Season Record: 118-41
Last Week’s Record: 7-3
Welcome back to The Campus Game and Week 13 of the 2010 college football season.
Each week, predictions for all SEC games and a selected number of national games will be posted here.
Comment: Family, feasts, and football … what could be more fun! While scoring seven of ten at this time of semester is not the grade the professor seeks, this wonderful rivalry week of games provides a fine chance to earn an A grade heading into championship Saturday.
Best Pick: Nothing spectacular in picking Petrino’s Pigs to rumble over the Rebels of Ole Miss.
Worst Pick: Texas A&M may not have made a believer of the prof just yet, but the Aggies showed up in a solid win over up-and-down Nebraska.
Here are this week’s SEC picks and national picks of interest.
Enjoy Rivalry Week!
Note: XM and Sirius channels are listed after time and television.
FRIDAY, NOV. 26
Auburn (11-0, 7-0) at Alabama (9-2, 5-2)
1:30 p.m. CT CBS Sports 143/122 (AU); 144-199/123 (UA)
Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
Comment: Let’s get right to the SEC game of the year. Alabama fans suffered through six years of Auburn Tiger taunts and in-the-face finger-wagging until Nick Saban turned the Tide in 2008 and put Bama in charge. Back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, a national title last year (with the school’s first Heisman winner to boot), the seemingly uninspired choice of Gene Chizik to replace the reviled Tommy (One for the Thumb) Tuberville as coach on the Plains … all signs indicated a decade or so of dominance for Alabama over that “cow college” near the Georgia state line. Keep that context in mind to understand the ulcer-inducing aggravation Tide fans are suffering seeing Auburn in the national championship driver’s seat, with the runaway Heisman front-runner no less. To top it off, there is a widespread belief among Bama backers that the whole thing is a charade because Tiger QB Cam Newton (that Heisman front-runner in case you’ve lived on the moon the past month) could eventually be ruled ineligible over the solicitation of money during his recruitment. So, the soap opera that is the Iron Bowl rages on, but there is an actual on-the-field game to be played. Many pundits say Newton cannot be stopped. That’s not nearly true … the simplest, surest way to stop the Cam Tram is by keeping him on the sidelines. Alabama needs to pound the ball with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, take occasional shots to Julio Jones deep against a poor Tiger secondary, and avoid turnovers. On defense … well, come to think of it they cannot stop Cam … so they better outscore him. They will.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama
SATURDAY, NOV. 27
Kentucky (6-5, 2-5) at Tennessee (5-6, 2-5)
12:21 p.m. ET SEC Network 199 (UT) 217 (UT)
Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455)
Comment: Derek Dooley and the Vols need one more win to rebound from a 2-6 start and earn a bowl bid. The Wildcats have faded dramatically down the strech, while UT keeps getting better. For a remarkable 26th(!) straight time, the Volunteers handle Kentucky.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee
LSU (10-1, 6-1) at Arkansas (9-2, 5-2)
2:30 p.m. CT CBS Sports 143/122 (LSU); 200/216 (UA)
Little Rock, Ark. • War Memorial Stadium (53,955)
Comment: Do not be surprised if this game turns out to be better than the Iron Bowl. If Auburn earns a national title shot, consider this battle for the boot as a playoff for a Sugar Bowl berth. Both teams are playing really well, especially the Arkansas offense and the LSU defense. Razorback rooters would feel better if this game was on campus instead of the friendly confines of War Memorial, but I believe in the Hogs at home or at their second home.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas
Florida (7-4, 4-4) at Florida State (8-3)
3:30 p.m. ET ABC Sports 198 (UF)
Tallahassee, Fla. • Doak Campbell Stadium (82,300)
Comment: As with the Alabama-Auburn game, the Sunshine State showdown threatens a changing of the guard (however briefly) from the established power to the emerging rival. FSU could still get to the ACC title game (if NC State loses), and has looked like a better team than the Gators for most of the season. Picking any ACC team over an SEC rival is precarious, but the Noles should win … wait – it is SEC-ACC right? Florida by something like 10-6.
Professor’s Pick: Florida
Miss State (7-4, 3-4) at Ole Miss (4-7, 1-6)
6 p.m. CT ESPNU 199 (UM) 217 (UM)
Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: The Egg Bowl, long a staple of my Thanksgiving night menu, holds less allure when it gets lost among all the games on rivalry Saturday. It’s still worth watching if you find the time. State comes in playing pretty well, while karma has given Houston Nutt, Jeremiah Masoli, and the renegade Rebels what they deserved this season. One more time.
Professor’s Pick: State
South Carolina (8-3, 5-3) at Clemson (6-5)
7 p.m. ET ESPN2 198 (USC)
Clemson, S.C. • Memorial Stadium (80,301)
Comment: Battle of the Palmetto State is always hard-fought and dangerous Clemson would love to rain on the SC parade as it passes through on the way to Atlanta and the SEC championship game (just like the Gamecocks did to them last season). This Carolina team has looked mighty focused late in the year.
Professor’s Pick: South Carolina
Wake Forest (2-9) at Vanderbilt (2-9, 1-7)
6:30 p.m. CT CSS 200 (VU) 219 (VU)
Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Comment: Interesting that when their league brethren are playing in-conference or in-state rivals, these two meet in the academic bowl. That’s all that’s interesting however.
Professor’s Pick: Wake Forest
Georgia Tech (6-5) at Georgia (5-6, 3-5)
7:45 p.m. ET ESPN 201 (UGA) 220 (UGA)
Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Comment: Georgia should win this game. The Bulldogs are more talented, more balanced and explosive offensively, and playing at home. Still … as a UGA alum, the game is scary. New Dog defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has done little to alleviate concerns about the Dog D this season, and 3-4 schemes traditionally do not hold up as well as four-man even fronts against option teams. Expect a very high scoring game and do not be surprised if the Jackets keep Georgia at home for the holidays. Will pick the alma mater however.
Professor’s Pick: Georgia
(all games Eastern)
FRIDAY, NOV. 26
West Virginia at Pitt (12:00 Noon ABC) … the Backyard Brawl may not decide the Big East champ (six of the league’s eight teams remain in contention), but provides Pitt a chance to all but nail down the crown. Heinz Field should be a muddy mess, but the brawl is always good holiday viewing. Professor’s Pick: Pitt
Arizona at Oregon (7:00 ESPN) … Oregon has two hurdles between them and the BCS championship game. Before the Ducks waddle into next week’s Civil War, they must dispatch the Zona Wildcats. Oregon tends to fold at crunch time, but should be able to pass this test. Professor’s Pick: Oregon
Boise State at Nevada (10:15 ESPN) … the Wolfpack could help all us traditionalists out by bucking the Broncos. Problem is – for all the hype about Pack QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua, Nevada never seems to play Boise real tough. Don’t expect them to this time either. Professor’s Pick: Boise
Michigan at Ohio State (12:00 Noon ABC) … this game holds special appeal to middle-agers like me because it was always a “national” telecast way back when. The Wolverines have improved on offense in 2010, but the defense remains in a shambles. Bucks make it a record-setting seventh in a row over Michigan but it will not be easy. Professor’s Pick: Ohio State
Michigan State at Penn State (12:00 Noon ESPN2) … if the best college football news you read this week was not Joe Paterno returning as Nittany Lion head coach next season, then what was it? PSU celebrates with a win. Professor’s Pick: Penn State
TCU at New Mexico (4:00 Versus) … the nation’s 3rd ranked team plays a tough 1-10 Lobos squad … right. Professor’s Pick: I’ll boycott this one.
Oklahoma at OK State (8:00 ABC) … the Cowboys could spare everybody a lot of bedlam by winning Bedlam at home over the Sooners. A win makes Mike Gundy a man and sends the Pokes to the Big 12 championship game. If OU prevails, the much-maligned Big 12 tie-break kicks in to choose between the Sooners, the Cowboys, and Texas A&M. Professor’s Pick: Oklahoma
Notre Dame at USC (8:00 ABC) … The nation’s first and most famous intersectional rivalry is like a faded photo from yesteryear this season. The Trojans are ineligible for a bowl due to NCAA violations, while the Irish needed to beat Army last weekend to sneak into the postseason. Brian Kelly has ND playing blue-collar football which will payoff soon, but SC still has them outgunned. Professor’s Pick: USC
See you at kickoff!