We’ll serve up some football early this week, as Thanksgiving is just about upon us, and Thanksgiving means – football!
We’re going to be very disappointed if USC doesn’t knock off Notre Dame, which has cruised to #1 by playing, in order, Navy, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma, Pitt, Boston College, and Wake Forest. So, OK, granted, there’s some quality in that list. None of it is up in the stratosphere this year; Stanford has been inconsistent and is now ranked #8 after holding Oregon in a clench, but frankly, that’s too high. Oklahoma may not deserve its #13, but it’s closer to its deserts than Stanford is. Michigan, #19, is the only other opponent that’s still in the top 25.
The Trojans are smarting from their loss to UCLA last week, and gunning for the Arsh in the Coliseum. Who wouldn’t want to take home the Jeweled Shillelagh, after all? There may be fruitier rivalry trophies, but we here at the TOC Football Commentary Service are not aware of them. Arsh give 5 as of this writing. USC fans are wimps if they don’t close that up.
Now to some important games. Tulsa plays emerging division rival SMU in Dallas on Saturday morning. Tulsa also, of course, beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010. The Golden Hurricane is better than Smoo this year, but the Mustangs always play Tulsa tough, so this game won’t be a gimme. TU is invincible in C-USA West, which we can hope won’t affect the team’s drive on Saturday. Play hard, men.
Oklahoma hosts Bedlam this year, which will kick off at 2:30 PM on Saturday. Although the Sooners are giving 7, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have been on a tear in the last few weeks, shredding Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Sooners certainly have the deeper line-up, but the Pokes have the heart this season. Both will get reasonably good bowl games this year; Kansas State has locked in the Big 12 championship, even if the Sooners win both their last two games, so Bedlam is about the rivalry and the pride. Kind of think OSU will take this one.
Fresno State hosts Air Force Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs, a hair back of Boise State in the Mountain West, get the nod, odds-wise. Navy and Army are both off until The Game on 8 December. Both teams having crunched Air Force, it’s down to the storied Army-Navy game for the Commanders’ Trophy this year. More on that as the time nears.
Virginia Tech hosts the Yahoos on Saturday for the annual battle for the Commonwealth Cup, which as bric-a-brac goes is reasonably non-annoying. Hokies give 10, and if they play like they’ve been playing the last couple of games, they can certainly cover. 36F and sunny at the noon (EST) kick-off on Saturday in Blacksburg. VT (5-6) needs this one to be bowl-eligible. Virginia, 4-7, can’t get to a bowl at this point.
Nevada’s off this weekend, but will be back to meet Boise State on 1 December. Of course, we all remember that incredible game on the frosty night of 25 November 2010, when Nevada, hosting BCS #4 Boise State, won in OT 34-31. Time for the Wolf Pack to do it again. The oddsquad will have the Broncos giving big by this time next week. 1 December; be there.
Alabama, #2 this week, is hosting the Iron Bowl with Auburn on Saturday. Tide gives 32, which may be generous given their low-scoring propensities, but they should certainly win. 3-8 Auburn sucks eggs this year. #3 Georgia hosts Georgia Tech in Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate, not by any means the silliest name for an NCAA rivalry. There’s a Governor’s Cup involved. The Bulldogs are naturally favored.
#4 Florida heads to Tallahassee to rival it up with the #10 Seminoles, which on a non-rivalry weekend would be a marquee game even outside the Southeast. Sadly, this rivalry has no silly name, and if there’s a party favor for the winner, no one’s talking. The ‘Noles fans have FSU giving 8, a feat even Sooner fans would be proud of. #5 Oregon heads for Corvallis and the annual Oregon Civil War, in which the winner takes the Platypus Trophy. Sounds like bias in favor of webbed feet to me, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing up in the Beaver State. Ducks give about 9.
Kansas State, having fallen to #6, has the weekend off before hosting Texas on the 1st. #7 LSU travels to Arkansas on Friday to play the Razorbacks for the Golden Boot. #8 Stanford will be in Pasadena to play hot-running UCLA, in what should be a pretty good game. The oddsdudes are playing it close, with Stanford giving only 2. Bruins could definitely win this one and send Stanford back south of #10 where they belong.
Missouri will be at #9 Texas A&M for the Battle of the SEC Freshmen. It ought to be a rivalry, and maybe one day it will be. Aggies give 22. Gig ‘em!
The Thursday game is TCU at #16 Texas, which ought to be pretty good. In rivalry action outside the top 10, we have of course the storied Michigan-Ohio State game, unfolding in Columbus at 11:00 AM Central on Saturday. Urban’s Buckeyes are 11-0 and ineligible. The oddsbubbas have them giving 3, but wethinks they’ll take it by more, and may cause the Wolverines to slide a bit further down from their #19 berth.
#11 South Carolina (motto: The Other USC) will be at #12 Clemson for their long-running rivalry. Memphis hosts Southern Miss for the Black and Blue Bowl, a fine tradition since 1935. Ole Miss hosts Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, now in its 111th year of awarding the Golden Egg Trophy. (The Golden Cannon is still way cooler.) Troy will be at Middle Tennessee State (motto: “Yes, there is one!”) to battle for the Palladium Trophy, which sounds suspiciously highfalutin for a football prize. Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) hosts Utah for the Rumble in the Rockies, and of course we mustn’t forget Indiana at Purdue for the environmentally-friendly Old Oaken Bucket, Illinois at Northwestern for the Land of Lincoln Trophy (formerly the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk), Washington at Washington State for the Apple Cup (no, not a kid’s lunchables item), and Arizona State at Arizona for the Territorial Cup.
Kentucky will be at Tennessee playing a very old rivalry game, but we understand there is no longer a barrel awarded to the winner. We think that’s tacky.
We mustn’t neglect to mention the battle for the Heroes Trophy – a real thing, going back to 1891 – which will take place with #14 Nebraska visiting Iowa on Friday.
For those who need more football on Thursday than the TCU-Texas game, the NFL offers some good Thanksgiving fare. Washington will be at Dallas for a Thanksgiving afternoon tradition (and a bid to keep both teams’ wild card hopes alive). Full disclosure: a lifelong Cowboy fan is writing this. The early game is Houston at Detroit, in which the Lions are definitely the underdog. Patriots at Jets will round out the NFL entertainment on NBC’s evening broadcast. Should be a good game.
In Division III, our Franklin Grizzlies host the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor squad from Belton, Texas. The game will be played on Franklin’s turf in Franklin, Indiana. MHB, the American Southwest Conference champion, downed Louisiana College last week 59-20, while the Grizzlies rolled over Adrian 42-10. Game time weather – Saturday at 1:00 PM Central – should be about 36F and sunny, which may give Franklin an advantage over the Texas team.
As noted in the comments last week, Deer Creek lost a heartbreaker to McAlester in the second round of the Oklahoma high school 5A playoffs. Good on the Antlers, however, for getting to the playoffs. Well done!
A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all in TOC Nation.