Two root guides this week, as the football gets spread over the Thanksgiving long weekend- that's a lot of rooting to get to, but don't worry, we'll cover it all! Friday is definitely the weakest day of the three day college football gorgefest, as the only way that actual playoff contenders are playing today is if there's absolute chaos above them resulting in the Pa 12 getting in a team that isn't Oregon- and that won't happen at a one loss TCU's expense. Also, both Baylor and Ohio State play on Saturday, leaving us with only two firm rooting rules for today, and one bonus that's a coin flip. Let's get to it!
#1.) If a State school (Florida State, Ohio State, Mississippi State) played a team this season, root against them.
It's all about degrees of perception here, as the tiniest whim of a CFP voter could decide "You know, Ohio State barely beat Navy, and Navy sucks" and keep the Buckeyes out of a top 4 spot. We want every opponent that our competition has played against to look as mediocre and uninspired as possible. Ohio State has the extra football game to build their case, Mississippi State is in the ESS-EEE-SEE and Florida State is getting passed by multiple one loss teams- why not us too? Root against Baylor's non-shared opponents with us as well to further exacerbate the OOC scheduling point.
#2.) Whomever you think has the best chance against a top 4 team in the championship game, root for them.
This is where it gets trickier, because there's no telling what team may be the best matchup on any given day. That said, I'll give you my explanation for why I picked each team to root for, but feel free to disagree and explain why in the comments. All good? Let's get rooting.
Rule 1 games
Nebraska @ Iowa
This one could go either way, as neither Nebraska or Iowa has played Ohio State, but again- we're going for miniscule interests here. Nebraska was a quality win for Michigan State, Ohio State's best victory. Take a little luster off that and maybe a smidgen of luster comes off of the Big Sisters of the Poor as well. We're reaching here, but root for the Hawkeyes at home- Bo Pelini needs four losses, after all. Go Hawkeyes (ugh).
Navy @ South Alabama
I know, it's unpatriotic as hell to root against Navy, but with the midshipmen one win from bowl eligibility, we want the Middies to fall to the might of the Sun Belt's South Alabama Jaguars. If Navy had simply beaten Ohio State like America's armed forces beats the rest of the world, we wouldn't be in this situation- so root for the Jags. Feel free to call me a godless communist in the comments though. Go Jaguars!
Virginia @ Virginia Tech
A bit of a conflict of interest game, as Virginia has played Florida State, while Virginia Tech played Ohio State. In the end though, there's only the tiniest fraction of a chance that we move past Florida State without them losing (it would probably take a Georgia Tech-Cumberland-esque score against Iowa State), so instead we want Ohio State's only loss of the season to look as absolutely miserable as possible. If the Hokies lose, they're not going bowling, giving Ohio State by far the worst loss of any playoff contending team, even with their extra game- if the Hokies win, it's a debate between Ohio State and Baylor over who has the worst loss. Go Cavs!
Buffalo @ UMASS
Buffalo is Baylor's best non-conference win. Yes, I laughed too. Snow has already made sure the Bulls have no chance of going to a bowl game, but a thumping from the minutemen would further cement the idea that Baylor went out of its way to play the worst possible opposition in major college football- something that the committee frowns upon. Go Minutemen!
Akron @ Kent State
Ohio State rolled the Golden Flashes, the worst team in the MAC by a mile. We want to make it clear that when it comes to non-conference records, Ohio State doesn't have a single thing to feel good about. The Zips need this one for bowl eligibility, so here's the deal- If Akron wins and TCU stays ahead of Ohio State, I will watch the entirety of whatever Pizza Pizza bowl the Zips end up in- that's dedication to a root right there. Go Zips!
Rule 2 games
Arkansas @ #18 Mizzou
This could just as easily go in rule #1 games, as Mizzou hasn't played either of the SEC West playoff contenders, but it's a bit more important here at #2, and that flips the script a bit. If Mizzou wins, the Tigers will represent the SEC East in the SEC championship game, and a Georgia team that has come on strong and decimated both Mizzou and Auburn this season will be left out. It's a tough call in this case, but I think I feel a bit better about Georgia's chances to pull the upset against the best of the west than I do about Mizzou's chances, so we're in Woo Pig Sooie mode once again this week. Go Hogs!
Stanford @ #8 UCLA
Yes, UCLA is a very good team, but they seem to match up very poorly with the Ducks- The Bruins lost at home in a game they trailed 42-10 in the fourth quarter before a rally against Oregon's second string defense made the loss look a little more presentable at the end. UCLA is playing a bit better now, of course, and they do have head to head wins over both Arizona schools, but I just don't like their chances against the Ducks in Autzen for the Pac 12 title game. Go... Tree?
#13 Arizona State @ #11 Arizona
This one is the toughest call of the week, as Arizona State is one of the weirdest teams in the country, and if they're on their game it's entirely possible to envision them beating Oregon in the Pac 12 championship game. The Sun Devils were getting some playoff love before their loss to Oregon State, but that's one of the major factors- as quickly as they can score and rally, they can also produce an outcome that leaves you scratching your head- see a blowout loss to UCLA, letting Notre Dame score 28 points to turn a rout into a close game (though the Devils did turn that back into a rout at the end) and a loss to a puzzling Oregon State team. Arizona, on the other hand, is the one team in the country that knows they can go into Autzen and win- they've already done it. There are a few warts for the Wildcats as well- that home loss to USC doesn't look great now, but Arizona throttled a pretty decent Utah team and that makes me want to see them take another crack at the mighty Ducks. Oregon might come out more motivated against Arizona to avenge their loss, but 'Zona has done well against the Ducks under Rich Rod, so I'll take them . Go Wildcats!
And that's it! There are other games that might catch a gleam of interest (If we're counting on 1 win SMU to look better than 0 win SMU, it's going to be trouble), but most of it is MACtion- feel free to watch and enjoy, as it's technically football, but don't expect it to mean anything. Discuss all of the day's action here and get a good root on.