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And I’ll tell you that the number of high profile MUST watch games is outstanding. Even without a baseball tournament, I’ll be lucky to catch about a third of these but even if you are driving around, you may want to tune in every now and then as there will be plenty of drama and surprises as there was early this morning when Stanford upended Washington to insure no PAC 12 team has no less than 2 losses. Keep a close eye on the two 8 p.m. games which should in essence be considered as National Championship quarterfinal match-ups because the losers are almost certainly going to go home for good after tonight. Alright, let’s get going . . .

TOP GAMES TO WATCH – NOON
(12) Michigan State at (13) Ohio State – FOX (DTV-35) (SPEC-1035) – Michigan State knocked Penn State out of the mix last weekend with a stunner. Meanwhile, Iowa did the same to Ohio State. Now these two teams have very little hope of making the Final Four but they do have a single purpose, to make the Big Ten Championship and possibly upend Wisconsin from the unbeaten ranks. This is the kind of team D’Antonio thrives on. Tough defensively and under appreciated. Think he’ll have much difficulty firing up his team? Think again. He’ll just show his players the Vegas spread which has them as a shocking 17 point underdogs. Ohio State ain’t that great and I actually like the Spartans to keep it very close and maybe even pull off the upset. But with all these tough games, if I want to have a winning record today, I have to take the heavy favorite at home even if I hate Urban Cryer. Buckeyes over Spartans but I’m rootin’ for green and white.

(15) Oklahoma State at (21) Iowa State – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – Two weeks ago, I said I wouldn’t take Iowa State until they played Baylor. I could pick against them just to be stubborn. I could pick against them because Mason Rudolph is too explosive to be contained even if it is a stingy Iowa State defense. I could pick against them because they couldn’t even beat West Virginia last week. But they are at home and their defense is for real. Holding West Virginia to 20 on the road is tough. Keeping TCU to 7 is amazing. Holding Oklahoma to 31 is fantastic. But I said I won’t pick ‘em so I’ll be stubborn and pick against them one more time in what will most likely be decided by less than 7.

Florida at South Carolina – CBS (DTV-6) (SPEC-1060) – I know this is not a top game to watch for most but imagine how much cooler this game would be if Darth Visor was coaching? Even I would watch that. After last week’s thumping, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to think the Gators will rebound and win. But it is precisely that reason why I am picking the Gators to win. I’ve counted them down and out for the count too many times before and they have come back to prevail and this has one of those feels to it. Especially since some of the players on this Gator team were recruited by Muschamp who now sits on the opposite sideline. I like South Carolina to blow this game somehow and hand the Gators a game they shouldn’t win.

UConn at (18) UCF – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Bianchi has to write an article on how under appreciated UCF is in the rankings? News flash, that’s not breaking news Mikey! Could the Knights beat up on UF? Of course they could. Could UCF knock off FSU? Of course they could. But will UCF get Top 10 consideration? Not a chance. Their best Power 5 win (and only game played) was against Maryland on the road. The scary, spooky Terrapins. Knights will continue to go under appreciated as they steamroll the Huskies who are 3-6.

TOP GAMES TO WATCH – 3:30 PM
(1) Georgia at (10) Auburn – CBS (DTV-6) (SPEC-1060) – Okay the 3:30 games start off with a bang in this SEC battle royale. I’ve picked against Georgia a couple of times but I’m starting to think they could run the tables until the Alabama game. Which all that means is that I should be picking Auburn who demolished Mississippi State at home and who lost a close to two teams named Tigers on the road in Death Valley, twice. But they ain’t playing Tigers and they are not playing in Death Valley this week. Will the Bulldogs face the Eye of the Tiger in Auburn? Will Auburn be seeing red? Tough game to call but I’m going with Bulldogs on the road and even though I hope they disappoint me and Auburn pulls it off.

(20) Iowa at (8) Wisconsin – ABC (DTV-9) (SPEC-1090) – Wisconsin has yet to play anyone and that is certainly explains why an undefeated Big Ten team is sitting at #8 this late in the year. Of course Badger fans need not worry because IF they win out, they’ll be in the top 4. But the Badgers haven’t faced too many good teams. Out of conference it has feasted on Us to get Ws with victories over USU, FAU, and BYU. At home this week and next against a stumbling Michigan team isn’t going to help much either. But they will hopefully face a twice beaten Eastern Division champ. I like Iowa to keep it close but ultimately the Wisconsin defense will take over the game and prop them up to a 10 plus point win.

Florida State at (4) Clemson – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Boy if you were just a college football enthusiast, you would have circled this game before the season as one of the big ones in the season. FSU has given up and been steamrolled and can do it again making this a dangerous game for them to get blown out early. But there is hope. FSU beat Duke who beat Baylor who beat Kansas who beat Southeast Missouri State who . . . wait no that’s not it. Ah, I got it. FSU beat Syracuse who beat Clemson and therefore proves that FSU can beat a team in Orange but they have no chance against the real team in Orange in Clemson. Still, I’ll root hard and watch the updates on my phone as Ella Grace performs as 4th chair at All-County on her cello, whoop, whoop! I can think of no better gift she could give me than the gift of music to distract me from having to watch a tortious game on the road in Death Valley. Clemson by a lot I fear and the notion that we have nothing to lose is not true. We could end up with more injuries or get humiliated again like we did against BC. Hoping I have never been more wrong in my life Clemson by 30.

TOP GAMES TO WATCH – 7:00 PM
(2) Alabama at (16) Mississippi State – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Alabama faces another opponent who folks are buzzing about and saying may have a chance to win. Typical DAVID and Goliath scenario but will the Bulldogs have the POWER to win it? Nope. Bama is favored by (only) 13.5 and continue to be disrespected with a #2 ranking. No team is as solid in just about every position as they are and as well coached. Any doubt is erased this Saturday as they take the Bulldogs to the proverbial wood shed. Bama by a lot.

TOP GAMES TO WATCH – 8:00 PM
(3) Notre Dame at (7) Miami, FL – ABC (DTV-9) (SPEC-1090) – Wow, Repentant Catholics versus Reformed Criminals in a game about second chances. I know the smart money is on the Irish who have lived up to the hype with a decisive win against USC and a close loss to the #1 team in Georgia. But Miami has been getting stronger and better every week they have not last. Last week’s win over Va Tech was impressive. The loser of this quarterfinal match-up will most likely miss the Final Four dance, including possibly Miami even if they go on to win out and win the conference over Clemson. Notre Dame meanwhile still has Stanford on their schedule who is now looking like a tougher opponent and that game is on the road as well. Liking the Irish but picking the Canes in a mild upset at home. Just don’t trust the QB play from Notre Dame enough to give them the nod.

(6) TCU at (5) Oklahoma – FOX (DTV-35) (SPEC-1035) – The piece de resistance is this Big 12 match-up. TCU’s balanced attack versus the air show with Oklahoma. So long as they TCU defense shows up to play and keep is close, they’ll have a chance. Especially if they can trick Baker Mayfield with some funky coverages and blitzes and get a couple of cheap interceptions. Still, with this much on the line though I still like Baker and the Sooners to win it and propel Oklahoma into the Big 12 Championship and more conversations about their legitimacy as a Top 4 team, especially if Ohio State can look solid with a win over Michigan State.

REST OF THE GAMES (Much shorter analysis, I assure you)
NOON
(23) NC State at Boston College – ABC (DTV-9) (SPEC-1090) – Wolfpack taking on the Eagles in a game between two teams that beat FSU. Okay, so that’ not an exclusive club this year but BC humiliated the Noles and NC State is coming off a tough loss to Clemson. I think BC has one last surprise win in their belt and clinches bowl eligibility at home.

17) Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – WRBW (DTV-65) (SPEC-1065) – Virginia Tech may still be seeing Tweetie birds after last week’s thumpin’ against Miami. Georgia Tech will be difficult to stop with their option offense and Josh Jackson may be confused by their defensive schemes. This has all the makings of another extraordinary Paul Johnson coaching job to pull out a win at home even though Georgia Tech is the second lowest passing team in the country averaging just 83.4 yards per game.

Duke at Army – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – Speaking of poor passing teams, quick how many passes has Army thrown this season? If you said less than 60 you’d be correct at 56 passes in 9 games. And how many yards per game in the air? A paltry 29.6 and I think that number is going down. Duke meanwhile had played solid but has not impressed in recent weeks. Army is undefeated at home and continues to grind out the clock as they look forward to their annual Army-Navy game in a few weeks and may even come in as the favorites for the first time in a while. Black Knights over Blue Devils.

Nebraska at Minnesota – FOX Sports 1 (DTV-219) (SPEC-1153) –

Arkansas at (24) LSU – ESPN (DTV-206) (SPEC-1127) – Arkansas struggled last week against a pathetic Coastal Carolina and no one is talking about firing Bret Bielema? He’s won two games by 2 points total in the past 2 weeks but his luck runs out this week as LSU embarrasses them across the border by 10 or more.

Indiana at Illinois – Big Ten Network (DTV-610) (SPEC-1138) – Yeah another Big Ten involving Illinois. I’d pass on this but I need to keep my average up so I’ll take Indiana.

Texas Tech vs. Baylor (in Arlington) – Fox Sports Florida (DTV-654) (SPEC-1149) – Yeah another Big 12 game involving Baylor. I’d pass on this but I need to keep my average up so I’ll take Texas Tech.

UL Lafayette at Ole Miss – SEC Network (DTV-611) (SPEC-1150) – Yeah another Big 12 game involving Sisters of the Poor versus an SEC team. I’d pass on this but I need to keep my average up so I’ll take Ole Miss.

3:30 PM
Michigan at Maryland – Big Ten Network (DTV-610) (SPEC-1138) – Okay so this game is slightly even though Maryland’s injuries at QB are far more disconcerting. Mee-she-gan is confident they will win, I’m not as sold but I’ll take them anyway but only by 7 on the road.

SMU at Navy – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – SMU is the best team UCF has faced, even better than Navy. Navy is not truly clicking this year as in recent years and Chad Morris keeps on winning and keeps on auditioning for other jobs. SMU by 7 and Morris goes to Texas A&M.

Virginia at Louisville – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Ah, remember that young lad named Lamar Jackson? Such promise and hope? And now look at him. Nothing but a warped and frustrated old man. Well maybe not that but he’ll be playing on Sundays next year so he just needs to get through a few more games injury free.

West Virginia at Kansas State – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – West Virginia got a much needed tough conference win last week against Iowa State but that was in Morgantown. Not sure how many years Bill Snyder has left in him but he still can coach. West Virginia on the road in a tough win in Manhattan.

4:00 PM
(11) USC at Colorado – FOX (DTV-35) (SPEC-1035) – Buffs have stunk it up and USC is still on top in the PAC 12 South. They’ll cruise to 9-2 and keep their hopes for a major bowl bid alive.

Kentucky at Vanderbilt – SEC Network (DTV-611) (SPEC-1150) – Losing to Ole Miss was a killer for Kentucky if they were hoping to break the streak and finally have a winning record in the conference, something they have never accomplished since the SEC went to divisions. Now they have to beat Vandy and Georgia in their remaining games. Ain’t gonna happen but they should clinch a non-losing SEC conference season with a win over the Commodores their computers.

5:30 PM
(19) Washington State at Utah – Pac-12 Network (DTV N/A) (SPEC-822) – I had this listed earlier as a top game to watch if for no other reason than I think the Cougars are vulnerable. Utah has not performed up to standards of late. They finally awoke from their slumber and knocked off UCLA last week with a decisive win at home. Meanwhile Washington State knocked off Stanford in Pullman last week too. I still like Washington State but I’m leaning more and more towards the home team here in a game featuring two teams in which neither is going to the Final Four.

6:00 PM
Kansas at Texas – Longhorn Network (DTV-677) (SPEC N/A) – Any game on the Longhorn Network and you know it has to be trash. Not because of Texas but because of the opponent. Jayhawks lose by a ton as Texas tries to become bowl eligible with just 3 game left.

7:00 PM
New Mexico at Texas A&M – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Summerlin will be ready to leave the Aggies as soon as they give him his severance package and he’ll quickly land a job elsewhere. Aggies over Lobos in a meaningless non-SEC game.

Purdue at (25) Northwestern – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – Purdue better figure out a way to lock down their main guy. Or maybe even root for a loss to keep him humble. Not becoming bowl eligible and losing to Rutgers and Nebraska by a combined 3 points will do that to you too but still lots of ADs will be circling the wagons in Lafayette this winter to see if they can draw Jeff Brohm away. He’ll lose today to Northwestern and probably stay for at least another year.

Tulane at East Carolina – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – Uhm, waiter, check please. Pirates on the Green Wave sounds like a tremendous 1950’s musical but not a great storyline for a football game between 2 teams with 2 conference wins this late in the season. I’ll take Tulane only because I think East Carolina’s program is capsizing.

7:30 PM
Tennessee at Missouri – SEC Network (DTV-611) (SPEC-1150) – Hey, hey, hey, what do you say! Two programs that played Florida with vastly different results. Missouri is on the mend and used a little pixie dust to trounce the Gators and kill off their coach. Meanwhile Tennessee was bitten by the dastardly reptiles and now Coach Butch Hook is constantly looking over his shoulders as he hears the tic toc of his time at Tennessee quickly coming to an end. That he hasn’t been fired yet is a miracle and giving him more chances to succeed also won’t help. Mizzou at home to put the Volunteers miserable SEC season one step closer to its eventual conclusion.

9:30 PM
Arizona State at UCLA – Pac-12 Network (DTV N/A) (SPEC-822) – Gotta have a later game to watch and I’d say make this your game if you’re going to watch a game. If for no other reason than to see if Jim Mora gets fired at half time of this game or in the third quarter. Okay that’s a drastic measure but another coach who is hearing the tic toc of alumni clocks going off demanding a new coach. Sun Devils on the road in yet another lackluster effort for the Bruins.

10:15 PM
Oregon State at Arizona – ESPN2 (DTV-209) (SPEC-1128) – All the rage for Khalil Tate and then he loses to USC. Now he is relegated to a possible invite to Heisman presentation but no longer the dark horse darling. Still he is one talented dude and Oregon State despite their great effort against Stanford a few weeks ago is still well Oregon State. 0-7 for the Beavers as the Wildcats take care of business at home.

Wyoming at Air Force – ESPNU (DTV-208) (SPEC-1131) – Air Force has have their networks rerouted because their defensive systems have been down all year giving up way too many points. And then last week their offensive attack was shut down by Army who kept them scoreless for the first time since 1992. It may be Veteran’s Day weekend but I’m going to go with the Cowboys over the Falcons.

10:30 PM
Boise State at Colorado State – CBS Sports Network (DTV-221) (SPEC-1137) – Broncos and Rams in what probably is the best late game on the tube but no one cares about the Mountain West Conference. I like Boise State’s poise and the fact that they are undefeated in conference play but I think Colorado State pulls this one off at home despite consecutive losses to Air Force and Wyoming.

 

Eric Mader