Just two more weeks of the regular season left folks, and today is an important one for Crimson Tide faithful: with a win over No. 21 Arkansas, Alabama can clinch its division for the 16th time, and the 11th under Coach Nick Saban. At stake: a contest against Georgia for the 5th time in 6 years (CFP, regular season, etc), and a chance for ‘Bama to play for its 33rd conference title (29th SEC title) — what would be the 9th of Saban’s (Alabama) career.
But that’s not the only game on today. Nossiree. There are important contests scattered across the map, and we’ll tell you about them here. So, grab a cup o’ joe or a morning screwdriver or a shower beer, and let’s get to it.
Here is your slate for the week. Everything is in God’s Right and Proper Central Standard Time Zone
|Dartmouth at Brown||11:00 am||NESN: 628 *1|
|Florida State at Boston College||11:00 am||ACC Network: 612|
|Harvard at Yale||11:00 am||ESPNU: 208|
|Iowa State at Oklahoma||11:00 am||FOX (cable) / 4K: 107|
|Lafayette at Lehigh||11:00 am||NBCSCA: 698 *1 / (NBCSCH: 665 (jip at 11:30?)|
|Michigan State at Ohio State||11:00 am||ABC (cable)|
|New Mexico State at Kentucky||11:00 am||SEC Network: 611|
|Purdue at Northwestern||11:00 am||BTN: 610-1|
|Rutgers at Penn State||11:00 am||BTN: 610|
|Texas at West Virginia||11:00 am||ESPN2: 209|
|UMass at Army||11:00 am||CBSSN: 221|
|Wake Forest at Clemson||11:00 am||ESPN: 206|
|Wofford at North Carolina||11:00 am||631,640,646,654,662,669,671,675,676,686,693,694,790|
|Indiana State at Illinois State||12:00 pm||MARQ: 664 *1|
|Maine at New Hampshire||12:00 pm||NBCSB: 630 *1|
|Mercer at ETSU||12:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 791|
|Princeton at Penn||12:00 pm||(SNY: 639 / NBCSBA: 696) *1|
|Arkansas State at Georgia State||1:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 792|
|Illinois at Iowa||1:00 pm||FS1: 219|
|Montana State at Montana||1:00 pm||ATTPI: 659 / ATTRM: 683 / ATTRMW: 684 / RSNW: 687|
|SC State at Norfolk State||1:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 793|
|Towson at James Madison||1:00 pm||NBCSWA: 642 *1|
|Georgia Tech at Notre Dame||1:30 pm||NBC (cable) / 4K: 105|
|Arkansas at Alabama||2:30 pm||CBS (cable)|
|East Carolina at Navy||2:30 pm||CBSSN: 221|
|FAMU at Bethune Cookman||2:30 pm||ESPN Extra: 790|
|Michigan at Maryland||2:30 pm||BTN: 610|
|Minnesota at Indiana||2:30 pm||BTN: 610-1|
|Nebraska at Wisconsin||2:30 pm||ABC (cable)|
|SMU at Cincinnati||2:30 pm||ESPN: 206|
|Virginia at Pittsburgh||2:30 pm||ESPN2: 209|
|Florida at Missouri||3:00 pm||SEC Network: 611|
|Louisiana Lafayette at Liberty||3:00 pm||ESPNU: 208|
|Syracuse at NC State||3:00 pm||ACC Network: 612|
|UCLA at USC||3:00 pm||FOX (cable) / 4K: 106|
|Marshall at Charlotte||3:30 pm||MARQ: 664 *1 (jip at from 2:30)|
|Baylor at Kansas State||4:30 pm||FS1: 219|
|Auburn at South Carolina||6:00 pm||ESPN: 206|
|North Texas at FIU||6:00 pm||ESPN Extra: 790|
|Oregon at Utah||6:30 pm||ABC (cable)|
|South Alabama at Tennessee||6:30 pm||ESPNU: 208|
|Vanderbilt at Ole Miss||6:30 pm||SEC Network: 611|
|Virginia Tech at Miami||6:30 pm||ACC Network: 612|
|Oklahoma State at Texas Tech||7:00 pm||FOX (cable)|
|Wyoming at Utah State||7:00 pm||CBSSN: 221|
|Louisiana Monroe at LSU||8:00 pm||ESPN2: 209|
|New Mexico at Boise State||8:00 pm||FS1: 219|
|Arizona State at Oregon State||9:30 pm||ESPN: 206|
Must See TV
No. 7 Michigan State +19 at No. 4 Ohio State (11:00 ABC) — Both teams are in the Top 10, but are they both legitimately Top 10 teams? Methinks not, but Mel Tucker gets his shot to prove it and try to dethrone the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe. With a win, and then a mop-up game at home vs. Penn State, Sparty would holds the potential tie-breaker over Michigan and claim its division for the first time since 2015, no matter if the Wolverines win out or not. An OSU win sets up a very simple proposition for The Game next week: Michigan or Ohio State take the division with a Dub. YUGE game for our esteemed Yankee frenemies.
Clemson +4.5 vs. No. 13 Wake Forest (11:00 ESPN) — Don’t look now, but after an abysmal 4-3 start, the Fightin’ Dabos are on a three-game winning streak as they host the incredibly lethal Wake Forest Clawfense. If this becomes a shootout, do you trust CU to keep up? With Justyn Ross gone? DYK: Clemson has beaten just two teams with a winning record (Luhvl, BC), and none that have been ranked? Nor have they scored more than 21 against any ranked team? If the Demon Deacons come into Auburn with a Lake and win, what will that meltdown look like? Or, is the Tigers D too much? Is Wake just a fraud, skating by on a weak schedule with a defense bound to fail them when it counts? Can Clemsumb just out-talent them, as they did when they were in dogfights with other mediocre teams like BC, Louisville, and Florida State?
As far as “big” games, this is probably one of the biggest of the 2021 ACC schedule.
No. 11 Baylor +1 at Kansas State — Supremely under-the-radar game between two red-hot Big 12 teams. KSU is on a 4-game streak, and sits at a sneaky 7-3. Baylor has been on a tear of their own, winners of 5 of their last 6. Both teams are defensively-geared, and both have diverse, balanced offenses. (And, for my money, Aranda and Klieman are also probably the two best coaches in the Big 12). K State is one of the toughest road Ws to get in the Meth Belt, and that spread above is accurate: these teams are remarkably close, rankings aside. This may wind up being the best game on the schedule today, TBH.
The wildcard in this is the potential distraction: Are the rumors swirling around Dave Aranda going to derail the Bears? Is Baylor a destination job? If LSU comes knocking, would he leave the comfort of Central Texas for the meatgrinder of the SEC West...and an annual headbutt against Nick Saban, on the field and in living rooms?
No. 4 Oregon (+3) at No. 24 Utah — The Ducks are an underdog for a reason: the Utes have lost two games at home in the past 4 years. But, besides Rice Eccles sitting at 4600’ feet, the third highest in all of CFB, there’s also the matter that the Ducks have screwed around with a lot of bad teams this year...and not only screwed around with them, outright lost to a wretched Stanford team. Has any team ever gotten more currency out of a single win than 2021 Oregon? For that matter, do we think if that game were replayed in October or November that Oregon would still win?
Still, the potential is there for OU to ride that early W at the Horseshoe all the way into the playoffs. I think the ride ends this week, but Oregon has more than enough talent to line up and blow over this scrappy, but undermanned Utes squad.
Keep An Eye On:
No. 6 Michigan -15 at Maryland (2:30 BTN) — Next week’s OSU game is moot unless the Wolverines can close out this pass-happy Terps team on the road on the road. Speed in space (esp. off slants), RPOs, and the spread generally have given Harbaugh fits in his 7 years at Ann Arbor.
Better get used to it: Not only will OSU run them next week, that’s the entirety of Mike Locksley’s offensive scheme
...you know, the fun one we used to enjoy in Tuscaloosa. ‘Lia leads the B1G in attempts and yards, is second in yards per game and touchdowns and completion percentage, and is third in passer rating. Maryland has been bad at times, but the younger Tagovailoa is doing his part.
Texas +3 at West Virginia (11:00 ESPN2) — Has Sark already lost this team? Did he ever really “have” them? Is there a culture rot in Austin, bad fit, piss-poor coaching...some of Column A and Column B? Or can the Longhorns rebound? Would a road loss in a tough environment to a scrappy Mountaineers team lead to the unthinkable — Boosters actually buying him out after just one season?
Florida -9 at Mizzou (3:00 ESPN) — I’m genuinely fascinated by this game between two .500 teams, particularly with Road Dan Mullen and the wheels falling off in Gainesville. Do the Gators really want to try for a shot at the Birmingham Bowl? You can bet your ass Mizzou will be motivated for this one — not just for immediate goals, or for Senior Day, but also for Drinkwitz’s recruiting efforts: Eli has already secured seven blue-chippers this cycle, which is as many as the Tigers had in their previous four years combined, as well as Luther Burden, their first 5-star player since Dorial Green-Beckham back in 2012!
With a road trip to rival Arkansas looming next week, this is as good a shot as the Tigers may have at getting to 6 wins. They’ll play with their hair on fire. Can the Gators match that intensity?
No. 19 Wisconsin -10 vs. Nubber (2:30 ABC) — The Cornhuskers have been sooo close this year to breaking through. It’s why Scott Frost earned another year — UNL has played OSU, Michigan, Purdue, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Michigan State to single digits. Only OSU won by more than a TD, and three of those losses were by a field goal. It’s a very dangerous team that travels to Madison to face a Badgers squad that ends the season on the road at Minnesota. Tied for first in the B1G-W, but holding the H2H tiebreaker over Iowa, these last two games count — and that’s usually when the Badgers have fallen flat on their face.
No. 9 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (7:00 Fox) — I half-thought Matt Wells kind of got a raw deal when he was shit-canned midway through the season after the Texas debacle. Bad losses happen, sure. But Red Raider admins are always very touchy about big losses to a team they consider their main rival. The problem in Lubbock is, as always, their defense. They’re ill-equipped for shootouts. Yet, through it all, TTU has become a dangerously erratic team: Beating WVU on the road, beating ISU at home, and playing K State to within 1 measly point.
Fortunately, the team they face this week is not an offensive juggernaut, but it does have a strangling defense. It hasn’t always been pretty, and many games have been too close for comfort, but Oklahoma State may have their best team in about a decade. The size of this one cannot be understated: a Pokes win sets up Bedlam for the Big 12 regular season crown, which would be OSU’s first title of any sort in 10 years. A loss? Welp. Back to same ole’ Mike Gundy, huh?
Like Mizzou, TTU is going to be jazzed out of their mind for this game. And well they should. It’s potentially winnable, especially at home where the Raider have pulled off the improbable, time and again.
Iowa State +4.5 at No. 12 Oklahoma (11:00 Fox) — Anyone think the Sooners are done losing? Me either. Their opponent today boasts one of the B12’s most efficient offenses, and by far it’s most disappointing defense. After finishing 1st or 2nd in practically every category last season, the Cyclones have regressed mightily on that side of the ball. It’s been particularly bad away from Ames, where ISU has dropped high-scoring roadies to WVU, Baylor, and Texas Tech. In what figures to be a shootout in this lopsided series (the ‘Clones have won just seven times in 68 meetings), Iowa State nevertheless has the opporunity to spring the upset here and render next week’s Bedlam contest moot.
Let’s count the ways, shall we? Lincoln Riley is being cagey about his LSU dalliances. The Sooners are pulling some Kirby-esque stunts with their quarterback rotation. The Sooners have allowed 46 explosive plays in just 7 B12 games (including a conference-worst 3 over 70 yards). And since Cambell arrived at ISU, the series has been razor-thin: OU may have won 4 of the last 5, but the point differential? Just +4 for the Dirt Burglars.
How Oklahoma responds here is a tremendous wildcard. Keep an eye on the ISU pass rush versus the hella’ gross OU offensive line.
Auburn -7.5 at South Carolina — I thought long and hard about this one. But, man, South Carolina football is absolutely unwatchable trash even when they’re good. SPOILER: And they’re not. To Shane Beamer’s credit, though, USCe is playing hard, and one more W gets them into contention for that sweet, sweet trip to Birmingham or Nashville.
No, rather the reason this is on here is because of the play of one of Alabama’s divisional rivals, the Auburn Tigers. I detest candy ass football. And this Auburn team is among the softest I’ve ever seen on the Plains.
They don’t hit on defense. Their version of coverage is to tackle wide receivers with the ball in the air after their get burned despite giving up a cotton-candy fluffy 15-yard cushion. The running game is full of ordinary guys behind a less-than-ordinary line. Bo Nix was an arm-punting 50% goofball before he got hurt. Afterwards? The Tigers trot out LSU sloppy seconds, TJ Finley, for his first start at Auburn. A kid so bad that even Max Johnson buried him on the depth chart.
This, in short, does not look like an Auburn team. I’ve seen worse ones, for sure. But I’ve never seen one this...rudderless, this plain, one so lacking in dynamism and identity. You can’t name more than three guys on this team (excluding the kicker), can you? This would be your starting roster on NCAA Football’s Create-A-School mode.
And the final reason, and perhaps it’s one unique to me, is that I absolutely detest Bryan Harsin. Big Lots bro country-ass meathead. Potato Gus-ass crayon-eating offensive “genius.” If there’s a more undeserved, smugger looking mofo in the SEC I haven’t seen him. And what has this guy done for a career? Absolutely nothing, aside from getting chased out of his alma mater. The guy who tries to convince you he is smartest man in the room is usually the biggest idiot. Great Value-ass Dabo Swinney over here is unwatchable. I want to put my remote through the television every time I see his self-satisfied piehole.
It’s going to be just awful football between two mediocre teams, coached by one guy who may be in over his head, and another who brings Parcheesi pieces to a chess match.
With so many meaningful games on this week, you can skip every second of this crap: from the Star Spangled Banner, to the struggle-f*** of inept offense, to the Galaxy Brain 4000 coaching decisions we’re going to be treated to.
Life is too short for shit football.