The melancholy of an ending season arrives just in time for rivalry week – and Thanksgiving. This is why we love football.
Today brings the South Florida-Central Florida rivalry game, with the Bulls zipping across I-4 to play the Golden Knights in Orlando. (It’s a used-to-be-stationed-there thing. Go Bulls!)
And Texas Tech will be at Texas, trying manfully to stand in for A&M. Those of us who grew up on the Texas-A&M game will probably never quite warm up to UT-TTU as the new premier state rivalry. But we wish the best to both teams. Longhorns give 1. (Whoa – Texas just made it a game, coming back with a TD run from what was starting to look like a creaming by Tech. Hey, I had to stop and do phone calls in the middle of writing this.)
Eagles and Lions are tied at the top of the 2Q as I type this. (Update: Eagles would have done well to just forfeit at that point.) Cowboys, con Romo, host the unbeaten Panthers at 3:30 PM Central, and danged if Dallas isn’t giving 1 now. (Which was ridiculous. Cowboys now sans Romo again.)
Bears are at Packers (-7) this evening for a classic clash with a whiff of yesteryear. With precip.
Full slate of football on Friday of this holiday weekend; details below.
The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (5-6), which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, meets Tulane (3-8) in New Orleans for the final game of the season. TU gives 7.5 and has a good shot at taking this one to end at .500 – a better finish than last year, for sure. The game will be at Tulane’s sparkly, year-old Yulman Stadium, which is all, like, good on Tulane, congrats, dude – but we do miss the cavernous, echoing effect of Tulsa playing Tulane in the Superdome. With maybe 8,000-10,000 fans between the two schools, it looked like one of those movie moments where the guy with an inside connection lets his pals into an empty stadium.
OK, so we were wrong. The CFB dropped Notre Dame and took the flyer on new #3 Oklahoma (10-1) – and that usually bodes ill for the Sooners. They don’t handle ranking ascents well. So it’s the perfect time for…
… with new #11 Oklahoma State, now 10-1 after a painful loss to new #7 Baylor. OU’s Baker Mayfield will reportedly be playing, having been cleared from concussion fears after the “targeting” hit in the TCU game. We’re hoping Perine doesn’t need light duty on Saturday, but Shepard and Mixon make that an easier pill to swallow, if so. Just keep Zack Sanchez healthy on D. Sooners give 7, but Gundy Ball has bitten some great teams in the hind-parts this season.
This one, like most of the Rivalry Week clashes, ain’t about the trophy. (Which is a bell, BTW. Yawn.) The one thing we can guarantee is the “Bedlam” aspect of the game, which is in Stillwater this year. Marquee slot Saturday evening.
Navy, #15, is playing for the American-West title in a big collision at Houston on Friday. Temple already has the East Division locked down, but in the West, it all comes down to tomorrow’s game. Navy is 9-1, with The Game left to play in December; 7-0 American. Houston is 10-1, but 6-1 conference, having dropped one unexpectedly to UConn last week. Navy’s Keenan Reynolds is being discussed as an outside Heisman shot, something we’re not expecting to go anywhere, but indicative of how his throwing arm and comfort behind center have improved, as much as his running prowess. Mids give 3.5.
Army (2-9) will be preparing for The Game in Philly on the 12th. Air Force (8-3) wraps up the regular season at New Mexico on Saturday – but having quietly burbled up to seal the Mountain West-Mountain title, is already slated to meet San Diego State in the MWC championship game on 5 December. Falcons give 10 in Albuquerque.
Virginia Tech (5-6) still has the shot at bowl eligibility as it heads up to Charlottesville for the annual rivalry clash for the Commonwealth Cup with UVA (4-7). Hokie fans would love to see the team win Frank Beamer’s final game. The oddsdudes think they will, for what that’s worth. VT gives 3.5. Right now it looks like weather won’t be a factor, in the Yahoos’ mountain redoubt.
Nevada, 6-5, finishes the season at San Diego State on Saturday. The 8-3 Aztecs have already locked up the Mountain West-West at this point, so the Pack is playing for pride. SDSU gives 17.
Finally, it’s time for the “Revivalry” – the big rivalry meet between #7 Baylor and #19 TCU, still two of the best teams in FBS football. The Bears head to Fort Worth on Friday for this one. Baylor won it 61-58 last year, and we haven’t seen signs of a whole lot more defense from either team this year, so fasten your seatbelts. Frogs give 1-ish.
LSU (7-3) will host Texas A&M (8-3) for their revived rivalry on Saturday. The long-interrupted rivalry goes back to 1899, but of course it doesn’t yet have the place in fans’ hearts that the teams’ pre-defection rivalries hold. (Long-time fans of football in Texas are still getting used to the SEC-era use of the abbreviation “TAMU” to refer to the Aggies. TAMU is for outlanders; for real Texans, the school is “A&M.” Gig ‘em, BTW.) LSU gives 5.5 in the line. The Tigers will end the season with an 11-game record, because their week 1 bout with McNeese State ended up canceled due to weather.
Kansas State (4-6) will be at Kansas (0-11) to play their Storied Rivalry game on Saturday. We don’t know if our correspondent NaCly gets to man a concession booth for that or not, since it’s in Lawrence. It’s been a tough year for the FBS in the Sunflower State, but the fans tend to show up for the rivalry matches just the same. They’re duking it out for the Governor’s Cup; Wildcats give 20.
1-10 Wyoming hosts UNLV (3-8), for a game the Rebels might secretly prefer to just “not and say they did.” Classic late-fall football weather in the Rockies: maybe 25F at kickoff, if they’re lucky, with lowering clouds and a chance of freezy precip. The Pokes should be used to it. Good luck to everyone involved.
#24 Toledo (9-1) hosts Western Michigan in amongst the Friday scrum, with the weather probably sloppier than in Laramie, with rain forecast, but about 20 degrees warmer. Rockets give 8. The big news for Toledo is that Ohio knocked off Northern Illinois on Tuesday night – so if I read it right, Toledo nails the division with a win over WMU, and faces Bowling Green in the MAC championship game.
Penn State, 7-4, heads to #5 Michigan State (10-1) on Saturday for the Land Grant Trophy rivalry. This one’s a two-fer: one of our all-time favorite trophies – which really does look like garage-sale junk; it looks like an early-60s-era telephone table – and Michigan State on a mission to reclaim a spot in the final four. The oddsquad is optimistic; it has the Spartans giving 10.5 after last week’s epic knock-off of the Buckeyes.
#1 Clemson faces South Carolina (motto: The Other USC – and boy, this year, we’re wearing it like a necklace) in the Palmetto Bowl, giving 17. After last week’s humiliation at The Citadel’s hands, no one gives the Gamecocks any chance. So Clemson will get all the way to the ACC title game without playing anybody. This CFB is so much better than the BCS.
No one gives Auburn much of a shot hosting #2 Alabama (-14.5) in the storied Iron Bowl.
#4 Iowa is at Nebraska to face off for the humbly styled Heroes Trophy. The 11-0 Hawkeyes give a parsimonious 2.5 to the 5-6 Huskers, reflecting a certain dubiousness among bettors as to their true worth on the field.
Notre Dame, now #6, heads to #9 Stanford to duke it out for the equally humbly named Legends Trophy. The teams are 10-1 and 9-2, respectively; the Rose Petal gives 3.5.
In the standard-setter for rivalry classics, #8 Ohio State will be at #10 Michigan on Saturday. Also 10-1 and 9-2 respectively, the Big X teams promise one heck of a game. Buckeyes give 1 at this point, but we say keep your eye on Blue for this one.
In other games of note, the rivalry action just won’t quit this weekend. #20 Washington State will be at Washington (-7) for the Apple Cup. Oregon State heads to Eugene to clash with #17 Oregon for the Platypus Trophy in the Civil War. And the Platypus Trophy is pretty cool, as trophies go.
We’ve been waiting all year for Indiana and Purdue to fight for the Old Oaken Bucket, in part because we never pass up a chance to quote Samuel Woodworth waxing poetic on the topic of that very bucket, sometime before 1826.
“How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection presents them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
…And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well—
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.
George F. Kiallmark set this deathless poem to music in the fateful year 1826. If you’d like to enhance your enjoyment of the game this year, you can listen to the iconic Haydn Quartet – the best-known barbershop quartet of the early 20th century – singing “The Old Oaken Bucket” in 1906. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
Indiana gives 7.
Illinois hosts #16 Northwestern for the Land of Lincoln Trophy, which we like because it’s dapper and looks like a Monopoly playing piece. Wildcats give 3.5.
No Rivalry Week would be complete, of course, without the classic collision of 8-3 Wisconsin and 5-6 Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The Badgers are favored by 2-ish at Minnesota, and although we’re hard put to decide whether badgers or gophers are more manly, we’re in no such quandary as regards the Axe.
Boston College gives 3 in the rivalry match at Syracuse.
Louisville gives 5 at Kentucky for the Governor’s Cup rivalry. Vanderbilt heads to Tennessee for their Storied Rivalry clash; Vols give 17.5.
The battle of #14 North Carolina and NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) hits the gridiron in Raleigh on Saturday. Tar Heels give 5-ish.
Moving further south, Georgia (8-3) and Georgia Tech (3-8) are both totally unranked as they meet for their Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate rivalry. Bulldogs give 4.
#18 Ole Miss will be at #21 Mississippi State for the Egg Bowl, Rebels giving 1.
#13 Florida State is at #12 Florida, and who knows, maybe they’ll swap places in the ranking.
Out West, Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) will be at #23 Utah for the Rumble in the Rockies. The Youths give 16.
#22 UCLA goes slumming to meet USC in the Coliseum this year; after an up-and-down season for both, the Bruins come in 8-3 and the Trojans 7-4. They’re playing for the PAC-12 South honors and the chance to face Stanford for the conference title. They’re also incredibly boring. Since this is the PAC-12, you won’t be surprised that unranked USC is giving 3 to the Bruins.
We also note that Louisiana-Monroe (1-10, Sun Belt) is at Hawaii (2-10, Mountain West) for some reason on Saturday night. This sounds a bit fishy, but we applaud the Warhawks’ initiative.
In FCS, McNeese State (10-0) is idle in the first round of the playoffs, and will host the winner of Sam Houston State at Southern Utah (11/28) on 5 December.
It’s a full weekend for the balance of our inner-circle pros. Redskins Redskins Redskins host Giants early Sunday, with New York giving 4.
Saints will be at Texans, on the short end of 3.
Steelers are at Seahawks, contemplating a new lease on life after the Bengals’ recent slide. Seattle gives 3.
Broncos host a humongoid match with the Patriots in Sunday Night Football, Pats favored narrowly by about 2. This is the time for the Broncs to break out, if they’re gonna. It sounds like DeMarcus Ware will have to miss this one, which won’t help.
Ravens at Browns for Monday night.