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Rivalry Week Syllabus: The Tide Will Roll, Florida and Michigan Show Some Fight

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Friday

Apple Cup… Sark wants to cross the seven-win Rubicon. Leach wants recruiting momentum. Washington State is coming off consecutive wins. They have found production on the ground and looked better defending the run. They have cut down on turnovers. Washington is starting either a banged up Keith Price or a backup. The Cougars are 5-0 ATS on the road this season. Make it six.  Pick: Washington State +14

Made Up Big Ten Trophy Game That Should Be About Corn… Nebraska has pulled away from three FBS opponents this season. Those three opponents have a combined three wins vs. FBS this season. Iowa has a much better defense. They hung tough with Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin through three quarters. Against Nebraska, they do it for four. Pick: Iowa +3

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The Iron Bowl… Sure, Auburn has jumped up to No. 4. But differentiate the desirable from the probable. Both Auburn and Alabama have top 10 yards/play offenses. The difference is Alabama has a far superior defense, especially against the run. Auburn has looked excellent, but has avoided five of the top six defenses in the SEC. The one thing Alabama has had trouble defending is NFL talent at receiver with an accurate quarterback (Manziel, Mettenberger). Nick Marshall is intriguing, but Alabama is not on that level. Roll Tide. Pick: Alabama -10.5

The Game…Ohio State last won by more than 11 in Ann Arbor in 1961. During that stretch, they have scored more than 26 points once. This game tends to be close, particularly when it’s cold. Michigan does not offer much to like. However, they stop the run well and have cut down their turnovers (+9 in B1G play). Ohio State is in a look-ahead spot on the road. Their last competitive game came in mid-October. Their previous four road opponents have one conference win, combined. Michigan won’t win. But they can make it ugly and lose 21-10. Pick: Michigan +16

The Palmetto Bowl… Dabo Swinney is 1-6 against South Carolina and Florida State since 2010. Contrary to media coverage and popular opinion, South Carolina has had a better offense this season, ranking fourth nationally in Offensive FEI. Mike Davis is one of the nation’s best tailbacks. Connor Shaw ranks in the Top 20 in passer rating and yards/attempt with just one interception. Perhaps Tajh Boyd will be scared. We’re more concerned about an erratic Clemson defense on the road. After what happened against Florida State, we’re not trusting the Tigers until they prove it. Pick: South Carolina -5.5

Alabama v Texas A&MSEC Natural Rivals… Johnny Manziel’s final regular season college football game could be played in zebra print. Spectacular. Missouri may still be a tad overvalued. They have played an SEC schedule, but Texas A&M will be the best team they have faced (or at least beaten) this season. Manziel neutralizes Missouri’s aggressive front. We’re not sure John Chavis’ blueprint is replicable. This smells like a shootout. We don’t like A&M’s defense but we’ll take the underdog with the points. Pick: Texas A&M +5

Battle of Los Angeles… USC rides in on a fervent wave of Orgeron. UCLA is following up from a tough loss at home to Arizona State. The Bruins have not won at the Coliseum this century. Their closest margin is 17 points. UCLA’s offensive line does not match up well with the Trojan front seven. The Bruins’ average pass defense does not match up well with Kessler and USC’s receivers. We smell a revenge beating. Pick: USC -3.5

Recruiting Ground For National Attention… Notre Dame is hard to grasp. They beat Michigan State, Arizona State and USC. They lost to Michigan and Pitt and struggled with Navy and Purdue. Stanford has a clear advantage up front with Notre Dame injuries on the interior of both lines. They should win. The question is whether one trusts their anemic offense to cover. Notre Dame is not Cal. We don’t think Ty Montgomery scores a touchdown every time he touches the ball this week. Pick: Notre Dame +14.5

muschamp-angry-during-tennesseeFlorida State vs. Florida… Florida is fresh off an FCS loss and ineligible for bowl play. Will Muschamp will remain Florida’s head coach. The Seminoles are already penciled, by most, into the BCS title game. They are massive favorites here. But the Gators still have a very good defense, when not facing the triple option. They are one of the nation’s best units against the pass. Operation “do not get blown out” will be in full effect. That line is just too many points. Pick: Florida +27.5

A Rivalry Though Sort of an Afterthought… Duke is aiming for its first 10-win season in school history. North Carolina is coming off five-straight wins. A UNC win could set up a potential five-way tie in the ACC Coastal. We presume all five teams would get rings. Duke has had a lot of things go right. They don’t do anything particularly well. We’ll take the surging Tar Heels to avenge last year’s upset. Pick: North Carolina -6.5

We went 4-4 last week, bringing our record to 48-51-2 ATS on the season.

[Photos via USA Today Sports]

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