The good news is that it is Thanksgiving week, we get plenty of college football action on Friday to add to some of the great Saturday showdowns. The bad news is there is only one week of regular season/conference championship action this week before we find out all the bowl matchups.
Last week MC&J was able to make up some ground with a perfect national slate. The Big Ten picks weren’t quite as good but still finished above .500 for the week. Hopefully this week Thanksgiving leftovers are served with some winners.
Last week ATS: 9-3 (5-0 National, 4-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 74-77-4 (30-34-1 National, 44-43-3 B1G)
National games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
No. 5 Washington (-5.5) v. No. 23 Washington State - Friday 3:30 PM EST - Fox Sports 1
This year’s Apple Cup will have a little more at stake than normal, with the winner of this game taking home the Pac-12 North crown, and moving on to play either Colorado or USC next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. This year’s contest between the rivals marks just the sixth time since 1936 in which both schools are ranked going into the Apple Cup. Both teams have been hurt by injuries lately, with Washington losing defenders Joe Mathis and Azeem Victor, while Washington State lost wide receiver River Cracraft for the rest of the year to a knee injury.
Friday’s game should feature some outstanding quarterback play, with Washington’s Jake Browning squaring off with Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. Browning has thrown for 37 touchdowns this year, while Falk has thrown for 36 touchdowns. While the Cougars have run the football better this year than in years past under Mike Leach, Washington will definitely have the advantage on the ground with Myles Gaskin, who has rushed for 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns this year.
Washington State will want some revenge after the 45-10 beating the Huskies put on them in last year’s Apple Cup, but I just don’t see the Cougars getting the win here. Washington State has had issues defending the pass this year and I think Browning adds to his already outstanding numbers this year in a double-digit win for the Huskies.
Washington 41, Washington State 31
Toledo v. No. 21 Western Michigan (-9) - Friday 5:00 PM EST - ESPNU
As if it wasn’t enough that Western Michigan will be trying to stay undefeated on Friday afternoon in Kalamazoo, the MAC West title will be up for grabs. Toledo has just one conference lost this year, so if the Rockets find a way to hand the Broncos their first loss of the season, Toledo will be heading to the MAC Championship Game.
Points should be plentiful when these two schools square off, as both teams have a number of highly talented skill position players. The most notable is Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis, who not only has hauled in 16 touchdown catches this year, but is just 19 yards away from breaking the FBS record for most receiving yards in a career that is currently held by Trevor Insley of Nevada. Almost as impressive as Davis’ numbers are, Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell has thrown 27 touchdowns and just one interception.
Toledo will be able to counter with quarterback Logan Woodside, who has thrown 40 touchdowns this season, which is most in the country. Even if the Rockets aren’t able to spoil Western Michigan’s perfect season, Toledo should be able to keep this one close. In the end I think the Broncos end up staying undefeated, but they do so by less than a touchdown.
Western Michigan 34, Toledo 31
No. 13 Auburn v. No. 1 Alabama (-17) - 3:30 PM EST - CBS
Alabama already has the SEC West locked up, and barring the Crimson Tide falling off the face of the earth, they’ll be a part of the College Football Playoff for the third straight season. Freshman Jalen Hurts has been the steadying force of the Alabama offense, as the quarterback has accounted for 30 touchdowns this year. Hurts and company have gotten plenty of help from the Alabama defense and special teams. The Crimson Tide have scored 12 non-offensive touchdowns so far this year.
Auburn has been banged up lately and going up against Alabama isn’t going to help that. 1,100 yard rusher Kamryn Pettway has missed the last two games, but likely will play on Saturday. Not like Pettway will be able to find much room against an Alabama defense that is allowing less than 70 yards rushing per game. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson started last week against Alabama A&M, and should get the nod again this week with Sean White dealing with a shoulder injury.
Auburn has rebounded nicely from a tough start to the season, but I don’t see them having much success against their hated rival. Alabama’s defense shuts down a struggling Auburn offense and stays undefeated with a decisive win in the Iron Bowl.
Alabama 33, Auburn 13
Notre Dame v. No. 12 USC (-17) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Notre Dame and USC are two of the most storied programs in college football, but right now they are headed in different directions. Notre Dame is 4-7 this year, and just found out they have to vacate some wins from a few years ago. Did I mention that Notre Dame is 4-7? It isn’t DeShone Kizer’s fault though, as the redshirt sophomore quarterback has tossed 24 touchdowns this year.
USC has been surging since Sam Darnold took over as starting quarterback. Following the loss to Utah in his first start, the Trojans have won seven games in a row. Ronald Jones II is getting stronger as the season goes along as well, rushing for 100 yards in three of the last four games.
USC isn’t losing this game, but I don’t think they blow Notre Dame out either. The Fighting Irish may have a bunch of losses this year, but they all have been by single digits. Plus, USC might be more concerned with what happens to Colorado later in the evening, since a loss by the Buffaloes would give the Trojans the Pac-12 South crown.
USC 38, Notre Dame 28
No. 22 Utah v. No. 9 Colorado (-10) - 7:30 PM EST - FOX
Had Utah not lost to Oregon last week, this game would have had even more at stake, with the winner earning the Pac-12 South title. Now only the Buffaloes can clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win, while a Utah win would help USC win the division. A win by Colorado would be even more impressive considering the Buffaloes went 1-8 in conference last year.
Colorado just snapped a 23-game losing streak against ranked teams with their win over Washington State last week. Sefo Liufau became just the second player in school history to record 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game.
Utah has three losses on the season, and all three of them have been by seven points or less. A reason I like Utah to keep this one close is because of running back Joe Williams, who cracked 1,000 yards rushing last week despite missing four games due to a brief retirement. Williams has rushed for at least 149 yards in each of his last five games. Between the work Utah could do on the ground, along with a stingy defense, I see the Utes making Colorado work to win the division title.
Colorado 27, Utah 24
No. 15 Florida v. No. 14 Florida State (-7) - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
There’s no question that Florida has one of the best defenses in the country. Their offense? That is another story. Purdue quarterback Austin Appleby has led the Gators to two straight wins since their loss to Arkansas, but the victories certainly haven’t been pretty. Last week Florida stopped LSU twice on the 1-yard line at the end of the game to preserve a 16-10 win.
Florida State’s senior class is trying to make it 8-0 against in-state rivals Miami and Florida. Lately the Seminoles have been able to tighten up their defense a bit, and this week it helps that they are facing a weak Florida offense. Running back Dalvin Cook is what makes the Seminoles tick, with the junior running back rushing for 1,467 and 17 touchdowns so far this year.
I was trying to talk myself into taking Florida in this one since getting a touchdown with their defense is mighty appetizing, but I just can’t do it. Florida State has too many weapons on offense and while Florida might bottle up Florida State early on, I just think in the end the Seminoles will be a little too much for the Gators to handle.
Florida State 27, Florida 14