Sadly, I'm old enough to remember the 1991 Heisman Trophy race. Michigan receiver Desmond Howard probably was going to win college football's most prestigious award no matter what he did in the regular-season finale against Ohio State that year in Ann Arbor. Remember, there were no conference championship games then. Shoot, it took 20 more years for there to be one in the Big Ten.
But on Nov. 23, 1991, at Michigan Stadium, Howard ensured he would win the Heisman and became the first player, at least that I know of, to strike the Heisman pose during the game -- he did it after an electrifying 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in Michigan's 31-3 victory. I hate Michigan, but that was awesome. Now you see guys from the Mid-American Conference doing it after every touchdown. Howard won the Heisman in a landslide with 2,077 votes, with Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon second way back at 503 votes. (FYI: the best NFL player of the Top 10 Heisman finishers in 1991 was easily a San Diego State freshman running back named Marshall Faulk, who finished ninth.)
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I mention Howard because this is for the most part the final week of college football's regular season. Most Heisman ballots will be in after this weekend's games. And Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson seems to have an insurmountable lead and is the betting favorite at whatever sportsbook you chose. But it's possible -- possible -- that Michigan do-it-all safety/running back/returner Jabrill Peppers could make a late push with a big game and signature moment in Columbus on Saturday when No. 3 Michigan visits No. 2 Ohio State in the biggest regular-season game yet in the three-year College Football Playoff Era.
The Buckeyes are currently -6.5 or -7 depending on which of Doc's recommended sportsbooks you shop. If you are backing Ohio State, as I am, then obviously you want the smaller number. There is one big injury to be aware of, and it's to Michigan starting QB Wilton Speight. He reportedly broke the collarbone in his non-throwing shoulder two weeks ago in the loss to Iowa, but he was in uniform in last week's close win against Indiana and took a few pre-game throws. But backup John O'Korn played -- and not well. Coach Jim Harbaugh is calling Speight a 50-50 proposition of starting. I'm pretty sure Harbaugh knows the answer. Maybe there was no break or it was very minor. Or maybe Harbaugh is simply playing mind games with Urban Meyer. I don't think Speight starting will move the line.
The Big Ten is the center of the universe this weekend in my opinion as if things break right this week and then next, it can easily get two teams into the playoff. Here are some news, notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
No. 13 Auburn at No. 1 Alabama (-17.5, 47): The Iron Bowl line has dropped 2.5 points and the Tigers are taking a sizable lean. That surprises me a little. Really, who has Auburn beaten? LSU is just OK. Arkansas was ranked when the Tigers crushed the Razorbacks, but that's an average team. Ole Miss? Not even bowl eligible entering Week 13. The two good teams that Auburn played, Clemson and Texas A&M, it lost to (probably being generous calling the Aggies good). And Auburn lost at a mediocre Georgia squad. Two big injury questions for Auburn here in QB Sean White and SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway. Jeremy Johnson started the last game, Auburn's 55-0 win over Alabama A&M, in place of the injured White (shoulder). Pettway, who has rushed for 1,106 yards and seven TDs in just eight games, has missed the past two with a quad injury. I would be shocked if those two don't play. Auburn would ensure itself a New Year's Six bowl with a victory. Alabama probably only falls to No. 2 in the CFP Top 25 (behind the Michigan-Ohio State winner) with an unlikely loss.
Cincinnati at Tulsa (-23, 62.5): Really not much to see here other than it's the biggest line move on the board as it opened as low as -17.5. The story here is that of Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville. I feel quite confident this will be his final game at Cincinnati. The Bearcats were 9-4 his first two seasons, slipped to 7-6 last year and are 4-7 entering this game. I'm not even sure why people think Tuberville is so great. He's still living off that 2004 Auburn season when the Tigers finished 13-0 and No. 2 in the nation. Auburn missed out on playing for the BCS national title as No. 1 USC crushed No. 2 Oklahoma -- then the Trojans later were stripped of that title because of Reggie Bush. On the flip side here, Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery is a very hot candidate around the nation and should get some Power 5 interviews. He served as an Art Briles assistant at various Texas high school and college spots for more than a decade before he left Baylor two years ago for Tulsa. Montgomery would seem a natural fit then for Baylor, but that school wants to distance itself from anyone associated with Briles.
No. 15 Florida at No. 14 Florida State (-7.5, 45.5): This line has risen 2.5 points; I loved the Seminoles under a touchdown, but now I'm not as sure. As has been the case the past few weeks, the Gators are down a bunch of injured starters, led by QB Luke Del Rio. Could Florida jump into the Top 4 of the CFP with a win here and then huge upset next week of Alabama? Florida State is playing for an outside shot at a New Year's Six bowl game. It will be the final home game for Dalvin Cook (he's turning pro), arguably the best running back in school history, and possibly for FSU coach Jimbo Fisher as I've seen reports that he could agree to the LSU job by Sunday. Fisher going or staying will definitely happen very soon after this game either way. I've also heard rumors that LSU might announce Tom Herman as its coach this weekend and Fisher is staying. So stay tuned. Fisher is 5-1 against the Gators since becoming head coach in 2010. Cook has 4,166 career rushing yards, which is an FSU record and ranks No. 3 in ACC history. The Noles go for the state title here after already beating Miami and South Florida this year.
Boston College at Wake Forest (-3, 36): You could promise to have Elle MacPherson sit in my lap the entire time and I still wouldn't watch this game. I mention it because I haven't seen a total this low all season. Wake Forest is already bowl eligible at 6-5 and is looking for its first seven-win season since 2008. Dave Clawson has done a nice job there. Clawson said he expects QB John Wolford to start Saturday. Wolford missed last week's game against Clemson with shoulder and ankle injuries. BC can get to 6-6 and bowl eligible with a victory and has probably done enough already to save Steve Addazio's job. So why is this total so ridiculous? Both are good defensive teams but just awful on offense. The Deacons are averaging 309 yards (124th nationally) and 19.7 points (121), while BC is at 299 yards (127th) and 19.3 points (123rd). Last year, these clubs set back offensive football about 60 years in a 3-0 Wake win. The teams combined for 412 yards and six turnovers. I'd still go under that number.
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