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Non TCU Game of the Week: Rivalry Week

Rivalry week always produces good games in college football and this year is no different.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 19 Ohio State at Maryland Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Headliner:

#3 Michigan at #2 Ohio State (-7.5) 11:00 am Saturday, November 26th Fox

The Game has huge playoff implications this year as Ohio State and Michigan face off with the winner likely locking up a spot in the college football playoff. The Buckeyes come into the game with one of the best offenses in the country thanks to arguably the most talented wide receiver corps in the nation. They are led by Marvin Harrison Jr. who has had an excellent 2022 season with 65 catches for 1,037 yards and 11 touchdowns. Former 5-star recruit Emeka Egbuka has had a very good season with 57 catches for 914 yards and 8 touchdowns. The offensive attack is nicely balanced for Ohio State as the rushing game sports 3 capable running backs in Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson, and Dallan Hayden. Williams leads the way in carries and total yards with 117 attempts for 763 yards and 13 touchdowns. Williams suffered an injury in the game against Indiana and missed last week’s game against Maryland and is questionable to play against Michigan. Henderson returned from injury last week against Maryland but has still put up good numbers this season with 571 yards and 6 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. Dallan Hayden was excellent in the game against Maryland last Saturday with 146 yards and 3 touchdowns, moving his season totals to 503 yards and 5 touchdowns. Regardless of who gets the most carries, the Buckeyes’ rushing attack presents a challenge for the Michigan defense. The quarterback distributing the ball to all of these weapons is Heisman candidate CJ Stroud. Stroud has had a great 2022 season with 2,991 yards and 35 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. The defense for Ohio State is much improved from last season, in large part thanks to the addition of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles from Oklahoma State. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg has had a good season for the Buckeyes’ defense with 105 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and an interception. He and the rest of the front 7 for Ohio State will be faced with a tough challenge in trying to slow down Blake Corum and the Michigan rushing attack. Corum is a true Heisman contender at running back which is very rare in today’s age, speaking to the dominant season he has had in 2022. Corum tweaked his knee in Michigan’s last game against Illinois and is questionable to play on Saturday. Corum should be good to go, however, from the press conference answers of Jim Harbaugh and Michigan players. Corum playing gives Michigan a solid chance in this game with the season he is having with 1,457 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback JJ McCarthy has had a solid 2022 season with 1,952 yards and 14 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. McCarthy is also very mobile and a threat with his legs with 213 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground this season. McCarthy has done a solid job of keeping the ball out of harm’s way and taking advantage of when the defense overcommits to the run. His favorite target has been wide receiver Ronnie Bell who has 48 catches for 641 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year. Cornelius Johnson has been good for the Wolverines at receiver as well with 25 receptions for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Michigan offense is heavily dependent on the offensive line’s ability to create space for Blake Corum to work and that should be no different on Saturday. Michigan has to win the line of scrimmage to win on the road on Saturday. I think the Ohio State offense is just too much for the Michigan defense and the Buckeyes outscore Corum and the Wolverines in a close one.

My pick: Ohio State wins (-305) Michigan covers (+7.5) Full game over (56)

The Undercard:

#15 Notre Dame at #6 USC (-5.5) 6:30 pm Saturday, November 26th ABC

The Fighting Irish travel to LA to face off against the college football playoff hopeful Trojans this weekend. Notre Dame has rebounded very nicely after a tough start to the season with losses to Marshall and Stanford. Marcus Freeman has the Fighting Irish playing very well as of late, with comfortable wins over Syracuse and Clemson with final scores of 41-24 and 35-14 respectively. Drew Pyne has played well since taking over the starting quarterback job with 1,703 yards and 19 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. He has had the benefit of throwing to a first round talent at tight end in Michael Mayer who has 59 receptions for 711 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2022. Mayer presents a challenge to any defense he faces with immense talent at the tight end position in route running, catching ability, and overall athleticism. The rushing attack for Notre Dame has been good as well with Audric Estime and Logan Diggs as the two leading rushers. Estime is the leader in yards and touchdowns with 782 yards and 11 scores on the year while Diggs has had more carries for 698 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2022. The Notre Dame offense will need an excellent game to keep up with an explosive USC offense. Trying to slow down the Trojan offense will be a defense led by defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey who has racked up 9.5 sacks on the season to go along with 40 total tackles. Cornerback Benjamin Morrison has had a good season as well with 5 interceptions on the year. He will be going up against one of the best wide receivers in the nation in Jordan Addison. The Pitt transfer has had a good season despite dealing with injuries, with 51 catches for 765 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is coming off of a monster game against UCLA where he had 11 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Caleb Williams has done an excellent job getting him the ball and more as he is firmly in the Heisman race with 3,480 yards and 33 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. The former Sooner has not missed a beat since transferring with Lincoln Riley to USC and is thriving in his second year in Riley’s offense. The Trojans have had to turn to Austin Jones and former Frog, Darwin Barlow at running back since the injury to Oregon transfer Travis Dye. Jones leads the way statistically behind Dye with 73 carries for 455 yards and 5 touchdowns but Barlow played very well in a limited role in the past two games and could see more carries moving forward. I think Notre Dame pulls off the upset and knocks USC out of the playoff race.

My pick: Notre Dame wins (+175) Notre Dame covers (+5.5) Full game under (64.5)

Group of 5 Showcase:

#19 Tulane at #24 Cincinnati (-1) Friday, November 25th 11:00 am ABC

Tulane travels to Cincinnati on Friday with the right to host the AAC championship game on the line. The Green Wave is coming off of a lopsided win over SMU at home last week where they put up 59 points on the Mustangs. Tulane is led on offense by quarterback Michael Pratt who has had a very solid 2022 campaign with 2,220 yards and 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Pratt is very mobile as well with 317 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground this season. Pratt has a number of good targets at receiver in Shae Wyatt, Jha’Quan Jackson, and Duece Watts. Wyatt, Jackson, and Watts all have 27 catches on the year while Wyatt leads the team in receiving yards with 520 yards and Watts leads the team in receiving touchdowns with 5. Tyrick James is another weapon at Pratt’s disposal at tight end with 23 catches for 267 yards and 5 touchdowns. Running back Tyjae Spears has been very good for Tulane this season with 996 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Spears is also a threat in the receiving game with 19 catches for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. The Bearcat offense trying to keep up with this versatile attack is led at quarterback by senior Ben Bryant. Bryant has put up solid numbers for Cinci this year with 2,732 yards and 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Bryant has two explosive receivers to work with in Tyler Scott and Tre Tucker. Scott has 53 catches for 888 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season while Tucker has 52 catches for 672 yards and 3 touchdowns. Both could create problems for the Tulane defense that let up 38 points to UCF 2 weeks ago. I think Tulane gets a big road win this week though and secures their spot in the AAC championship game.

My pick: Tulane wins (-110) Tulane covers (+1) Full game over (46)

Others receiving votes:

Mississippi State at #20 Ole Miss (-2) 6:00 pm Thursday, November 24th ESPN

Mike Leach versus Lane Kiffin has to be one of the greatest college football coaching matchups of all time from a pure entertainment factor. Ole Miss is trying to bounce back from an upset loss to Arkansas last week, along with a ton of swirling Lane Kiffin to Auburn rumors. Mississippi State is trying to secure a win over their biggest rival on the road and move to .500 in conference play this season. This will be a fun one with a lot of points and has the best post game interview potential out of any game all year.

#9 Oregon (-3) at #21 Oregon State 2:30 pm Saturday, November 26th ABC

Bo Nix and the Ducks travel to Corvallis for the Civil War against the Beavers. Oregon is looking to clinch a spot in the Pac 12 championship game as Oregon State looks to play spoiler and secure a signature win for what has been a very solid season for them. This is what rivalry games are all about.

Kansas at #12 Kansas State (-11.5) 7:00 pm Saturday, November 26th Fox

Lance Leipold has done a phenomenal job at Kansas this year, getting the Jayhawks to bowl eligibility and now has a chance to play spoiler and keep the Wildcats out of the Big 12 championship game if Baylor beats Texas. I think Kansas State is a great team, but 11.5 points is a lot to cover against a bitter in state rival having their best year in recent memory by far.