 48 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Scores: 28-10

Other interesting games:
#21 Arkansas @ #2 Alabama
Alabama had a lot of trouble here.
Sure the Tide had always the lead and did look fine, but when Arkansas did score again beginning of the fourth then trailing only by 6 points, I guess several Tide fans began to worry.
Alabama was able to answer it and extended the lead to 14 points again, but Arkansas did answer THAT again with a minute left to play.
The Razorbacks tried to kick for some sort of onside kick, but failed and lost therefore, 35-42.
Alabama is now a fix inside the Championship game, while Arkansas can only play for the last game and then a bowl, which is much more than everyone expected from them.
Jacks interesting games Score: 21-18

UAB @ #22 UTSA
UAB did lead at the half, 24-17, and UTSA did play a great 3rd quarter to take the lead.
Down by 3, UAB did score a TD in the 4th to gain the lead back and was able to stop UTSA on a long drive on the UAB 40-yard line.
UTSA did not give up and manage a 3-and-out against UAB and with a minute left to play UTSA started close their own redzone and started moving.
Two big plays later (and 2 not so good plays) they stood at the UAB 10-yard line.
The next run stopped them at the 1-yard line, and they had only a bit of time.
One pass play failed, but then we got that typical 'did you see that!' magic you see often in such games.
QB rolled out, lobbed the pass, a defender tipped the pass, still the receiver in the endzone made the catch and UTSA won, 34-31!
Division title is set.
UAB can hope for a bowl.
Jacks interesting games Score: 22-18

#3 Oregon @ #23 Utah
And here we have one of those games this season which did happen all the time, it seems.
A clear favorite by Vegas and the community, but Oregon did suck big time and lost 7-38!
That was heavy.
Oregon did dream of the playoffs, but was unable to take their division so far.
They can still do it, only to face Utah again.
But right now it might become Washington State or Oregon State instead.
My faith in Oregon is a bit shattered right now.
Jacks interesting games Score: 22-19

Other funny results?
Air Force did beat Nevada in 3 OTs, 41-39. Air Force is as written above still in the division hunt.
FSU won against Boston College 26-23. Florida State needs still one win to get into a bowl.
West Virginia did beat Texas 31-23. That's now 6 losses in a row for Texas. No bowling for them this season. WVU still needs one win for a bowl.
Colorado won against Washington 20-17. Both teams are out of contention for anything. One game left to play and then it's over.
Missouri did beat Florida 24-23 in OT. We will see, whether Florida or FSU will get the bowl ticket the upcoming weekend. For one team it will be over.
UCLA won the battle for LA against USC 62-33. In theory can USC still get a bowl spot, since they play Cal on championship weekend and BYU on Saturday.
South Carolina won against Auburn 21-17. Auburn did really the last few weeks, losing now 3 in a row.
Wyoming did beat Utah State 44-17. A bad result for Utah State, since a win would more or less seal the deal for the division.
Oregon State won against Arizona State 24-10. Rumors are, that Arizona State will make a move on their HC. Not sure they will, but the rumors keeps coming up for weeks now.

Those results did put some dents into the playoff race.
Right now I see only a couple of teams really still in the mix.
Assuming the team mentioned does win their last game, then this is possible.
Georgia - If they win the Championship game against Alabama, they are in at #1 for sure, if they lose, they will likely be #3 or #4. I can't see them dropping out with 1 loss against 1 of the best teams in the country.
Ohio State - If they win the BIG 10, they are in at #2. If they lose against the OTHER participant, I think they would drop out.
Alabama - If they win the SEC against Georgia, they are in, likely at #2. If they lose, this can become tricky. They are then a 2-loss team, losing only to A&M and Georgia. Is that bad enough to kick them from the TOP 4, or are they still better than a 1-loss Notre Dame, Oklahoma State or even a perfect Cincinnati? Tough call.
Cincinnati - If they win the American, they likely are in. As you can see above, eventually 3 spots are already done and there are some sleepers behind pushing. The thing is Cincinnati has a quite weak schedule, much weaker than many of the other teams. This argument is quite old of cause, but it will come up. I think if they stay perfect, they have a big chance now, after Oregon sucked so badly. If they lose, they are out.
Notre Dame - A quite special case. They have 1 loss (against Cincinnati) and beside that also a quite weak schedule. Biggest win is likely the game against Wisconsin, but those did lose also several games now. And they don't have no championship game, so they will sit and wait in the championship game week. I think they need some chaos to get into the playoffs.
Michigan - Remember assumption is they won their last game, which means they did undo Ohio State, which will give them a boost. If they win then the BIG 10 I think they will be in. If they lose, they are out.
Oklahoma State - right now the best bet for the BIG 12, and if they won their last game, they should gain some steam. Add the BIG 12 Championship and they should sneak in. If they lose, they are out.
Oklahoma - Almost the same here as Oklahoma State. They gain steam on their last game, and if they win the BIG 12, they might sneak in, if they lose, they are out.

The rest looks right now chanceless.
So that makes 2 SEC teams, with good chances to be in, 2 BIG 10 teams, with only 1 team having a chance to get in, decide in the upcoming game, which it will be. Same situation for the BIG 12 with 1 team having a then a real chance. We have 1 team from the American and 1 Indy team.
My bet right now would be on Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and actually Cincinnati, all winning out. But this is unlikely to happen, especially this season.

We will see.

The upcoming weekend is traditionally rivalry week. Many (not all) mostly inner states rivalries are battled out in that last regular season gameday.
I will try to cover some. The list is not meant to be complete, so if I did miss one important one (at least for you), I apologies.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE GAMES FOR WEEK 13

Sat. Nov 27
#2 Ohio State @ #5 Michigan
The most anticipated game of the weekend, even though I have to admit I see Ohio State dominating this game almost as they did last week against Michigan State.
The stakes are high, the winner will get a spot in the BIG 10 Championship game and gets a good spot in the CFP race.
The loser is likely out of the playoff race and can concentrate on some bowl game.
The numbers of 'THE GAME' are disturbing for Michigan fans, I guess. 116 meetings so far, Michigan leads by 7 wins (1 win of OSU was vacated), but Ohio State is closing in fast. Ohio State won 8 in a row, which means also that the current Michigan HC did not win this game ever so far.
Last season there was no game, that's why last game was also in Ann Arbor.
Surprisingly for me is Ohio State only an 8.5-point favorite here. I would have given them double digits.
Sure everything can happen, but I just can't see Michigan pulling up a victory here.
For me, the two programs are at least a level apart, far from that equal matchup it was years ago, when both teams were close in national contention and the winner could takes it all. As it was seen last week, being TOP 10 these days doesn't mean you are close in terms of strength and power.
So ....
Buckeyes win.

Oregon State @ #11 Oregon
The so called 'CIVIL WAR' has a huge impact on the PAC 12 standings.
I did explain it a bit higher in the text, so it's clear both teams will try to get things done here.
Oregon is favored by 7.0 points, which is not that much.
Given the history of the programs, this is almost as good as equal. Haha.
With 124 meetings, this is one of the longest series in the country (of all level roughly TOP 10 when this is played, with several teams at 9th place).
Oregon leads by 18 wins, but in the past 20 seasons was Oregon State only able to win this 6 times, including last season.
Since Nike did boost Oregon with money and marketing, Oregon State became the ugly beaver and fell behind in power and influence.
Still, this season, the Beavers are in contention and do have a chance.
I did pick this game over and over in my head and decided to go with the Beavers.
It's a desperate pick, since all signs do point against them.
They did lose the last few road games, the Ducks are likely a bit more talented and come of a road loss, for their last home game and know they have to win.
Still, I pick the underdogs, knowing their chances are slim.
IF the Beavers win they know already before the game whether they play inside the Championship game or not.
I believe that just the icing on the cake, the main motivation is to win against the Ducks.
Beavers win.

#10 Oklahoma @ #7 Oklahoma State
And this is the 2nd most anticipated game of the weekend.
It will elevate the winner likely into playoff stratosphere, the loser is out of the playoff race.
The winner is for sure inside the BIG 12 championship game, the opponent is then already fix, since Baylor plays prior to that.
The logic I did explain in the text above.
We had so far 115 games of 'THE BEDLAM' series in football and Oklahoma leads by a mile and then some. (90 wins do they have so far!)
They are on a 6-game winning streak so far and this season we might see a break in that.
Oklahoma State is favored by 4.0 points, which is not much.
The main plus this season is, their defense do look very good.
On the other hand, does Oklahoma not look THAT strong than in recent years, so this might become an open game.
It helps this is on Stillwater. If not this season, when else?
The two teams might meet again in the Championship game a week later, hopefully no one does think about that, just about how to beat those damn idiots from that other university in red or orange. ;-)
Cowboys win.

Other interesting games:

Thur. Nov 25
#9 Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
The most exciting rivalry game inside the SEC this weekend, thanks to the decline of Auburn and the rise of the Bulldogs.
So far 117 installations of the so called 'EGG BOWL' were played and Ole Miss is leading by 18 win (with several forfeited and vacated wins not included on both sides).
Since roughly the 80s this game is far from one-sided and no team did manage to ride a winning streak longer than 3 games. Last meeting was won by Ole Miss, before than by the Bulldogs.
This season Ole Miss has 2 more wins than Mississippi State, but is a 1.5 point underdog as visiting team.
I have the feeling this will get as open as it can be, and I lean towards the Bulldogs to win this supposed to be high scoring game.
Bulldogs win.

Fri. Nov 26
#16 Iowa @ Nebraska
Just 51 games played in this one, but 'THE HEROES GAME' has a significant impact this season.
Nebraska is looking for ending the season on a high note after several close losses in the past few weeks.
And spoiling the season of Iowa would also be nice, right?
On to they could get a win inside the rivalry, after Iowa did gain some ground in the past few seasons with 6 wins in a row.
Believe it or not, but Iowa, close getting into the BIG10-Championship game, is only a 1.5-point favorite.
I see a good chance that Nebraskas season actually gets that high note and that they break their running losing streaks.
All they need is some more stamina to bring the game home.
Playing at home on the last game of the season is hopefully an additional motivation.
Cornhuskers win.

North Carolina @ #20 NC State
This is one of those more one-sided-rivalries, with the Tar Heels winning 68 out of 110 games played so far.
But in the past seasons, say 20 years, it's more or less equal, with UNC winning the past 2 games.
NC State is this season quite hot, and they still have the chance to get into the ACC Championship game. UNC doesn't have that chance.
As home team, the Wolfpack is favored by 6.0 points.
I think NC State can actually even dominate this game (which unfortunately not having any fancy name) and give the Tar Heels fans something to think about.
UNC had some issues this season, playing on the road and under such condition are not the best circumstances for a rivalry game.
Wolfpack win.

Washington State @ Washington
The so called 'APPLE CUP' is not that hot as it was in recent years, since both teams got some downgrading.
Both teams are under interim HC watch.
In 112 meetings, the Huskies won 74 games, with Washington driving a 7 game winning streak.
Last season not meeting.
Washington State is favored as guest team by 1.0 point, but won so far 2 more games than Washington.
It looks like both teams are quite close in terms of strength.
Wazzu can add as motivation that they need a win, if they want to keep the dream of a championship participation.
The Huskies do only have their last season game, at home.
Tough cookie.
I go with the home team, even I think Wazzu deserves more a win.
Huskies win.

Sat. Nov 27
#1 Georgia @ Georgia Tech
I make this quick here. The 'CLEAN, OLD FASHIONED HATE' is 114 games old and Georgia leads by 27 wins, but drives a 3-game-winning-streak. Not much, but the last loss of Georgia was in Kirby Smarts 1st season at the Bulldogs and since then he has not lost the game.
Last season no game, this season Georgia is a visiting team a, ATTENTION, 35.0-points-favorite.
Bulldogs win.

Florida State @ Florida
This game was for some time a game between likely national champions.
But since a few seasons, this is more interesting only for the school fans, than for the nation.
There were 64 meetings so far, Florida leads by 10 games, and won the past 2 games.
Both programs do have serious issues to solve, Florida did fire their HC, FSU HC seems to be on a hot seat, but so far the programs sticks with the 2nd year coach.
Both teams need an additional win for a bowl spot, only one will get it.
My feeling is, FSU did get their things better solved in the past few games, than Florida, which defense did look awful.
Still the Gators are favored by 2.5 points as home team.
I expect an ugly game, but I think FSU might outscore the Gators by more than a TD.
Seminoles win.

#3 Alabama @ Auburn
The so called 'IRON BOWL' is one of the most anticipated rivalry game, every season.
Usually, the game is under the TOP 2 rivalries nationwide, only challenged by 'THE GAME' between Ohio State and Michigan.
This season the Iron Bowl is nationally not that interesting, since Auburn did do their best to suck and limit their options.
They could have been in the position to win and get the spot in the championship game, but they lost several games in a row and are do right now to be lucky to have already 6 wins, since in this game here, I expect them to lose again.
Alabama is in this 86th meeting favored by 19.5 points.
They lead the season by 10 wins, but won only last season.
A Tigers win would be really a big hit, sure Tigers fans would talk about that for year.
But I think ...
Crimson Tide win.

Virginia Tech @ Virginia
The winner gets 'THE COMMONWEALTH CUP' and in 102 meetings VT leads the series by 21 wins.
The Hokies won also last season and did dominate in the past 20 seasons with Virginia only winning 2 games in that time.
This season the game is in Charlottesville and the Cavaliers do have a good chance to win here.
VT is under interims coaching and had a bad season.
They need an additional win to get a bowl spot, but the Cavaliers are 7.0 points favorite to win at home.
I think they will win even higher.
Cavaliers win.

#14 Wisconsin @ Minnesota
It's time to play for the 'PAUL BUNYAN'S AXE' again and the winner might get a spot in the BIG 10 championship game.
A Wisconsin win would mean they are in, a Minnesota win makes it open, it depends on Iowas game and Purdues game.
The Badgers are favored by 7.0-points.
The rivalry is played for 130 games so far, one of the longest of all time, the longest on FBS-level.
Wisconsin leads by 2 wins, did win the past 2 games.
My feeling is, that Wisconsin is more suited to win this, but that with a rivalry you never know.
Both teams did not earn by undoubted trust, but 6 out of 10 I see Wisconsin ahead.
Badgers win.

UL Monroe @ Louisiana
A quite small rivalry, but interesting this season.
The 'BATTLE ON THE BAYOU' gives the winner the 'Wooden Boot' and is played since 56 meetings.
Louisiana is leading by 5, and won the past 3.
On paper this is a one-sided thing, Louisiana is way ahead in wins this season, will play for the SUN BELT.
But ULM has a new coaching team and they did turn the team around already quite good, but lost the last 4 games.
Louisiana is favored by 21.5 points, so it would be crazy to pick ULM.
Still something might happen.
Ragin' Cajuns win.

Arizona @ Arizona State
The so called 'DUAL IN TH DESERT' was played so far 94 times.
Arizona lead by 5 wins, but ASU won the past 3 meetings.
This season, ASU is also favored to win this, since the Wildcats are really bad this season (again).
They have a new HC, so this might chance in upcoming seasons, but so far they won only 1 game.
Played at home of the Sun Devils ASU is a 20.0-point favorite, so a Wildcats win would be a surprise.
Sun Devils win.

#23 Clemson @ South Carolina
Clemson leads the series of 117 games with 71 wins and 6 wins in a row.
Last seasons game was canceled, so the 117 annual series was broken.
This season South Carolina has at least a chance to win.
Clemson is weaker than in recent years and South Carolina made good progress under his new HC.
The game itself is not important, since it's a non-conference game and both teams are bowl eligible and are not close becoming playoff bound, but the 'PALMETTO BOWL' is more about bragging' rights and proud.
Clemson is favored by 11.5 points.
I'm leaning towards the Gamecocks as home team, but with Clemsons late success might destroy my pick.
Gamecocks win.

Kentucky @ Louisville
The 'GOVERNOR'S CUP' is played for 53 meetings so far and Kentucky leads by 20 wins.
But Louisville won last year.
This season it's Kentucky, who looks quite hot again and Louisville is still searching for their strength and will to fight.
Still, Louisville as home team is favored by 3.0 points.
This might become a game of will, but I believe more in the Wildcats than in the Cardinals.
The Wildcats did play good games, but lost during the season some track, but came back and win the last 2.
Louisville had ups and downs, but did consequently lose against stronger teams.
Wildcats win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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