Some weeks I feel really inspired to write a long intro and ease y’all into what’s going on. Some weeks need that.
Not this one. You know what time it is. It’s time to throw those records out and get fired up to watch teams that just DO NOT like each other. It’s Rivalry Week.
Yes, Rivalry Week. There’s a ton happening, and not just on Saturday.
Grrrrrrrrrr. This was hard. I decided to pick the time when no prospective Playoff teams were playing, but I largely leave this up to your individual judgment. Take a look below and lunge at daylight where you can find it. Or, you know, don’t. Maybe this is the weekend not to take a Window off from watching. Your call!
We’ve got just one matchup on Thanksgiving: the Egg Bowl. Mississippi State at Ole Miss (7p/6p, ESPN) is a Turkey Day tradition, and it’s always bonkers. I have no idea what crazy thing will happen this year. I do know the Bulldogs’ passing attack, fronted by quarterback Will Rogers, is lethal, but the Rebs have done a decent job in the secondary all year. Ole Miss is more of a running team, which is Mississippi State’s weakness defensively. At this point I’m just throwing statistical matchups out, but we all know it doesn’t matter. Things will be probably get insane at some point. Just roll with it.
Yep, we’ve got games on Friday, and two of them should be really good! Check out Tulane at Cincinnati (12p/11a, ABC) for a spicy American Conference matchup between two ranked squads. Both rely on solid defenses with weaknesses up front. That favors Tulane, which has the more lethal run game, but with quarterback Ben Bryant potentially sidelined with a foot injury, the Bearcats may rely more on the run as well.
Then, don’t touch that dial and feast your eyes on NC State at North Carolina (3:30p/2:30p, ABC) where two half-teams vie for intrastate dominance. The Tar Heels can’t play a lick of defense but quarterback Drake Maye can spin it from the pocket, and they want to bounce back after a loss to Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack’s front seven might have something to say about that. Other games to keep an eye on: Arkansas at Missouri (3:30p/2:30p, CBS) features the Tigers’ Drive For Six, and Florida at Florida State (7:30p/6:30p, ABC) should be its usual amount of fun.
Saturday Early Games
Michigan at Ohio State
Probably the biggest game of the year. First, it’s a rivalry some consider the greatest in sport. Awesome. Next, it’s almost certainly for a conference championship AND Playoff berth. Fantastic. And finally, it boasts the best offense in the country (the Buckeyes) against the second-best defense (the Wolverines). I do not need to sell this game to you. Watch it.
South Carolina at Clemson
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler is ready to attack, fresh off a drubbing of Tennessee. But let me bring the Gamecock faithful back down to earth: that was an uncharacteristically great performance by ol’ Spency, the Vol secondary is terrible, and this week Clemson hosts your squad. The good news for SC, I guess, is that Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has struggled to produce big plays this year in the passing game, and the Gamecocks are certainly better at defending through the air than on the ground. We’ll see what happens.
Saturday Afternoon Games
Oregon at Oregon State
Oregon’s two losses were an absolute obliteration by Georgia in Week One and a three-point squeaker against Washington. The Ducks are incredibly dangerous. Led by quarterback Bo Nix, they score a lot of points, especially against suspect defenses (they struggled a touch against Utah last week). And while I’m high on the Beavers this year, they have their weaknesses, namely their ability to pass and defend the pass. But you know who really, really doesn’t have a secondary? The Ducks. Maybe *checks notes* Ben Gulbranson steps up?
Auburn at Alabama
No matter how good — or bad — the Tigers are, the Iron Bowl always has plenty of pomp and pageantry. This year, it’s tough to see how Auburn (now with Coach Cadillac Williams at the head) knocks off Bama. Two bright spots on offense: running back Tank Bigsby lives up to his name on the ground, and the Tigers tend to hang onto the ball well. This one’s for bowl eligibility, and it’s gonna be stormy in Tuscaloosa. All of that favors the boys in blue and orange. But I don’t think Bama’s interested in dropping another high-pressure matchup to a rival this year. Sure, the Tide have their slight weaknesses this year, but that’s not saying a ton. The offense still hums, the defense still stifles. Let’s see if Auburn can shake them like LSU and Tennessee did.
Watch The Score
Michigan State at Penn State (4p/3p, FS1)
Listen to our Week 12 Picks podcast
Saturday Night Games
Notre Dame at USC
The Trojans won a hard-fought one last week against UCLA. Now, the only thing standing between them and a potential Playoff spot is Notre Dame. Like last week, I’ll just mention that the Trojans’ method of winning is basically to rack up enough yards through the air to compensate for a mediocre-to-bad defense, and that they’ve only lost a single game (to Utah) by a single point. Notre Dame is kind of USC’s mirror image. They’ve really given up some embarrassing games this year, but they hold teams down on defense to give their run-heavy offense a chance to score. This battle of wits and wills should be fun to watch.
Kansas at Kansas State
I know LSU’s playing Texas A&M at this time too. Your mileage may vary, but I’d rather watch a competitive game than one in which the question is how badly Jimbo Fisher will lose. Both of these teams have overachieved this year. The Jayhawks are bowl eligible for the first time in forever. They’re great at keeping their speedy offense on the field — completing about half of their third-down attempts with a versatile running attack — which is great because they do not have a defense. The Wildcats are in a great position to take advantage of that, boasting a bruising attack that beats up opposing defensive fronts while holding teams down on the other side of the ball.
Watch The Score
LSU at Texas A&M (7p/6p, ESPN)
Tennessee at Vanderbilt (7:30p/6:30p, SECN)
Pitt at Miami (8p/7p, ACCN)
Oklahoma at Texas Tech (7:30p/6:30p, FS1)
Saturday Late Night Games
Washington at Washington State
Time for the Apple Cup to close out the rivalry games, as is tradition. The Huskies are feeling the good vibes under Kalen DeBoer, with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. simply thriving as team leader and chucking the pigskin for more yards on average than anyone in the nation. Their defense could be better, but I’m sure Washington’s counting their blessings. On the other side, Wazzu’s been a bit inconsistent. Quarterback Cam Ward’s put the offense on his back of late, and the pass game is certainly the bright spot for the Cougars’ offensively. What really excels is Wazzu’s run defense and ability to limit explosive plays, which could make the Huskies one-dimensional.
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