This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon:

  • South Carolina @ Clemson (“Palmetto Bowl”; ABC): So last year a game South Carolina team came in brimming with confidence against a wounded Clemson and… got blown out. I suspect something similar will happen here.
  • Michigan @ Ohio State (“The Game”; FOX): At least one observer I follow has pointed out that Michigan’s physicality seems to be specifically designed to beat Ohio State. The project reached fruition last year. The question now is can Michigan pull the trick two years in a row, with a slightly stepped down defensive line and their all-everything running back Blake Corum missing most of the end of last week’s Illinois game. And Ohio State’s quarterback and receivers are still terrifying. The best way I’ve heard it said is that “if Ohio State wins, it’ll be a blowout, if Michigan wins, it’ll be close”. I agree. I also have the Wolverines pulling upset.
  • Georgia Tech @ Georgia (“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”; ESPN): TO HELL WITH GEORGIA.
  • West Virginia @ Oklahoma State (ESPN2): I’m not sure what’s happened to Oklahoma State in recent weeks, but with Neal Brown seemingly closer to the end of his tenure than the beginning, I still have to favor the Pokes.
  • Coastal Carolina @ James Madison (ESPNU): Over the last few weeks JMU has started to look like a team that is moving up to FBS. Coastal should have no problems.
  • Rutgers @ Maryland (BTN): Provided Maryland is not deflated by letting Ohio State come back and win last weekend, they’ll be okay here.
  • Western Kentucky @ Florida Atlantic (CBSS): WKU’s performance against Auburn last weekend is more the product of Auburn playing up to their potential moreso than an deficiencies with themselves. They’ll be fine here.
  • Georgia State @ Marshall (ESPN+)
  • New Mexico State @ Liberty (ESPN+)
  • Army @ Massachusetts (ESPN+)
  • Old Dominion @ South Alabama (ESPN+)
  • Elon @ Furman (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)

1:00:

  • Kent State @ Buffalo (ESPN+)
  • East Carolina @ Temple (ESPN+)

1:30: Akron @ Northern Illinois (espn3.com)

2:00:

  • Rice @ North Texas (ESPN+)
  • Southern vs. Grambling State (“Bayou Classic” @ New Orleans, LA; NBC)
  • St. Francis @ Delaware (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)
  • Fordham @ New Hampshire (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)
  • Davidson @ Richmond (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)

3:00: Louisville @ Kentucky (“Governor’s Cup”; SEC): Kentucky hasn’t looked themselves except for some brief glimpses against UGA in recent weeks. That, and Louisville seems determined to save Scott Satterfield’s job, so how can I pick against them?

3:30:

  • Auburn @ Alabama (“Iron Bowl”; CBS): With with Bama being a bit “down” this year, I just don’t see them losing to this Auburn team, even if these Iron Bowls often do consist of Auburn being weirdly competitive. (Not to mention that the team has rallied around interim Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.) So I’m not going to pick the Tigers to win, but I am going to say that this could be interesting.
  • Oregon @ Oregon State (ABC): This one could also be interesting. The game is in Corvallis and Oregon State is spicy, but I think Oregon’s talent will just be too much for them.
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin (ESPN): I just don’t think Wisconsin is going to be able to keep up with the Gophers. The Axe stays in Minneapolis.
  • Memphis @ Southern Methodist (ESPN2): Memphis has looked more dangerous in recent weeks, but I think SMU is still a better team.
  • Troy @ Arkansas State (ESPNU): This game is here instead the Commonwealth Cup due to the recent events at UVA. I am not optimistic but I think we need to figure out some way to combat gun violence in this country. No other country in the world is like the US, at least, any country that we want to be grouped with in terms of life expectancy and standard of living. For the game itself, Troy is one of the better teams in the Sun Belt, and Arkansas State… isn’t. Trojans all the way.
  • Wake Forest @ Duke (ACCN): I have no idea what happened to Wake Forest the past few weeks. Even beating Syracuse by 10 didn’t feel that inspiring. I think they’re still a lot better than Duke, but I’m also still not sure about them.
  • Purdue @ Indiana (BTN): The Old Oaken Bucket is once again in doubt, and I also have some doubts about who will win. Thanks to Nebraska beating Iowa earlier today, Purdue has a chance to clinch the Big Ten West with a win. I think they’re probably the most palatable of the available options, so I’ll pick the Boilermakers.
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (BTN): Meanwhile, just outside of Chicago the Land of Lincoln Trophy will be contested and this game also has Big Ten West title stakes, at least for Illinois. A loss here keeps Iowa a live. Fortunately for Illinois, Northwestern is terrible.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Louisiana Tech (CBSS): Y’all, I got a little heavy above, but I just wanted to also say that this is the last full Saturday of the season and I think that’s worth enjoying. There’s some good World Cup matchups I will also be keeping an eye on, but the whole panoply of the college football universe is what makes Saturdays fun. UAB should win here, and also keep this one in mind.
  • Texas-El Paso @ Texas-San Antonio (Stadium): This one isn’t really a rivalry, but it sort of feels like it should be? Also UTEP needs to get this to get bowl eligible, but I’m picking UTSA because they’re, well, better.
  • Hawaii @ San Jose State (Team1Sports)

4:00:

  • Iowa State @ Texas Christian (FOX): This year just hasn’t been it for Iowa State. TCU survived by the skin of their teeth last week against Baylor, and I know that’s kind of their thing, but I think this one will be more comfortable.
  • Michigan State @ Pennsylvania State (FS1): Everyone’s favorite ugly trophy is once again on the line! That’s right, the Land Grant Trophy will probably… head back to Happy Valley, in keeping with my general sentiment that Penn State is so thoroughly the Third Best Team in the Big Ten.
  • Utah @ Colorado (“Rumble in the Rockies”; Pac12): Colorado is just so bad as to make anything else about this moot.
  • North Dakota @ Weber State (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)

5:00:

  • Louisiana @ Texas State (ESPN+)
  • Southern Mississippi @ Louisiana-Monroe (ESPN+)
  • Gardner-Webb @ Eastern Kentucky (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)

6:00:

  • Nevada @ Nevada-Las Vegas (“Battle for Nevada”; MTN)
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Florida International (espn3.com)
  • Appalachian State @ Georgia Southern (“Deeper than Hate”; ESPN+)

7:00:

  • Louisiana State @ Texas A&M (ESPN): Okay, so far this weekend we’ve had a traditionally crazy rivalry game get crazy (the Egg Bowl) and then Florida-Florida State went off the rails earlier tonight. But, let’s not forget that this sort of non-rivalry rivalry gave us SEVEN OVERTIMES back in 2018. I kinda want this one to be crazy as well, but TAMU is such a struggle bus on offense that I just can’t see them staying in this game unless LSU also struggles. This feels unlikely at this point.
  • Central Florida @ South Florida (“War on I-4”; ESPN2): With UCF leaving for the Big 12 after this season, this will be the last War on I-4 for the foreseeable future. This is kind of a bummer. The series has been paused before, and recent editions haven’t been close as USF declined. But the 2017 edition is one of the best college football games of all time, and it reminds us of what this could be. Either way, UCF figures to win in a rout.
  • Idaho @ Southeastern Louisiana (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN+)

7:30:

  • Notre Dame @ Southern California (ABC): This figures to be one of the best versions of this matchup in recent memory. USC can score it, and Notre Dame has turned into a much more competent team over the course of the season. I still like USC but this could be fun.
  • Oklahoma @ Texas Tech (FS1): Oklahoma isn’t good, but I can’t pick them to lose to this Texas Tech.
  • Tulsa @ Houston (ESPNU): Houston all the way here.
  • Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Hoo boy. Tennessee lost to South Carolina last weekend, and lost their quarterback in the process. By all accounts, they should be able to handle Vandy with their backup, but this Vandy team has now won 2 SEC games in a row and can’t be considered a pushover. Still picking the Vols, just… cautiously.
  • Syracuse @ Boston College (ACC/RSN): BC is still bad, ‘Cuse all the way.

8:00:

  • Kansas @ Kansas State (“Sunflower Showdown”; FOX): Hey, it’s relevant KU football in primetime! That said, um, K-State is still a lot better than them and it’s in the Little Apple. I don’t see an upset here.
  • Pittsburgh @ Miami (ACCN): Pitt figures to put the ‘Canes out of their misery.

9:00: Air Force @ San Diego State (CBSS): Should be Air Force all the way here.

10:00: Southeast Missouri @ Montana (NCAA Division I Championship, First Round; ESPN2)

10:30: Washington @ Washington State (“Apple Cup”; ESPN): Again, this is a game that shouldn’t be, but it’s just hard to trust that the Washington offense can be consistent enough for them to put Wazzu away. With the game on the Palouse, that means that this could be fun, even UDub eventually wins.

11:00: Brigham Young @ Stanford (FS1): And finally, the cap to the last full Saturday slate is… admittedly not great. But it’s college football, and it’s going to be a long day. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll pick BYU here, and remember: TO HELL WITH GEORGIA.

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday

7:00: Mississippi State @ Mississippi (“Egg Bowl”; ESPN): It’s Egg Bowl time once again, and this one seems primed for some classic Egg Bowl mayhem. Miss State is slightly more dangerous this year, and after a hot start Ole Miss has settled down the point where a down Arkansas womped ’em last weekend. This naturally sparked rumors–since enhanced–that Lane Kiffin might have his mind elsewhere. Ole Miss is definitely still the pick on paper, and it’s in Oxford, so the odds still favor them. But it could be fun.

Friday

Noon:

  • Utah State @ Boise State (CBS): Utah State hasn’t been as bad as I would’ve thought this year, but it appears that Boise is still the class of the Mountain West. In other news, this game will be at 10am local time, which seems kind of bad?
  • Tulane @ Cincinnati (ABC): This is a big one that will go toward which AAC team gets to go to the Cotton Bowl. I will continue to take Cincy and their suspect offense, but if Tulane races out to an early multi-score lead this one could well be over.
  • Baylor @ Texas (ESPN): I think Texas has reached a turning point after completely dominating an inferior Kansas team (something that Texas has shown repeatedly is not guaranteed!). This game will put that to proof, as Baylor does have a chance to at least slow down all-everything Texas TB Bijan Robinson.
  • Toledo @ Western Michigan (ESPNU): Toledo is the best team in the MAC, they just don’t realize it. They should win here.
  • Central Michigan @ Eastern Michigan (CBSS): This one of the major rivalries in the MAC and it’s good to see that’s on a weekend instead of Tuesday. Eastern comes in with a winning record and I’ll definitely be favoring them.

3:00: Arizona State @ Arizona (“Duel in the Desert”; FS1): It’s been a weird season for both teams. Arizona State, of course, fired their coach. Arizona has gone through a lot, but it’s safe to say they’re better than anyone expected. I like Arizona and their random number generator of a quarterback Jayden deLaura, but this game can probably go either way.

3:30:

  • Arkansas @ Missouri (“Battle Line Rivalry”; CBS): KJ Jefferson and company looked a lot healthier in womping Ole Miss last weekend than they’ve looked in a while, which bodes well against a game but undermanned Mizzou squad.
  • North Carolina State @ North Carolina (ABC): The classically most important Tobacco Road rivalry in football meets again. UNC… somehow lost to us last weekend, and NC State’s usual (read: disappointing) season has one last chance to be salvaged. If UNC’s offense shows up on Friday they’ll have a good chance, but I’ll take the upset and the Wolfpack here.
  • New Mexico @ Colorado State (CBSS): New Mexico state is bad, but the Rams are one of the worst teams in FBS. I’ve continually been kind of bummed that Colorado State didn’t play Colorado this season, that would’ve been… something for the ages.

4:00: Nebraska @ Iowa (BTN): Well, this will be fun. Oh, wait, it’ll probably be the other thing. Nebraska will surely try valiantly for their interim coach Mickey Joseph, but Iowa’s defense will recover a fumble for a touchdown or something and they’ll win this game. All for a chance to get crushed by Michigan or Ohio State in Indianapolis next weekend. Woo.

4:30: California-Los Angeles @ California (“Battle of California”; FOX): UCLA is licking their wounds after two straight losses, but in true Hollywood style them and USC put on a show last weekend in the Rose Bowl. Cal will offer slightly less resistance.

7:30: Florida @ Florida State (“Sunshine Showdown”; ABC): Is FSU for real? We’re going to get a pretty good idea here. This Florida team isn’t good (see: losing to Vandy last weekend) but they’re still talented enough to be the best test the ‘Noles have faced in a while. With the game in Tallahassee I’ll take the home team.

10:00: Wyoming @ Fresno State (FS1): And in some Mountain West After Dark, we’ll get to watch Jake Haener pull another one out for the Bulldogs.

Bowl Predictions 2022: Week 4

The predictions are in the usual place.

The events of last weekend shookup the playoff picture a bit. Based on what I think the committee will do tomorrow, these are my best guesses for both the playoff and associated New Year’s Six bowls.

After that, I did use all of the independents, as well as JMU and one 5-7 team. Rice and UNLV I both have projected to finish 5-7, and they’re both tied atop the APR standings (as I understand them).

Overall, we’ve got 74 teams bowl eligible now, and depending on stuff breaks this weekend, we could get there. That said, I think it’s pretty likely every 6 win or better team will be needed, which is pretty good news if you’re a UConn fan.

That’s it for this week. The real action starts next week, when I start scouring for any possible news. Until then, it’s time for rivalry week.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:00: Navy @ Central Florida (ESPN2): It hasn’t been the greatest of season for Navy, leading to some questions as to whether Coach Ken might be a little past his prime. UCF figures to roll. By the way, quick programming note this week: I’ve included some select FCS rivalries here, and FCS teams are indicated by italics.

Noon:

  • Texas Christian @ Baylor (“The Revivalry”; FOX): Baylor hasn’t had the season they wanted or expected coming in, but they’re still a legitimate force to be reckoned with if you’re TCU, and the game is in Waco. I have TCU going to the playoff right now, but suffice it to say a loss here completely derails that plan. I like the Horned Frogs, but this could get squirrelly.
  • Illinois @ Michigan (ABC): It’s hard to think that a Michigan team would be caught looking ahead to next week.
  • Wisconsin @ Nebraska (ESPN): Probably Wisconsin here.
  • Northwestern @ Purdue (FS1): Definitely Purdue here. Northwestern is just kinda bad.
  • Florida @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Vandy picked up their first SEC win since 2019 last week by beating Kentucky. I don’t think they’re going to notch consecutive wins for the first time (SEC or otherwise) since 2018 here.
  • Indiana @ Michigan State (BTN): Sparty figures to role a demoralized Indiana bunch.
  • Duke @ Pittsburgh (ACCN): I suspect Pitt probably won’t start this game by picking Duke off twice for pick-6’s, but I can’t rule it out. Duke is nominally one of the better teams in the Coastal (an incredibly low bar), but I have Pitt here.
  • Louisiana @ Florida State (ACC/RSN): FSU figures to roll the Cajuns.
  • Virginia Tech @ Liberty (ESPN+)
  • East Tennessee State @ Mississippi State (ESPN+)
  • Massachusetts @ Texas A&M (ESPN+)
  • Austin Peay @ Alabama (ESPN+)
  • Yale Harvard (ESPNU)

1:00: Texas-San Antonio @ Rice (ESPN+)

2:00:

  • Washington State @ Arizona (Pac12): Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura is more-or-less a random number generator, in that he can just about anything, and it may or may not be good for Arizona. Last weekend, it worked out to give UCLA a loss at a pretty critical juncture in their season. I’ll guess they’ll lose to Wazzu here.
  • Georgia State @ James Madison (ESPN+)
  • Houston @ East Carolina (ESPN+)
  • Kansas State @ West Virginia (ESPN+)
  • North Alabama @ Memphis (ESPN+)
  • MontanaMontana State (“Brawl of the Wild”; MTN/ESPN+)

2:15: Oregon State @ Arizona State (ESPN2): Unlike their Tuscon brothers, Arizona State is just bad in a kind of boring way. Beavers should roll.

2:30: Boston College @ Notre Dame (NBC): Here’s another one of Notre Dame’s 37 traditional rivals, and another one where they should win comfortably.

3:30:

  • Georgia @ Kentucky (CBS): I have a feeling next weekend will be the most UGA football I’ve watched all year.
  • Ohio State @ Maryland (ESPN): See what I said about Michigan earlier, though Illinois is definitely way more threatening than the Terps at this point.
  • Texas @ Kansas (FS1): Okay, so in years past Kansas would 100% win this game. But since they’re halfway decent this year, I think Texas figure to roll.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Rutgers (BTN): Penn State will continue their campaign to demonstrate how thoroughly they are the third-best team in the Big Ten.
  • South Alabama @ Southern Mississippi (NFLN): South Alabama has a lead in the Sun Belt west over USM, they’re been a pretty good outfit this year. I’ll take ’em.
  • North Carolina State @ Louisville (ACC/RSN): NC State just seems to have been snakebit this season, and I think that will continue by continuing Louisville’s somewhat inexplicable good season.
  • Utah Tech @ Brigham Young (BYUTV/espn3.com)
  • Louisiana Tech @ Charlotte (espn3.com)
  • Florida Atlantic @ Middle Tennessee State (ESPN+)
  • Old Dominion @ Appalachian State (ESPN+)
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Troy (ESPN+)
  • North Dakota North Dakota State (ESPN+)

4:00:

  • Iowa @ Minnesota (FOX): Everyone’s favorite pig trophy is in play here, and I like Minnesota’s ability to play any offense at all here, along with the game being at home.
  • Cincinnati @ Temple (ESPNU): Temple is bad, and it’ll be a good test for Cincy to see if they can put a team like this away.
  • Western Kentucky @ Auburn (SEC): So some metrics have Western Kentucky as a favorite, and I sort of agree? That said, it’s hard to factor in emotion, and this team seems like to like playing for Cadillac. I think this can go either way.
  • Florida International @ Texas-El Paso (ESPN+)

5:30:

  • Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (ESPN2): My main hope for the remainder of the season is that we can avoid the combined 110-0 losses we took in the last two games of last season. That’s about it.
  • Stanford @ California (“The Big Game”; Pac12): The Big Game will be a sellout over in Berkeley. Both of these teams are bad, but Stanford is bad in a sense that nothing they do really works, whereas Cal is more just kind of challenged in some ways. Taking the Bears here.

6:00: Marshall @ Georgia Southern (ESPN+)

7:00:

  • Tennessee @ South Carolina (ESPN): Vols should continue to roll against an inconsistent Gamecocks squad.
  • Texas Tech @ Iowa State (FS1): Just picking this one based on vibes: Texas Tech.
  • Boise State @ Wyoming (CBSS): The Mountain West is down bad this year, which has thus far benefited a rebuilding Boise bunch. And I suspect it will continue to.

7:30:

  • Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (“Bedlam”; ABC): Unless something changes, we’re winding toward the conclusion of Bedlam as a thing. The Pokes won last year in one of the year’s best games. This year’s game also figures to be weird, but it’s hard to tell which way. The Sooners have faced several headwinds with their new coach, whereas Oklahoma State looked playoff bound (or at least Big 12 championship game bound) until they very much weren’t in an inexplicable two week stretch. (Well, okay, it’s partially explicable: they’ve got quarterback injuries.) Which of these two things will prevail here? Well, all I have to do is look at the historical record in this series and… pick Oklahoma.
  • New Mexico State @ Missouri (ESPNU): Mizzou should have no issues here.
  • Mississippi @ Arkansas (SEC): With KJ Jefferson limited by injuries, Ole Miss should have no issues here.

8:00:

  • Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (FOX): The crosstown rivalry that doesn’t have an agreed-upon name is back, and it’s in the Rose Bowl this team. UCLA’s loss, as previously mentioned, limits the luster here. But USC still has a possible path to the playoff, so they need to win here. The way it’s been going in the Pac-12 makes me think that means UCLA’s going to win.
  • Syracuse @ Wake Forest (ACCN): I still don’t believe Syracuse.

9:00:

  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Louisiana State (ESPN2): LSU should roll.
  • Colorado State @ Air Force (FS2): This is a rivalry between the two G5 Colorado schools, but Air Force should absolutely trounce a very, very bad Colorado State team.
  • Colorado @ Washington (Pac12): If this 1992, this would be the game of the century of the week. Alas, it is not. Dubs get a dub.

9:45: San Jose State @ Utah State (FS1): Utah State also isn’t good, and I keep forgetting SJSU kind of is, so, again.

10:30:

  • Utah @ Oregon (ESPN): So… what everyone is wondering is: “is this going to be like last year where Utah absolutely punched Oregon in the mouth repeatedly for 60 minutes twice within three weeks?” This year’s version of the Ducks does seem a little tougher, though, and yeah I know they lost to Washington last week. If they can score early, that’ll limit Utah’s ability to punch them repeatedly and will force the Utes to play catch-up. I’m picking Oregon, but I’d think this can go either way.
  • Fresno State @ Nevada (CBSS): It should be cold and maybe even snowy in Reno, but Fresno should have no issues.

11:00: Nevada-Las Vegas @ Hawaii (Team1Sports)

Bowl Predictions 2022: Week 3

They’re up, hot and fresh over at the usual place. Let’s hit the high notes.

  • I wound up short 1 team, so I slotted JMU in per the NCAA criteria. I still need to confirm if this is actually possible. For now, we continue to tick up to the required number: we now have 64 bowl eligible teams, so we need 18 more.
  • The playoff picture looks different this week since I wound up doing this after the post-Week 11 rankings were released. I’m counting on LSU getting punished for losing to UGA in the SEC Championship Game, otherwise, we’ll probably have 4 SEC teams. Tennessee will continue to be a fringe playoff contender unless they lose, and Bama doesn’t look like it can fall out of the top 10.
  • Man, Texas-Oregon would be a rad Alamo Bowl. And, of course, we continue to project, and root for, the ultimate Sun Bowl rematch.
  • Finally, shout out to the University of Connecticut Huskies, for not only defeating Liberty, but getting to 6 wins in the process. Look, if we wind up with 82 other teams that are bowl eligible, the Huskies probably won’t get in, since they don’t have any official tie-ins and among other teams in that situation (BYU and Liberty), they’re probably at the bottom of the pecking order. It always seems to shake out that enough upsets happen to get us to enough teams, but if we’re at exactly 82 or less, UConn’s going to go bowling for the first time for the first time since 2015.