Simply put, this is what we do best. As evidenced by our "Most Accurate BCS Predictions" title (2012 and 2013), we take pride in our season previews and weekly game picks. As we have done each week since we launched the site, the two of us will analyze, preview, and predict the results of the best SIX games each week.
RIVALRY WEEK SPECIAL: This is our most extensive weekly game coverage ever, with 19 games on tap. We have our full staff of writers on board here providing additional analysis. This is the final week of the regular season, and we would like to thank you for following along all season and constantly interacting on Twitter - there is never a dull moment with #PickSixNation.
Enjoy the Holidays and, as always: Enjoy your Football Weekend!
TCU AT TEXAS - BRETT CIANCIA
TCU finds itself in a debate that is characteristic of the Playoff’s controversial inaugural season. Despite losing head-to-head to Baylor, a team that is also 9-1, TCU is ranked 2 spots higher in the latest Committee Top 25. Should both teams win out, it would be Baylor that is considered Big 12 Champions, yet another criteria the committee was supposed to factor in. The time for that debate will come, but first TCU has one final test, a Thanksgiving roadtrip to Austin to face a revamped Texas team that has won 3 straight Big 12 games. TCU is a 28-point 4th quarter collapse away from being the undefeated #1 team in the nation, and they have done a nice job diverting attention away from their loss by scoring 82 points against Texas Tech and routing Top 15 Kansas State 41-20. Charlie Strong’s defense is looking stingy of late, and I expect the Horns to at least slow down TCU. Earlier in the week, I was ready to pull the trigger on this upset, but Texas still has some ways to go. It will come down to 3rd down conversions, red zone efficiency, and turnovers – I trust Trevone Boykin more than Tyrone Swoopes at this point. I think the Longhorns will give them a battle and keep it close, but look for TCU to continue their Playoff run.
TCU 27 TEXAS 23
LSU AT TEXAS A&M - RYAN TOURIAL
Both of these powerhouses are the perfect models for how erratic the SEC has been this year. The Tigers and the Aggies started this season incredibly strong with wins over Wisconsin and South Carolina respectively, and were immediately penciled in as contenders for the West. Since that first week, both teams have fallen into the doldrums of the SEC only to appear at the strangest of moments. After losing three straight games to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama, A&M eked out a win with freshman Kyle Allen at the helm in a hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium against Auburn. After that win, Missouri defeated the Aggies in Kyle Field on a rainy Saturday night. LSU took a beating against Auburn and Mississippi State, but were able to upend the then-undefeated Ole Miss Rebels. The Tigers are now on a two game losing streak after falling in the annual slobber-knocker against the Crimson Tide and suffering a shut out to Arkansas. The key to this weekend’s game is: who will show up? Kyle Allen has been solid in his first few games as A&M’s starter, but it is not the Aggies offense which will be the problem. While the Tigers' quarterback, Anthony Jennings, is having an up and down year like the rest of his team, he will probably face no issue on Saturday. Freshman running back, Leonard Fournette won’t have many issues either. The lone bright spot for the Aggies has been freshman, Myles Garret, but there is only so much one defensive end can do. LSU has just enough defense to be able to stop Tre Carson, Speedy Noil and Allen, but A&M has no defense to stop the LSU offense.
LSU 28 TEXAS A&M 24
NEBRASKA AT IOWA - BRETT CIANCIA
Just when we thought Nebraska might be finally turning the corner and entering Big Ten title and Playoff discussions, they revert back to their classic Pelini meltdown mode, giving up 581 rushing yards, 56 unanswered points, and a single-game rushing record to Wisconsin. They followed up that embarrassment by sleepwalking against Minnesota, allowing the Gophers to slowly come back and steal a victory on Senior Day. Now the “FIRE BO” buzz is back; how quickly the energy around the Husker program can shift! Iowa enters the Heroes Game with the opposite pair of losses, a 51-14 drubbing from Minnesota and a nail-biter loss to Wisconsin last Saturday. This is a squad that was a trendy pick by some preseason analysts to run the table due to an easy schedule. I was not in that crowd, placing Iowa 3rd behind UW and Nebraska in the West. Nor did I expect to see them 7-4 and limping into Rivalry Week. This offseason, Coach Ferentz attempted to overhaul the offense into a more up-tempo passing attack. In the process, the Hawkeyes have lost their power running identity, and score just 27 points a game (78th in NCAA). While the offense may not be up to the high hopes they expected, they are facing a defeated Blackshirts unit that continues to be pushed around and "out-physicalled" in the Big Ten. Further, the Nebraska offense comes in banged up, several star players and starters are listed as questionable (Kenny Bell, Jordan Westerkamp, Mark Pelini), while Ameer Abdullah still hasn’t looked 100% healthy yet. I’ve been down this road with Nebraska before; it appears that at times, the team quits on Pelini … maybe it’s time NU quits on Bo for good.
Since the series started up again in 2011, Nebraska won the first two but Iowa struck back with a 38-17 punch in the mouth last November in Lincoln. Look for a dejected Husker team to lay another egg, and for Iowa to remain the Heroes in this series.
IOWA 23 NEBRASKA 20
ARKANSAS AT MISSOURI - MIKE NOWOSWIAT
Missouri comes into this game with a lot at stake. Arkansas is playing on house money—they have secured their first SEC win under Bret Bielema and are now trying to add to their impressive dominating streak. Missouri has the potential to pose more of a challenge on offense than LSU and Ole Miss. LSU is very one-dimensional and Ole Miss is a one-man show under Bo Wallace with the loss of Laquon Treadwell. Missouri QB Maty Mauk has been very inconsistent, but has the potential to orchestrate a high-octane offense. At the same time, Arkansas should pose a greater challenge to Missouri’s defense than other teams have. Missouri’s defense features two stars on the edge, Shane Ray and Markus Golden. In the Tigers’ two worst losses of the year, Indiana and Georgia, both teams ran the ball north-south all game long. Arkansas has the biggest offensive line in the country and will look to do the same. The Hogs have only played three road games all year, so we don’t truly know what they perform like away from home. Against Mississippi State, Arkansas played pretty even, only to be outgained by about 50 yards. While Missouri has a lot to play for—and I’ve underestimated the Tigers before—Arkansas makes it three straight.
ARKANSAS 27 MISSOURI 24
ARIZONA STATE AT ARIZONA - JEFF VINTON
What’s the most intense rivalry in college football? Surely, it has to Auburn-Alabama. Just look at last year. 1 second on the clock, game tied, Alabama about to kick a field goal for the win, but wait! The kick is short, Chris Davis has the ball! Davis weaves past the multitude of white and crimson shirts and he’s in the endzone! Auburn wins the football game! The fans storm the field! A few years before that, in 2010, after another Auburn win (known as the Camback), Alabama fan Harvey Updyke decides to poison perhaps the most famous landmark in Auburn, Alabama, the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. That has to make it the most intense rivalry. No? Then maybe the Egg Bowl? The Red River Rivalry? Ohio State-Michigan?!
Actually, all of those would be incorrect. According to a study done by Dr. Joe Cobbs of Northern Kentucky University and Dr. David Tyler of Western Carolina University, the Territorial Cup, the annual rivalry waged between the University of Arizona and Arizona State is the most intense rivalry in college football, and Friday afternoon at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, the teams will face off again.
Both teams are coming into the game needing a win, along with a UCLA loss to Stanford, to qualify for the Pac-12 Championship Game. Whichever team wins will have a chance at a 10-win season and possibly a Top-10 finish at the end of the year. So, safe to say, a lot is on the line. This is also the first time since 1996 that both teams will come into their late-November matchup ranked.
For Arizona, the key to the game may be the health of quarterback Anu Solomon. Solomon sat out the second half of the Wildcats victory over Utah last week and had a walking boot on his foot protecting an ankle injury that he has been dealing with for the last few weeks. If he cannot go on Friday, look for backup Jesse Scroggins, who came in for the second half of the Utah game, to get the start and for the Wildcats to throw a heavy dose of RB Nick Wilson at the Sun Devil defense.
For ASU, having wide receiver Jaelen Strong back will be huge. Strong sat out the Washington State game last week due to a concussion and the Sun Devil offense looked stagnant at times without him. The Sun Devil offense should be back to normal productivity this week. But, the Sun Devils will really need to pick it up on defense if they want to take home the Territorial Cup for the 3rd-straight year. Against Washington State, the Sun Devils gave up 601 yards and 3 TDs through the air. In fact, in their last 3 games, the Sun Devil secondary has allowed 1,298 yards and 8 TDs. They will need to improve on that to win this game.
When it comes down to it, Todd Graham and QB Taylor Kelly just have RichRod’s number. Look for a very intense, very close game that may be decided by who gets the ball last.
ARIZONA STATE 38 ARIZONA 35
VIRGINIA AT VIRGINIA TECH - REED BAKICH
On Friday, the 96th annual battle for the Commonwealth Cup will take place with bowl eligibility being the prize at stake for the winning team. The in-state rivalry is one that Virginia Tech has dominated recently, winning 14 of the last 15 meetings. The Hokies (5-6, 2-5) also hold a 53-37-5 advantage in the series but come into this game after one of its most disappointing results in recent memory, a 6-3 OT loss to lowly Wake Forest. This season will likely go down as being described in a similar manner for Tech but it hopes to at least salvage another bowl berth and extend the leading active streak to 21 straight appearances. The same thing is on the line for Virginia (5-6, 3-4) as well as possibly the future of head coach Mike London. Quite oppositely though, the Cavaliers are fresh off its most impressive win of the season, a dominating 30-13 win over Miami after four consecutive losses. On paper, these teams are eerily similar and the comparisons go well beyond the 5-6 records. For starters, both teams possess below average offenses with slightly above average defenses. The disparity is more extreme for Virginia Tech partly due to last week’s exceptionally low scoring game. But both teams rank near the bottom of the ACC in most offensive categories and the root of woes for both teams can be attributed to a lack of quality skill players. The Hokies have an extremely weak running game that has resulted from injuries and poor line play. In the passing game its only impact player is TE Bucky Hodges who can create mismatches but could have a tough time against UVA’s talented safeties. Virginia is slightly more adept in the running game, which features its best skill player in senior RB Kevin Parks. That isn’t saying much though as the Hoos passing attack doesn’t really feature any notable playmakers. That may be more to do with quarterback play, as neither Grayson Lambert nor Matt Johns has provided much consistency at the position. The fact that both defensive units are solid should even further favor a defensive struggle in this game. Five of the seven ACC leaders in sacks come from these two teams (Coley, Harold, Valles for UVA and Nikolas, Ekanem for VT). The fact that these two teams are not only so evenly matched but also both have a lot to play for makes this an extremely difficult game to pick. At the end of the day though the game is in Blacksburg and Virginia hasn’t proven it can get over the hump that is the Hokies.
VIRGINIA TECH 16 VIRGINIA 13
MICHIGAN AT OHIO STATE - BRETT CIANCIA
Ohio State. Michigan. Simply put, it’s one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports. It’s a 365 day hate that is unmatched. You know a rivalry is truly special when it is still as bitter as ever despite a 9-1 series tilt over the past decade. Ohio State has owned the decade, but without fail, Michigan plays up to the test pushing the Buckeyes all the way to the final gun. The past two meetings saw undefeated OSU teams nearly upset by underwhelming UM squads. Not much has changed this time around, with Ohio State again chasing a National Championship and an under-matched Wolverine team coming to town to spoil their dreams.
While most discussion is focused on the Playoff debates within the Top 7, it is easy to lose focus of the amazing coaching job that Urban Meyer has pulled off (one of his finest ever in my opinion). He has turned a freshman QB into a Heisman contender, a talent and upside so high that even Braxton Miller has lost job security. Ohio State is averaging 44 points per game (5th in NCAA), and may have found yet another freshman spark on offense in Jalin Marshall. These are the type of playmakers that a Meyer offense thrives on. Michigan will not be able to matchup on either side of the ball. They enter 6-5, with Brady Hoke’s hot seat reaching all-time high temperatures. Devin Gardner has regressed even further, with a poor 8-14 TD-INT ratio. Vegas says the Bucks are 20-point favorites, and on paper it should be a blowout. But this series is weird in that regard, and I expect the Wolverines to manage to cover that spread. Ohio State heads to Indianapolis and waits for the Top 6 to slip up.
OHIO STATE 38 MICHIGAN 20
SOUTH CAROLINA AT CLEMSON - MIKE NOWOSWIAT
Clemson and Chad Morris’ offense hit rock bottom two weeks ago against Georgia Tech. Cole Stoudt had an infamously bad performance, throwing two pick sixes and another interception. The offense was unbearable to watch against a mediocre Georgia Tech defense. However, it looked good under Deshaun Watson as the Tigers were looking to go up 10-0 before Watson sustained his knee injury. Watson is questionable, but in a rivalry game that Clemson is desperate to win, I am predicating this pick on Watson’s appearance. The Tigers’ offense has taken a step back this year with not only the losses of Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant, but also losses along the offensive line. Last year, Clemson rushed for 4.2 yards per carry and are down to only 3.5 this year. Mike Williams and Artavis Scott are two very talented receivers and if the right QB is clicking with them, this passing attack can be very good. Still, they are not an elite unit because they have lost in the trenches on numerous occasions. Fortunately for Clemson, South Carolina’s defense will be the worst unit in this game. The Gamecocks are giving up over 6 yards per play this year and have struggled to stop everyone. Watson could have a field day like he did against North Carolina given the circumstances. Dylan Thompson and South Carolina’s offense have been solid this year and have won games. However, Clemson’s defense is one of the best units in the country. Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett are elite on the line. Jarrett against AJ Cann will be a fun matchup to watch between two All-Americans. In the end, Clemson is the better team with Watson. If Stoudt plays, we will see strength on strength and weakness on weakness. As mentioned, I am assuming we see Watson:
CLEMSON 38 SOUTH CAROLINA 24
LOUISVILLE AT KENTUCKY - RYAN TOURIAL
Kentucky is in major gut check mode. After an impressive start, the Wildcats are back at the bottom of the SEC East. At least it’s basketball season again. Mark Stoops’ still dis a commendable job this season, but there it takes time to change the culture of a program. It is obvious that football is not the dominant sport at UK. Then there’s Louisville, one of those school that can boast strong football and basketball teams. There is a reason why this is a great rivalry game both on the hardwood and the gridiron. If Louisville can be a two sport school, why can’t Kentucky? Mark Stoops is trying to change that problem now, but only time will tell if he will be successful. Before any of that, if Kentucky wants any chance at winning- as usual, it starts with Patrick Towles. The freshman quarterback has been consistent this year with only a few hiccups along the way. Towels has accounted for 20 of Kentucky’s touchdowns this year. The kid is a player, when he is not getting knocked down. The Cats offensive line, which hasn’t protected Towels too well, has allowed 33 sacks this year. They will have quite that challenge going up against the Cardinal defense that has gotten to opposing quarterbacks 36. The Cardinals will be led by Sheldon Rankins who leads the team in Sacks with seven. That feat is almost as impressive as Safety Gerod Holliman’s NCAA leading 13 interceptions. It seems like Towels will be in for a rough day trying to maneuver around a solid front seven and secondary. It just seems like Kentucky will have to wait another year to hoist the Governor’s cup.
LOUISVILLE 28 KENTUCKY 20
GEORGIA TECH AT GEORGIA - MIKE NOWOSWIAT
Both teams come into this game 9-2. Georgia Tech is going to the ACC Championship Game and Georgia will go to the SEC Championship game if Arkansas keeps playing like it does the last two weeks and beats Missouri. Georgia has shown flashes of being the best team in the nation. If Aaron Murray, Matthew Stafford, or David Greene were under center, I’m sure they would be. Hutson Mason has done an admirable job, but the offense is a bit more one-dimensional than a typical Georgia team. Nick Chubb has been sensational and makes one-dimensional look really good behind a great offensive line. That offensive line may just be the key to this game. Georgia Tech’s greatest weakness is certainly its defensive line. Adam Gotsis has been solid at DT, but “solid” play from a guy here and there isn’t going to slow down this rushing attack. The Jackets will need to beat Georgia like they did Miami; ball control and bend-but-don’t-break defense. Justin Thomas has given the GT spread option a new look. You can see the potential of this offense with a dynamic runner and good passer under center. He will not fool you for Peyton Manning, but he can deliver the ball from the pocket and on the run. DeAndre Smelter is one of the most underrated WRs in the nation and will need to have a huge day. I expect Georgia Tech to be able to put up points, but those points will probably be tougher to earn than Georgia’s. I have to go with the Dawgs in this one: GEORGIA 40 GEORGIA TECH 30
ILLINOIS AT NORTHWESTERN - ZACH SEPANIK
Talk about a rivalry, this matchup began in 1892! The Illinois Fighting Illini hold a 54-48-5 advantage in the all-time series. From 1945 until 2008, the Wildcats and Fighting Illini competed for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. Then, in 2009, the Land of Lincoln Trophy replaced the historic prize.
Northwestern has won two straight in the series, including a 37-34 victory in Champaign last year. This year, the winner will become bowl eligible and for the season both have had, it would be quite a way to conclude the 2014 campaign.
The tale is quite the contrast between the two squads. Northwestern struggles to score, but they can play defense. With the 54th-ranked defense in the country, the Wildcats have a way to stop the Fighting Illini. Illinois, on the other hand, can’t really score and the defensive side of the ball is ugly (113th in the nation).
After losing four straight, Northwestern has since turned things around to score two wins in a row, including an overtime victory over then-No. 18 Notre Dame on November 15 in which they put up 43 points. Then last week, Northwestern scored 38 to topple Purdue. Still, they are only averaging 22.1 points per game on the season. It’s the Wildcats defense that keeps them in games as they only surrender 23.3 points per game. Chi Chi Ariguzo leads the way with 92 tackles, while Godwin Igwebuike and Ibraheim Campbell (3 interceptions apiece) keep the opposition from throwing the ball around the field.
For Illinois, they are coming off a 16-14 win over a struggling Penn State, but the return of quarterback Wes Lunt was less than spectacular. After connecting on just 8-of-17 passes, he was taken out in favor of Reilly O’Toole in the second quarter. It won’t matter this week, as whichever quarterback leads the Fighting Illini out of the tunnel will struggle to move his offensive unit up and down the field.
In recent years, the Land of Lincoln is home to Northwestern and I don't foresee that changing this season.
NORTHWESTERN 25 ILLINOIS 17
MISS. STATE AT OLE MISS - MIKE NOWOSWIAT
Ah, the Egg Bowl. Such a simple name for such a big game. Not quite as big as it was looking a couple weeks ago, but still big nonetheless. Mississippi State is very much in the hunt for the College Football Playoff and the SEC Championship Game. If the Bulldogs win, their Playoff appearance will hinge on one thing should Alabama win: the value the committee sees in winning a conference. On one hand, Mississippi State certainly seems to be one of the nation’s top four teams. On the other hand, college football is so special due to the importance of the regular season and every single game played. In some ways, the regular season is just the prelude to the Playoff. It’s a Playoff in and of itself. One could argue that Mississippi State already had their shot at Alabama and was subsequently eliminated. Regardless, I am happy I do not have to make that decision should the Bulldogs win. Now, on to the game. Mississippi State has had its best season ever. Dak Prescott and the Bulldog offense were humming to start the season and now the defense has won games. The front seven is so very good and should have no problem stopping the Ole Miss rushing attack. Bo Wallace has struggled without Laquon Treadwell and I don’t expect anything different in this game. Ole Miss’s defense will be the best unit other than Alabama that the MSU has faced. If Ole Miss can take care of the ball, win the turnover battle, and play a great defensive game, they will win. However, I am not counting on all three things to happen. Mississippi State is too well-rounded.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 23 OLE MISS 17
NOTRE DAME AT USC - ZACH SEPANIK
The 2014 battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh will feature two underachieving teams when Notre Dame and USC square off at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Both squads own a 7-4 overall record. The Fighting Irish come in losers of three straight, while the Trojans were bounced last week by Brett Hundley-led UCLA. Coming into the season, Notre Dame was ranked preseason No. 17, while USC was No. 15. Now, neither team is ranked nor receiving votes in the latest AP Poll.
It’s still a contest between two of the elite programs in college football history. By many accounts, the rivalry originated from a “conversation between wives” of Notre Dame legendary head coach Knute Rockne and USC athletic director Gywnn Wilson. USC was looking for a national rival. Mrs. Wilson persuaded Mrs. Rockne that a trip out to sunny and beautiful Southern California was better than traveling to Nebraska. While Knute first hesitated, he eventually gave in to his wife and the teams became an annual fixture on each other’s schedule in December of 1926.
Last season, Notre Dame defeated USC, 14-10. This year, there should be plenty of points scored. The Fighting Irish boast the 56th-ranked defense in the country, while USC’s defense sits at 71st.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (3,280 yards, 29 touchdowns, 13 interceptions) should be able to pick apart a 107th-ranked USC passing defense, especially with William Fuller (962 yards and 14 touchdowns) and Corey Robinson as big-play targets. Golson’s ability to counter with his legs can also help ND. But, in order for all his ability to come to fruition, he must hold onto the ball and avoid turnovers.
Meanwhile, the USC offense has been just as efficient. Leading the way is quarterback Cody Kessler with 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Over one-third of his passing yards (3,133) on the season have gone to Nelson Agholor (1,103 yards and 10 touchdowns). The Irish secondary will have their troubles matching up with Agholor, and then throw in stout Trojans running back, Javorius Allen (1,244 yards and 9 touchdowns), and USC just might make ND wish they were playing Northwestern again.
It’s rare to see a matchup in this series where both teams are struggling like they are. However, there is never a dull moment when the Fighting Irish and Trojans step on the field.
NOTRE DAME 42 USC 41
MICHIGAN STATE AT PENN STATE - ZACH SEPANIK
The final game of the regular season for the Spartans and Nittany Lions will have about as much flare as Thanksgiving dinner without the turkey. Michigan State was expected to be playing their way into the Big 10 title game, and Penn State was supposed to experience more success than their six wins so far on the year. But, that’s this season. There is plenty of history and hatred between these two schools to add to the dramatics.
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 13-5-1, with nine Penn State wins since 1998 vacated as fallout from the well-documented child sex abuse scandal. The rivalry between MSU and PSU is not only one for bragging rights, but the winner is presented with the Land Grant Trophy. Designed by former Michigan State coach George Perles, the trophy features pictures of Penn State’s Old Main and Michigan State’s Beaumont Tower. MSU, followed by PSU, are the nation’s oldest land-grant universities, so I would imagine you can figure out how the trophy got its name.
The last time these rivals met was 2010 with the Spartans coming out on top, 28-22. Since then, the two haven’t played because of realignment in the conference. Now, both back in the B1G Eastern division, they resume a yearly series.
Michigan State is led by their much-improved offense, averaging 43.9 points per game. Revolving around quarterback Connor Cook, the Spartans gunslinger has playmaker Tony Lippett (1,071 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns) on his side and can also rely on Jeremy Langford (1,242 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns) out of the backfield. However, the 8th-ranked MSU defense is what gets the offense going. Kurtis Drummond, Ed Davis, and Taiwan Jones keep opposing offenses off the field.
For the Nittany Lions, the play calling has been under fire as of late, especially with the struggles of quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Head coach James Franklin has made a great impact in his first season at the helm of the program as he continues to work to rebuild not only the product on the field, but Penn State’s reputation off the field.
Both teams are bowl eligible and although they are out of the picture for the College Football Playoff, Michigan State still has a shot at a top bowl game. And on Senior Day in Happy Valley this Saturday, the crowd and all those at Beaver Stadium will celebrate a class that stuck together in the face of the NCAA sanctions. Just another chapter to the MSU-PSU rivalry.
MICHIGAN STATE 36 PENN STATE 23
MINNESOTA AT WISCONSIN - BRETT CIANCIA
Since 1948 Wisconsin and Minnesota have battled for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, one of the most recognizable rivalry trophies in the game. The Badgers have held the prize since 2003, but finally the Gophers have a team poised to steal it back. For a series that has been so one-sided of late, this year’s edition has much more at stake. In addition to the Axe and Midwest bragging rights, the winner will represent the West Division in the Big Ten Championship against Ohio State. Further, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon is in a dead heat with Oregon QB Marcus Mariota for the top spot in the Heisman discussion. Gordon has rushed for over 200 yards FIVE times, has rushed for 100+ against every FBS team he has faced, and even broke Tomlinson’s 15-year-old single game record with 408 yards. At 2109 yards on the season, Gordon is climbing the record books, and if he even approaches the untouchable 1988 Barry Sanders season, Gordon’s case for the trophy is solid.
This is the definition of Big Ten Football. Both teams will pound the rock, relying heavily on power running between the tackles in an attempt to simply overpower the opposing defense. 2 weeks ago, Wisconsin absolutely mauled Nebraska, rushing for over 581 yards and only allowing 118. After the historic win, the Badgers played somewhat of a “hangover” game last week against Iowa in which they quietly hung on for the victory. Meanwhile, Minnesota is a week removed from an emotional comeback win at Nebraska. Already having stolen back 3 rivalry trophies, does the Gopher’s wild ride have any magic left? On Senior Day in Madison, I expect Andersen to feed Gordon the ball, upwards of 30 carries. The Gopher defense will be overmatched by the UW O-Line, and the Badgers will deliver another statement victory heading into Championship Saturday. Gordon for 220 and 3 TD’s.
WISCONSIN 38 MINNESOTA 20
FLORIDA AT FLORIDA STATE - MIKE NOWOSWIAT
Is Florida State the favorite? It seems the overwhelmingly popular upset pick of Florida winning this game in Will Muschamp’s last appearance is so prevalent that Florida may even be considered the favorite. Newsflash: JAMEIS WINSTON HAS NEVER LOST. Florida State has played some pretty good teams this year. Not great, no. But good. Notre Dame, Clemson, Louisville in a hostile environment. Sure, Florida’s win over Georgia is far more impressive than any of those victories, but its only one game. Florida’s loss to South Carolina is more alarming than Florida State’s loss to…nevermind, they don’t have one. I have to admit, I am a bit weary of the close games. But what makes me believe in FSU is just how good they can look when they are coming back. They are elite behind Jameis Winston and an opportunistic defense. Florida could make this game close, but I don’t believe FSU will roll over like Georgia did. Florida may win in the trenches, but it won’t be so overwhelming to decide this game. The disparity in quarterback play will. Jameis Winston will find a way to win at the end of the day, just like he has all season.
FLORIDA STATE 33 FLORIDA 28
AUBURN AT ALABAMA - MIKE NOWOSWIAT
The Iron Bowl has a little less hype after Auburn’s consecutive losses to Texas A&M and Georgia. Still, after last year’s defeat—it wouldn’t matter if Auburn was winless—Alabama wants this game. The Auburn defense has been exposed at times this season, and the offense has struggled to move the ball when put in passing situations. In short, behind a good, but not elite, offensive line, the Tigers aren’t quite as effective as last year. The passing game has been aided by the arrival of Duke Williams. Williams and Sammie Coates form perhaps the best WR duo in the nation and can explode at any moment. While Auburn’s passing game is inconsistent, it can certainly produce. This gives this game a high degree of variability. I believe Alabama’s defense is the best unit in the country and the offense is good enough to win a national championship. Duke Williams and Amari Cooper are both probably for this game, which will make both offenses a little more exciting to watch. Cooper seems to have faded in the Heisman spotlight, but he is still lurking; another 200 yard game on the national stage would make him a viable candidate. In the end, Alabama is playing too well now defensively. It is a rivalry game and Auburn’s offensive ceiling is tremendous, making this game tough to predict. With the added revenge factor from last year, along with the nation’s top defense, I cannot go against Alabama.
ALABAMA 30 AUBURN 20
OREGON AT OREGON STATE - BRYAN HOLT
It’s safe to say that Oregon has impressed the College Football Playoff committee this season. After earning the No. 2 ranking for three consecutive weeks, all the Ducks have left to do is win their next two games and they’re in. However, Oregon State seems to thrive when playing ranked teams at home — and they would love nothing more than to take down their in-state rival in the Civil War game this weekend.
On paper, there is no question that Oregon should come out of Corvallis with a win on Saturday. But considering the Beavers’ history of upsets against top-10 teams at Reser Stadium — and the fact that OSU defeated a No. 6 ranked Arizona State team at home just two weeks ago — this is not a game the Ducks should approach lightly.
While Oregon State (5-6, 2-6) is coming off a 37-13 loss at Washington, the Beavers are still fighting for a bowl game berth and have nothing to lose. Quarterback Sean Mannion will be suiting up for the last time as OSU’s signal caller — and he has yet to beat the Ducks — so the playbook will likely be wide-open. If the Beaver defense can corral Oregon enough to give the offense more opportunities with the football, a few big plays are usually the difference maker in upset games.
On the other hand, the Ducks need to get on the board early and stay in control of the game. Oregon is not comfortable when playing from behind, and if that’s the case, the Beavers’ have a strong enough run game to keep the ball away from Marcus Mariota and the Ducks’ powerful offense. Oregon has dominated the Civil War series, winning ever game since 2007; but none more meaningful than the upcoming matchup this Saturday.
OREGON 38 OREGON STATE 24
WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON ST. - BRYAN HOLT
Washington is once again looking up at Stanford and Oregon in the Pac-12 North standings heading into the last week of the regular season. Although things may not have gone as hoped the first year under head coach Chris Petersen, they still managed to earn bowl eligibility for the fifth straight season after a win over the Oregon State Beavers last weekend.
And if there is one thing Petersen can do to keep fans happy, it’s to earn a victory against Washington State in the Apple Cup this Saturday.
Washington has dropped two of the last three Apple Cup’s played in Pullman, including a 31-28 loss in 2012 when Connor Halliday and the Cougars surged back down 18 points in the fourth quarter before winning the game with a field goal. The Husky defense has been a strong point this season — leading the nation with seven defensive scores and rank second in the nation with 45 sacks — but it has not been dominant enough to compete with the top tier of the conference. Washington’s losses have only come against ranked teams; unfortunately for them, all five of those teams are also in the Pac-12.
However, against a turnover prone Cougar offense, the Huskies should fair just fine.
WASHINGTON 41 WASHINGTON STATE 28
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