College Football Picks: Rivalry Week Odds and Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 11/24/2010
Rivalry week takes on a new look this year in college football.
The Iron Bowl will likely decide a National Championship contender. The Backyard Brawl has two coaches, Bill Stewart and Dave Wannstedt, fighting for a Big East title and fighting for their jobs. A Big Ten title is on the line for Ohio State when it faces old rival Michigan, who may have Rich Rodriguez’s job on the line.
Florida State introduces its new head coach, Jimbo Fisher, to its old rival, Florida and never has more been on the line in the Bedlam game when in-state rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet with both ranked in the Top 15.
Here are the top five college football rivalries that will be played this weekend, a rundown of the recent history of each and some college football picks and predictions this weekend starting on Friday after Thanksgiving.
Friday, Nov. 26
West Virginia at Pitt (-2.5)
This game was supposed to decide the Big East title like it normally does. It still may decide the conference’s automatic berth to a BCS game, but there are also other teams involved thanks to incredibly lackluster performances from Pitt (6-4) and West Virginia (7-3), two teams that were supposed to be among the best in the country but instead cannot even crack the Top 25. The rivalry matches up two schools separated by 80 miles of Interstate-79.
The Heinz Field playing surface has been called into question most recently by the Oakland Raiders after their loss to the Steelers this past Sunday. The grass will once again be a hot-topic issue, but for once it may favor West Virginia. Pitt may be the ones harmed by their own field as they need big games out of running backs Ray Graham and Dion Lewis and wide receiver Jon Baldwin. They also must deal with the West Virginia defense, ranked No. 3 in the nation.
The Backyard Brawl has been split evenly the last 10 seasons. Pitt and West Virginia are both 5-5 SU and ATS since 2000. Wannstedt is 2-3 SU and ATS against West Virginia and Stewart won and covered last season in his first experience in the Backyard Brawl.
Both Pitt and West Virginia have bad losses this season, but West Virginia has played more consistently throughout the season even against a tougher schedule. Stewart has some bad losses in his short tenure at West Virginia, but he always has his team ready for big games and the Backyard Brawl is a big game. Like the underdog plus the points in this one.
No. 2 Auburn at No. 11 Alabama (-4.5)
2:30 p.m. ET
The Iron Bowl has never meant more. An Auburn (11-0) win would put the Tigers one step closer to the BCS National Championship Game, but favored Alabama (9-2) stands in its way.
Even with an SEC Championship Game looming Dec. 2, the Iron Bowl is the true test this season for Auburn. Auburn is 7-3 SU in the last 10 against Alabama (6-4 ATS), but Nick Saban has won the last two meetings since taking over in Tuscaloosa.
Auburn nearly got caught looking ahead last week against Georgia. With the allegations swirling around Cam Newton and an SEC title showdown with South Carolina in a week, looking ahead is not an option this week. Alabama has nothing to lose on Friday. Look for the Crimson Tide to end the national title hopes of its rival and cover.
Saturday, November 27
Michigan at No. 7 Ohio State (-17)
This series, once the standard in college football rivalries, is in danger of not becoming much of a rivalry.
Ohio State has owned the Wolverines, and their stranglehold on the series has become tighter since the arrival of Jim Tressel to Ohio State and, more recently, Rich Rodriguez at Michigan.
Ohio State (10-1) is a heavy favorite once again against Michigan (7-4), according to college football odds. Tressel is 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS against Michigan while Rodriguez is 3-21 ATS against Big Ten opponents since arriving in Ann Arbor and 0-2 SU and 0-2 ATS vs. Ohio State.
Look for the Buckeyes dominance to continue as Ohio State easily wins and covers.
Florida at No. 21 Florida State (-2.5)
3:30 p.m. ET
Florida State fans have to hope the tables have finally turned in this series. The Gators have won six straight and Urban Meyer is 5-0 SU against the Seminoles since arriving in Gainesville in 2005.
But Florida (7-4) is having its worst season under Meyer and Jimbo Fisher has Florida State (8-3) pointed in the right direction. The Seminoles are favored in a series they have lost six in a row in, but even with all the Florida State momentum, Meyer still has Florida State’s number with or without Bobby Bowden on the sideline.
The Gators are a solid play here, especially catching points.
No. 13 Oklahoma at No. 9 Oklahoma State (-3)
8 p.m. ET
They’re ranked in the Top 10, they have a better record and have a Heisman Trophy candidate, but no one in the state of Oklahoma will believe things are different until the Cowboys finally defeat the Sooners.
Oklahoma State (10-1) has BCS aspirations, but long-time nemesis Oklahoma (9-2) has other ideas.
Mike Gundy has never defeated Oklahoma in six seasons in Stillwater, but most say this is his best chance.
Oklahoma has won seven in a row in the series and covered six in a row. Bob Stoops is 9-2 SU and 7-4 ATS against Oklahoma State in his career at Oklahoma.
You can believe the hype of Oklahoma State this season or take the proven track record of Stoops. The proven track record and the Sooners win out in this one.
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