Last week we saw Michigan, Alabama, Washington State, Texas, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and FSU sustain losses, injuring their pride and in some instances their pocketbooks. This week we will see who has what left in their gas tanks, for the brutal march through the schedule has weakened some, while others have begun to catch fire. Only those without a pulse can't get excited on either of these weeks, bragging rights and regional pride are indeed powerful motivators.
Let's see what the goody bags have in them, last week I did very well picking the winners but pushed with the spreads, going 11-3 and 7-7 respectively. For the season, 87-47 SU, 70-64 ATS.
Thanksgiving Day 7:45pm on ESPN The Egg Bowl: Mississippi State @ Ole Miss (-8) Yes indeed, it doesn't matter how the rest of the season has gone for these two, this annual brass-knucks affair is always full of intrigue. The Bullies of Jackie Sherrill have struggled through the injury to QB Kevin Fant and without the benefit of a certified running attack, the Offense has been inept. The Rebels come in smarting from a one-point loss to LSU and must win to extend their season. David Cutcliffe's team has enjoyed the home field advantage notching all 5 of their wins there, including their shocker over Florida. Tonight, I look for a close battle as it looks like Fant can play, but I gotta go with the Rebs in Oxford, maybe Ole Miss 28 MSU 17.
Friday Noon on ABC Texas A&M @ Texas (-13.5): Another year, another disappointing campaign for the Horns. Dropping last week's game to Texas Tech all but eliminated the Horns from BCS consideration, and will surely lead to much off-season discussion of the "Mack Brown Curse". The Aggies have been a Jekyll & Hyde team, stunning the Sooners and then stumbling at Missouri the next week and just generally not distinguishing themselves period, their lack of Offensive production the primary culprit. Now comes the flood of rumors about the fate of HC R.C. Slocum and the resulting distractions on the biggest week in the State of Texas. Add in the tragic death of Freshman OL Brandon Fails earlier this week and the mind struggles to absorb it all. I honestly don't know what to expect here, but Texas has more firepower and is at home, so I'm picking the Horns to cover.
2:30pm on CBS For The Boot LSU @ Arkansas (-5.5): Thought about this one as the GOTW, but since I'm biased, it didn't make the cut. Nick Saban's crew eeked out a win last week and must thank Eli Manning for uncharacteristically throwing his second game ending interception of the year. The win eliminated Auburn from the SECW race and sets up the showdown in Little Rock. Houston Nutt's Hogs haven't been steady but they have been effective, rebounding from a 3-3 start. Here we have a wounded LSU fighting with everything they've got against an Arkansas that I think was scoreboard watching last week. Under Houston, the Hogs are undefeated in Little Rock and is the sounder of the two teams right now, Hogs 24 Tigers 21.
3pm on ESPN Colorado (-1.5) @ Nebraska: The Buffs have secured their trip to the Big 12 Championship as North Division Champs. The stampede led by RB Chris Brown has made Gary Barnett's job easy, but Brown is ailing. Combine this with Nebraska's worst output since the 1960's, last years' Colorado pounding, and the Husker home advantage and we have ourselves an upset in the making. Lincoln is a pox on the Buffs as they lost 5 straight and even this year, the Huskers are 5-1 at home. Just because, I'll take Nebraska, say 28-24.
Saturday 12.30pm on ESPN The Battle for 3rd Place in the SECE Bowl Kentucky @ Tennessee (-8): This should be a great warmup for us Georgia fans. Enter the Wildcats of Guy Morriss who have been a handful for everyone on the schedule this year, a team that had it's heart ripped out by LSU a few weeks back. Did they let it bother them? Ask Vandy. Now enter the Vols of Phillip Fulmer, their season altered by a staggering rash of season ending injuries and by even more injuries to those thrust into the fight. All I need to do here is state that this is Kentucky's Bowl Game and that Tennessee cannot win by just running the ball. Cats take 3rd, UK 35 UT 21. 1pm on ABC The Backyard Brawl West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (-2.5): The luster to this intense rivalry a bit blurred for a few years as both programs underwent rebuilding under new Head Coaches, things are smoking in the mountains this year. Walt Harris' Panthers have shown their metal taking the #1 Canes to the brink. Rich Rodriguez' Mountaineers have also proven theirs as they took a win from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Both of these programs are on the rise, both play good Defense and are capable on Offense and I agree with the odds makers that this will be a closely fought war. I think Pitt is the choice playing at home, say by 31-28.
2:30pm on Fox Regional Oklahoma (-14.5) @ Oklahoma State: The Sooners look for vengeance upon their rivals after last year's shocking loss in Norman. The Cowboys are steadily improving under 2nd year HC Les Miles and are bowl eligible. Since Bob Stoops' troops might be looking ahead to the B12CG, the element of upset is indeed there, but I honestly can't see it happening. Focused Sooners 45 Cowboys 17.
3:30pm on ESPN Virginia @ Virginia Tech (-7): Talk about two teams headed in different directions! The Hokies were media darlings going into the season and the wheels starting coming off with the injury to RB Kevin Jones and more recently poor defensive effort. The Cavaliers have pushed and shoved their way into respectability in the ACC, and while one of the youngest teams in the Nation, their smackdown of Maryland last week served notice of a future of pain upon their Conference foes. Lay the points here, the reeling Hokies cannot summon up enough to counter the confident Virginia youngsters, UVA 28 VT 24.
8pm on ABC Notre Dame @ Southern Cal (-11): The showdown has developed and the gloves have come off, these two old rivals will fight to see who will ascend into the National Spotlight. The Trojans are arguably one of the hottest teams in the Land, not missing a beat since their loss in Pullman to Wazoo, while the Irish have still not impressed in racking up their 10 wins. With the hot hand of Heisman hopeful Carson Palmer leading the USC attack, the luck of the Irish will not be enough to win. Trojans 35 Irish 21
. 8pm on ABC For the Governor's Cup Florida (-4) @ Florida State: Who would have predicted the state of this game back in August? While Florida has had a respectable campaign under first year HC Ron Zook, the Seminoles have been like a pinball, barely escaping several upset bids to once again win the ACC title. The loss to the Wolfpack was bad, but the off-field incident this week has blurred whatever momentum this rivalry could have generated. Gators finally get a win in Tally, UF 35 FSU 13.
The Game of the Week! 3:30pm on CBS For the Governor's Cup Georgia Tech @ Georgia (-9.5): Forget the spread, this is going to be a war! The hobbled Dawgs are headed to their first SECC next week and aren't totally out of the Fiesta Bowl picture, but injuries to the vaunted WR Corps has removed much of their Offensive bite. The Yellow Jackets have survived a UT like rash of injuries and are playing very well to close out the regular season and are bowl eligible in Chan Gailey's first campaign.
Can Mark Richt focus the Dawg's intensity enough to keep the Governor's Cup? Can Chan Gailey get enough Offensive production to out score the Dawgs? The difference in closely fought games is often the experience of having won them and Georgia has done it all year long. The margin of victory will be determined by the ability of UGA to keep Tech from scoring, Georgia 35 Tech 21.
Have a superb Holiday and GO DAWGS!!!!