Curator Sam Burnham 3 Games to Watch Ohio State @ Michigan This is a big one every year. It’s one of those nasty rivalries that the fans mark on the calendar years in advance. The animosity runs so high that former Buckeye coach Woody Hayes wouldn’t even say “Michigan” opting to refer to them as “that school up north.” I suppose it’s counterproductive to point out that their both up north.
This will be the biggest challenge firvtge Buckeyes so far. Even last week’s ranked opponent was a suspect Penn State team. The Wolverines staggered at the start of the season but they are rolling now. Something lit a fire under that team. In their last four games they’ve out scored their opponents 166-45, including wins over Notre Dame, Sparty, and Indiana. Throw in the rivalry component, The Big House, and the chance to spoil The Buckeyes’ season and Michigan has a lot to play for. This one promises to be a fight that could derail Ohio State’s playoff hopes.
Alabama @ Auburn Another huge rivalry that divides towns, neighborhoods, families. The Iron Bowl is something you cannot appreciate until you’ve lived in Alabama.
Bama was a big favorite a few weeks ago. That was before a hip injury ended Tua Tagovailoa’s season. With no quality wins, an offense built on Tua, and without their perennial trademark defense, it’s likely that Bama’s playoff run dies on the plains this Saturday.
Bo Nix and the Tigers have been a juggernaut at home this season. Their friendly confines have been exactly that. Bama has their hands full in Auburn this weekend.
Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State There's more than a rivalry at stake in Stillwater. The Sooners have a chance to sneak in the back door of the playoff. A win this weekend and a little help could get them in that four team group. Nothing would please the Pokes more than playing spoiler and slamming that back door on their in-state rivals.
The Cowboys have won 4 in a row and Rivalry Week is made for spoilers. Expect a lot of points, some big plays, and perhaps an upset. Mike Gundy will have his team ready. But the Sooners will be too.
Upset Alert Alabama @ Auburn I’m not trying to sound like a broken record here but this is going to be n experience, not just a game. Auburn is a 3.5 point dog coming into this one. I’ve never been one to tie the fate of a team to just one player but this time I just can’t help it. Bama has built their offense on Tua Tagovailoa. The quick turnarounds and high points have shifted the Tide’s defensive scheme and it’s not designed to stand on its own as it has historically. It needs that offense that isn’t quite as potent as it was a few weeks ago.
On the plains this year Auburn has been almost perfect. Freshman Bo Nix has been stellar at Jordan-Hare. A stingy defense and a powerful running attack will be a lot for a handicapped Tide to handle. I don’t see how Bama can win the Iron Bowl.
Coach Drew Burnham 3 GAMES TO WATCH CINCINNATTI @ MEMPHIS For the first time since 2016, The Golden Knights will not appear in the American Conference Championship game. Cincy has already secured their place in the game, but there are many questions left unanswered regarding the champion of the “Power 6” league this year. Memphis must beat Cincinnati Saturday to earn the right to move into the championship game and play…. well, Cincinnati again. If the Tigers can win, not only will they be in, but they will host the game in the Liberty Bowl. Should the Bearcats get the best of them, they will host the game against the Naval Academy. The Tigers would be in the game for the 3rdyear in a row having lost the pervious 2 in instant classics. Winning it this year will require them to successfully performprobably the tallest ask in all of sports: beat a good team twice in 2 weeks. Memphis must pull out all the stops while Cincy can afford to sit back a little and use separate games to set up game-changing plays for themselves. It’s a 2-week chess match. Everyone knows what a fan I am of Mike Norvel and his staff, but that’s quite a predicament. I believe the Tigers win this one. We’ll talk later about that championship game.
WASHINGTON ST @ WASHINGTON For an extended period of time this rivalry didn’t carry much weight because both of these programs were struggling. That time is over. Washington is down a little compared to where they have been in recent years, but 4 of their 5 losses came by 6 points or less. 3 of them were against ranked teams. Chris Petersen has done a phenomenal job rejuvenating this program and I know he will have his boys ready to play. Now, let us move on to the best interviewee in the history of sports. The Cougar offense is averaging 533+ yards per game and just over 41 points. Explosiveness is the name of the game. Defense is NOT the name of the game as they give up just over 430 yards per game and 31 points. In the grand scheme of things, this game doesn’t mean much. No one is putting themselves in position to win the conference and both are already bowl eligible. What excites me about this game is the fireworks! It’s going to be a track meet. The last team with the ball might just win. Get after it Leech.
OKLAHOMA @ OKLAHOMA ST. Bedlam! Minus one little slip, Oklahoma has looked powerful and dominant. I love Jalen Hurts and his story. He has fallen right into Oklahoma Quarterback place accounting for nearly 4500 yards of offense and 47 touchdowns through 11 games. I believe they are a playoff quality team and with the mayhem that this year is turning into, they might just be the first 2 loss team in playoff history. Keep an eye on that. You may be asking “coach, why pick this game?”. Oklahoma has a spot in the title game locked up and State can’t improve their position with a win. However, Mike Gundy has this amazing knack for beating teams he isn’t supposed to. With that knack comes another, one where he loses to a lot of teams he shouldn’t… but we’ll leave that part for another day. Bedlam. Night game. Jalen Hurts. Chubba Hubbard. No defense allowed. This one is going to be fun. For the poll committee’s sanity’s sake, I hope State can pull the upset.
UPSET ALERT NOTRE DAME @ STANFORD Consider this as my official surrender of my Homer Card. Enjoy it while it lasts because this won’t happen often. This one may seem like a reach to many but let’s look at the history of this matchup. Notre Dame makes a trip to California every year, whether it is to play USC or Stanford. It serves to get in front of West Coast recruits and to appease their West Coast fan base. Here’s the stat that may lead you to go back and check my work. Notre Dame has lost the last 5 matchups in a row at Stanford. That streak dates back to 2007. Notre Dame’s Freshmen were 6 years old the last time the Irish won in Palo Alto. I don’t know what it is or what causes it, they just do not play well in that underwhelming environment. For my personal mental state, I hope I am wrong. However, looking at history makes me feel uneasy about this one. Look for the curse of David Shaw to continue here.
Curator’s Picks MISS STATE over OLE MISS VIRGINIA TECH over VIRGINIA TEXAS over TEXAS TECH WASHINGTON over WASHINGTON STATE OHIO ST over MICHIGAN AIR FORCE over WYOMING AUBURN over ALABAMA MINNESOTA over WISCONSIN OKLAHOMA over OKLAHOMA STATE ARIZONA STATE over ARIZONA
Coach’s Picks OLE MISS over MISS ST VIRGINIA TECH over VIRGINIA TEXAS over TEXAS TECH WASHINGTON ST over WASHINGTON OHIO ST over MICHIGAN AIR FORCE over WYOMING BAMA over AUBURN MINNESOTA over WISCONSIN OKLAHOMA ST over OKLAHOMA ARIZONA STATE over ARIZONA