As usual, we’re starting out behind with the Football Commentary, #19 Louisville and Cincinnati already having played their somewhat pointless The American match last night. In The American’s weirdly evolving way, with no playoff, #16 UCF had already locked up the conference, having defeated Louisville earlier in the season. The Golden Knights still have SMU to play tomorrow, but they can lose and still hold the conference title. So, like, whatever. (I very much doubt they’ll lose, BTW. They’re giving 11 in the line, and that should probably be more, except that they played worse than they have all season in the game with South Florida last week.)
But all things decently and in order. Tomorrow is the Big Game. Well, two, actually. Oklahoma and Texas will, in effect, be holding separate Big 12 playoffs, in the New Big 12’s own weird, playoff-less way. #17 Oklahoma will be at #6 Oklahoma State for the long-awaited Bedlam! Rivalry, and boy, is it going to be cold in Boone Pickens Stadium. Ice having settled on Oklahoma with Winter Storm Cleon, they’re expecting a high of around 18 degrees in Stillwater tomorrow. The Cowboys give 10, as befits the team with the better record and much greater heart-and-grit factor, at least this season. That said, both young quarterbacks get their job done through being mobile and slippery, and tomorrow’s field won’t be all that conducive to the slippery-QB model. OSU’s natural advantages from keep-‘em-guessing dynamism may or may not come into play as they would if it were at least 20 degrees warmer. Sooners a bit injured on defense; could be a factor. Should be quite a game.
The same is true for #25 Texas at #9 Baylor, both of which are still potentially in the Big 12 hunt, depending on what OU and OSU do. It will be in the 20s in Waco tomorrow for the 2:30 PM CST kickoff. The oddsquad has the Bears giving 15, but seriously, Texas is going to play them tougher than that. Bryce Petty and his band of merry men held off TCU by only 3 points last week, and the Longhorns are a better team. Both games should be really good ones. Even without a championship playoff, we can look forward to the Big 12 champ deserving its top spot.
Our other TOC Nation Favorites in the FBS are out of the running, at this point, save for Navy and Army, which play next week. But of course, there’s quality conference play to buckle up for. The ACC championship game will feature #20 Duke at #1 Florida State, although of course no one gives the Blue Devils much of a shot. The ‘Noles give 29, playing in upper 60s and rain Saturday night, which is right up their alley.
Marshall heads to Rice for a most interesting C-USA playoff. (Marshall and Rice? Who knew?) The Thundering Herd gives 6, even playing a long way from home, and that’s probably reasonable. 11 AM CST kickoff; strangely 40-ish, with clouds and showers developing in the afternoon. Not their fathers’ Houston weather for the Owls.
#5 Mizzou at #3 Auburn, of course, will be Game of the Week for a lot of folks. Not sure how many would have foreseen this match-up in the SEC championship game, back at the beginning of September. It’s practically a pick-em in the line, and that’s about right. If Missouri were playing Alabama, the spread would be wider and everyone would agree with that too. Uncharacteristically 50-ish, with rain, for the afternoon game start.
Pretty cold for #2 Ohio State at #10 Michigan State in the Big 10 title game. Should be in the teens for the 7:15 PM CST kickoff. Buckeyes give 6, but everyone expects the Spartans to play them tough. I don’t know of any Buckeye fans who think they’ve got a gimme coming tomorrow night. As with the game in Stillwater, a cold, slick field will put a damper on offensive speed and agility.
#7 Stanford may not have home field advantage in the PAC-12-off with the #11 Sun Devils, but it’s going to have better weather in Phoenix than it would in Palo Alto. The Heathered Mauve find themselves, oddly enough, on the short end of 3, heading into 50s and dry in Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday evening. We knew there was something funny about those Stanford bettors (seriously, they can’t back a give for this one?). In any case, it would be raining and in the 40s back home, so they’re making out like bandits.
We’d be remiss not to mention that Bowling Green will be at #14 Northern Illinois to play off for the MAC tonight. The Huskies give only 3, possibly because it’s supposed to be in the single digits in DeKalb. It’s one night I’d kind of dread being the winning coach. Anything but a Gatorade attack!
Louisiana-Lafayette will be at South Alabama for the Sun Belt playoff on Saturday (Jaguars give 3), and of course, Utah State will be at #23 Fresno State to duke it out for the Mountain West in the late game tomorrow night. 40s and raining in Fresno, but it would be in the single digits with snow and ice if the Aggies were playing at home, so no one’s likely to complain that much. Bulldogs give a reasonable 2.
Some other miscellaneous The American teams will still be out there playing each other tomorrow, but who can keep up with that? Meanwhile, in FCS action, McNeese State will host Jacksonville State on Saturday evening in the second round of the playoffs. Jacksonville State (3rd, Ohio Valley Conference) comes in 10-3, having knocked off Samford in round 1. The Cowboys are ranked #5 or #6 in all three polls, but they’ll have their work cut out for them on Saturday night, when it will be colder than normal even down in Lake Charles. Dropping into the 30s, with intermittent rain likely, for the evening game.