Welcome to the week known as The Week Before THE Week.
As you may have suspected, I am running behind and don’t really have the time for the kind of research that you have come to expect and believe you deserve.
Because of my time crunch, I am going to try and get through these games as quickly as possible. If any of it is entertaining, then that was a complete accident.
At this point, I’m just meeting my contractual obligations. That’s why I still do the appearances at Bob Evans that Mr. Porentas signed into O-Zone law in 2000.
And occasionally I swing by an OCLC if I’m in the neighborhood.
In terms of the games this weekend, there isn’t much, which is why ESPN GameDay is in Columbus to hype up a Big Noon FOX Game.
Anyway, I can’t get finished until I get started, so let’s go.
Saturday November 23
Teams: #8 Penn State (9-1, 6-1) at #2 Ohio State (10-0, 7-0)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Ohio State
The Buckeyes have the advantage in every area, though there may be some arguments for Penn State’s rush defense. The Nittany Lions also have some individual skill that can make some big plays, but so do the Buckeyes. Penn State’s pass defense is not very good. Ohio State and Justin Fields should make a mark here. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has accuracy issues, but is tough. I’m not sure he can play as well as he needs to for all 60 minutes to get this win. If starting center Michael Menet is out for the Lions, that’s going to be a rough line of scrimmage for the guys in white.
Ohio State 45 – Penn State 17
Teams: Western Carolina (3-8) at #5 Alabama (9-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Western Carolina
Western Carolina is the third worst of the directional Carolinas, behind only South Carolina. Alabama will try to 59-0 WCU to impress the committee and show them that they can still be a contender without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Alabama 45 – Western Carolina 14
Teams: #10 Minnesota (9-1, 6-1) at Northwestern (2-8, 0-7)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Minnesota
The Minnesota offense is playing too well right now to be outscored by Northwestern. PJ Fleck will be tested this week as he attempts to get his team to bounce back from a very tough loss last week at Iowa. If he loses this game, the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award begins to loosen from his grip.
Minnesota 24 – Northwestern 10
Teams: Illinois (6-4, 4-3) at #17 Iowa (7-3, 4-3)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Iowa
You are cheering for Iowa because you want the Big Ten to be ranked as highly as possible over these next three weekends. Illinois is technically still alive for the Big Ten West, which is like me saying I’m potentially a millionaire if I can just find a big bag of money somewhere. Trust me, I’ve looked. They just don’t exist. And the bags with the dollar signs are just props that mean people use to make people like me think there actually are bags of money laying around. And yes, I’m always going to check in the bag because it only takes one.
Iowa 27 – Illinois 20
Teams: Michigan State (4-6, 2-5) at Rutgers (2-8, 0-7)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Michigan State
For Mark Dantonio’s sake, cheer for Michigan State. Plus, you don’t want to see the joy that this game would bring to Michigan fans.
Michigan State 27 – Rutgers 10
Teams: Boston College (5-5) at #16 Notre Dame (8-2)
Time (TV): 2:30 pm (NBC)
Cheer For: Notre Dame
I guess you should actually root for Notre Dame now that they’re out because it gives Michigan a quality win. It also gives Georgia a quality win, but there’s nothing you can do about that. You knew it was gonna happen when the game was scheduled way back when. And anyway, you still hate Boston College for stealing Keith Byars’ Heisman.
Notre Dame 31 – Boston College 17
Teams: Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2) at #4 Georgia (9-1, 6-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Cheer For: Texas A&M
You are an Aggie. From the cow poop on your boots to the cow poop on your hat and all of the cow poop in between. You might actually be too much of an Aggie. Has anybody ever told you that? People thought before the season began that Texas A&M was gonna beat one of the tough teams on their schedule. They were wrong.
Georgia 34 – Texas A&M 20
Teams: #13 Michigan (8-2, 5-2) at Indiana (7-3, 4-3)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Michigan
There’s a bunch of people out there saying that Michigan’s offense has turned a corner and has been firing on all cylinders “since the second half of the Penn State game.” Oh yeah? Then please explain to me the 331 yards of total offense they managed against Maryland two weeks ago, or the 83 yards rushing they put up against Michigan State? Ohio State put up over 700 yards of total offense against the Terps. Michigan managed 17 more yards than Rutgers. Northwestern rushed for 139 yards against the Spartans, for crying out loud. Not to mention that Ohio State went off for 323 yards against them on the ground. I know Buckeye fans are hopeful for an Indiana upset here, but I expect the Michigan receivers to come up with enough plays to win it in the fourth quarter.
Michigan 31 – Indiana 27
Teams: Texas (6-4, 4-3) at #14 Baylor (9-1, 6-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Baylor
Baylor is still alive for the playoffs and while a win over Texas won’t due anything for their resume, it’s still amazing to think that Matt Rhule already has Baylor where Tom Herman is trying to get the Longhorns. Baylor had to be burned to the ground to allow the new growth take place. Maybe Texas should look into that as well.
Texas 31 – Baylor 24
Teams: UCLA (4-6, 4-3) at #23 USC (7-4, 6-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: USC
Look, if the fans of these two schools don’t care about this game, why should I? And why should you? Ah, who are we kidding, we’re a sucker for abandoned teams. Actually, you know what, I just realized that I don’t have a lot of room at my place. So if you wouldn’t mind just previewing this game at your place, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.
USC 28 – UCLA 20
Teams: Pittsburgh (7-3, 4-2) at Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Pittsburgh
I only put this game here because I saw it and thought, “Hey, I wonder if these two teams are in the division opposite Clemson and this might be a division title type of game.” So now I’m going to go and check. Yep, they’re in the same division, but Virginia has a win more than both of them, so this is a game to stay alive in the race to get killed by Clemson. UVA already has a win over Pitt, but if the Hokies get the win here, then next week it’s VT at UVA for all of the marbles that will then be taken away by Clemson and put into a bag and then Clemson will take that bag and repeatedly beat either the Hoos or Hokies about the head for 60 minutes.
Virginia Tech 30 – Pittsburgh 28
Teams: Nebraska (4-6, 2-5) at Maryland (3-7, 1-6)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (BTN)
Cheer For: Nebraska
Just cheer for Nebraska because they have a chance at making a bowl game and Maryland doesn’t and those poor kids stuck in Nebraska deserve an opportunity to leave the state for once in their lives.
Nebraska 38 – Maryland 34
Teams: Purdue (4-6, 3-4) at #12 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2)
Time (TV): 4:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Wisconsin
You want Wisconsin ranked as highly as possible, so a win over Purdue should be just what the doctor ordered. Provided that doctor has never seen football before and also happens to be a member of the playoff selection committee. Which, after taking part in some of these teleconferences, might not be that far off the mark.
Wisconsin 41 – Purdue 17
Teams: Arkansas (2-8, 0-6) at #1 LSU (10-0, 6-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN)
Cheer For: Arkansas
This is what I hate about the SEC. The week before rivalry week, everybody schedules crap teams. Look at LSU, they have a terrible Arkansas team this week when they could have gone out and scheduled somebody worthwhile like Monmouth or South Carolina-Upstate.
LSU 56 – Arkansas 17
Teams: Temple (7-3, 4-2) at #19 Cincinnati (9-1, 6-0)
Time (TV): 7:00 pm (ESPN2)
Cheer For: Cincinnati
You need Cincinnati to win each week because they are helping the Buckeyes. They could ultimately be what gets Ohio State the No. 1 seed. It would be the first time the city of Cincinnati ever did anything worthwhile for the entire state. But it still wouldn’t make up for their chili.
Cincinnati 23 – Temple 16
Teams: #6 Oregon (9-1, 7-0) at Arizona State (5-5, 2-5)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ABC)
Cheer For: Oregon
You are still cheering for the Pac 12 or Big XII to end up with the 4-seed in the playoffs, so you’ll be a Duck this weekend. You don’t have to go full Elton John duck — unless you want to — but you might want to offer up a quack-quack here or a quack-quack there. The Sun Devils have lost four in a row and this is gonna be a tough one. Next week they’ll be playing Arizona for a bowl bid, so you can go back to rooting for ASU then.
Oregon 34 – Arizona State 16
Teams: TCU (5-5, 3-4) at #9 Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FOX)
Cheer For: Oklahoma
Why are you rooting for Oklahoma? Because you would love to see a Ryan Day offense match up against an Alex Grinch defense. It might take some work for that to happen, but it’s still fun to think about. You have pinball noises going off in your head right now, don’t you?
Oklahoma 41 – TCU 28
Teams: #7 Utah (9-1, 6-1) at Arizona (4-6, 2-5)
Time (TV): 10:00 pm (FS1)
Cheer For: Utah
This one might be interesting simply because you just never know about the Pac 12. Granted, Utah is about the most consistent thing the Pac 12 has, other than consistently terrible leadership at the top of the conference. Arizona has lost five in a row, and most of the losses have been by multiple touchdowns. This one should follow that same, pitiful path.
Utah 38 – Arizona 19