Friday Football Picks on Thursday, Rivalry Edition

On the heels of another 5-5 week, which brings the season record to 58-51-1 against the point spread. As usual, the lines get tighter at the end of the season…at least that’s what I tell myself about about being happy with 4 weeks of .500 performance. Anyway, these are the big rivalry games for the season, making this one a football watcher’s dream starting on Thanksgiving. In a previous blog I mentioned the perfect BCS storm of Notre Dame, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Florida State and Texas A&M winning, but, as you’ll see, my guess is that the SEC champ and the Big 12 champ will play for it all this year…but the system still sucks.

Anyway, on to the picks:

Thursday:

Texas A&M (+35) at Texas: 5 touchdowns? The Aggies? In a rivalry game? Wow. But, let’s be honest: The Big 12 south coaches all know that they have to make statements this week because of the tie-breaker rule which allows the BCS ranking to choose the division champion. Mack Brown knows it and will do everything within his power to keep the #2 ranking and since his opponent is weak with computers need to let the humans know the Longhorns are serious. It won’t be pretty in Austin. Diner Prediction: Texas 42, Texas A&M 14.

Friday:

L.S.U. vs. Arkansas (+4.5) at Little Rock: L.S.U. is suddenly reeling and can’t find a quarterback. On the other hand, while they win many, the Razorbacks are getting better every week. They find a way to score points even if their defense can’t get the job done. Right now, I’m feeling like L.S.U.’s entire season has unraveled with the Bama loss, the Troy hangover and the embarrassment last week on Senior Day in Baton Rouge. With the quarterback troubles, I think they’ll do a lot of running to overpower the Hogs, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough. Especially knowing that they give L.S.U. fits every year. Diner Prediction: Arkansas 28, L.S.U. 26.

Mississippi State (+14) at Ole Miss: Most people don’t know that the Egg Bowl is very nasty. Jevon Snead has started to figure out what it means to be a good quarterback and had some incredible throws last weekend. Against an L.S.U. team on the road he was fantastic. Here, he’s at home against a Mississippi State team that I can’t figure out how they scored 31 against anybody, much less Arkansas. Sylvester Croom’s seat starts to get really hot Friday Night. Diner Prediction: Ole Miss 28, Mississippi State 17.

Saturday

Auburn (+14) at Alabama: Auburn fans are raising their eyebrow that Tuberville’s team hasn’t won a big game this season and that they played well enough to win against Georgia. They mention rivalry games and you can throw out the record book. Well, the deal in this one is that the underdog only wins once every decade. And the truth of the matter is that Auburn can’t score. They’ve only scored in the 20’s twice against SEC teams…and Alabama is at home and risen to every challenge this year. Auburn will be playing for bowl eligibility, but Bama is going to use this game to try to erase 6 years of frustration of losing this game. Even if the first half is close, the Tide pulls away. Diner Prediction: Alabama 24, Auburn 13.

South Carolina (+1) at Clemson: For some reason, nobody’s paying attention to Spurrier having the Gamecocks at 7-4. They’ve handled everybody but ranked teams. Granted, Clemson’s been playing well lately, but the bottom line is that they aren’t ranked. Their season has been in turmoil and the only thing they have going for them is that they’re at home. In a game like this give me the team with the best coach. Diner Prediction: South Carolina 22, Clemson 17.

Florida at Florida State (+16): Is there a worse time to be catching the Gators? They’ve been demolishing everybody in their path. The funny thing is that I think they’ll be looking ahead to the SEC championship game which is the only reason this one will be this close. Diner Prediction: Florida 44, Florida State 24.

Georgia Tech (+8) at Georgia: Two teams that are trying to prove they belong. And Matthew Stafford provided a little distraction in Athens by mentioning that he was going to evaluate his draft status after this game. Georgia didn’t look good against Auburn, but their defense gave the weak Georgia o-line fits. The bottom line is the Tech doesn’t have as good a defense as Auburn and he’ll have a much better day against the ACC team. Diner Prediction: Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 17.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (+7): I never appreciated this rivalry when you look at the historical record. I mean, OU has won nearly 80 times while losing only 16. But 2 of those wins ruined OU championship runs a few years ago, and while Stoops is 3-1 in Stillwater, the wins have been by less than a touchdown. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the Sooners are peaking at the right time and showed it by dismantaling Tech. OSU couldn’t do anything against Tech. And the nation will be better off having OU and the Gators playing for it all. The Sooners will do their part this weekend to overthrow whatever it is the Mack Brown tries to do to A&M. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma State 21.

Oregon (+3) at Oregon State: All you need to know about this one is that freshman Jacquizz Rogers is out with a shoulder injury. The Beavers are only in contention or the Rose Bowl because of his 11 TD’s and 1,200 rushing yards. As he goes, they go. The only eyebrow raiser is that Oregon hasn’t won in Corvallis in the last 5 tries and they have lost two straight. But, without Rogers, the game’s different. The Quack Attack has two rushers with 800 yards each and this is why they’re favored on the road. Diner Prediction: Oregon 31, Oregon State 24.

Notre Dame (+30) at Southern California: This one is simple. The Civil War will be at halftime before this one kicks off and the Trojans will be well aware that the Ducks can send them to the Rose Bowl. While they’re playing out of conference, this is a nationally televised game where they have a chance to climb back into the national championship picture if a few bounces go their way in championship games the next weekend. And, for USC, for some reason, those bounces take place (2003, 2004). They’ll make their own statement. Diner Prediction: U.S.C. 52, Notre Dame 17.

So, as you can see, I think the BCS will stay safe from chaos this weekend…but the big news will be that OU will leapfrog Texas and play in the Big 12 championship game. Which will cause it’s very own slice of chaos Sunday night when the standings are announced.

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