In general, Week 13 isn’t going to give us a Weekend of Humongitude, so let’s just get that out of the way up front. We’re in it for love of the game this week, at least when it comes to those in the Top 10. But there are a few classic rivalries getting their digs in this week, instead of next week when the fans will be stuffed with turkey and dressing, and snoring on the couch.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is now 2-8. You think your team sucks? Hah. Don’t wanna hear it. Tulsa will be at Houston on Saturday. The Cougars are giving 21, which, although Houston’s not that good this year, is a show of rank timidity on someone’s part.
Newly re-ranked #21 Oklahoma will be at home hosting Kansas, with every prospect of losing another one if the Sooners start as slowly and play as sloppily as they did in their victory last week against Texas Tech. The CFB seems to overreact wildly to these week-to-week vicissitudes of football. (We’re trying not to imagine Condi Rice having something to do with that, because that would be silly. We urge the CFB ranking process to adhere to a similar, silliness-eschewing standard.)
The Sooners give 25, because Oklahoma fans would bet on the Sooners, and take points, if the Sooners’ third string had to line up against a 9.0 earthquake and a once-in-a-millennium-level tidal wave.
Oklahoma State (5-5) will be at #7 Baylor for what everyone assumes will be a whuppin’. Everyone is probably right. The Okie Pokes’ “bend but don’t break” defense has pretty much dwindled into a “bend, break, and grab the thesaurus because there’s more collapse coming” defense. Plus, they have only one trick on offense, so until the Girl Scout back-ups come on for the opponent in the second half, they’re pretty easy to stop, if they should happen to cease stopping themselves, for a drive or so, with miscues. Bears gives 28.5.
Navy (5-5) has the week off. Army (3-7) hosts Fordham (FCS, Patriot) on Saturday, and should certainly be favored, although the 10-1 Rams lead their conference. The Army game will be Fordham’s only FBS venture this season.
Air Force, 8-2, heads to San Diego State on Friday night for a Mountain West confrontation. The Aztecs are 5-5 and have already lost to Nevada (their division leader), which will be favored in both its final games (although neither will be a gimme). So they’re basically playing for pride at this point. On the other hand, Air Force is too: in the Mountain Division, it has little hope of catching the top three (Colorado State, Boise State, and Utah State). The Falcons are nice bowl-bait now, however. SDSU is giving 6 for this one.
Virginia Tech, now 5-5 and with a new outlook on bowl eligibility, will be at Wake Forest on Saturday. The 2-8 Demon Deacons are terrible, having defeated only one FBS team (Army) this season, and that by a narrow 24-21. OK, so a bowl bid is an outside shot, with half the ACC bringing better W/L records to Week 13. It’s still fun for VT to be giving points (15) for good reason this week.
Nevada hosts Fresno State Saturday night late, and does want to win this one to put the MWC West Division to bed. Nevada’s on top, but the Wolf Pack (6-4) and Bulldogs (4-6) are both 3-3 conference, tied in the division with two games left. The Pack can seal the deal with a win. They’re giving 6-ish, and may have something of an advantage with the weather forecast: 30s and falling, with strong winds.
TCU has slipped a notch to #5 after the scare from Kansas, and shouldn’t lose much ground having the weekend off, given the lopsided matches facing the rest of the Top 10.
Kansas State, meanwhile, has edged up to #12, and after a weekend off will be gratifying fans with a Thursday night face-off with West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have developed something of an Arkansas-type rep in the Big 12 these days, regularly scaring the conference leaders and sometimes knocking them off unexpectedly. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see WVU giving 2.5 for tonight’s game. (The weather shouldn’t be a big factor, with 40s and cloudy, but no precip, expected at game time.)
LSU, thoroughly de-ranked after the loss to Arkansas, has the week off.
Wyoming (4-6) hosts Boise State Saturday night. The setting will be cold (30s) and very windy, but both teams are used to that. Broncos give 12.
#1 Alabama is doing some of that SEC pro bono work this week, hosting one of our all-time favorite FCS teams, the Western Carolina Catamounts (Southern; 7-4 and in 2nd). If the Tide runs true to form, it will underperform on offense. Which won’t matter.
#2 Oregon gives 32.5 hosting Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) in Eugene. #3 Florida State (new nickname: “Drama U.”) hosts ACC opponent Boston College, which hasn’t been completely terrible this year, and may give the slow-starting ‘Noles a scare. FSU gives 17.
#4 Mississippi State hosts a hapless Vanderbilt on Saturday, giving 30.5.
Ohio State is now ranked #6 for no very good reason, and isn’t likely to get a comeuppance from Indiana on Saturday. (Even the Buckeye bettors, notorious skinflints that they are, have OSU favored by 34.) #8 Ole Miss heads to Arkansas for its ritual Hog-scare; Rebels give 3 at this writing.
UCLA has bobbed back into the Top 10 like the turd in the proverbial punch bowl, and takes its #9 ranking into the annual Storied Rivalry clash with #19 USC. Trojan fans seem to be asleep at the switch: the Bruins give 4 right now. (We’re pulling for UCLA here, but objectively, USC can totally beat them.) The rumble in LA has the marquee slot on Saturday evening, and the weather prediction is sobering: 60s and clear, with a glorious sunset developing, for the 5 PM (PST) kickoff in the Rose Bowl. Fans may want a light jacket.
Georgia, back in the Top 10 at #10, will host Charleston Southern (FCS, Big South).
Best of the rest
In rivalry action, North Carolina and Duke play Thursday night for one of those “Victory Bells” the FBS is lousy with. We do prefer brass spittoons. We congratulate Toledo, meanwhile, on knocking off a favored Bowling Green in their rivalry game on Wednesday night. They play for the I-75 Trophy, which has a hip, lava-lamp-era ring to it.
Iowa and #16 Wisconsin will play for the Heartland Trophy on Saturday, with Badgers currently favored by 10. Pitt and Syracuse square off for the aptly named Pitt-Syracuse rivalry. Both come in with losing records, but the Panthers have the nod, by 7.5, from the betting fraternity.
Stanford will be at Cal for the annual fight over the Stanford Axe, and who knew they’d both be 5-5 at this point in 2014? Fittingly, the Axe was adopted as the knickknack of choice for this rivalry after a Stanford cheering squad riffed on Aristophanes prior to the 1899 game. Reportedly, the Stanford undergrads hollered the following subtly allusive literary cheer, while decapitating a straw man with an axe:
Give ’em the axe, the axe, the axe!
Give ’em the axe, the axe, the axe!
Give ’em the axe, give ’em the axe,
Give ’em the axe, where?
Right in the neck, in the neck, in the neck!
Right in the neck, in the neck, in the neck!
Right in the neck, right in the neck,
Right in the neck! There!
That would certainly make us want to take an axe to somebody. There was petty theft of the Axe over the years, and eventually it was mounted on a wooden trophy board to keep it from falling apart. The Muted Mauve gives 5.5.
In other games of note, we figure one of #23 Nebraska and #25 Minnesota will drop out of the Top 25 after their match on Saturday. Just guessing there. We’re calling it the LOL Bowl.
There’s a possibility of some good football when #15 Arizona and #17 Utah square off in Salt Lake City. A dark day in the 40s with serious rain predicted for this one. Youths give 4.
In FCS, McNeese State has slid to #17 after the loss to Southeastern Louisiana. The 6-4 Cowboys host their final game Saturday against Lamar (Beaumont, TX). The Lamar Cardinals come in 7-4, with both teams 4-3 conference. McNeese has lost to three of four teams above it in the Southland standings, and can’t advance to the playoffs now. But we certainly wish the Cowboys well. 60s and thunderstorms for the 6 PM (CST) kickoff in Lake Charles.
In Division III, Rose-Hulman thumped Earlham to finish the season 7-3. Good job, Fightin’ Engineers! The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standard will head into round 1 of the Div III playoffs with the Grizzlies of Franklin College (IN), who will meet Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN) on Saturday. 40s and wet.
Christopher Newport, USA South champion, plays Delaware Valley College in round 1. The Captains will be at DVC’s home field in Doylestown, PA. 30s but no precip expected.
Merchant Marine finished the season 2-8, and we’re darn positive about those 2. The Liberty League will be ably represented in round 1 by Hobart College, which will host Ithaca in Geneva, NY on Saturday. That, at least, is the current plan; it’s not clear how much will actually be happening anywhere in New York over the next 72 hours. Geneva should see 30s and a winter mix by Saturday, but is set to be clocked with additional snow between now and then.
Chiefs will be at Raiders Thursday evening, for a performance practically everyone assumes they could mail in. (Update: as this goes to post, the Raiders – Raiders! – are up 14-3 on KC at the half.)
Sunday has a few juicy ones lined up, including a Dolphins at Broncos game that the Broncos need, to pace the Chiefs, and Miami won’t be a pushover for. Dolphins bring a real bag of tricks against the throw, even if CB Finnegan doesn’t make the game. Could be some fireworks there, not to mention a challenge for Peyton and his merry men.
The 7-3 Lions could have a real shot against the Patriots, in one of those cross-conference games that may actually make a difference as the season wears on.
Cardinals at Seahawks and Cowboys at Giants (in the Sunday night slot) will be festive.
Ravens are at Saints for a Monday night gig, and we’re not quite sure when the Jets will play the Bills. Right now they’re saying they can’t get the field ready by Sunday afternoon. There’s a placeholder on Monday night, but it’s still up in the air.
Steelers have the week off.