It's Rivalry Week, and it's time to make the picks for The Game, Iron Bowl, Apple Cup and other playoff-shaping games.
It doesn't get much better than Ohio State at Michigan or Alabama at Auburn. The Buckeyes and Crimson Tide are favored, but will either the Wolverines or Tigers be able to spring an upset? Those aren't the only good rivalry games on the schedule. Clemson meets South Carolina and Washington State takes on Washington. Week 13 is going to be fun.
Each week, Sporting News college football writer Bill Bender will pick 10 marquee games against the spread. We're ready for Rivalry Week:
Straight up: 9-1
Against the spread: 3-7
Straight up: 94-26, .783
Against the spread: 62-58, .517
And now the picks (lines provided courtesy of VegasInsider.com as of Nov. 20; lines reflect consensus picks unless noted):
Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN
The Hokies have a 13-game win streak in this rivalry, including a 52-10 victory last season. Virginia Tech hasn’t covered as a favorite in three of its last four road games, and we look for the Cavaliers to hang around in a close one if Kurt Benkert gets a hot hand again.
Virginia Tech wins 30-24 but fails to cover the spread
Friday, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Bulls won this game by 17 points last year, and a spot in the American Athletic Conference championship is on the line. McKenzie Milton and Quinton Flowers have combined for 43 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions. One turnover could be the difference in this battle of fantastic quarterbacks.
UCF wins 38-35 but fails to cover the spread
Saturday, noon, ABC
The Yellow Jackets won "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate"28-27 last season in Kirby Smart's first season. The last four meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer, too. But the Bulldogs need to make a statement heading into the SEC championship game, and we think they do.
Georgia wins 44-17 and covers the spread
Saturday, noon, SEC Network
Kentucky won a 41-38 shootout last year, breaking the Cardinals’ five-game win streak. Louisville has lost two of their last three road games, which makes this a tougher pick, even with Lamar Jackson piling on the yards. But we like Jackson to go out in style.
Louisville wins 41-28 and covers the spread
Saturday, noon, ESPN
The stakes aren't high in this game, other than the Seminoles trying to extend their streak of consecutive seasons with a bowl game to 36 years. It will be ugly, and there will be multiple turnovers on both sides. We like FSU to extend the streak, however, and make itfive in a row against their in-state rival.
Florida State wins 24-13 and covers the spread
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Badgers can cap off an unbeaten season and win a 14th straight game against the Gophers, who were blasted 39-0 Saturday by Northwestern. P.J. Fleck will sell out for this one, however, and the Gophers will hang around early. Wisconsin willtoo much in the second half, and Jonathan Taylor enjoys another 100-yard game.
Wisconsin wins 31-17 but fails to cover the spread
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Clemson can’t afford to look ahead to Miami, not with an in-state rival at home waiting. This is Jake Bentley’s chance to make a statement, and the Gamecocks will be amped up for this one at home. Clemson'sKelly Bryant has played well since returning from injury. The Tigers’ ability to stop the run, however, will put more on Bentley as the game wears on. Clemson closes it out late.
Clemson wins 30-20 but fails to cover the spread
Saturday, 8 p.m., FOX
The Apple Cup is on the line, and the Huskies have dominated this series the last few years. Washington State, however, has more to play for this year. Luke Falk and Jake Browning put on a show, but the Cougars flip the script in a wild finish — perhaps in overtime. Mike Leach takes Washington State to the Pac-12 championship game.
Washington State wins 44-38 in an UPSET
Saturday, noon, FOX
This depends a lot on Michigan’s quarterback situation. The Buckeyes won 42-13 in their last trip to Ann Arbor, and it could get ugly again if the Wolverines can’t move the football. The Buckeyes are trying to impress the committee and make it forget about that loss to Iowa. If Brandon Peters somehow starts for Michigan, then we'll revisit this line. This is the best defense Ohio State has seen all year.
Ohio State wins 30-17 and covers the spread
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Iron Bowl will decide who goes to Atlanta, and Jarrett Stidham has heated up at quarterback at just the right time for the Tigers. What has Auburn learned from losses to Clemson and LSU? We’re about to find out. Jalen Hurts makes the difference again with a clutch drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away and send Alabama back to the SEC championship game.
Alabama wins 27-20 and covers the spread