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The Obstructed Rivalry Week Preview

Nov 25, 2017; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Mike Weber (25) rushes in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We are finally at the end of the regular season in college football.  For the most part, the last month hasn’t seen much chaos like we had hoped.  Really everything has gone as expected on a weekly basis.  Alabama and Clemson keep winning.  Notre Dame is getting better weekly.  Michigan is rolling.  Georgia is keeping pressure on the four ahead of them.  Oklahoma is putting up points galore.  UCF remains undefeated and Ohio State is managing a way to win on a weekly basis.  But brace yourselves.  At some point, either in this week or next week college football could have some movements that we are not expecting.  Let’s look at the rivalry games this week.

#18 MISSISSIPPI STATE AT OLE MISS, 7:30 (THURSDAY), ESPN:  This is a game that well, just magnifies hatred among two rivals.  Ole Miss fans believe it was Mississippi State and its media that blew the whistle on recruiting violations so there is that going as the drive for the Rebels is there as well as it is in Oxford.  However, Mississippi State is playing on a slight high after not getting completely drubbed by Alabama two weeks ago and then throwing a major beatdown on Arkansas (but who hasn’t this year?).  Mississippi State lost the Egg Bowl last year at home to Ole Miss, so they are probably looking for retribution from last year’s loss especially since Nick Fitzgerald broke his leg.  I have a feeling the Bulldogs will try to not just win, but destroy Ole Miss as the Rebels will play their last game, win or lose.  MISSISSIPPI STATE 34, OLE MISS 17

NEBRASKA AT IOWA, 12:00 (FRIDAY), FOX:  Nebraska as I mentioned to start the year would get better as the season went on.  I didn’t think they’d start off 0-6 though.  Iowa fell off after a strong start.  Iowa plays a physical style game still and should take care of Nebraska, but the Huskers have a lot of momentum going here.  This should be a fun and interesting game either way.  And a grind it out battle as well.  I think Iowa edges Nebraska barely.  IOWA 17, NEBRASKA 14

ARKANSAS AT MISSOURI, 2:30 (FRIDAY), CBS:  I’ll leave it at this: Missouri is putting up points religiously and have a nice run working.  Arkansas is giving up points religiously and they are getting stomped.  Figure it out.  MISSOURI 55, ARKANSAS 14

VIRGINIA AT VIRGINIA TECH, 3:30 (FRIDAY), ABC:  How odd is it to hear that if a team loses they will not see a bowl appearance in this game?  Well, not odd because mostly it has been Virginia on that end, but if Virginia Tech loses, they will be staying home in bowl season.  It has been a massive disappointment for the Hokies as they have pretty much quit since October.  Very disappointing to see and very sad to see the Hokies fall apart like this.  But Virginia is hoping for an 8-win season and climb up the bowl ladder a bit.  But they slipped at Georgia Tech and struggled as of late.  I think the rivalry game will wake up Virginia Tech and get the upset on the Cavaliers.  Which means they will play another game against Marshall next week, assuming they win.  And I think they will.  VIRGINIA TECH 27, VIRGINIA 24

OREGON AT OREGON STATE, 4:00 (FRIDAY), FOX:  Most will put this as an easy W for Oregon and probably will, but the Beavers gives the Ducks fits, especially in Corvallis.  This may be closer than what many view it is.  Oregon State still has a way to go but have shown signs of life time after time this year.  Oregon still pulls it out, but it will come down late in the 4th I think.  OREGON 41, OREGON STATE 35

#9 UCF AT USF, 4:15, ESPN:  UCF did one thing right and that was beat Cincinnati decisively last week.  It netted them a rank higher than Ohio State (may be short lived if the Buckeyes beat Michigan) and many are hoping for a crasher in the playoff.  USF after being ranked, has fallen apart very quickly.  However, this is becoming a big rivalry game too.  And it will be more of USF fans in attendance than UCF fans.  I think the best thing to salvage the Bulls season is a big win against their rivals who still have Playoff aspirations.  I’m going upset here.  USF 38, UCF 35

#6 OKLAHOMA AT #13 WEST VIRGINIA, 8:00 (FRIDAY), ESPN:  What a game this can turn out to be….had West Virginia not blown that big 4th quarter lead on Oklahoma State.  So which West Virginia team shows up, the team who will play inspired ball and prove last week was a fluke or the team that since they have no shot at a playoff will roll over and play dead?  I think the Mountaineers would love to see a New Year’s Six game and end Oklahoma’s chances of a Playoff itself.  And I think that while this game is going to be a shootout (lemme rephrase: I know it will be a shootout), West Virginia is more inclined to make the stops than Oklahoma.  And that will be the deciding factor.  WEST VIRGINIA 55, OKLAHOMA 45

#16 WASHINGTON AT #8 WASHINGTON STATE, 8:30 (FRIDAY), FOX:  Well, I think many penned this game as the game where one team is building their resume for a Playoff.  But we didn’t think it was Washington State.  The Cougars are doing it with a great offense and a strong defense.  Washington this year has fallen apart largely because the inconsistencies of the offense.  The Cougars have a lot to play for and I think taking down their rival is a huge factor for all people involved in Pullman.  I think we will see how legit Washington State is against their foes for the Apple Cup.  WASHINGTON STATE 31, WASHINGTON 14

#4 MICHIGAN AT #10 OHIO STATE, 12:00 FOX:  Yep, the game with the greatest stakes is this one.  It has a vibe that has been different compared in recent memory as Michigan looks more of a complete team while Ohio State has inconsistencies throughout.  The thing I will look at is if Ohio State can withstand Michigan’s physicality, which really has overwhelmed teams all year.  If they can, then Ohio State has a great chance, but right now everybody sees that there is something lacking at Ohio State, like a major drive happening with them.  It hasn’t gotten any better as the season went on and I think that the Wolverines can go into Columbus and take down the Buckeyes.  MICHIGAN 20, OHIO STATE 10

#20 SYRACUSE AT BOSTON COLLEGE, 12:00, ESPN:  Gut-punches galore as the Orange and the Eagles took embarrassing losses the last couple of weeks.  Syracuse got ran over by Notre Dame and Boston College got smacked by Clemson and followed it with a loss to Florida State.  Yikes.  Weather should be cold and I’m not sure if Syracuse likes playing outdoors too much, especially after last week.  BOSTON COLLEGE 20, SYRACUSE 17

#11 FLORIDA AT FLORIDA STATE, 12:00, ABC:  This game always is a hated one and the Seminoles right now are on a 5-game winning streak against their foes in Gainesville.  Now, Florida State needs to win to make a bowl game themselves.  Florida would love to send them home early and keep up their chances of a New Year’s Six game.  The Seminoles beat Boston College (who was favored actually) and have momentum going, but is it enough to take down the 8-3 Gators?  Probably not, but I do think Florida State has been getting better since the Clemson debacle.  I’m going with another upset here.  FLORIDA STATE 30, FLORIDA 27

GEORGIA TECH AT #5 GEORGIA, 12:00, SEC:  No, I’m not putting an upset here.  That said, a few things to note: Georgia Tech has won the last two games in Athens (and they’re the last team to win at Sanford Stadium) and teams with overly aggressive defenses like Georgia can struggle against option teams (see Alabama last week against the Citadel).  Now Georgia didn’t fall for Tech’s option last year, but they also got the Jackets to pass early.  IF Georgia Tech wants to keep it close, they must take an early lead.  If Georgia is up 21-0, you may as well write this off.  But the game will be closer than what I think some have it because of how Tech has been playing.  But in the end, Georgia should win relatively decisively.  GEORGIA 35, GEORGIA TECH 21

PURDUE AT INDIANA, 12:00, ESPN 2:  Winner gets in a bowl game.  Odd because Purdue looked like they had things rolling especially after the Ohio State beatdown.  And then they fell apart badly.  And now Brohm looks like he’s out, going back home to Louisville.  It may be just too much heartbreak for the Boilers to handle.  Indiana fights.  We know that and while Purdue should win, I don’t know if that will be the case.  I think the Hoosiers take it and putting the final nail into Brohm’s career at Purdue before he goes home to Louisville.  INDIANA 34, PURDUE 31

TEXAS TECH VS BAYLOR, 12:00, FS1:  Another game where winner gets a bowl and loser goes home.  The Red Raiders had flashes of brilliance this year and looked more and more like a complete team and then they looked like their old selves of giving up points galore.  Honestly, it may be a must-win game for Kliff Kingsbury as it is the same old song and dance in Lubbock.  Baylor somewhat went through a similar way, losing down the stretch, but they just don’t have the same talent as we remember them having.  But the way Texas Tech imploded down the stretch, it makes me think that Baylor should take the Red Raiders in Jerryworld and maybe it is Kingsbury’s final game with Texas Tech.  BAYLOR 34, TEXAS TECH 27

NC STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA, 12:20, ACC:  Probably the key reason to watch this game is if this is Larry Fedora’s final game.  UNC has fallen apart badly in the last two years.  But NC State slipped since their loss to Clemson.  However, I think Ryan Finley will have a big day against the Heels and win this game, though it may be closer than what many feel.  NC STATE 33, NORTH CAROLINA 24

WAKE FOREST AT DUKE, 12:30, ACC:  Wake needs a win to get in a bowl game.  However, the teams they beat weren’t very strong.  The teams that beat them were very strong and thumped them pretty good.  Duke isn’t a super strong team nor a weak team either.  But They are strong enough that I don’t think there is any answer for the Deacons to win in Durham.  DUKE 31, WAKE FOREST 14

PITT AT MIAMI, 3:30, ESPN:  What a difference a year makes.  Miami was 11-0 heading to Pittsburgh, who had already been eliminated from a bowl game last year.  Since that point, Miami is 6-8.  Pittsburgh is now the Coastal champion (though it may be the equivalent to a Boys Locker Room Beauty Contest Winner) and heading down to Miami for a game.  But they are playing better than what they started and Miami still has more questions than answers and Mark Richt could have a warm seat heading into 2019.  PITT 24, MIAMI 21

MARYLAND AT #12 PENN STATE, 3:30, ABC:  What team will show up with Maryland?  The team who kept fighting agianst Ohio State (and probably should have won that game) or the team that is stung from the loss of how they lost it?  Penn State still has hope for a New Year’s Six game, but must get this win and a decisive one at that.  This game could either be high scoring or a grind-it-out one.  Either way I think Trace McSorley makes the plays needed to keep the Lions New Year’s Six hopes alive.  PENN STATE 30, MARYLAND 27

AUBURN AT #1 ALABAMA, 3:30, CBS:  This game has a vibe of an “afterthought” even after Alabama struggled in the first half against the Citadel last week.  The main focus for Alabama is to keep everybody healthy for the Georgia game so they may try to get the offense cooking and win this game by halftime.  Easier said than done and Auburn has been getting better since the start of the season.  It won’t be as easy, but Alabama should still win decisively.  ALABAMA 41, AUBURN 14

ILLINOIS AT NORTHWESTERN, 3:30, BTN:  Illinois has been a Jekyll and Hyde all year.  One week they play great and the next week, they get pulverized.  And they got pulverized by Iowa last week.  I think the Illini finally stopped listening to Lovie and his staff.  It won’t be 63-0, but Northwestern will be taking them pretty good at Ryan Field to prepare for either Michigan or Ohio State next week.  NORTHWESTERN 35, ILLINOIS 3

MINNESOTA AT WISCONSIN, 3:30, ESPN 2:  Minnesota fans hope at some point PJ Fleck can row the boat to a bowl game.  The Gophers need a win against their dreaded rival in Madison, a team that has owned them for as long as I can remember, to make a bowl game.  While Wisconsin is nothing like what we’ve seen over the past few years, they are still a strong running team.  Minnesota needs to get up early and score often, which may be a hard thing here.  WISCONSIN 21, MINNESOTA 14

ARIZONA STATE AT ARIZONA, 3:30, FS1:  All the credit in the world to Herm Edwards for getting the Sun Devils on track.  And he got a bowl appearance as well.  And a win over rival Arizona in Tuscon would be a nice feather in the cap.  Kevin Sumlin, who started out very rough with the Wildcats, have gained some traction as the season progressed.  It may be enough momentum for Sumlin and Co. to edge out their hated rivals and get that bowl game as well.  This could be a very fun game to see on TV.  ARIZONA 35, ARIZONA STATE 31

TENNESSEE AT VANDERBILT, 4:00, SEC:  Winner gets a bowl game.  It seemed like Tennessee may have gotten it a week ago, but then Missouri just obliterated them at Neyland.  Not good especially after the Volunteers were starting to roll a little bit.  Now a win against the pesky Commodores will have to get the Volunteers into the bowl season.  Honestly, I think Pruitt is the right guy for the job to rebound the Vols after that embarrassing loss last week.  Vanderbilt doesn’t have the horses, even if Tennessee isn’t as talented as we know they have been.  TENNESSEE 28, VANDERBILT 24

SOUTH CAROLINA AT #2 CLEMSON, 7:00, ESPN:  This rivalry has become lopsided in recent memory.  And with all due to respect to South Carolina, I don’t see it changing much here either.  Clemson is on a roll and dominating everything it sees.  South Carolina is not on the same level.  CLEMSON 50, SOUTH CAROLINA 7

#15 KENTUCKY AT LOUISVILLE, 7:00 ESPN 2:  Seriously, they put THIS game at night?  Kentucky should win this one decisively, even away from Lexington.  KENTUCKY 35, LOUISVILLE 10

#7 LSU AT #22 TEXAS A&M, 7:30, SEC:  This game has been quietly overlooked largely because it isn’t a rivalry to this point.  LSU is 6-0 against the Aggies since A&M joined the SEC.  Can it be #7?  I think Texas A&M at home is a far different creature than when they are on the road.  LSU has played decently since their loss to Alabama, but still not decisively.  I think the Aggies will recover after that small hiccup they suffered mid-season and Jimbo Fisher will have a few things up his sleeve against the Tigers at College Station and will upset the Tigers.  TEXAS A&M 21, LSU 17

#3 NOTRE DAME AT USC, 8:00, ABC:  Everything about this game tilts it for Notre Dame.  They’re rolling.  And USC is in shambles.  Clay Helton is probably gone after this game.  So why do I think this is an upset?  I can’t put my finger on it.  Maybe it is the cross-country trip for the Irish.  Maybe it is the fact that it feels like it has gotten too easy for Notre Dame.  I don’t know…  But for some reason I think we will see a huge upset here.  Maybe because USC is a wounded animal and sometimes the wounded animals are the most dangerous.  USC 31, NOTRE DAME 28

BYU AT #17 UTAH, 10:00, FS1:  Glad this game is back to being a part of the rivalry.  BYU and Utah hate each other.  And this game will be a physical fight.  And it is one I will definitely have to stay up and watch to see what happens just for the sheer enjoyment.  It may be a very low-scoring game, but it will be a fun one to watch nonetheless.  I think the Utes have a good running game and that will take them in this game against the hated rivals in BYU..  UTAH 16, BYU 13

That’s it for this week.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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