College Football Rivalry Week Preview

Ri·val·ry

noun

  1. competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.
It’s that time of year again in college football – rivalry week! This year’s slate will have massive implications on the race for the College Football Playoff. Can Alabama make a statement that it belongs in the playoff, even without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa? Can a Michigan team playing its best football of the season do anything to slow down Ohio State? Is Minnesota for real? Can Notre Dame win at Stanford for the first time since 2007? Will Bedlam produce…well, bedlam? Find out below!
Virginia Tech @ Virginia
  • Where: Charlottesville, VA
  • When: Friday, 12pm ET
  • Line: Virginia Tech (-2.5)
  • Why do you care: To get an answer to the question, could a loss actually be better than a win? The winner clinches a spot in the ACC Championship / gets penciled in for a 40 point loss on national television. With Clemson likely heading to the College Football Playoff, the next highest ranked team in the ACC will head to the Orange Bowl. Could the loser of this game, spared a primetime embarrassment the following week against Clemson, actually end up ranked higher than the winner?
  • Prediction: In a toss-up game, go with the better quarterback. Virginia Tech is playing well and has dominated this rivalry, but Bryce Perkins makes enough plays to win it for the Cavaliers. Virigina 31 Virginia Tech 28
  • Betting Advice: Take the Cavs on the moneyline

Texas Tech @ Texas

  • Where: Austin, TX
  • When: Friday, 12pm ET
  • Line: Texas (-10)
  • Why do you care: Because humanity has a morbid fascination with watching disasters, car accidents, and by extension, Texas’s 2019 season. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see the reaction down in Austin if Texas loses to TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech in the same year.
  • Prediction: Generally, nothing has been easy for Texas this year. 2 of their 6 wins are on last second field goals. Make it 3. Texas 33 Texas Tech 31
  • Betting Advice: Texas is only 5-6 against the spread this year, and 10 points is alot of points to give in a rivalry game when the favorite has nothing to play for. Take the points with the Red Raiders.

Cincinnati @ Memphis

  • Where: Memphis, TN
  • When: Friday, 3:30pm ET
  • Line: Memphis (-12)
  • Why do you care: The winner of this game is only one step away from the Cotton Bowl as the Group of 5 representative, and this game will showcase the two best teams in the American Conference, which has been sneaky good this year. Cincinnati has recovered admirably from getting boat-raced by Ohio State earlier this year, and Florida State fans can tune in to get a glimpse of Memphis coach Mike Norvell, rumored to be one of the leading candidates for the job in Tallahassee.
  • Prediction: Memphis has more talent and is playing at home. Big plays are the difference in this game, as the 8th ranked offense in the country finds a way to get the ball in the end zone against a stingy Bearcats defense allowing less than 20 points per game. Memphis 34 Cincinnati 23
  • Betting Advice: Memphis has been great ATS this year (8-3), but each team has everything to play for. This feels like a one-score game until a late Tigers touchdown. Take the points with the Bearcats.

Washington State @ Washington

  • Where: Seattle, WA
  • When: Friday, 4pm ET
  • Line: Washington (-7.5)
  • Why do you care: When you have an opportunity to watch Mike Leach, take it. That, coupled with the fact that Wazzu and Washington have been arguably the two most inconsistent teams in the country
  • Prediction: This blogger has seen Washington play both Oregon and Utah, and while the Dawgs have loads of talent on offense (though inconsistent at times), it has been shocking to see how weak they’ve been against the run, especially between the tackles. The good news for Washington is that the Cougars have their own defensive issues, and would rather throw it than run it. Washington 34 Washington State 31
  • Betting Advice: Stay far, far away. Anything could happen in this game. If you just can’t stay away, do yourself a favor and throw the Dawgs in a teaser at -1.5.

Ohio State @ Michigan

  • Where: Ann Arbor, MI
  • When: Saturday, 12pm ET
  • Line: Ohio State (-9)
  • Why do you care: In addition to being arguably the biggest rivalry in College Football, the Buckeyes jumped LSU for the #1 ranking this week. Michigan would like nothing more than to derail the Buckeyes’ season, and a win in this game would completely change the tenor of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure.
  • Prediction: You could argue that we’re due for Ohio State’s annual unexplained road meltdown, but this Buckeye team feels different. As covered in this week’s 1st and 10, the run game of the Buckeyes, coupled with the ability of Chase Young and company to get pressure without needing to bring extra rushers, will allow Ohio State to win big. Ohio State 45 Michigan 20
  • Betting Advice: Give the points. Buckeyes win going away.

Alabama @ Auburn

  • Where: Auburn, AL
  • When: Saturday, 3:30pm ET
  • Line: Alabama (-3)
  • Why do you care: While this blogger hopes you don’t care enough to go out and poison some trees, this, along with Ohio State-Michigan, is the marquee matchup of the weekend. The Tide are sitting in position to snag the 4th spot in the CFP should Georgia lose in the SEC Championship, but have to prove to the committee that they are “unequivocally” better than the PAC-12 champion, should Utah beat Colorado and Oregon. The Tigers have already lost 3 games, but still boast the #11 scoring defense in the country and are smelling blood in the water with an unproven Mac Jones at quarterback for the Tide.
  • Prediction: Even though Jones is unproven, he will still be the best quarterback on the field, and true freshman Bo Nix is too inaccurate for Saban to allow him to beat the Tide. Alabama won’t make anything easy for Nix, and though the LSU game took some of the luster off of the Crimson Tide defense, they’re actually ranked higher than Auburn’s (though the schedule has been soft). Alabama is in control the entire time, and wins. Alabama 24 Auburn 13
  • Betting Advice: There’s money to be made on this game, even though the Tigers have been great (8-3) against the spread this year. This blogger could throw the ball to those Tide receivers, and they still have Najee Harris. Give the points with confidence.

Wisconsin @ Minnesota

  • Where: Minneapolis, MN
  • When: Saturday, 3:30pm
  • Line: Wisconsin (-2.5)
  • Why do you care: If you’re watching this game, you probably just fine with the approach of winter and are looking forward to ice fishing season starting again. Or, you could be a fan of crew events who happened to tune in at the start having heard everyone talking about “rowing the boat”, and are surprised to find a football game being played. Beyond the jokes, there’s a whole “boatload” (ok, last one) of reasons to be excited about this game. This is the most frequently played rivalry in college football history, but seldom have both of these teams been good at the same time. In addition to claiming the Big 10 West title and a shot at Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship, a New Year’s Six bowl is still in play for the winner. Minnesota still has an outside shot at crashing the CFP.
  • Prediction: Minnesota has been tough at home and has experience both playing in and winning close games this year. Battles of two evenly matched teams often come down to quarterback play and who makes explosive plays. Give me Tanner Morgan over Jack Coan. Minnesota 27 Wisconsin 24
  • Betting Advice: There’s something in the water in Minneapolis this year, and the Gophers actually have an offense. Don’t forget that they won in Camp Randall Stadium last year, and won’t be intimidated by the Badger rushing attack. Go with destiny and Minnesota on the moneyline.
    • Bonus Prop Bet: The AFLAC trivia question will be “what is the most frequently played rivalry in college football history”.

Notre Dame @ Stanford

  • Where: Palo Alto, CA
  • When: Saturday, 4pm ET
  • Line: Notre Dame (-16.5)
  • Why do you care: This game will settle the title of “who is the best academic football school”, and always seems to be a physical battle. This blogger has also found this to be one of the best “uniform games”, as there’s something about those gleaming Irish helmets clashing with the simple white and cardinal jerseys of Stanford that’s hauntingly beautiful. The Stanford band will be there (for better or worse), and it’s also a chance for us all to shake our heads about the lack of fan support that David Shaw’s team gets–on Thanksgiving weekend during a down year on the Farm, count on alot of empty seats and maybe more Irish than Cardinal fans.
  • Prediction: This game shouldn’t be close, with the Irish already having superior talent before factoring in Stanford’s rash of injuries. That being said, weather is always the great equalizer (especially on a natural grass surface), and the current forecast calls for heavy rain, which could be a problem as the Irish have struggled to run the ball this year. Also, the last time we saw the Irish in the rain, Ian Book went 8-25 passing in Ann Arbor, and who can forget Brian Kelly throwing 40 times in a hurricane at NC State in 2016. However, the Irish are due to win at Stanford, not having done so since 2007, and talent will eventually allow the Irish offense to wear down the Cardinal defense. Stanford will also struggle to move the ball on a resurgent Notre Dame defense. Notre Dame 24 Stanford 10
  • Betting Advice: Though the Irish will win, take the points with the Cardinal. This projects to be a low scoring affair unless the weather forecast changes. Do yourself a favor and wait until Saturday to put this one in.

Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State

  • Where: Stillwater, OK
  • When: Saturday, 8pm ET
  • Line: Oklahoma (-13)
  • Why do you care: This game was heading toward a trendy upset until the season-ending injury to Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders. That being said, the Cowboys still have the Heisman-candidate-you’ve-never-heard-of Chuba Hubbard, who should break the 2,000 yard mark this year (currently has 1,832 yards) and has already rushed for 20 touchdowns. The Sooners offense is always must-see TV, especially with a fully healthy CeeDee Lamb, but their defense always makes things interesting.
  • Prediction: Neither defense is good, but the injury to Spencer Sanders will make the Cowboys over-reliant on the running game. Also, graduate transfer quarterback Dru Brown is more of a pocket passer, and the Sooners have been good at getting after the passer this year on the road, averaging 4 sacks per game away from Norman (and oddly only one sack per game at home). Count on Oklahoma to get after the passer and win the turnover battle. The Cowboys will score, but Oklahoma’s defense will be able to limit their possessions. Oklahoma 41 Oklahoma State 33
  • Betting Advice: In the first Bedlam since T. Boone Pickens, the Oklahoma State megadonor, passed away, count on some mysterious gusts of wind and quirky bounces in the stadium that bears his name. Also, in the last 4 games, Oklahoma has only outscored opponents by a single point, 145-144. Take the points with the Cowboys

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