Rivalry Weekend Predictions
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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Rivalry week is here. This is the week where you try to ignore - to the very best of your ability - those friends and coworkers that cheer for that hated other team. Superstitions are in full effect. The car flag waves all week. The family pet gets a fresh new team collar. Yes, this is that week where months of talking trash either make you look brilliant...or look like an idiot. And there isn't a whole lot in-between. Conference pride is on the line in four ACC-SEC games, and out West, Stanford looks to knock Notre Dame from the Playoff picture and climb back in themselves...Fans, buckle up, it is time for the most intense weekend of the season!
#20 Washington State (8-3) at Washington (5-6) - 3:30 - FOX - Ok, Cougars, thanks to "Prozach" in our forum, I have had my eye on you guys for a while now and am pulling for you to do big things. I knew Mike Leach could succeed at WSU, it just took a bit longer than I thought (12-25 in first 3 seasons). The division title is out for the Cougars as they lost to Stanford, but a very respectable bowl game is still to be had. Please guys, bring home the Apple Cup and finish the year strong!...Washington State, 31-24.
#4 Iowa (11-0) at Nebraska (5-6) - 3:30 - ABC - The Hawkeyes are in the Top 4 of the Playoff rankings, and for now, that is all good. But teams such as ND and Baylor and Michigan State are just drooling to climb back in. The Hawkeyes need to just take the "one game at a time" mentality and they will be fine. If they go unbeaten and win the B1G, they are in. As for this game, Nebraska is a big name, despite the record. A win here will help Iowa, but it will be tough. The Huskers are very prideful at home, and despite a sub .500 record, Vegas has the Huskers just a 1 point dog in this one. Man, what a tough game to pick! I have already predicted my uspet pick of the week, so I will stay with the favorite here. QB C.J. Beathard has protected the ball well for Iowa (just 3 interceptions in 2015)...Iowa, 28-26.
#7 Baylor (9-1) at #19 TCU (9-2) - 7:30 - ESPN - For the last couple of seasons, TCU and Baylor have found themselves as regulars in the Top 5 of the major polls. And while it looks like only Baylor now has an outside shot at making the Playoff, these two schools have shown they will no longer take a backseat to Texas or Texas A&M. These two schools are here to stay with great coaches and great facilities in a state with great recruiting. In this game, I will go with TCU to make the Big-12 picture even cloudier than it already is. The Horned Frogs deal Baylor their second loss, knocking them from consideration and making the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State winner the conference's best hope at getting in...TCU, 40-37.
#8 Ohio State (10-1) at #10 Michigan (9-2) - 12:00 - ABC - I knew Jim Harbaugh would turn things around in Ann Arbor, but I had no idea it would be this fast. In his very first season, he made a serious flirt with a big-time year. If not for the flukiest play ever against Michigan State, the Wolverines would be right in the thick of the Playoff chatter among the 1-loss teams. But despite the fine first-year effort, if Harbaugh loses to OSU, that is what folks will remember. Therefore, Michigan needs to come out and play the game of their lives to make 2015 the special year it can be. Ohio State will be looking to bounce back from a crushing defeat (again, MSU) to try to jockey for Playoff consideration. But UM will be too much...Michigan, 27-20.
VT (5-6) at Virginia (4-7) - 12:00 - ESPNU - Frank Beamer will get to leave regular season college football behind with a win here over a sorry Virginia team. Both schools have a chance at a crappy bowl (yes, a 5-win UVA could make a bowl in a weird year like this http://espn.go.com/blog/acc/post/_/id/88647/week-12-acc-bowl-projections-plenty-of-questions-still-to-be-answered ), but the main thing in this game is to get a win over the rival. The team truly in the need of a new coach is Virginia - not VT - but that is the way things go in college football sometimes. Beamer has run out of gas, but London never could coach to begin with. VT will play with emotion while UVA may or may not come out fired up. Man, the Cavaliers realy need to lose this coach...Virginia Tech, 31-24.
Louisville (6-5) at Kentucky (5-6) - 12:00 - SECN - The 4th ACC-SEC game of the day is this one where the Cardinals and Wildcats have no love lost between them as this rivalry starts on the hardwood but carries over hot to the other sports. Louisville hasn't exactly executed its "take over the ACC" plan as many of their fans predicted they would in football, and basically every sport. Instead, the Cardinals are 10-6 in ACC play in 2 seasons, finishing 3rd in the Atlantic both seasons. Kentucky, meanwhile, is once again the Kentucky we know on the gridiron: average at best. The Wildcats went on a 5-game losing streak midseason that sees them now hoping for a crappy bowl bid. I really don't know who to pick here. I am going to go with Louisville because they have some NFL looking guys on defense and I'd like to see our conference-mate get a rivalry win...Louisville, 33-24.
Georgia (8-3) at Georgia Tech (3-8) - 12:00 - ESPN2 - This version of Clean-Old-Fashioned-Hate will feature two fan bases that have hated the way this season has gone. In Athens, many fans hate Mark Richt, who turns in season after mediocre season after average season. In Atlanta, Paul Johnson and his boring brand of football were good for a grand total of 3 wins this year (albeit one of those was FSU). As these two teams prepare to put 2015 in the rear view mirror, somebody has to step up and win this game. I want to pick GT at home to put a decent ending on a bad season, but I just don't think they have it in them. Georgia is not very good this year, but I think they can go to Atlanta and get this done en route to a so-so bowl....Georgia, 28-20.
#1 Clemson (11-0) at South Carolina (3-8) - 12:00 - ESPN - You never say never in college football. The ball is shaped very odd and these kids can do crazy things. But with that said, I actually might get a touch of sleep this year the night before this big rivalry game. Let's face it, Clemson is putting their best team - maybe ever - out there against a USC team that is reeling from 8 losses and a coach that ditched them mid-season to join the old man golf circuit. The Tigers have 3 guys on defense alone that will probably turn pro early, a Heisman candidate at QB, and a running back that is possibly the best in the ACC. South Carolina has WR/ATH Pharoh Cooper and some physical guys on the lines of scrimmage, but that is about it. If Clemson were to somehow cough up the ball for 3 or 4 turnovers, and Cooper were to get loose a few times, the Gamecocks could make this interesting. But if Clemson plays even just a somewhat normal game, they will win going away. I don't think this will be an epic blowout as some are predicting, but I do think CU moves to 12-0 with a convincing win...Clemson, 38-14.
#14 North Carolina (10-1) at NC State (7-4) - 3:30 - ABC/ESPN2 - The Heels are getting absolutely no love from the Playoff committee, and I suppose that is fair enough as their schedule has not allowed for that big win. An opening loss to what has turned out to be a bad South Carolina team is killing them. So here is yet another game for UNC where the national media will yawn regardless of the outcome. The Pack are average (again) and whether the Heels beat them 24-23 or 50-0 it won't grab many folks national attention. But if they LOST, I suppose folks would take notice. While I am wishing UNC would climb the polls and make for a big-time ACCCG, it just doesnt seem to be happening. Plus, the Pack pulls the upset this week...NC State, 35-33.
#2 Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (6-5) - 3:30 - CBS - I was one finger-stroke away from picking Auburn to pull the upset this weekend when I decided to stop and rethink this. The Tigers have had a rough year, but we all know the athletes are there and they just need to all be on the same page at the same time. As for Alabama, I don't know what to think. Yes, they are good, but #2 good? The "signature" wins are over LSU and Georgia, who are big names, but not so great teams in 2015. The Playoff committee has already made it clear that Bama is in if they win out, so an Auburn victory would shake things up drastically. This will be a 60-minute stressfest, and I will give Saban the benefit of the doubt....Alabama, 31-27.
#22 UCLA (8-3) at USC (7-4) - 3:30 - ABC - Each year, I keep expecting one of these two schools to break out for that big, epic national title type of season. But it just doesn't happen. It seems like everything should be there for either of them to make a run, but somehow Oregon or Stanford or another PAC-12 team always seem to derail the plans. This year, the Bruins were preseason #13 and climbed up to #7 with folks talking about them surely being a Playoff squad. But sure enough, they lost in weeks 5 and 6 and were booted from the Top 25. USC, meanwhile, has had a decent season with all things considered and would love to make a decent bowl and gain some steam into 2016, regardless of who the coach may be...In fact, the Trojans have a ton on the line here. A win would send them to the conference title game and break a 3-game losing skid to their rival. For interim coach Clay Helton, a rivalry win and a conference title would go miles as far as him getting the full time gig...USC, 30-28.
#13 Florida State (9-2) at #12 Florida (10-1) - 7:30 -ESPN - For the first time in a few years, this game is pretty big on a national level. The Gators will appear in the SECCG and seem to be on the up and up under Jim McElwain. FSU meanwhile, is having a very strong year when considering they are rebuilding and are very young. In this one, Florida will rely on its strong defense (3rd nationally at 14.3 ppg) to slow down FSU running back Dalvin Cook. The Swamp will be on fire for this one and I see the Gators winning a thriller...Florida, 30-29.
#6 Notre Dame (10-1) at #9 Stanford (9-2) - 7:30 - FOX - The boys in Vegas have the Irish as the underdog here as they travel west to face rival Stanford. And while the Cardinal have 2 losses, they are still hopeful for things to work themselves out and slip into the CFP. Notre Dame, of course, has their own Playoff scenario in mind, and this could be the big win they need to get into the committee's brain. This will be perhaps the most intense game of what will be a great Saturday of football. Wide receivers Will Fuller of ND and Christian McCaffery of Stanford will highlight the action. This is a virtual toss up. I will take Stanford to defend home field...Stanford, 31-27.
#3 Oklahoma (10-1) at #11 Oklahoma State (10-1) - 8:00 - ABC - I can only imagine how intense this version of Bedlam will be. There is basically a Playoff spot on the line for Oklahoma, while the rival Cowboys look to knock them out, and re-submit their resume to the committee for a spot themselves. Could this be the big year that "Big Game" Bob Stoops needs to gain full support back in Norman? Will Mike "I'm 40" Gundy (he is actually 48 now) finally bust through for that epic year by slipping into the Playoff? Will Sooner QB Baker Mayfield set himself up for a trip to NY and the Heisman presentation? Or will Cowboy QB Mason Randolph continue his strong season (3,591 yards an 22 TDs), showing Mayfield he can play a little ball himself... There are more storylines than I can even keep up with here. In the end, I think the home team rallies and the Sooners are knocked from Playoff contention...Oklahoma State, 41-33.
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