Conference football is fully underway now. Every game is completely up for grabs, except for the games involving bad teams, which is most of them.
For the second time this season, the Buckeyes play a conference road game at night, so it is safe to say that no team in America has had a more difficult conference schedule.
And now that conference play is in full swing, the science behind who to root for gets even more intricate. The centrifuges are flying and the microscoptimizers have been whirring for days. It’s actually very annoying. I have no idea why I am writing this in a lab right now. I don’t even work here. Where is security?
Friday September 29
Teams: #14 Miami (2-0, 0-0) at Duke (4-0 1-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Duke
This is an interesting game because it’s always fun to watch Miami lose. The Canes are favored by 6.5 over Duke, who currently has wins over Northwestern, Baylor, and North Carolina. There is an argument to be made for cheering for Miami here, but I knew it would be pointless to steer you in that direction. The Hurricanes are only going to play 11 regular season games this year, so they’ll be missing a data point that everyone else has. That’s good for Ohio State. Duke’s remaining schedule is easier than Miami’s, but there’s no possible way the Blue Devils are going 13-0 or 12-1, right? Right?
Miami 28 – Duke 24
Teams: Nebraska (2-2, 1-0) at Illinois (2-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Illinois
Ohio State plays both of these teams, so you’re cheering for Illinois because you don’t want Nebraska to get on a roll prior to hosting the Buckeyes. You want them to lose and to give up on the season. Ohio State doesn’t need a win in Lincoln to put them over the top, wins against Penn State and Michigan will do that just fine. But when I say you should cheer for Illinois, that doesn’t mean you should actually put forth any real effort when cheering. If you want to be a true Illini fan, just do nothing like they do.
Nebraska 27 – Illinois 23
Teams: #5 USC (4-0, 2-0) at #16 Washington State (4-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 10:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Washington State
USC is favored by 4.5 points over a Wazzu team that has wins over Montana State, Boise State, Oregon State, and Nevada. In other words, they don’t have any wins against anybody good. USC, meanwhile, has really only looked good in one game this season — and that was a 42-24 win over Stanford. I think they’ll be primed and focused for this one. Sam Darnold will still throw interceptions and be average, but that’s okay because draft nerds like him. Mike Leach usually loses this game.
USC 34 – Washington State 26
Saturday September 30
Teams: Northwestern (2-1, 0-0) at #10 Wisconsin (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
Am I crazy, or is this the kind of game that Pat Fitzgerald somehow wins? They tank one non-conference game every year, and then they somehow win a conference game that they shouldn’t. The Badgers are favored by 14.5 points, so it would be a pretty massive upset. Both teams are coming off of a bye and Wisconsin has yet to be tested. This could be a four-quarter game. Let’s see how Badger freshman running back Jonathan Taylor handles it. He is leading the B1G in rushing at 146.0 yards per game. Can he carry Wisconsin through some possible struggles? If he can’t, quarterback Alex Hornibrook should be able to complete enough passes down the stretch to get it done.
Wisconsin 30 – Northwestern 20
Teams: Vanderbilt (3-1, 0-1) at #21 Florida (2-1, 2-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Vanderbilt
Cheating college basketball coaches should be punished by having to watch every SEC East game every week. If you want to stop cheating, you have to make the punishments so severe that nobody would risk it.
Florida 20 – Vanderbilt 9
Teams: Maryland (2-1, 0-0) at Minnesota (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Minnesota
You’re cheering for Minnesota because there is no point in cheering for Maryland. The Terps’ season is over thanks to another quarterback injury. Minnesota, meanwhile, could at least get into the rankings and give the Big Ten West a little bit of a boost. The Gophers are favored by 13 points and they come into this game following a bye week. Maryland may get some good looks in the running game, but I don’t think they’ll be able to find enough offense. They won’t need a bunch, I’m just not sure they’ll have any.
Minnesota 27 – Maryland 10
Teams: Indiana (2-1, 0-1) at #4 Penn State (4-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Penn State
I know some people are pointing to this game as a let down possibility following Penn State’s dramatic win last week at Iowa. I think you’ll see just the opposite, however. That’s the kind of win that should energize a team and a fan base. The Nittany Lions are favored by 18.5 points, which seems like a lot considering Indiana isn’t exactly bad on defense and Penn State didn’t exactly light it up last week. Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow has thrown just 23 passes and completed just 11 attempts in the two games since he opened the season completing 40-of-65 passes against Ohio State. I have no idea what Tom Allen is doing at quarterback anymore, and maybe that makes them more difficult to prepare for. Without a running game, however, it won’t matter. Expect Penn State to continue wearing down Saquon Barkley in this one. Barkley had 43 touches last week and a tackle, and PSU only got 21 points out of it. That’s a poor return on investment, but it was the only investment they had that was paying off.
Penn State 33 – Indiana 13
Teams: #7 Georgia (4-0, 1-0) at Tennessee (3-1 0-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Tennessee
You’re cheering for Tennessee, which means you’ll get ready for your tailgate party by going out the night before and looking for a possum or raccoon to run over. After that, you’ll get into a bar fight where you break a pool cue over somebody’s back for saying something bad about Brooks & Dunn. The next morning at the tailgate, you’ll see the dude you broke the pool cue over and he’ll have absolutely no memory of the incident. That’s what makes being a Tennessee fan so great — nobody remembers anything painful.
Georgia 31 – Tennessee 26
Teams: Florida State (0-2, 0-1) at Wake Forest (4-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Wake Forest
Go ahead and root for Wake Forest and if they go undefeated and get into the playoffs instead of Ohio State, it won’t matter because the end of the world is finally here and we can all move on to something better. Florida State is only favored by 7.5 points, which is amazing and alarming (almarzming?). If Florida State loses this game, it will be their first 0-3 start since 1976. Don’t expect this game to be pretty. In fact, most of the 3:30/4:00 pm games are pretty sleep-inducing.
Florida State 27 – Wake Forest 20
Teams: Iowa (3-1, 0-1) at Michigan State (2-1, 0-0)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Iowa
Michigan State got throttled by Notre Dame, so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back in this one. This is a must win because we need to see a pulse from the Spartans. Iowa, meanwhile, has to make sure that Penn State doesn’t beat them twice. That was a hard loss last week, but the Hawkeyes can’t sulk. They need to be ready to play in unfriendly confines, which is probably a good thing because they will be forced to come together quicker and fight. You’re rooting for Iowa because so far the Hawkeyes’ only loss is to the No. 4 team in the nation. A couple more wins and they’ll be ranked when Ohio State comes to Iowa City. Spartans are favored by 3.5 points, but I’m gonna go with Iowa until Michigan State proves me wrong.
Iowa 24 – Michigan State 23
Teams: #24 Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1) at #13 Auburn (3-1, 1-0)
Time (TV): 6:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Mississippi State
I don’t know who you should root for, I’m just gonna be honest. I don’t think there’s a huge difference here. Both teams host Alabama. I guess you should root for Mississippi State to give Auburn a conference loss, which will then make Alabama’s loss in the Iron Bowl look worse. If there isn’t a second loss for Alabama, however, don’t worry about them missing the playoffs because it ain’t happening. This might be a good game to steal for Mississippi State. I’m betting the Auburn crowd will be completely subdued and distracted after hearing about all of the basketball violations their program has committed. You’ll be able to hear the murmurs throughout the stadium.
“Did you know we had a basketball team?”
Mississippi State 27 – Auburn 24
Teams: #11 Ohio State (3-1, 1-0) at Rutgers (1-3, 0-1)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Ohio State
You’re cheering for Ohio State because a win for Ohio State here is good for Ohio State. I have too many other paragraphs to write about this game to waste something meaningful on the Tip Sheet. This might surprise you, but the only general guideline I have with the Tip Sheet is to not waste something meaningful on it.
Ohio State 45 – Rutgers 0
Teams: South Carolina (3-1, 1-1) at Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (SECN)
Cheer For: South Carolina
If an SEC game occurs in the woods and the people who are are at the game commit seppuku in order to keep from watching it, did the game actually happen? Both of these teams are 3-1, but nobody expects them to do anything with it. It’s like giving a gun to a mean dog. Yeah, the dog looks tough, but he can’t physically pull the trigger, so it’s meaningless.
Texas A&M 31 – South Carolina 17
Teams: #2 Clemson (4-0, 2-0) at #12 Virginia Tech (4-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Virginia Tech
Clemson has basically two games left this season that they could lose — this one and November 4 at North Carolina State. And even if they win here, they may have to beat Virginia Tech again in the ACC Championship Game. Hokies freshman quarterback Josh Jackson has been fantastic this season, throwing for 11 touchdowns and just one interception. He is mobile and can keep drives alive. He will need to use that mobility to keep himself alive, however, against this Clemson defensive line. Clemson has playmakers everywhere on offense once again. Freshman running back Travis Etienne has rushed for 292 yards this season on 23 carries. The Hokies are in the middle of the pack in run defense, so that average might only dip a bit in this one.
Clemson 34 – Virginia Tech 24
Teams: #6 Washington (4-0, 1-0) at Oregon State (1-3, 0-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (P12N)
Cheer For: Oregon State
Washington is favored by nearly four touchdowns, so there’s no point in me going any further here. The only reason I included it here is so that you would know who Washington was playing. If you think about it, this is more your fault than mine. And I don’t want to get into another argument, and we may never agree on who keyed who’s car, or who assumed who’s identity on every social media platform and professed his love for all of his old teachers in high school — even the gym teachers. Let’s just agree that we were both wrong and that your passwords were way too predictable.
Washington 41 – Oregon State 16
Teams: #15 Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1) at Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Texas Tech
The math on this one is really too much for my feeble brain, but I’m saying root for Texas Tech at this point. The Red Raiders have close wins over Arizona State and Houston this season, so it’s not like they’re going to run the table. A loss for Okie State muddies the waters for Oklahoma, should the Sooners lose at Bedlam. At this point Oklahoma State showed us last week what happens when people expect too much from them — they lost by two touchdowns at home to TCU.
Oklahoma State 58 – Texas Tech 31
Teams: Ole Miss (2-1, 0-1) at #1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0)
Time (TV): 9:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Ole Miss
You’re cheering for the college basketball of SEC teams. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Alabama 38 – Ole Miss 17