2023-11-29 09:44

Wow, a wild rivalry week!

I will start with the recaps, since some stuff would spoil the results.


Fri. Nov 24
#16 Oregon State @ #6 Oregon
Well, this game was likely one of the more disappointing games of the week.
I mean, rivalry, 2 ranked teams, you would expect a closer game, right?
And then Oregon did start with 2 scores, the Beavers scored once and then only the Ducks did score a bit more.
No fire, no comeback attempt, at least not notable.
The Ducks won the game, clearly, they wanted the spot in the PAC-12 Championship game.
The Beavers have lost the game, and later actually also their HC, who, despite the Beavers had a much better season last year than this year, did elevate the Beavers to top level and who will now leave the team after 6 seasons to become the new HC of the Michigan State Spartans. More to that later.
#16 Oregon State 7 @ #6 Oregon 31 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 28-12

Sat. Nov 25
#2 Ohio State @ #3 Michigan
This on the hand, did fulfil the hype, I think.
Michigan without the HC, but at home, Ohio State lost twice in a row in the past 2 years and have it in their hands to change that.
The price, beside the win, the BIG 10 Championship game, a much better position in the playoff ranks and the bragging rights for at least a year.
It started very defense driven, a lot of 3-and-outs, then an OSU INT, which did give Michigan their 1st TD after a few plays later.
That did start some scoring drives, which did put at halftime Michigan on top 14:10, because the Buckeyes did miss a field goal with time running out.
Then in the 3rd quarter did Michigan get a bit more on their side, which did put Ohio State into a bit of a bad position.
Behind 7 points they did not get a drive going, Michigan did hit a field goal.
Then Ohio State DID score a TD and Michigan did hit another field goal.
Only 1 minute left, down by 6, Ohio State got the ball back. Perfect story start for a comeback, but the Buckeyes got into Michigans half and did throw a pick, which gave the Wolverines the chance to run the clock down.
Michigan did win, again.
They will play Iowa for the BIG 10 crown and have now a big push into the playoffs.
Ohio State can dream of some chaos results in the championship games so they might slip into the playoffs, regardless they did not even win a division.
#2 Ohio State 24 @ #3 Michigan 30 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 28-13

San José State @ UNLV
Oh man, if I would be San Jose fan, I would be mad.
Imagine you have the Championship game spot on the line in this game here.
Imagine you do start the game fast, you lead at halftime 20:10, you extend the lead in the 3rd and hold off the comeback try in the 4th.
Imagine you win!
Imagine - spoiler alert - Boise State does also win and you end up in a 3-team-tie and 4 COMPUTER-RANLINGS do decide which 2 of the 3 teams are selected to play for the MWC-Championship game and those do rank your team as 3rd.
Season over, except the bowl game, because 4 computers find your results worse than those of the 2 others, while you did BEAT one of the participants (but has a better overall record) and the other has the same record as your team, but you did not play each other.
San José State 37 @ UNLV 31 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 28-14

And some other interesting games (monster XXL):

Thur. Nov 23
#12 Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
The 1st rivalry game of that week and for me a surprising low scoring, and quite close, game.
Ole Miss won 17:7 and will play in a BIG bowl, while the Bulldogs missed out on a bowl eligibility.
Jacks interesting games Score: 27-15

Fri. Nov 24
UTSA @ #23 Tulane
Tulane had at home a big 2nd quarter, which led to a 29:16 win for the Green Wave.
They will play for the AAC-Championship, while UTSA did drop out and waits for the bowl game.
Jacks interesting games Score: 28-15

Air Force @ Boise State
This is the 2nd game of the Mountain West, which did lead to the strange selection process.
Air Force did look like the clear loser early, did try a comeback in the 3rd quarter, but lost stream in the 4th and also the game.
Boise won 27:19.
A quite strange situation for Boise anyway this season, firing the HC after a win, winning then the last 2 games, including this here to end up in the Championship game on interim basis.
A bitter end for Air Force, who did lead for a long time the MWC, but lost now 4 in a row.
They will play in a bowl, but this could have gone better.
Jacks interesting games Score: 29-15

Sat. Nov 25
Kentucky @ #10 Louisville
One of those game, which did fit the rivalry hype.
The 1st half was quite slow and low scoring, with Louisville leading 10:7 and I think they did really play a bit better than Kentucky.
The 3rd quarter then started with the Cardinals scoring twice in a row, which looked like they would pull away, but Kentucky came back.
The Wildcats did score also twice in a row afterwards and tied the game starting the 4th with a field goal, after Louisville did commit a critical fumble.
Then it became wild, Cardinals fumbled again, Kentucky TD as result, Louisville stopped, but Wildcats intercepted.
Louisville tied the game but were unable to prevent another Wildcats TD and the last Cards INT did seal the deal with Kentucky winning 38:31 for the 5th time in a row.
The game has no consequences on the Louisvilles ACC-Championship spot, only the playoff ranking will drop heavily.
Jacks interesting games Score: 29-16

UL Monroe @ Louisiana
Louisiana had a monster 2nd quarter and overall, a big game against their rival to win this 52:21.
The Cajuns did get bowl eligible by that, while ULM did fire their HC afterwards to end the season.
Jacks interesting games Score: 30-16

#8 Alabama @ Auburn
The game with the most stunning ending of the whole weekend.
Nobody did expect the Tigers to play on the level of the Crimson Tide, but they did.
Alabama did lead 17:14 at the half and trailed 20:21 at the end of the 3rd quarter, after Bama did miss a field goal try.
Then ... did Auburn score a field goal to lead 24:20 and Alabama got nothing, Auburn also and Bama again nothing, but recovered a fumble on the punt return with 4 mins to play.
It came down to 4th and 1 on the Auburn 10, which was converted to a new set of down. Less than 2 mins to play.
A bad snap did cause a loss of 18 yards, a penalty did shift the ball even more back and lost them a down.
Now on 4th and goal on the 31-yard line the ball was passed into the deepest left corner of the endzone and CAUGHT!
Auburn had 2 plays left but was unable to anything and lost the Iron Bowl with that improbable play at home.
Alabama can still dream on a playoff seat and will play Georgia for the SEC next.
Auburn will play in a bowl, but who cares after that loss?
Jacks interesting games Score: 31-16

#17 Arizona @ Arizona State
When this game was played, it was clear that the outsider chance for Arizona to get into the PAC-12 Championship game was already gone, since Oregon had won their game.
But still there was this thing on winning against the hated rival, so let's play.
Arizona did play and won 59:23, extended the winning streak to 2 games.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-16

Wisconsin @ Minnesota
Here I had picked the home team, but they played only on 1st half, afterward Wisconsin did dominate and got the Axe back after 2 years with a 28:14 win.
By that did Minnesota not only miss to keep the Axe, but they did also miss the bowl eligibility status. They might still get into a bowl thanks to too few teams eligible and they having the best Academic Progress Rate.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-17

Virginia Tech @ Virginia
Well, it looks like the Cavaliers did leave it all on the field against Duke and hand nothing left against the hated rival Virginia Tech.
A bowl spot in the line did the Hokies play like hell and won 55:17.
Now the Hokies can plan for a bowl, for Virginia the season is over.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-18

James Madison @ Coastal Carolina
James Madison did what they did best this season, playing tough and winning.
They won in a landslide win 56:14, won the division, are not allowed to play for the Championship, but might sneak into a bowl, since too few teams did qualify for the massive amount of bowl spots and the Dukes are basically good enough and might get into as hole-plugger, while they were officially denied to play in a bowl for this season.
That's like Germany bureaucracy, maybe we have send some of those guy to the NCAA in the past.
By that loss did CCU drop too deep, since App State won their game. No Championship game for them, but also a bowl spot.
Jacks interesting games Score: 33-18

Washington State @ #4 Washington
Much closer than expected did Washington win this game against the Cougars by a last second field goal 24:21.
A quite chaotic game with lots of missed field goals, turnovers and surprised.
Washington does now go undefeated into the PAC-12 Championship game against Oregon, while Washington State did by losing end their season, since they would have needed that win to play in a bowl.
Jacks interesting games Score: 34-18

#5 Florida State @ Florida
Also here, Florida did not used their chances to get into a bowl.
I mean, at home, bowl game on the line, hated rival, who lost their starting QB. How many chances do you need?
Looks like you need more, the Seminoles won 24:15 with a strong 4th quarter, which did shift the game to their favor.
FSU will play Louisville for the ACC Championship next week; Florida can drown in alligator tears for the whole off-season.
Jacks interesting games Score: 35-18

#1 Georgia @ Georgia Tech
The Bulldogs did lead 31:13, when the 4th quarter started.
Somehow did GT then score a Field Goal and later a TD, while defending Georgia to no-scoring.
Unfortune for GT did they then NOT stop the Bulldogs from getting 2 more 1st downs, which led to the end of the game.
Georgia won undefeated 31:23 and will play Alabama for the SEC Championship next weekend.
Georgia Tech was already bowl eligible, so they can prepare for that.
Jacks interesting games Score: 36-18

#24 Clemson @ South Carolina
Oh man, what a bad game, at least from my point of view.
The 1st quarter was OK, Clemson did lead 10:7, just the how-to was already a good sign for Gamecocks fans that this day will be a pool of shit.
On 2nd play did Clemson return a fumble for a score. Bam.
Next play, after the kickoff, a South Carolina INT.
Clemson was too dumb to do something with it, but with 2 drives ending that way, you get nervous as Gamecocks fan, right?
Just to spoil the fun did then South Carolina score a TD and Clemson did hit that field goal for those 10:7 lead.
After that ... punt, Clemson FG, punt, punt, punt .... When Clemson did throw an INT, the chance was there for the Gamecocks to turn things around, but deep in their own half, it meant punt and another punt and while you were waiting, punt.
Clemson did hit another FG and won the game finally 16:7, but man ...
At home, bowl game on the line, hated rival and SC did suck, big time.
I expected a Clemson win, so no harm for me, but with THAT chances ... shame on you.
Jacks interesting games Score: 37-18

North Carolina @ #22 NC State
UNC needed almost 1 half to get on the scoreboard, but trailed already 7:23, at the half 7:26.
The 2nd half was equal, 13:13, so NC State did win the rivalry 39:20 and extended the winning-streak to 3.
Both teams will go to a bowl.
Jacks interesting games Score: 38-18

And beside that, more results:
Eastern Michigan did win against Buffalo 24:11 to get to a bowl. Buffalos season is over.
Texas–Texas Tech with the Battle for The Chancellor's Spurs did end with a big win for Texas, 57:7. Texas did by that get the ticket for the BIG-12 Championship game.
The Battle Line Rivalry between Arkansas and Missouri did end with a clear win by Missouri 48:14. This has no big consequences, and the HC of Arkansas did also keep his job, which was announced prior the game.
The Land Grant Trophy played between Michigan State–Penn State was granted Penn State, winning 42:0. Michigan State did already find their new HC to bring out the trash in Oregon States (now former) HC.
In THE HEROS GAME between Iowa and Nebraska did both team their best to NOT score. Iowa did kick the game winning field goal with time running out to win 13:10. By that Nebraska did miss on a bowl spot and Iowas record does look more impressive than their results do suggest.
Oklahoma knew they need to win to get into the BIG-12-Championship game and they did against TCU, 69:45. A big dive by the Horned Frogs against ast season big success. TCU did miss by that also a bowl game spot. Oklahoma got their win, but thanks to the Cowboys, who also won their game, NO championship game spot for the Sooners.
Oklahoma State won against BYU 40:34 in 2OT. BYU had tied the game with a field goal to send it to OT, both teams did score a TD in the 1st OT and then did the Cowboys score in again in the 2nd OT and forced a lost fumble on the BYU drive to win the game and a spot in the Championship game. BYU missed the chance on a bowl spot with that loss.
Utah State won against New Mexico, 44:41 in 2OT. By that win did Utah State get a bowl spot, whole New Mexicos season is over, and their HC needs a new job after 4 seasons.
The LSU–Texas A&M football rivalry game was quite open, until LSU did hit 2nd gear and went on to win the game with a big 4th quarter, 42:30. A&M has found their next HC already, hired Dukes HC away, but normally that means he will take over AFTER the bowl game.
Notre Dame did destroy Stanford for the Legend trophy, 56:23. No big deal for both teams, since the Irish were already bowl bound and Stanford had no chance anyway. So, season over for Stanford.
The Farmageddon between Iowa State and Kansas State did end with a close 42:35 win. Both teams will play in a bowl.
Tennessee did beat Vanderbilt in their rivalry game, 48:24. Vanderbilt really with a season to forget, this year.
The Old Oaken Bucket between Purdue and Indiana was decided by a huge Purdue comeback in the 4th quarter to seal the Purdue win, 35:31. For both teams the season is now over, Indiana did clear the house already and fired their HC and did already settle the compensation money (which is roughly 5 mio less than expected, still at 15 million , pffffff).
Another meaningless game, except for pride and honor, between UConn and UMass. UConn won the rivalry game, 31:18, which ends the season for both teams.
UCF did win against Houston, 27:13, which did seal the fate of the Cougars HC. He was fired after the game.
SMU was able to win their game against Navy, 59:14. That did earn the Mustangs a spot in the AAC-Championship game, did cost them their starting QB and brought Navy into some sort of strange situation, since they lack the 6th win for a bowl spot, COULD win against Army in 2 weeks, but at that point the bowl spots are already set! Not sure what will happen now.
Northern Illinois got their 6th win of the season against Kent State, 37:27. They will play in a bowl that way.
The Red Bird Rivalry between Miami (OH) and Ball State ended with a close win by Miami, 17:15. Miami will play for the MAC-Championship next week.
Rice won against Florida Atlantic, 24:21 to get bowl eligible. FAUs season is over.
Under interims coaching did Syracuse win their last game against Wake Forest, 35:31 and will play in a bowl.
Old Dominion did beat Georgia State, 25:24 for a bowl bid. Georgia State did lose 5 games in a row, but were bowl eligible already.
The Rumble in the Rockies between Utah and Colorado ended with the 6th loss by the Buffalos in a row, losing 17:23. After starting fast and string did Colorado lose those games most of the time within a score, ending their interesting season. Utah will of course play in a bowl.
The Illinois–Northwestern-game with the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk did end with a Northwestern win, 45:43. Illinois misses by that loss a bowl spot.
The Appalachian State–Georgia Southern rivalry game did decide the fate of the Sun Belt Championship participation for the Mountaineers. They won 55:27 and by that will play Troy for the Championship. It did turn out that win against JMU last week did give them the most deciding push.
Cal did win The Bear Bowl between California and UCLA, 33:7. By that did Cal reach the 6th win of the season for a bowl spot and UCLA was already eligible, but had now lost 3 out of the 4 last games.
On his last game with their retiring HC did San Diego State win against Fresno State for the Oil Can, 33:18. Season over for the Aztecs, Bulldogs will play in a bowl.
And last game, Hawaii did win against Colorado State, 27:24. Hawaii did play a bit better than last year, but I'm not sure the progress is good and fast enough.

That's that.
By those results, the amount of bowl eligible teams are set, only Army-Navy would give the winner a 6th win, but both team have problems with that late game.
As said, Navy could get the 6th win, but it's way too late after the bowl spots are filled.
And Army is in the same situation, but has on top 2 FCS games this season, which they won, so technically they would need more than the win against Navy to be even eligible.
But there are too few teams for all the bowls, even with Minnesota, and it's unclear, how this is solved.
Right now, it seems James Madison and Jacksonville State, both having enough wins to play in a bowl, but not allowed because of the FCS transition, might get a waiver and a spot to fill the open matchup spots.

The Championship game matchups are also set, the last one was the Mountain West participants, who had to wait for the computers to spit out their rankings and then the 2 teams with the highest average of those rankings were taken, UNLV and Boise State.

Now let's get quickly through the coaches changes already known so far.

As already mentioned, Oregon State will need a new HC, since their HC of the past 6 seasons, Jonathan Smith, was hired by Michigan State to become their new HC.
Smith has lifted the program from a clear losing team to a ranked contender inside the PAC-12. Especially in his past 3 seasons the program prospered and went from 7 wins to 10 and has right now 8 wins. A few days later came in the message that the program did already find their new HC, Trent Bray, the DC of the Beavers since 2 seasons, is named the new HC. It's his 1st job as HC.
Michigan State on the other hand can now look into a new period of coaching, after the period with Mel Tucker was financially a disaster and regarding public relation also a mess. I guess nobody wants a HC who ... well let's say his sexual behavior did not match the programs expectations.

Another program, which needs a new HC, since the current one was hired away, is Duke. Mike Elko was only 2 seasons at Duke, but did lift the program from 3 wins with his predecessor to 9 wins in his 1st season and so far 7 wins this season. He made the team instantly a winner and that's likely the reason Texas A&M did hire him as replacement for Jimbo Fisher.
For Duke that's quite sad news, but I think the program is one of those, where you either have a winner as HC, for a short period until he leaves for more money and better chances to win it all, or you have that other guy, most of the time a HC who had already several jobs and who just wants to stay until retirement. The problem with the latter type is, most of those are no winners. Texas A&M does get a guy, who wants to win and who had so far the talent to get the most out of the roster. It will be interesting to see with A&M, since the talent level is high, so eventually the already loaded division will get even more loaded.

Mississippi State has found their guy, hiring Jeff Lebby, the so far OC of Oklahoma the last 2 seasons. Lebby will take over a team in transition. They lost their HC last year by a heart attack, got that interims HC promoted to real HC, only to lose that guy after 1 season. The last HC had before firing a 4-6 record. It's the 1st gig as HC for the coach, so hard to tell, he will do it good or bad. Most think, it will be challenging, but that does not mean, he will fail.

Syracuse has already found their next guy, selecting Fran Brown, the DB-coach of Georgia. Brown has served as DB coach for several schools in the past, for some he had the title as Assistant-HC on top. He is known as recruiter at the east coast and is well regarded as such. It's his 1st gig as HC.

Now, the fired guys. Starting with New Mexico, Danny Gonzales. He had 4 seasons with the team, and his best record was this season with 4 wins. That's of course not the level the programs wants to have. But to be fair, his predecessor was not much better did produce only 2 winning seasons in 8 years and had max 3 wins in the last 3 seasons. It will be interesting to see, who will be the next guy, but the problems might be deeper than just better coaching.

Then there is Tom Allen, now former HC of Indiana. He had 7 full seasons with the team, lifted the team from 5 wins in his 1st 2 seasons to a whooping 8 wins in 2019, which was the 1st time for the school since 1993 and brought him a raise and an extension. Well, that did bite the school this season. Because the team dropped to 6 in 2020 (corona season), but then to 2, 4 and this season 3 wins. Now the school did hit the eject button, which did cost them 15 million compensation, instead of estimated 20 million. Wohoooo! Well, I guess, that's the business now.
Indiana will look for a new guy, but that 'Basketball' university will not look too pretty for the top prospects.

Houston had enough of the Dana Holgorsen experiment and did fire him, which likely did also cost the school a lot of money. He was hired away from West Virginia 2019 and at 1st it did look like an instant fail, since the production did drop to 4 and 3 wins. But in 2021 the team did win 12 games and played for the AAC Championship, but lost to Cincinnati. in 2022 did the team drop to 8 wins and it was expected the team would at least challenge the teams in the new conference a bit more, but 4 wins in total and only 2 BIG-12 wins were just not enough. The school has the ambition to conquer the BIG-12 and obviously the team is not ready for that, so they will look for a new guy.

The next on the chop block is Dana Dimmel, the former HC of UTEP. Dimmel took over a team in decline, made it worse 1st (1, 1 and 3 wins) but got the team to a bowl in his 4th season, which they lost, but still 7 wins. Last year the team did drop to 5 and this season to 3, which was the end of the line. UTEP is traditionally not a winning team, their overall record is negative, the program won a conference only twice in 100+ seasons and won last time in bowl in the 60s. Not sure the administration is looking for, but I guess they just wish to find that guy who lift the team to a bowl regularly. The problem with that is, such a guy would be hired away fast, and then they can look for the next unicorn.

And the next school with failed ambitions, Louisiana-Monroe, which did fire their HC after 3 seasons. Terry Bowden is one of those coaches who goes where they are wanted, not a winner, just decent, but with no ambition to win the national championship. He likely had that dream, when he was coaching Auburn in the 90s, but since then, just coaching. He went to Akron and did lift that losing team to 2 bowl in his 7 seasons, but that program wanted more and has since then won in 4 seasons just 1 more game (total 5 with 2 coaches) than Bowden won in his last season there (4). I'm telling this, to get a view on Bowden. Now let's face ULM. The best season the program had in a long time was 2012 with 8 wins. Then it did decline again. The coach prior Bowden had his best season 2018 with 6 wins. When Bowden took over the team had a season before (2020, corona season) ZERO wins. Bowden got 4, 4 and 2. Sure, that's not fun, and maybe it was time to change something, but this program will likely never get a constant winning coach. So, the betting is on, the NEXT coach might get worse.

And the firing of the so far last guy on the list is really sad, at least I think it is. Rick Stockstill was fired after 18 seasons with Middle Tennessee. He has won the Sun Belt in 2006 (his 1st season), went to the CUSA Championship game in 2018 (but lost) and went to a bow in 10 times of the 18 seasons and won 4 (The program did win 5 bowls, ever). His record with MTSU is 113–111. Just my point of view, but such a coach you do NOT fire. You find a solution fitting all interests, but you do not fire him. Well, good luck with the next guy, finding a better one.

With the conference championship games set, the Bubblewatch is over.
I can proceed right to the previews of the Championship Games ....
But before that the playoff rankings prior the Championship games were names.
Here the TOP 10:

College Football Playoff Rankings

#1Georgia12-0Will play #8 Alabama in the SEC Championship game.
#2Michigan12-0Will play #16 Iowa in the BIG10 Championship game.
#3Washington12-0Will play #5 Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship game.
#4Florida State12-0Will play #14 Louisville in the ACC Championship game.
#5Oregon11-1Will play #3 Washington in the PAC-12 Championship game.
#6Ohio State11-1No game.
#7Texas11-1Will play #18 Oklahoma State in the BIG 12 Championship game.
#8Alabama11-1Will play #1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
#9Missouri10-2No game.
#10Penn State10-2No game.

Now, we don't know how the committee will react for sure, but some stuff can be approximated from the past seasons.
First, if the top 4 teams do all win, they are in. No team, regardless the results in details, would drop a place or more by winning.
The fun starts, if one to four teams in the list do lose.
It actually starts already with the SEC Championship game. If Alabama wins, you should assume that the SEC Champ would jump right to te top 4, but if all others do win (and the PAC-12 game is even irrelevant, since either Oregon or Washington would be top 4 then) and Texas wins, Alabama, who lost against Texas during the season, could be outside the playoffs.
If Iowa wins, the real fun starts, since then the BIG10-Champ would not gain enough steam to jump into the playoffs Michigan would drop a few places and eventually Ohio State will get into the mix.
Same for a Louisville win, the ACC would be dead, and Ohio State would be in, maybe.
Texas is also important; they need some upset(s) and of course they need to win their game. Alabama as SEC champ and all others win? Texas has good chances, since that Alabama win will be much more worth in Texas schedule. A Louisville-upset? Texas will likely jump as BIG-12 Champ Ohio State. Likely, as BIG-12 Champ, Texas would be in line to get the next open seat, if one gets open by the ACC, the BIG10 or SEC.
And Ohio State at sixth place seems to be the only No-game-team, with a realistic chance to jump into the playoffs. Missouri and Penn State have no chance.
And the 'other' Championship participants did lose too often to make an impact on the final TOP 4 standings.

With that in mind ....


Fri. Dec 2
Pac-12 Football Championship Game
#5 Oregon vs #3 Washington

This is played in Las Vegas, so neutral site.
The matchup was expected since start of the season, but of course it could have gone completely different.
Both teams have met during the season once, mid-October in Seattle, where Washington did beat the Ducks 36:33.
That loss was the only one for Oregon, which ended the season with a 11-1 record, while Washington did stay undefeated at 12-0.
Both teams are led by 2-years-Headcoaches facing the situation of a Championship game on FBS-level for the 1st time.
Surpringly, at least for me, is Oregon the Vegas favorite by 9.5 points.
I could understand a few points, but that betting line means that Washington has almost no chance, which from my point of view is not true.
It will come down to the QB play and the defense of Washington.
I think Oregon has great tools to drive up the score, but if that Washington defense can stop the Ducks often enough and the Washington QB can do his thing, then is Oregon playing catchup the whole day.
Overall, I have problems with disregarding the Huskies, but the truth is, they were not as dominant as they were in the summer.
Will they lose?
I don't know.
But I think both teams are absolutely able to win here, it will depend on their defenses and who will make big plays.
I do believe in Washington, so ...
Huskies win.

Sat. Dec 2
SEC Championship Game
#1 Georgia vs #8 Alabama

This game is played on the home field of the Atlanta Falcons, neutral site.
UGA is favored by 6.0 points here, having not lost a single game since .... December 4th, 2021 in the SEC Championship game, later then avenged by winning the National Championship game, against Alabama. That's a 29-game winning streak since that loss. 12-0 of course this season.
Georgia did not look like they would three-peat their titles at the start of the season.
They won, but not really in a convincing way against mid-level teams.
But they did become better and are now in good shape.
Alabama on the other hand is 11-1 this season and that 1 loss might hurt them dealy later, as I did explain prior the previews.
They lost to Texas on 2nd gameday, at home, but did since them defend off all challenges, including that improbable win against Auburn last weekend.
I lean towards Georgia, since they did not look that valuable in the past few weeks, but I respect Saban and his team.
I expect a close match, can only pick one team, so ...
Bulldogs win.

Big Ten Football Championship Game
#2 Michigan vs #16 Iowa

Played in the Indianapolis Colts home dome, this is on neutral site.
The game itself is the most lopsided Championship game of all games this season, at least according to the betting line.
Michigan is favored ... take a deep breath ... by 23.5 points!
Some cupcake games had better lines then this between the 2 division winners.
LAST year, Michigan was favored by 16.5 points against Purdue ...
Let's make this short.
Iowa has a good defense, as it seems, since they did allow not so many points, but also a bad, bad, bad offense.
So any scoring by Michigan will be the doom of Iowa.
Iowa can only win, of they shut down Michigan, totally, and the Iowa defense carries the ball into the endzone.
Not gonna happen.
Wolverines win.

Other interesting games:

Fri. Dec 1
Conference USA Football Championship Game
New Mexico State @ #24 Liberty

Live did look like shit for the New Mexico State not long ago.
They were more or less forced to become an independent college in football and had bad seasons, 1 win, 2 wins, you name it.
Then Jerry Kill was hired, and he did transform the team to a winner within 1 season, the team got invited to join the CUSA and this season they can play for the Championship, the 1st season inside the CUSA and the 2nd season with Kill, with a 10-3 record.
Unfortune is, that Liberty did also join the CUSA and did respond to the HC change end of last season with a smile and ended the regular season perfect, 12-0.
The Aggies did lose only once inside the conference, against Liberty on the road in September by 2 scores.
The major question is now whether some stuff did change over the season that it's to expect a different outcome.
Well, at least the betting industry sees Liberty ahead, by 10.0 points.
I think New Mexico State did mature a bit better over the season, but as visiting team, I think they will have a hard time to win here, on the home field of Liberty.
I hope for a very close game, would not be surprised, if NMSU would pull an upset here, but overall I can't ignore the dominance of the Flames througout the season.
Flames win.

Sat. Dec 2
Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
#18 Oklahoma State vs #7 Texas

Played in the home of the Dallas Cowboys, this is Texas chance to go out of the BIG 12 with a BANG.
The Longhorns, 11-1 (only loss to Oklahoma) are 14.5-point favorite to win this.
No wonder, from my point of view, since the 9-3 Cowboys did lose to South Alabama, Iowa State and UCF.
Their biggest win was likely the game against Oklahoma, which they won by 3 and did lift the team in direct compare over the Sooners to play here.
Otherwise, the other leaving team, Oklahoma, would have played here.
There is not much in favor of Oklahoma, except, if they klick, they klick fantastic and can score often.
But that did not happen very often this season.
I think Texas will expose their weaknesses fast and will win big.
Longhorns win.

MAC Football Championship Game
Miami (OH) vs Toledo

This is play on the home field of the Detroit Lions in Michigan, neutral site.
Miami (OH) is 10-2 this season and lost only once inside the MAC, against Toledo in October by 4 points.
Toledo is 11-1 so far and lost not a single game inside the MAC and did only lose the season opener against Illinois.
The betting line is Toledo -7.5 and it's very realistic that Toledo will win their 2nd title in 2 years.
Last season I did pick against the Rockets and they won, this season I will pick them and we will see, how that will serve them. Haha.
Rockets win.

Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game
Boise State @ UNLV

This game is played on the home field of UNLV, which is also the home field of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The matchup came to be, because 4 computers did value in average those 2 teams higher than the 3rd place San Jose Spartans.
It will be interesting to see, whether they keep those tie-breaker-rules after this season, but fine, this year it is as it is.
Boise State did play also last year in the finale (as 3.5 favorite) but lost to Fresno State.
This season they are again the favorite, by 2.5 points.
Their record is 7-5 and 3 weeks ago it did not even look like they would make it. But they won against New Mexico, fired their HC, and then won 2 crucial games in a row to get here.
UNLV on the other hand is 9-3 but lost last week against those left-out-Spartans.
Can Boise State really flip the script and win this against the much more successful team? Could be, I say.
That firing of the HC did at least not throw the team in chaos.
But UNLV did so far prove they can play, their only bad spot was really that loss last week.
Was that the start of a decline or just a booboo?
I pick the Rebels for a win in a close game, since they play at home, hopefully know what is at stakes and get into the game highly motivated.
Rebels win.

American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game
SMU @ #22 Tulane

Tulane got the home right by winning all games, expect that one game against Ole Miss in September.
SMU is 10-2 and lost only to TCU and Oklahoma, also in September.
Obviously, both teams did not meet during the season, hence their perfect record inside the conference.
Tulane as ranked defending champion is favored at home by 4.0 points, which shows me, the betting industry does not really trust the Green Wave.
And when you look at all the games of Tulane in the past few weeks, none of them were dominating wins.
So, SMU, which had also some good wins and close wins, really has a chance.
The ESPN community sees SMU 72.5% ahead, which is a bit surprising.
It's not like Tulane has lost some crucial players.
I will pick here the home team, since there is no reason to believe, Tulane will not come out prepared.
Sure, SMU has a chance, and any winner will be no surprise, but Tulane has proven they can win, no reason to not trust them here.
Green Wave win.

Hercules Tires Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game
Appalachian State @ Troy

Troy earned the home rights with their better conference record of 7-1 (10-2 overall). That's the same record by the way, they had last year, when they won the Championship game.
Appalachian State did get here, since James Madison, the clear division champion, is not allowed to play in the Championship game, thanks to their 2-year transition from FCS to FBS.
Not sure WHY such a rule exists, but it's there.
But the Mountaineers did win against JMU 2 weeks ago, which gave them the 1 win more compared to other contenders and led to that 6-2 conference record (8-4 overall).
Troy lost to James Madison, early in the season, App State did lose to Coastal Carolina and Old Dominion.
The Tojans are favored by 6.5 points and I'm willing to pick them.
The Mountaineers has really some impressive results lately, and I would not be surprised if they win here, but Troy at home is a force.
So, if App State want the title, earn it.
Trojans win.

ACC Championship Game
#14 Louisville vs #4 Florida State

They play inside the Carolina Panthers home stadium, neutral site.
Florida State finally got their team back on a high level, did beat their nemesis of the past decade, Clemson, on the road on OT, did win all other games to have a 12-0 record.
Now they are just this game away from a playoff spot and of course the ACC Championship.
But there is Louisville. They have a 10-2 record and lost only to Pittsburgh (for whatever reason) and Kentucky.
Sure, FSU is favored here, but just by 2.5 points.
Likely, because they lost their starting QB and it's not really clear, how they will go with that backup.
They did win against rival Florida last week, but the Gators have some problems this year, so not sure they are a good compare to Louisville.
With Louisville, I was disappointed by their loss last week against Kentucky.
This game is wide open from my point of view.
FSU is deep talented; Louisville played great games during the season and did stun several favored teams.
I do lean here towards Louisville, since that QB situation is bad for FSU, but I might underestimate the Seminoles.
Cardinals win.

Fun sidenote, the ESPN playoff predictor does say, if all my picks do come to be, Georgia vs Texas and Michigan vs Washington.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

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2023-11-22 14:45

The domino stones do fall, slowly. Only a few spots in the Championship-games are open, the AAC, the BIG 12 and the MWC are still completely open, BIG 10, PAC 12 and Sun Belt have still one spot open.

Shortly after I did post my week 12 blog entry the 1st coach position was filled for NEXT season, when Northwestern did decide to scratch the 'interim' tag from title of their current HC, David Braun. Braun did work his way up in the FCS, was the DC of North Dakota State 2019 to 2022 and won as such the National Championship 2 times in 4 years.
He was then hired as DC of Northwestern for 2023, but when then HC Pat Fitzgerald was suspended in July (later fired), Braun was named interim HC. After last weeks win against Wisconsin on the road, then at a 5-5 record, he was named permanent HC. This week, the team did win another game to become bowl eligible, a status the team did not have since 2020.

The 1st HC on the chop block this week was Dino Babers, HC of Syracuse. Babers was the HC of the Orange for almost 8 seasons, his best record was a 10-3 record in 2018, including a bowl win. The teams performance did then drop, including a 1-10 season in 2020, but since last year the axe was in the air and waited to fall.
In 2022 it did look so good, the team started 6-0, but lost 5 in a row, won the last game and lost the bowl.
This season the team started 4-0, then lost 5 in a row, won 1, lost last week and the Axe did fall.
The chatter is, he did recruit good, the team had a lot of talent, but LEFT regularly to other teams, often to other conferences, even KNOWING they would play LESS and Babers was unable to stop that drain. Sure, that is a challenging environment, but as administrative board in that case you HAVE to act.
Whoever comes as new HC has a mess to fix.

So far, Babers is the only coach fired. Likely after this weekend the list will get much longer.
Arkansas did announce the will keep their HC, despite a 4-7 record, a decline from 9-4 in 2021 and 7-6 in 2022.


Sat. Nov 18
#5 Washington @ #11 Oregon State
Oregon State has really problems to cover the Huskies on defense, who used a good 2nd quarter to build up a lead, they were able to defend until the end.
The Huskies did lead 22:10 at the half.
Then the Beaver did slowly close the gap, but thanks to some errors, the scored only a TD in the 3rd and a FG in the 4th.
When they got the ball mid of the 4th quarter, they had all the time to march over the field, trailing only by 2.
But on 4th and 5 at roughly mid-field, the pass went incomplete, and the Huskies did run down the clock to win the game and to win a spot in the PAC-12 Championship game.
Oregon State is out of contention but can kick out Oregon next week and can also look for a higher profile bowl, I think.
#5 Washington 22 @ #11 Oregon State 20 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 26-11

#21 Kansas State @ #25 Kansas
This was a bit disappointing, at least for me.
Kansas did lead 20:16 at the half, were able to keep KSU in check in the 3rd quarter and lost the lead early in the 4th.
They got the ball, came to the Wildcats 11-yard line and threw a pick.
Still 5:30 left to play.
And then the team was unable to stop the Wildcats from making 1st downs.
In total 3 times did KSU get a 1st down and burned the clock down.
Result, Kansas State is still in the mix for a Conference Championship spot and Kansas is not.
#21 Kansas State 31 @ #25 Kansas 27 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 26-12

#10 Louisville @ Miami
This was a thriller.
Both teams did play very well, Miami lead by 1 point at the half.
Louisville managed to get a field goal in the 3rd, Miami a Touchdown.
Then, staring the 4th quarter, the Cardinals did score a TD and Miami scored a FG on their next drive to tie the game.
With roughly 5:30 left, Louisville did then take the ball, needed only a few plays and scored another TD to take the lead.
Miami in need for a Touchdown did march over the whole field, came to the Louisville 3 yard line and on 4th and goal, the pass fell to the ground.
Louisville did try to seal the game, but had to punt with 30 ticks left, Miami got the ball, made 2 plays and with 3 ticks left they did throw the ball deep, but it was caught on the 5 yard line to end the game.
Louisville did get the Championship game spot against Florida State.
Miami did get nothing, beside another loss on the record.
They are already at 6 wins, so not that bad, but still the expectations and the results did differ a lot.
That was very much recognizable in the stadium, which was only 2/3 full.
#10 Louisville 38 @ Miami 31 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 27-12

And some other interesting games:

Sat. Nov 18
SMU @ Memphis
Ok, Memphis did try to win this, but at the end, their will to win came to late.
They did score a TD with less than a minute left, but did still trail by 4, failed the onside kick and SMU did run down the clock to win 38:34.
By that, SMU is in a group of 3 teams still unbeaten inside the conference for 2 spots in the Championship game.
Memphis can plan for a bow trip, but their last chance to eventually slip into a championship game spot is gone.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-15

Illinois @ 16 Iowa
In Germany we have a phrase saying 'Not gegen Elend', which is translated eventually into 'destitution vs misery', but the main intention on the phrase is 'bad playing team vs bad playing team and I really don't know, which did play worse, it was just a horror to watch, and it was not worth watching'.
OK, THIS game here could get that phrase.
Illinois got the ball after a punt on the 1st Iowa drive and were brought down in their own endzone after a few plays.
Iowa got the 2 points and the ball, came close the scoring range and missed a field goal.
Then it did get a bit better, and Illinois did lead 10:9 at the half.
A scoreless 3rd quarter was for sure fun and when took the lead in the 4th, the 60+K fans of Iowa were happy.
Lucky them did Iowa get one decent drive together and scored a TD to win the game 15:13 and to get also a spot in the BIG 10 Championship game.
Illinois still waits for their 6th win to get a bowl spot.
PS: I know, this was likely NOT such a bad game, but defense battle are so boring ....
Jacks interesting games Score: 26-15

#7 Texas @ Iowa State
Another defense driven game. Tied at 3! at the half it became a bit more exciting in the 2nd half.
Unfortune for the Cyclones did Texas pull away and won finally 26:16.
Iowa State had some chances, but their defense was at the end not strong enough to keep the Longhorns away from their endzone.
Jacks interesting games Score: 26-15

Other results, only the odd one:

Arizona did beat Utah, 42:18. The Wildcats with a big win to stay in the contender race for a Championship game spot, which is a big surprise. Utah will play a bowl and has of course one game left to boost the record.
Army did beat Coastal Carolina, 28:21. Now the Army - Navy game has bowl impacts, since Army could get their sixth win of the season against the Midshipmen. Navy is 5-5 but could get the bowl ticket next week against SMU. If they would lose, the winner of Army - Navy would for sure get in the bowl mix. Tricky.
Michigan State did win against Indiana, 24:21. That's the 4th win by the Spartans this season, Indiana stays at 3 wins and a coaching change becomes more and more likely.
Northwestern did win against Purdue, 23:15. By that did the Wildcats become bowl eligible as written above.
Appalachian State did win against James Madison, 26:23 (OT), which is the 1st loss of JMU in the seasons and that helps the Mountaineers a lot, since all other competitors did lose against the Dukes. Now the Dukes could actually kick out competitor CCU by a win against those and if App State win their game, App State will play for the Championship.
Virginia won against Duke, 30:27. No major impact for both teams, Virginia is far from having a chance on a bowl spot and Duke already has 6 wins.
UCLA did win the 'Battle for LA' against USC, 38:20. I think both teams are far away from the expected results, but this loss is bitter for USC.
UNLV won against Air Force, 31:27. By that did UNLV claim the top spot in the conference but has yet to secure a championship game spot.
Upset of the week for me, New Mexico State did beat Auburn at home 31:10. Impact on the standings, irrelevant, since it is an inter-conference-game, but the prestige is big and the embarrassment for Auburn is bigger. That's the 1st win against a SEC team for NMSU. Auburn will face Alabama the upcoming week, at home, and with THAT performance it will be a massacre.
South Carolina did win against Kentucky, 17:14. Big win for the Gamecocks, still with a chance to get into a bowl.

That's that.


Please note, that the standings are prior the next MAC-games, which did already start on Tuesday evening.

American Athletics

Tulane7-010-1#23A win against FAU keeps the streak alive. Now the game against UTSA is a semi finale for a Championship game spot.
SMU7-09-2The game against Memphis was close, but they did win and stay in the top 3. The game against Navy will be crucial, a loss will very likely mean they do not play in the Championship game.
UTSA7-08-3With a big win against South Florida did the team keep their hopes alive. The game against Tulane will decide the Championship game spot.

Memphis is out of contention. The last 3 teams will play it out next week. Just as spoiler, the AAC tie breaker is a mess.
Right now, Tulane looks like the best bet for a BIG new year’s bowl, but they do look beatable, and we might see them fall fast.

The Championship game setup is clear.
Florida State vs Louisville on neutral site.
FSU is still the best bet for a Playoff spot, but they need to win the ACC. A 1-loss Louisville champ could maybe make it, but I doubt it right now. Depends on the other conferences.

East Division
Michigan8-011-0#3The HC did accept the suspension, which means he will not be on the sideline for THE GAME. Winner takes it all.
Ohio State8-011-0#2They have right now the best chance to win THE GAME with the suspended HC. What a mess.

West Division
Iowa6-29-2#17They will play Nebraska the upcoming week, but the spot is already secured.

No change, only the secured Championship game spot for Iowa.
Whoever wins the East is expected to win the conference and getting a playoff spot. We might see a 2nd team from the BIG10 to emerge, if the only loss was against the later BIG10-Champ in a close game.

BIG 12
Texas7-110-1#7The game against Iowa State was close, but never looked like Texas would lose this. Against Texas Tech the Longhorns are for sure favored to win and get in the Championship game.
Oklahoma State6-28-3#20The Cowboys did win against Houston and will now face BYU. A win would very likely mean they will play for the Championship, if the tie breaker has no strange rulings in it.
Oklahoma6-29-2#13A win against TCU will keep them hoping, but I think they need an Oklahoma State or a Texas loss to get into the Championship game.
Kansas State7-28-3#19The win against Kansas did keep them in the hunt, but they need more than a win, they need a lot of losses from the other teams also.
Iowa State5-36-5I have to admit, I don't know, whether the still have a small chance. They need to win (against Kansas State on the road), for sure, but likely also OSU and OU have to lose also and then some luck on the tie-breaker.
West Virginia5-37-4This seems even more unlikely. They need to win (Baylor) and also a lot of losses. But Cyclones play Wildcats, so one of those will win. If KSU wins, no chance, so ISU needs to win and then the tie-breaker-gods need to be Mountaineer fan.
Texas Tech5-36-5They need to win against Texas, and a Iowa State win and the Oklahoma teams to lose and then a lot of luck.

Kansas did drop out with the loss against their rival KSU. Still, it seems a lot of teams can get into the Championship game spot, which is good for the fans.
Now it seems Texas has the best chance to sneak into the playoffs, if they win the conference. The rest is under normal conditions already toast.

Conference USA
The Championship game is already set.
New Mexico State @Liberty

The Championship game is set.
Miami vs Toledo on neutral site.
Toledo could become interesting for a BIG new year’s bowl, if Tulane suffers a loss at some point.

Mountain West
UNLV6-19-2The win against the Falcons did elevate the team almost for sure into the Championship game. But San Jose State is waiting and the tie breaker might send the team packing.
Air Force5-28-3The Falcons dropped a bit, and will face Boise State on the smurf turf this weekend. The bright season might end in the dark, if they lose this game and some other teams win.
Boise State5-26-5Looks like the HC firing did not mean much for the Broncos, they won on the road against Utah State and got at least a bowl spot. But if they win against Air Force, the price is likely much juicier, to play for a Championship (the team was favored to win at the start of the season).
San Jose State5-26-5The win against the Aztecs did lift the team into a bowl and they are also in the mix for one of the 2 Championship game spots. Since the tie breaker rules of the conferences are weird at best, I can't tell you, what happens if … but one think is sure, they better beat UNLV on the road this weekend.

Fresno State did lose and drops out, since it cannot get a spot with 3 losses. The top 4 teams do play against each other and either we have one 2-loss team as #2 or 2 2-loss teams as #1 and #2.
I don't think any conference team will get an invite on the new year’s bowl, but season is not over, yet.

Washington8-011-0#4The win against Oregon State did give the Huskies the spot in the Championship game. The APPLE CUP does only have pride and playoff implications.
Oregon7-110-1#6The goal is clear, win the CIVIL WAR and play for a Championship. A loss will open up the chances for Arizona, who would only need to win their game.
Arizona6-28-3#15The TERRITORIAL CUP has to be won and Oregon has to lose. Then automatically, since the tie breaker would take the a beavers game as selector, Arizona would jump the Ducks, since Ducks lost against the Beavers and the Wildcats won.

Oregon State did fought hard, but lost to Washington and dropped out. Washington is set for a Championship game spot.
Right now, Washington is the top contender for a playoff spot, but Oregon has also a good chance. The rest, even with a PAC-12 Championship, would not make it, I think.

The SEC Championship game is set, both favorites did win their divisions the last gameday.
Georgia vs Alabama on neutral site.
Both teams do have a major shot at a playoff spot, if Georgia win the SEC, all fine, but Alabama out, if Alabama wins, nobody knows whether 1 or 2 will make the playoffs.

Sun Belt
East Division
James Madison6-110-1JMU won at least a share of the division already, but is not eligible to play for the Championship. They play CCU for the last game, which has impact on the team send to the Championship game.
Coastal Carolina5-27-4If they win against JMU, they play for a Championship. They won against Appalachian State, so that compare is theirs.
Appalachian State5-27-4They won against JMU, but still have to win against Georgia Southern and have to hope for a CCU loss against JMU.
Old Dominion4-35-6They won against Georgia Southern and kept that way their dream alive, at least for a bowl spot. I think they are already out of contention for a Championship spot, even if CCU and App State would lose, CCU has won against App State and Old Dominion and should win the tie breaker in a 3-team-tie, but maybe I miss something.

West Division
Troy5-18-2Secured the division title (at least a share) and a spot in the Championship game.

Georgia Southern is out, by losing against Old Dominion. Troy is set as Championship game participant.
I think no chance for a playoff spot.

The playoff race has 3 weeks left, 2 regular season gamedays and the championship games a week later, and it all can turn into shit, in that last week.
I think it safe to say, that the SEC Champ will get a spot, likely also the PAC-12-Champ. But then there are a lot uncertainties.
If the more-losses-team of each conference would win the championship game, the rankings will turn upside down and it will be totally unclear, who gains a spot and who deserves a spot.

But it makes no sense to speculate, since those frontrunners still have to win their remaining games and then some, so a lot of stuff can happen.

The playoff rankings did change a bit, TOP 4 are Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and new Washington (was 5 so far) and Florida State did drop to 5.
But that's all irrelevant, since there are still deciding gamedays, this week with the most of the last regular season games, and next week with the Championship games.
AFTER that the rankings will be important and will change, depended on the results.

And we have RIVALRY WEEK on the last gameday. Those did make the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 13

Fri. Nov 24
#16 Oregon State @ #6 Oregon
The rivalry, which was named until 2020 the CIVIL WAR.
The schools did drop the name, in the wake of the Georg Floyd protests, but I doubt it will not stick to NOT call it that way.
Interesting fun fact, the winner of the game was awarded the Platypus Trophy (as the perfect mix between a duck and a beaver ...), but the trophy went missing since 1961 for 40+ years and was found in 2007. Now the alumni organization of the winning schools get the trophy each year.
Oregon leads the series 67–49–10, Oregon State won last year.
It's now the 2nd time in a row this game features ranked vs ranked, which did, as far as I could research it, never before.
And this game as instant playoff and PAC 12 Championship implications.
For the Beavers, the road is closed, except a high-profile bowl spot.
For the Ducks, they NEED the win, if they don't want to lose the spot in the Championship game (if on top Arizona wins also, see below) and a loss would also push them into the same area as the Beavers, high profile bowl land, far far away from a playoff spot.
The Ducks are favored to win at home by 13.5 points, which seems OK.
Don't underestimate Oregon State, they did almost win against Washington, but playing on the road after such a game against Washington ... I have doubts they will have the energy to challenge the Ducks over the whole game and win it.
Ducks win.

Sat. Nov 25
#2 Ohio State @ #3 Michigan
It's THE GAME, again.
The rivalry game is regularly upon the most important and most anticipated rivalry games of all season.
Michigan leads the series 60–51–6 and has won the last 2 games.
The Wolverines are also the 1st time favored (by 3.0 points) to win the game, since 5 years.
This could have been a lot of fun, if not that stupid sign-stealing-so-called-scandal would have disrupted the season and had as effect that the HC of Michigan will be not at the sideline for THE GAME.
I don't want to go deeper into this whole stuff of the scandal, since the dimension and responsible persons are not even fully known.
So it's a bit strange the BIG 10 did already suspend the HC, while it's not clear, he was involved or not.
But OK, can't change it and he did accept the 3-game-suspension, hence the interims HC has to deal with the Buckeyes.
I think this season the Buckeyes will win, based on 2 factors.
Factor 1, the HC is missing and it did show that the team is not that sharp in the past 2 weeks then, and that was against weaker opponents.
Factor 2, Ohio State is loaded and really good this season.
If Factor 1 would not be, I would have picked Michigan, but that way, even on the road, ....
Buckeyes win.

San José State @ UNLV
No rivalry game, just good old win-and-you-are-in-situation.
UNLV is 1 game ahead of all other contenders.
They are favored to win this, by just 3.0 points.
If they win, they play for the Mountain West Championship against the winner of Air Force vs Boise State.
If they lose, there will be a 3-way-tie between the winner of Falcons-Broncos, UNLV and San Jose State.
Right now I can't tell you, who would be #1 and #2.
But I can tell you, I believe in UNLV at home, they won every game so far at home.
And I don't believe in the Spartans on the road, since they lost 3 games on the road so far (plus home losses).
Sure SJSU CAN win here, but that would surprise me, seriously.
Rebels win.

And some other interesting games (monster XXL):

Thur. Nov 23
#12 Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
The so-called EGG BOWL.
Ole Miss leads the series, 64–46–6, with Mississippi State having won last year on the road.
This season, Ole Miss is very sharpe, 9-2 record, only 2 losses against very good teams, while the Bulldogs have a 5-6 record, an interims HC and the need to win this game to get to a bowl game.
Vegas line is Ole Miss -10.0, which is from my point of view still a nice one.
I think Ole Miss will destroy the Bulldogs this year.
Rebels win.

Fri. Nov 24
UTSA @ #23 Tulane
It's ball-out-time for both teams.
The winner will play for a Championship, the loser very likely not.
Tulane is favored by 3.5 points, at home. Not much, but UTSA did not show much flaws since their loss against Army in September.
Expect a close game and I do pick ...
Green Wave win.

Air Force @ Boise State
The 1st showdown on the Mountain West. The loser is out of contention.
The winner is very likely in the Championship game, but tie breakers are suckers.
Boise is favored at home by 6.5 points, which is a bit surprising, since they do play at home as 6-5 team under interims management against an 8-3 team.
Likely the 3 losses in a row did not help Air Force and it would a bit of a pity, if they lose 4 in a row and the best start of the academy ends in a pity bowl, instead at least in a chance to win a championship.
But playing on the smurf turf will be hard.
Not sure what to make out of that losing steak, looks like the teams learned how to stop the Falcons.
Overall I think it will come down to preparation and motivation.
Boise State win.

Sat. Nov 25
Kentucky @ #10 Louisville
Here the teams will fight for 'The Governor's Cup'.
It's not one of those everlasting games, basically started back in 1912, took a break from 1925 to 1993 and since 1994 it's played annually.
Kentucky lead the series 19–15 and has a 4 game winning streak.
This season the situation has changed, Louisville is a contender in the ACC and Kentucky has a bit of a down season.
Louisville plays at home as 7.0-point favorite to win this.
I like what I did see so far from the Cardinals, I expect both teams to fight a close game, but I expect Louisville to stop the Kentucky winning streak.
Cardinals win.

UL Monroe @ Louisiana
The 'Battle on the Bayou' is this season again not that interesting.
Louisiana leads the series 31–26, but ULM did win last year.
This season the Warhawks have a very bad season (again, but the worst under the current HC) at 2-9, losing 9 in a row now, while Louisiana stays more or less on the level of last year and is only 5-6 right now.
Louisiana needs the win to get to a bowl, so they will play, at home, like hell.
They are favored by 13.0 points.
Ragin' Cajuns win.

#8 Alabama @ Auburn
The most anticipated rivalry game off all, at least for many, is this season likely a cupcake game.
Alabama is favored by 14.5 points, the only thing which makes the IRON BOWL interesting is, sometimes shit happens.
Alabama leads the series 49–37–1, won the last 3.
I doubt something bad will happen and I think the Tide will wash the Tigers just out of the stadium, but you never know.
Crimson Tide win.

#17 Arizona @ Arizona State
The 'Duel in the Desert' winner get the Territorial Cup.
The Wildcats are favored by 10.5 points on the road and would also have the chance to get into the PAC 12 Championship game.
The Oregon games result will either lift the motivation or not.
If Oregon loses on Friday, Arizona gets in with a win, if they Ducks win, Arizona can only play to extend the winning streak on the series to 2 and to add a win to the current lead of the series at 50–45–1.
What I did see from Arizona is great, I think they can do it.
Wildcats win.

Wisconsin @ Minnesota
The game for 'Paul Bunyan's Axe' is on again.
Wisconsin leads the series 45–27–3, but Minnesota has won 2 in a row in the last 2 years.
Played in Gopher-County, the Badgers are favored to win by 2.5 points.
It will be cold, and it will be in Minnesotas interest to win again, since they need 1 win to get to a bowl.
Will that be enough?
Not sure.
The Gophers lost 3 in a row, but at home against the hated rival ...
Golden Gophers win.

Virginia Tech @ Virginia
The Commonwealth Cup is awarded to the winner here.
Virginia Tech leads the series 60–38–5, but inside the ACC did Virginia win only 1 time (2019) out of 18 meetings.
This season VT is not good, 5-6 right now, but Virginia is bad 3-8.
Still VT is only favored by 2.5 points, which is not much.
We might see an upset here, since the Cavaliers did show some spirit last week against Duke and won at home.
Do I believe that ... let's say, I hope for that.
Cavaliers win.

James Madison @ Coastal Carolina
The game which will decide the Sun Belt East division.
JMU is not allowed to play in the Championship game, but did win all games, except last week against App State.
Coastal Carolina needs the win to stay ahead of App State, JMU needs the win to cash in the division alone and to brag 'you might have won the conference, but only because we were not allowed to play for it'.
James Madison is favored by 9.0 points, which does not surprise me.
We might see an upset, but I doubt it.
A CCU loss will not automatically mean they are out, but they then need a Mountaineer loss on top.
Dukes win.

Washington State @ #4 Washington
The so called 'APPLE CUP'.
The Huskies lead the series, 75–33–6 and won last year.
The Cougars do need the win for a bowl ticket, but that's very unlikely this season.
Washington is favored by 16.5 points and everything beside a win would be a catastrophe for them.
Huskies win.

#5 Florida State @ Florida
There were times, this 'Sunshine Showdown' did decide National Championships.
I remember in the 90s there was at least one season the newspapers did declare WAR prior the game (I think that was 1996, when #1 did play #2 here).
Overall, Florida leads the series 37–27–2, but FSU did win last year.
This season it's strange setup.
FSU is so far undefeated, ranked at #5, has a shot at the ACC Championship and the playoffs, but lost their starting QB last week in a cupcake game.
Florida on the other hand is 5-6, lost 4 in a row (3 of those were ranked) and needs that win to get to a bowl.
They are 6.5-point underdog, at home.
But ... that lost starting QB ... not sure how the team will tuck that away.
I think they are overall stronger than Florida, so I will pick the Seminoles, but I would not be surprised, if this will become a thriller and the Gators get their 6th win.
Seminoles win.

#1 Georgia @ Georgia Tech
And we have the 'Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate' between the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia leads the series 70–41–5 and if you are fair, since say mid-60s is Georgia running the table.
The Bulldogs have a 5-game winning streak, which nobody expects to end on that gameday.
Georgia comes to town as 24.0-point favorite, nothing except the playoff spot on the line.
GT has already a bowl spot secured, but of course would love to spit the Bulldogs into their feeding bowl.
Highly unlikely.
Bulldogs win.

#24 Clemson @ South Carolina
And another quite one-sided rivalry, the 'Palmetto Bowl'.
Clemson leads the series 72–43–4, but South Carolina did snap a 7-game losing streak last year and won.
This season, South Carolina is OK, but Clemson did gain some strength back.
Hence, they are 7.0-point favorite as visiting team.
The Gamecocks need another win to get a bowl spot, but I doubt that will happen.
Tigers win.

North Carolina @ #22 NC State
And at last, don't know, why I came to the conclusion so many games could be fun (at least writing is getting boring slowly), but I hope you have fun, the last rival game I have on the list.
It's the fancy 'North Carolina–NC State football rivalry' with no better name and no fancy trophy, only the most anticipated football match in North Carolina (since Duke does usually not play well, that rivalry is only hot in Basketball. Try to make sense out of that).
North Carolina leads the series 68–38–6, but NC State has won 2 in a row in the last 2 seasons.
This year the odds are in favor of the Tar Heels, but only by 2.5 points.
Played in Raleigh, I think the Wolfpack has a good chance to beat UNC.
The Tar Heels did struggle recently, but of course in a rivalry game, everything can be different.
Still ...
Wolfpack win.

I did likely miss some rivalry games and apologies to the fans, looking for a preview, but did not find it.
There are way too many games and way to many rivalries.
Michigan State–Penn State with the Land Grant Trophy, Old Oaken Bucket between Purdue and Indiana, Illinois–Northwestern with the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk, Iowa–Nebraska as THE HEROS GAME, Texas–Texas Tech with the Battle For The Chancellor's Spurs, The Farmageddon between Iowa State–Kansas State, The Red Bird Rivalry between Miami (OH) and Ball State, The Fresno State–San Diego State game for the Oil Can, The Rumble in the Rockies between Utah and Colorado, The Bear Bowl between California–UCLA, the Notre Dame–Stanford for the legends Trophy, the Battle Line Rivalry between Arkansas and Missouri, the Tennessee–Vanderbilt rivalry, the LSU–Texas A&M football rivalry, the Appalachian State–Georgia Southern rivalry and the UConn–UMass rivalry, all on top on this weekend.

As additional note, the BIG 12 is a mess regarding the standing and the potential results for the 2 Championship game spots. The BIG 12 was asked to clarify this a bit but did only address the most likely cases. If the many-loss-teams will win and the not-so-many-losses-teams will lose, it will become funny. And unfortune for the BIG 12 there were no 'semi-finale'-like games this weekend, so it was hard to s e l e c t the essential games on top of the rivalries.
Hence, no BIG 12 games covered this weekend.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

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