Texas A&M - Texas is no more on Turkey, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get sweet, sweet football this week, including my favorite viewing day of the year: Black Friday. The games are high stakes, you can veg out in your fat pants, you can day drink with impunity, you can hide from guests, and the odds are good many in your household are hitting the bargains — Thanksgiving is as much about family as Black Friday college football is about Treating Yo’Self.
Here is the schedule and viewing guide for today, with point spread picks as necessary. I’ll throw in the NFL games too, and tomorrow or later tonight we’ll have Giving Away Money after a taking a week off for my healing hand. All times Eastern.
Colorado State at Air Force 3:30 PM CBSSN / CBSSports.com
It has been a bad year for Bobo’s crew — lots of injuries, an illness to the head man, and attrition on both sides of the ball has set the Rams program back somewhat. And they’ve frankly never recovered. The Rams travel to face Mile High rival Air Force in Colorado Springs. The Falcons at 4-7 have also had a bit of a down year, despite being in contention to still win the Commander-in-Chief trophy. But, these teams are going very different directions: AFA has lost every game by 10 points or less, and five of those have been by six points or less. The 3-8 Rams have dropped 5 of their last 6, were blown out in most, and haven’t been inspiring in their sole 2-point win over New Mexico. The spread may seem high here (AFA - 15 1⁄2 ) but the Rams have one of the 10 worst defenses against the run and little incentive to get smacked in the knees by 80triple option cut blocks. On the other side of the ball, AFA is just good enough against the pass to probably earn the cover. Ordinarily, I’d lay off this one, particularly with the Egg Bowl representing better value, but this is the bowl game for both of these teams and it’s a holiday. Why not?
Egg Bowl No. 18 MSU at Ole Miss 7:30 ESPN / WatchESPN.com
Last year gave us one of the best recent memories in this rivalry, when Breeland Speaks recovered a fumble, and then grinned and smiled at Dan Mullen on the State sideline. The Rebs got the uoset, Mullen got out of town, and Fitzgerald got injured. This year, it’s Ole Miss underperforming and they’ve especially done so against the division’s competent defenses, having been blown slap out by Alabama, LSU, and solidly whipped by Auburn and A&M. This is a bad-blood game, truly one of the nastiest rivalries in the country, but at the end of the day, Ole Miss has to be able to move the ball against that filthy defense. Meanwhile, the war crime of a defense they trot out has to try to contain the SEC’s third-leading rushing team. The spread on this one seems right — the better team tends to win convincingly in this rivalry. Let’s see if Matt Luke survives past Sunday if WAOM gets smacked again. With the sanctions beaing eased up on the Rebels, I’m almost certain he would not. The Rebs play for a bowl game tonight and don’t get there. Take the Bulldogs - 13 1/2.
Bears (+3) at Lions 12:30 (CBS) — A’Shawn Robinson is hurt and questionable for this one. So too is Kerryon Johnson. So too is Mitch Trubisky for the Bears. BUT you can still tune in for the Bears’ best playmaker, a certain soon-to-be-all-pro safety named Eddie Jackson. All he’s done the last two years is Eddie Jackson things, and with Khalil Mack, Eddie has helped make the Bears a terror of turnovers, NOTs and the team to beat in the NFC North.
Redskins at Cowboys (-7) 3:30 (FOX) —
The Crimson Wall in D.C. has helped this left-for-dead franchise reach .500 and be firmly in the hunt for the divisional crown in a fairly crappy NFC East. Ryan Anderson, Shaun Dion Hamilton, DaRon Payne, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jonathan Allen — and the ‘Skins will likely need all of them to play well in DFW considering what’s behind center for Washington: Colt McCoy leads his team back to Texas after Alex Smith suffered a grotesque, likely career-ending injury that was eerily reminiscent of Joe Theisman’s. How similar was it? Same compound fracture, on the same date, on the same leg, with the same score on the board...and Theisman in attendance. Spooky. And, in the home silver-blue jerseys, the ‘Boys have a new feature receiver that you should keep an eye on: former Biletnikoff recipient and Alabama all-American, Amari Cooper.
Falcons at Saints (-13 1/2) 8:20 (NBC) — If you’re not going to watch the Egg Bowl, then may we recommend this rivalry. In the NFL there isn’t quite the heat that college series usually provide. We say “usually” because the Saints-Falcons (along side a few other series) are the exception: these two teams, these two cities, these two fan bases plain do not like one another. The ageless Drew Brees is joined in the backfield by former Alabama Heisman winner Mark Ingram and former Tide/Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara. On the other sideline, the Falcons have one of the best receiver tandem sin the NFL. Perhaps you recognize their names: All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley. (Ridley has been a little knicked up, but he’s expected to play.) The Falcons have a narrow window of opportunity to salvage their season, but it’s going to take a minor miracle, one that begins by pulling off a massive upset against their most bitter rival. You know the Saints would love to be the one to put the nail in Atlanta’s coffin here.
Seriously, no matter the outcome of the NFL games today, the winner will be the Crimson Tide. You can not beat the recruiting hype quite like the stuff Alabama will be getting this Thanksgiving — a captive national audience, on a federal holiday, in back-to-back-to-back games, where the ‘Bama players aren’t just contributors, they are the stars. And it all comes just two weeks before the Early Signing Period. #BuiltByBama
Have a great Thanksgiving and be safe out there.