iron bowl

Hey everybody, it’s Bob doing the intro this week. Harry is busy since he’s not sitting at college with nothing to do since he doesn’t have homework; Matt is busy at home preparing for his aunt and uncle to consider coming in town next month.

We’re going to be quick this week because it’s a holiday today and my Packers are about to take the field, but you should all still get your picks in, as per usual. It’s a huge weekend of college football– the last regular season matchup for most teams. We’ve got the holy Iron Bowl, another game with SEC title implications, a Palmetto State rivalry, Harry’s Hurricanes playing on Friday, and THE WILDCATS TAKING ON THE FIGHTING ILLINI!

Oh shoot, I need to say this before I go on: As a reminder, this is a weekly feature, publishing every Thursday during the season. Matt, Bob and I pick five games each week: the games from each of our schools (Illinois, Northwestern and Miami, respectively) and a couple national games. Anyone is invited to pick with us in the comments and we’ll throw the standings of the peanut gallery up each week.

Last week, Virginia (+20) had a late-game meaningless cover to lose by 19, but that was fun. Michigan State (-7.5) predictably covered. Purdue (+6.5) covered in a game that I didn’t watch but probably wasn’t that exciting. Arizona State (-2) won and survived a late surge from UCLA. Baylor (-9.5), Harry’s favorite team, got embarrassed in Stillwater.

Standings (with me obviously on top):

  1. Bob 38-26-1
  2. Matt 36-28-1
  3. Harry 27-37-1

And the peanut gallery! As always, standings are listed by total wins, not winning percentage.

  1. Thomas Bechtel 25-19-1
  2. Creed Tucker 27-31
  3. Michael W 26-27-1
  4. Arnim Whisler 24-20-1
  5. Katy Weeks 22-26-1
  6. Ben Greene 16-23-1
  7. Andrew Kelley 13-16-1
  8. Bobby 12-13
  9. mdrose16 6-15
  10. Nik Valdiserri 5-10

THIS WEEK. All times are listed as central times because Harry is located in Chicago right now so hopefully that means his east coast snobbery doesn’t exist.

Miami (-2.5) at Pittsburgh, 2:30 PM, Friday— Take a break from Black Friday shopping for this barnburner! After up-and-down ACC campaigns for these two schools, both are hungry to finish off the regular season with a victory. 

Northwestern (-4) at Illinois, 2:30 PM— The Wildcats look for their first conference win (yet again). While it’s been a brutal conference slate, everyone in Evanston would really be embarrassed to lose this one– which is entirely possible.

#1 Alabama (-11) at #4 Auburn, 2:30 PM— They’re calling this the most anticipated Iron Bowl in years– clear evidence of the recency effect / the media being annoying. The 2010 Iron Bowl pitted Cam Newton’s undefeated Auburn Tigers– often the underdog in the series– facing their final road block against none other than the defending champions before reaching the SEC Championship. This Auburn team is nowhere near that Alabama team, and the story of that Auburn team made that game even bigger. However, this is the first Iron Bowl to ever have the winner straight up advancing to the SEC Championship, so that’s kind of cool.

#21 Texas A&M at #5 Missouri (-4), 6:45 PM— Coming off a horrible week, Johnny Manziel’s Aggies look to spoil the Tigers’ SEC title hopes.

#6 Clemson at #10 South Carolina (-5.5), 7 PM— Both teams have been in the background after some early losses, but both could be BCS bowl crashers. South Carolina gets to the SEC title game with a win and a Missouri loss.

Harry’s Picks

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Big ups to Bob this week; this probably wasn’t going to come out if not for his initiative.

MIA vs PITT I know the ‘Canes have come down to earth quite a bit in recent weeks, but are they really giving up less than a field goal against a team that lost to Navy, Georgia Tech and very nearly Syracuse? Miami -2.5

NU vs ILL I just don’t know on this one. My immediate reaction is to take Northwestern because they’re clearly the better team based on the margins of their losses this year versus Illinois’. At the same time, weird things are happening to the Wildcats this year so it’s entirely possible to see the Illini come away with this one on some completely ridiculous play (Hail Mary, crazy end of game fire drill field goal etc.). I just flipped a coin and it gave me Northwestern -4. My picks are extremely scientific, folks.

BAMA vs AUB While this Iron Bowl is much-ballyhooed, let’s look at a collection of Auburn scores from this season:

  • August 31, home game: Auburn 31, Washington State 24
  • September 7, home game: Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20
  • September 21, road game: LSU 35, Auburn 21
  • October 5, home game: Auburn 30, Ole Miss 22
  • November 16, home game: Auburn 43, Georgia 38, Auburn ridiculous Hail Marys to win the game 1

Their one impressive win this whole season came at Kyle Field against Johnny Football in a 45-41 shootout. I’m not saying Auburn’s not a solid football team; Gus Malzahn has done a terrific job this season and Nick Marshall is an outstanding dual-threat quarterback. I’m just pointing out they’re not anywhere near Alabama’s level. Sigh. Alabama -11

TAMU vs MIZZ Missouri has been impressive all year and could easily be undefeated with a chance to go to the National Championship with a win here and one over Alabama (or Auburn I guess) in the SEC Championship. Instead, they’re one of three remaining teams that we should all get behind right now because they can keep the SEC out of the BCS Championship by beating Alabama (the other two are obviously Auburn and South Carolina, which plays Bama in the SEC Championship with a Mizzou loss). Texas A&M looked awful last week against a defense not nearly as strong as Missouri’s. I don’t think Johnny Football and Co. are as bad as they showed, but I still see them losing by a touchdown. Mizzourah -4

CLEM vs SC I feel like if South Carolina is going to find a way to pull this one out, it’s going to have to be close, so 5.5 points is way too many to give up for me. I like Clemson to win the game outright (#ACC4Lyfe!!!), so I’ll confidently take the Tigers plus the points. Clemson +5.5

Last week: 2-3

Season: 27-37-1

Bob’s Picks

MIA vs PITT I don’t love this Miami team, especially after the Johnson injury, but I think they’re still the better team and are only giving up a couple points. Miami -2.5

NU vs ILL It’s hard to be confident in my Wildcats, but they really have been a much better team than Illinois this year despite the results. An Illinois win would not shock me at all, but I’ll take the team four plays away from having four more wins. Northwestern -4

BAMA vs AUB Alabama is winning, but that spread above 10 is too much for me. Auburn +11

TAMU vs MIZZ Missouri has proven to be a strong team on both sides of the ball, and with Franklin back and seeing how bad A&M can be after last week, I have to take the hungry Tigers here. Missouri -4

CLEM vs SC This is a really tough call. Despite the Gamecocks’ being in the SEC, they really have not played a tough schedule at all this year, so it’s hard to know how good they are. The Cocks are the deeper, better coached team in my opinion; plus, they beat a strong Clemson team on the road last season. This could really go either way, but I like the Cocks. South Carolina -5.5

Last Week: 3-2

Season: 38-26-1

Matt’s Picks

Happy Thanksgiving peeps. Will Harry reach 30 correct picks in the regular season?! Feel the excitement! I actually have different picks than Bob this week– YAY! Let’s gobble gobble.

MIA vs PITT In an epic battle of “Meh” vs. “Oof”, I’ll take Miami. Miami -2.5 (Miami 27, Pitt 14)

NU vs ILL Sadly, Northwestern is just a better team than Illinois. However, everything that could possibly go wrong for the Wildcats this year has, and I think that continues in embarrassing fashion on Saturday. The Illlini blew out Purdue in most statistical categories last week, but they sadly turned the ball over a ton so people have the perception that Purdue is roughly an equally-talented team as UI. They aren’t. Illinois wins outright on late game heroics from Nate Scheelhaase, a perfect send-off for the senior quarterback. Illinois +4 (Illinois 24, Northwestern 20)

BAMA vs AUB Alabama beat LSU, a significantly better team than Auburn, by much more than this. While that kind of logic is generally unreliable, it’s hard to imagine Auburn keeping this one close after the first half or so. Alabama -11 (Alabama 41, Auburn 27)

TAMU vs MIZZ WILL NO ONE BELIEVE IN JOHNNY MANZIEL?! I’m going with a relatively big upset after a letdown game against LSU for the Aggies. Texas A&M +4 (Texas A&M 38, Missouri 35) 

CLEM vs SC Pretty sure Bob just used his paragraph as an excuse to say Cocks a bunch. How despicable of him to abuse the name of the team. Anyway, I think Clemson is just about even with the Cocks this year, so I should probably take the points. HOWEVUH, the Cocks have owned the Tigers for the past several years. While I normally hate when analysts spew off historical stats to support their opinion on a game taking place this year, it’s hard to go against the Cocks and the SEC. I like the Cocks in this one. Go Cocks. Cocks -5.5 (Cocks 35, Clemson 28)

Last week: 3-2

Season: 36-28-1