Seeing nationally ranked teams go head-to-head and watching traditional rivals fight it out are the games each weekend that make college football worth watching and this week gives fans both. Meanwhile, for ACC fans, two teams that fell out of the top ten will be fighting for respectability and ranking positions as they contend against conference rivals they must beat.
Critics have been harsh on the ACC as not capable of putting a team in the National Championship fight, and while that may be true on the champion, it’s no patsy conference as some games played against other conferences has shown. Some of the weaker teams are quite capable of major upsets. From this writer’s perspective, what stands out the most is just how horrible Maryland and North Carolina have turned out to be. Maryland should be a minor bowl contender while North Carolina was supposed to be a top 25 team. Both have been embarrassing. Even though this column has a mid-Atlantic flavor to it, Maryland games are seldom worth following as one of our college picks. Each week they face games that are easy to write off.
Let’s look at this week’s games and see who should be celebrating Saturday night.
North Carolina at Virginia Tech #14 (-16 ½)
Virginia Tech should win handily. They must cover the spread and look good to move up the national rankings.
Miami #18 (-7) at Wake Forest
Same comments as above for Miami. Wake Forest is a stronger opponent than Virginia Tech faces.
Georgia at Florida #1 (-15 ½)
Traditionally billed as the world’s largest cocktail party held on neutral field in Jacksonville, here’s one of the nation’s great traditional rivalries playing red hot after some of the theatrics of their last two meetings. Whoa daddy, here are two teams that hate each other and it will show this weekend. Georgia is well motivated to put on a good show to have some bragging points for this season. While Florida dominates the match-ups, will win, and will not budge in their national rankings, Georgia can put a real scare into the Gators. We’ll pick Georgia to beat the spread and predict some fights between plays.
Michigan at Illinois (-7)
Here are two decent teams looking for respectability. Michigan needs to win the rest of its games so it has a chance to finish the year in the national rankings after they get pummeled by Ohio State in their final game.
South Carolina (#21) at Tennessee
Here’s the matchup between two brash, ego-maniac coaches, almost the sorcerer and the apprentice with Steve Spurrier at South Carolina and Lane Kiffin, the brash rookie, at Tennessee whose bark makes ESPN highlights all too regularly. Unfortunately, for Kiffin, his experience so far gives him nothing to show for his bragging, and that experience consists of…..? He shouldn’t believe his tenure as a big NFL coach with the Oakland Raiders means anything in the SEC. Consider Butch Davis at UNC. He’s not a braggart, but what has his experience leading the Cleveland Browns done for the Tar Heels fortunes? South Carolina wins this one and Steve Spurrier will be “yip-yip, yap-yap” about the outcome.
Texas #3 (-9 ½) at Oklahoma State (#13)
Here’s a battle down in oil well country between two nationally ranked teams with lofty aspirations. An Oklahoma State upset puts them in great shape to demand more attention. Texas has a chip on its shoulder believing it is just as entitled to be ranked #1 as Florida. Texas is the tougher team and will win.
USC #4 (-3 ½) at Oregon #10
USC is fighting for a national championship bid and must win this game or their hopes are done. Further, they should win convincingly to enhance their chances so another team doesn’t move ahead of them in the rankings. They will win, but how convincing they will be remains to be seen. They can beat the spread but by how much?