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Predicting the winner of every college football Rivalry Week game, from the Iron Bowl to the Civil War

Picks for every game of college football’s biggest regular season weekend.

Auburn v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Thanksgiving means friends, family, food, and the biggest weekend of the college football season. While Rivalry Week features fewer conference title implications than normal — a lot of next week’s conference title bids have already been locked up — we’ve still got a national title to play for, and we’ve still got rivalries on top of rivalries.

Below are picks and projections using the S&P+ projections you can find in full in the Football Study Hall stat profiles.

The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. There is no spread for games with FCS opponents. When S&P+ predicts a tie or a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I’m listing the pick on the side S&P+ would pick if teams could score in decimals.

This document breaks games (and S&P+’s season performance to date) out into their decimal glory.

First, a check on conference title stakes

It seems more division races than normal have already been decided, but let’s take a quick look:

  • AAC: The UCF-USF winner (S&P+ says UCF has a 71 percent chance of winning) takes the East. If UCF wins, the Knights get home-field advantage in the title game. But if Memphis beats ECU (91 percent chance) and USF beats UCF, the Tigers might get the nod. Overall home-field odds, assuming the Tigers win and the CFP doesn’t jump USF over them: UCF 71 percent, Memphis 26 percent, USF 3 percent.
  • Big 12: If TCU beats Baylor (90 percent chance), the Horned Frogs will face Oklahoma (which has already clinched a spot) for the conference title. If they lose, Iowa State could get in if the Cyclones beat Kansas State (55 percent chance) and some other unlikely things happen. Odds of an OU-TCU rematch: somewhere around 97 percent.
  • MAC: Akron clinched the East with Tuesday’s win over Kent State. Toledo will win the West by either beating WMU (71 percent chance) or having NIU lose to CMU (40 percent chance). West odds: Toledo 83 percent, NIU 17 percent.
  • MWC: Boise State plays at Fresno State this weekend ... with the winner (Fresno has a 55 percent chance) hosting the loser next weekend. But BSU might get the home game regardless depending on computer rankings.
  • Pac-12: USC has clinched the South. The Trojans will play either Washington State or Stanford. Wazzu advances if the Cougars win at Washington (27 percent chance); otherwise, it’s the Cardinal (73 percent).

On to the games!

Tuesday

  • Eastern Michigan 35, Bowling Green (+14) 22
  • Akron 31, Kent State (+14) 19
  • Miami (Ohio) 34, Ball State (+17.5) 20

Thursday

  • No. 14 Mississippi State 34, Ole Miss (+15) 27

S&P+ is 3-1 against the spread this week after Thursday.

Friday (early)

  • Toledo 35, Western Michigan (+13.5) 25 (Friday, 11:30 AM ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 2 Miami (-13.5) 36, Pittsburgh 22 (Friday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 12 TCU 38, Baylor (+25.5) 16 (Friday, 12:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Houston (-4.5) 35, Navy 27 (Friday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • Northern Illinois (-3) 26, Central Michigan 22 (Friday, 12:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Ohio (-4) 32, Buffalo 26 (Friday, 1:00 PM ET, ESPN3)

Miami has mastered the art of doing just enough, just like soon-to-be ACC title game foe Clemson. S&P+ thinks the Hurricanes avoid any sort of major threat of disaster in Pittsburgh, however.

Friday (middle)

  • Missouri 37, Arkansas (+10) 28 (Friday, 2:30 PM ET, CBS)
  • No. 15 UCF 35, USF (+10) 26 (Friday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • San Diego State 33, New Mexico (+20.5) 21 (Friday, 3:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Iowa (-3.5) 28, Nebraska 24 (Friday, 4:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Troy 33, Texas State (+25.5) 17 (Friday, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN3)

Is this the week the numbers catch up to Missouri? Hasn’t happened yet during the Tigers’ five-game winning streak.

Friday (evening)

  • Florida International (+2.5) 28, Western Kentucky 28* (Friday, 7:00 PM ET, beIN)
  • No. 25 Virginia Tech 26, Virginia (+7) 23 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • Texas 30, Texas Tech (+10) 26 (Friday, 8:00 PM ET, Fox)
  • UCLA 34, California (+7) 29 (Friday, 10:30 PM ET, FS1)

Virginia has its most successful team in six years. Can the Cavaliers also produce their first win over Virginia Tech in 14 years?

* Actual projected score: FIU 28.3, WKU 28.0

Saturday (early)

  • No. 7 Georgia (-11) 33, Georgia Tech 21 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 9 Ohio State 32, Michigan (+12) 21 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, Fox)
  • No. 19 Oklahoma State 44, Kansas (+42) 16 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • No. 20 Memphis 47, East Carolina (+28) 24 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • Cincinnati (-5.5) 34, Connecticut 27 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN News)
  • Florida State 26, Florida (+5.5) 25 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
  • Purdue (-3) 26, Indiana 22 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • Louisville 36, Kentucky (+10) 28 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • SMU (-7.5) 38, Tulane 30 (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Syracuse (+3.5) 27, Boston College 27* (Saturday, 12:20 PM ET, ACCN)
  • Wake Forest 33, Duke (+12) 22 (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET, FSN affiliates)
  • North Texas (-11) 40, Rice 23 (Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • UAB (-20) 36, UTEP 14 (Saturday, 1:00 PM ET, $CUSATV)

In this week’s PAPN, I described Georgia-Georgia Tech as the most underrated rivalry in college football. Agree? And considering how consistently close Clean, Old Fashioned Hate tends to be, should Dawg fans be concerned about having their national title hopes derailed before next week’s SEC title game?

* Actual projected score: Syracuse 26.7, BC 26.6

Saturday (middle)

  • Appalachian State (-6.5) 30, Georgia State 23 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Florida Atlantic (-21.5) 41, Charlotte 18 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, Facebook)
  • UL-Lafayette (-6.5) 33, Georgia Southern 25 (Saturday, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Southern Miss (-2.5) 25, Marshall 22 (Saturday, 2:30 PM ET, Stadium)
  • Arkansas State (-8) 38, UL-Monroe 28 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Middle Tennessee 30, Old Dominion (+12) 19 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • UNLV (+3) 34, Nevada 32 (Saturday, 3:00 PM ET, MWC Video)
  • No. 1 Alabama 26, No. 6 Auburn (+4.5) 24 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBS)
  • No. 5 Wisconsin (-17) 32, Minnesota 14 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 10 Penn State 37, Maryland (+22) 17 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, BTN)
  • Fresno State (+7) 27, No. 23 Boise State 25 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Iowa State (+2.5) 29, Kansas State 27 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • NC State 35, North Carolina (+16.5) 24 (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 4 Oklahoma 42, West Virginia (+22) 29 (Saturday, 3:45 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 16 Michigan State 27, Rutgers (+14) 16 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, Fox)
  • No. 22 Northwestern 31, Illinois (+16.5) 19 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • New Mexico State 32, Idaho (+8) 26 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
  • Temple (-3.5) 32, Tulsa 28 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, ESPN News)
  • Vanderbilt (+1) 26, Tennessee 25 (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET, SECN)
  • Arizona (-2) 35, Arizona State 32 (Saturday, 4:30 PM ET, Pac-12)
  • Wyoming 33, San Jose State (+20) 14 (Saturday, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN3)

Just about every Iron Bowl this big is immensely memorable. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t change on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday (evening)

  • Oregon 40, Oregon State (+24.5) 21 (Saturday, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 3 Clemson 30, No. 24 South Carolina (+14) 20 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN)
  • No. 18 LSU 31, Texas A&M (+10.5) 22 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, SECN)
  • UTSA (+2) 30, Louisiana Tech 25 (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 8 Notre Dame (-2.5) 30, No. 21 Stanford 27 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, ABC)
  • No. 17 Washington (-10) 30, No. 13 Washington State 19 (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET, Fox)
  • BYU (-3) 29, Hawaii 26* (Saturday, 9:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
  • Utah 33, Colorado (+10.5) 24 (Saturday, 10:00 PM ET, FS1)
  • Utah State (+1.5) 31, Air Force 27 (Saturday, 10:15 PM ET, ESPN2)

Stanford can win the Pac-12 North while losing. Fun!

Life hack: every Utah-Colorado game is decided by a tight margin, and it’s in the #Pac12AfterDark slot. Could be a nice way to finish the weekend.

* Actual projected score: BYU 28.6, Hawaii 25.5