We’re officially in Rivalry Week.
Or as it’s better known to some people “Hate Week.”
Let’s recap last week before we get going. I was steady, going 4-2 straight up, and 4-2 against the spreads. That brings me to 56-22 straight up on the year, and 33-45 against the Vegas lines.
Back to the hate.
The blood gets boiling with every Facebook post or with every snide remark on the street. Sure, it’s the start of the Christmas season, but we simply can’t spread good cheer until our bitter rival is silenced for another 365 days.
That’s how it works.
I’m sure many of you have a win over a hated rival on your early Christmas lists, so lets see which of you are going to have a Merry Christmas.
1) Georgia @ Georgia Tech (UGA – 3): It’s the start of the Hutson Mason era, though it came a bit earlier than expected. Aaron Murray joined most of the rest of the offensive skill players who are out for the year, but Mason looked sharp in his time against Kentucky. The Bulldog defense has played strong against the run most of the year (Auburn being the lone exception), and Todd Grantham has schemed well against Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense the past two years. If Todd Gurley gets in a rhythm and the Georgia defensive front gets a push, it’s all over. Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 21
2) #1 Alabama @ #4 Auburn (BAMA -11): It’s not often that No. 1 is an 11-point favorite against No. 4, and it’s even more rare when No. 4 is the home team. The Tigers had a week off to come down from the high of their Hail-Mary win against Georgia, and Alabama got a tune up against Chattanooga. I’m sure Gus Malzahn will have a few tricks up his sleeve for quarterback Nick Marshall to pull out, but Nick Saban rarely loses these kinds of games. War Eagle gets in a few blows in the first half, but the steady elephant keeps on chugging towards Atlanta. Alabama 41, Auburn 28
3) #6 Clemson @ #10 South Carolina (USC -4.5): This is one of the premiere matchups of the weekend, but it has fallen well under the shadow of the Iron Bowl. This game could have BCS implications, with both teams fighting for an at-large berth. Back in September, this one seemed like a no-brainer, with the Tigers looking much more impressive. Heck, even back in October I’d pick Clemson. This is a new month, and Steve Spurrier has owned his in-state rival of late. The Gamecocks have won the last four. Williams-Bryce is a tough place to win, so I’m taking South Carolina and laying the points. South Carolina 35, Clemson 28
4) #21 Texas A&M @ #5 Missouri (Mizz -4): Talk about a flip-flop. I’m sure most of us thought this game could impact the SEC Championship, but not the way it could. Most of us thought Johnny Football would be duking it out with A.J. McCarron and Zach Mettenberger for the SEC West crown. Hardly any of us thought Missouri would be in line for the SEC East, and nobody thought they’d have an outside chance of playing for a national title. The Tiger defense has been stellar all year (except against Connor Shaw). Texas A&M’s has not. Mizzou will make enough plays to head to Atlanta. Missouri 41, Texas A&M 34
5) Ole Miss @ Mississippi State (Ole -3.5): The Rebels are a surprise team so far this year, and the Bulldogs are on the brink of ending their three-year bowl streak in our Thursday/Thanksgiving/Hanukkah special. State kept their hopes alive with their overtime win over Arkansas, and they’ll have all those cow bells behind them. Dan Mullen buys himself a little more time and the Bulldogs will have a happy Thanksukkah. UPSET ALERT: Mississippi State 27, Ole Miss 24
6) #25 Notre Dame @ #8 Stanford (Stan -14): The Irish get to close the season in a hostile environment against a punch-you-in-the-mouth squad. The Cardinal blew out Cal last week, and their defense (18.9 points per game) has been dominant all season. They haven’t given up more than 28 points to anyone, and that doesn’t bode well for a Notre Dame offense that only scores 27 points per game. I think the Irish defense can make a few plays. Take the Irish and the points, but Stanford wins it straight up. Stanford 20, Notre Dame 10
I hope you all have a happy weekend with family and football (the two most necessary parts of life).
Be sure to load up on turkey and pigskin, and be safe if you’re traveling to visit family (or new stadiums).
Next week will be the final “Pick Six” of the season as we jump into Conference Championship Week. Stay tuned, and crank up the hate!