Big time college sports have a lot wrong with them, but you knew that. It's really a giant, federally shielded cartel. I feel dirty watching. I try not to tolerate hypocrisy in my life, and my continued consumption of college football is nothing more than a personal failing.
But to hell with all my sniveling. My dad says I should stop dragging around my "sack of rocks." He's probably right. I obsess too much about things I have no power to change. And besides, rivalry weekend is my favorite weekend of college football. I'll suspend disbelief once again and allow myself to be swallowed whole by the fish story that is the tale of the vaunted "student athlete." Any time there's a cup, ax, egg, bucket, or trinket up for grabs I'm there.
The Apple Cup
Washington State (6-5) at Washington (7-4)
I'm a Coug. Every year my wife and kids know they'd best clear a wide birth during this game. For the second straight season the game is being contested on Black Friday and they have again chosen this year to stand in line at any store anywhere rather than being anywhere near me. I get it. This isn't a game, it's a God-damned war.
In Seattle they were calling for Coach Sark's head before the slumping Huskies pummeled Oregon State last Saturday. If the Dawgs can again ride running back Bishop Sankey it could be a long day for my Cougs. Washington State has to force a banged up Keith Price to beat them. Last year's game turned on getting some pressure on Price.
On the other side of the ball QB Connor Halliday has to continue to take care of the ball as he has the past two weeks. If Wazzu can generate a bit of a running game again behind the unheralded Danny Woodheadish Marcus Mason, Washington will have to stay somewhat honest.
In 2012 the Cougs overcame an 18 point fourth quarter hole to win 31-28 in overtime. Washington hasn't forgotten. They'll have more to remember after this one.
Washington State 48 Washington 45
The Civil War
Oregon State (6-5) at Oregon (9-2)
The Beavers have imploded in the second half of the season, and it's easy to diagnose the issue. They can't run the ball and as opponents have put increasing pressure on Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion, the junior has wilted.
As for Oregon I probably won't live long enough to figure out how Arizona drilled them last week. Perhaps part of the problem was Oregon expressing boredom with vying for another trip to the Rose Bowl. That is no longer a concern. At this point the Ducks may be stuck with a trip to San Antonio. Boo hoo Nike U.
Oregon 52 Oregon State 31
Ohio State (11-0) at Michigan (7-4)
Brady Hoke is a throw back. The Michigan coach doesn't wear a coat, or as our editor Colin Gawel has pointed out, a head set either. Perhaps he ought to put one on. Hoke stated a desire to play power football, but he still doesn't have the right guys for the job. The Wolverines are 100th in the nation in rushing, and logged a stunning MINUS 21 yards on the ground against a mediocre Nebraska defense.
Ohio State meanwhile is doing their thing. Braxton Miller is a hoot to watch, and Carlos Hyde may be the top back taken in next spring's draft. The defense looks a bit suspect on occasion, but Michigan will pose few problems.
Ohio State 41 Michigan 10
Duke (9-2) at North Carolina (6-5)
Yes, it's football I'm talking about. David Cutcliffe is a damned miracle worker in guiding Duke to their greatest season since the Blue Devils lost to Oregon State 20-16 in the 1942 Rose Bowl. (A game played in Durham because they were afraid the Japanese would bomb the stadium.)
The schools, 11 miles apart, have a rare get together with both enjoying winning records.
Duke 34 North Carolina 24.
The Iron Bowl
Alabama (11-0) at Auburn (10-1)
Stunning how fast this game has turned into one with huge national meaning again. The past two years Bama has won by a combined score of 91-14. Auburn boosters chased Gene Chizik from Toomer's Corner after that.
The Tigers are on their way now, but still not quite up to Alabama's level. Still they are at home... It'll be closer than you think.
Alabama 34 Auburn 26