By: Joe Curci
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Hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and if you’re still full from shoveling large portions of stuffing down the hole fear not. There is an abundance of great college football action Saturday, and we will be one step closer to figuring out who will play in this season’s big bowl games.
#1 Notre Dame @ USC 8:00 p.m.
In what will be one of the most watched football games all season, the Fighting Irish will travel west to California to take on a 4 loss USC team. Going back to week 1 everyone had looked at the schedule and probably thought this would be a pretty big game; USC would have to get past this last hurdle before the Pac 12 title game on the road to the National Championship Game. Instead it’s quite the opposite. All the Irish need to do is get past the Trojans and they will be undefeated, and playing for the top prize. Led by the nations #1 defense in points allowed, the Irish will need to remain stingy against a USC team that has talented weapons, but will be handing the ball to freshman backup quarterback Max Wittek. Wittek will start for the injured Matt Barkley, and will have a tall task at hand. The Irish have allowed a mere 22 points on the road all season, 32 if you count the game in Ireland in week 1. Led by senior linebacker Manti Te’o, Notre Dame will have to be on top of their game. Although USC has had a tough year they are loaded with tremendous talent, and they have nothing to lose. The pressure in this game lies squarely on the shoulders of Irish QB Everett Golson. He cannot afford to turn the ball over and give USC a short field. If Notre Dame sticks to their style of running the ball with Cierre Wood & Theo Riddick, and force the young Trojan QB into some pressure situations they will be ok. I think this game will live up to the billing, and will come down to the final possession. I trust the Irish defense to make the big stop needed to prevail. The “Luck” of the Irish won’t run out just yet.
PICK Notre Dame 41 USC 38
#4 Florida @ #10 Florida State 3:30 p.m.
One of the ACC’s best offenses against a gritty SEC defense! The Gators look to avenge their 21-7 loss from last season. This is a tough spot for the gators, because although they have the better defense the Seminoles look like the better team on paper. They score and score often and they were one defensive stop away from being undefeated and right in contention for a shot at the title. Can Florida slow down the FSU attack? Yes, but there are so many question marks with the Gator offense. It has been very mediocre, and despite Jeff Driskel returning as the starting quarterback, they are going to struggle to put points on the board. Normally in this spot I would side with the SEC team, but there are just too many things going against the Gators. I think the Seminoles win a hard fought game, but pull away late.
PICK Florida State 27 Florida 13
#5 Oregon @ #15 Oregon State 3:00 p.m.
It’s funny because up until last week, I looked at this game as the biggest test for the Ducks. After Stanford‘s upset at Oregon last Saturday, I feel bad for the Beavers. The Ducks should come into this game angry, and on a mission. They need a statement win to try and keep their hopes alive for playing in the National Championship Game. Should Notre Dame lose, it would be wide open for that second spot with only really a 1 loss Alabama as a lock to get the nod. Oregon State has played some great football this season, but I don’t think they have enough talent on defense like Stanford has to slow down the Oregon attack. Look for the Ducks to get out in front early, and never look back.
PICK Oregon 55 Oregon State 24
#19 Michigan @ Ohio State 12:00 p.m.
We would be looking at a huge game this Saturday had the Buckeye’s been post season eligible. They are not eligible, and one of the best teams in the country will play their big game a month earlier than all the others. Urban Meyer would like to put a nice bow on an undefeated season as they welcome in Michigan, in his first taste of this tremendous rivalry. Both teams haven’t played very difficult schedules, but I do think Ohio State is the better team this year. Braxton Miller needs only 150 passing yards to throw for 2000, and rush for 1000 yards this season, and I think he will accomplish that while he leads his team to a 12-0 season.
PICK Ohio State 27 Michigan 23
#18 Rutgers @ Pittsburgh 12:00 p.m.
Rutgers is knocking on the door to a BCS game, and the only thing that stands in the way is themselves. As long as they beat Louisville in their next game they will ensure the Big East title, but should they lose both games they would miss out on their first ever BCS bowl game. This could be the last opportunity for many years for Rutgers to have a shot at the BCS like this one. Earlier this week Rutgers University committed to the Big 10 conference. No longer will their schedule consist of mediocre Big East football games. Now the Knights will play teams like Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, & Penn State. I don’t see Rutgers as a legit player for a shot at the Rose Bowl each year. Back to this year, this team has overcome some offensive woes with some stellar defense, and will need to rely on their defense against a Pitt team that’s better than their record indicates. They have been in almost every game, and in order for Rutgers to avoid a loss, they must avoid turning the ball over. We all saw this same Panther team nearly knock off Notre Dame by capitalizing on turnovers. This won’t be an easy one for Rutgers and this time I don’t think they avoid the loss.
PICK Pittsburgh 24 Rutgers 13
– With so many great games this weekend, here are some other picks.
– Alabama romps an Auburn team in disarray in the Iron Bowl 38-7.
– Oklahoma State upsets the Sooners 44-28.
– Which team will letdown after huge wins last week? Stanford 28-UCLA 27.
– Clemson beats another SEC team 34-17.
Do you expect any upsets in the CFB Top 10 this weekend? Let us know your picks below.
Follow Joe Curci on twitter @JoeyBaboots