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S&P+ picks for every Rivalry Week game, plus what’s at stake in each

The biggest weekend of the college football season is upon us. Let’s pick some winners.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Below are Rivalry Week picks and projections using the S&P+ projections, listed in full for all 130 FBS teams here.

See the bottom of the post for more detail about these.

The spread (listed in parentheses) is shown next to S&P+’s pick for each game. The team in bold is projected to beat the spread. (At most books, there is no listed spread for FCS games.) When S&P+ predicts a tie or a push (a tie with Vegas, basically), I list 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. This year, I am including and monitoring total (over/under) picks as well.

Let’s run through the picks, and then let’s check on what’s at stake in each conference and when it comes to bowl eligibility. Playoff-specific stakes are over here.

Before Black Friday

  • No. 18 Mississippi State 36, Ole Miss (+11) 26 (Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Air Force (-14) 38, Colorado State 23 (Nov. 22, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Miami (Ohio) (-17.5) 38, Ball State 19 (Nov. 20, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+) — Miami won by 21 (W)
  • Northern Illinois (-6.5) 30, Western Michigan 23 (Nov. 20, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU) — WMU won by seven (L)

Black Friday (early)

  • No. 14 Texas (-14.5) 39, Kansas 20 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • Buffalo (-14.5) 42, Bowling Green 21 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Eastern Michigan (-13.5) 37, Kent State 21 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Iowa 31, Nebraska (+10) 22 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • Memphis 38, Houston (+7) 33 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • Ohio 40, Akron (+23.5) 19 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Toledo (-18.5) 37, Central Michigan 17 (Nov. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Black Friday (middle)

  • No. 9 UCF 38, USF (+14.5) 24 (Nov. 23, 4:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Cincinnati 34, East Carolina (+19) 15 (Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Coastal Carolina 34.34, South Alabama (+2) 34.33 (Nov. 23, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Missouri 39, Arkansas (+23) 21 (Nov. 23, 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
  • Oregon (-16.5) 44, Oregon State 25 (Nov. 23, 4:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • Virginia (-4) 31, Virginia Tech 26 (Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Black Friday (evening)

  • No. 6 Oklahoma (-1.5) 41, No. 13 West Virginia 34 (Nov. 23, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 8 Washington State 28.9, No. 16 Washington (+3) 28.8 (Nov. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Saturday (early)

  • No. 4 Michigan (-4) 30.4, No. 10 Ohio State 25.7 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • No. 5 Georgia (-17) 45, Georgia Tech 19 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • No. 11 Florida (-5.5) 32, Florida State 20 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • Boston College 27, No. 20 Syracuse (+7) 26 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Duke 33, Wake Forest (+12.5) 25 (Nov. 24, 12:30 p.m. ET, ACCN)
  • Louisiana Tech 30, Western Kentucky (+11) 21 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Marshall (-2.5) 27, FIU 22 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, Stadium)
  • NC State (-7) 36, North Carolina 26 (Nov. 24, 12:20 p.m. ET, ACCN)
  • Old Dominion (-8) 38, Rice 24 (Nov. 24, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Purdue (-4) 33, Indiana 28 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Texas Tech (-6.5) 37, Baylor 26 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • Tulane (-7) 35, Navy 26 (Nov. 24, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Saturday (middle)

  • No. 1 Alabama 37, Auburn (+24.5) 18 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
  • No. 12 Penn State (-13.5) 32, Maryland 18 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • No. 19 Northwestern 35, Illinois (+18) 21 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN)
  • Miami (-5.5) 32, No. 24 Pittsburgh 22 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Appalachian State (-10.5) 32, Troy 20 (Nov. 24, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Arizona (+1.5) 31.1, Arizona State 30.9 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • Arkansas State 32, Texas State (+13) 20 (Nov. 24, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Georgia Southern (-11) 40, Georgia State 25 (Nov. 24, 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Liberty 35, New Mexico State (+9) 31 (Nov. 24, 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Michigan State (-27) 34.4, Rutgers 6.7 (Nov. 24, 4:00 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • SMU (-2.5) 29, Tulsa 26 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • Southern Miss (-13) 31, UTEP 14 (Nov. 24, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Stanford (-6.5) 37, UCLA 25 (Nov. 24, 3:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12)
  • Temple (-29) 47, Connecticut 17 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • UAB (-2) 27, Middle Tennessee 24 (Nov. 24, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • UL-Lafayette (+3.5) 35, UL-Monroe 33 (Nov. 24, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Vanderbilt 32, Tennessee (+3.5) 29 (Nov. 24, 4:00 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • Wisconsin (-10) 36, Minnesota 22 (Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Wyoming 31, New Mexico (+7) 25 (Nov. 24, 2:30 p.m. ET, MWC Video)

Saturday (evening)

  • No. 2 Clemson 41, South Carolina (+26.5) 16 (Nov. 24, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 3 Notre Dame (-11) 32, USC 19 (Nov. 24, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • No. 22 Texas A&M 26.7, No. 7 LSU (+2) 25.1 (Nov. 24, 7:30 p.m. ET, SECN)
  • No. 15 Kentucky 33, Louisville (+17) 17 (Nov. 24, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 17 Utah (-13.5) 32.4, BYU 18.7 (Nov. 24, 10:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • No. 21 Utah State (+2.5) 31, No. 23 Boise State 30 (Nov. 24, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 25 Iowa State 32, Kansas State (+13.5) 19 (Nov. 24, 7:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
  • California 27, Colorado (+12.5) 19 (Nov. 24, 7:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12)
  • FAU (-17.5) 37, Charlotte 16 (Nov. 24, 6:00 p.m. ET, Stadium)
  • Fresno State (-31) 45, San Jose State 6 (Nov. 24, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Nevada 37.7, UNLV (+13) 24.9 (Nov. 24, 9:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
  • North Texas (-22) 40, UTSA 11 (Nov. 24, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
  • Oklahoma State (-5) 33, TCU 26 (Nov. 24, 8:00 p.m. ET, Fox)
  • San Diego State (-17) 38, Hawaii 19 (Nov. 24, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Let’s check on conference title races

A lot of division races have already been settled, but there’s still a bit more to be settled during Rivalry Week.

  • AAC: UCF has clinched the East division title, and the West title will be decided by Houston-Memphis on Friday.
  • Big 12: If Texas wins at Kansas, the Longhorns qualify for the Big 12 title game against the OU-WVU winner. If the Longhorns somehow lose (hey, it’s happened before), things get a little messy.
  • Big Ten: Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State winner will win the East and face Northwestern in Indianapolis.
  • Conference USA: Either FIU or Middle Tennessee will face UAB. FIU’s in with either a win over Marshall or an MTSU loss to UAB. MTSU’s in with both a win over UAB and an FIU loss.
  • MAC: NIU has locked up the West, but three teams are eligible for the East. Buffalo’s in with a Friday win over Bowling Green, but if the Bulls somehow lose, things get messy. Buffalo can still make it if Ohio loses to Akron. Miami (Ohio) makes it with a win, a Buffalo loss, and an Ohio win. And Ohio makes it with a win, a Buffalo loss, and a Miami loss. Got it? Good.
  • MWC: This one’s cleaner. Fresno State has won the West division, and the Mountain will come down to a dynamite late-Saturday game between Utah State and Boise State.
  • Pac-12: APPLE CUP! The Washington-Wazzu winner will win the North and face Utah.
  • Sun Belt: Up to three games will decide the Sun Belt title game matchup: Troy vs. Appalachian State (winner wins the East), UL Lafayette vs. ULM (UL wins the West with a victory), and Arkansas State vs. Texas State (if ULM wins, then ASU’s in with a win, and ULM’s in with a Texas State win).

Who’s still a win from bowl eligibility?

Some teams are simply hoping to secure a sixth win.

  • AAC: Tulane (70 percent S&P+ win probability vs. Navy), SMU (57 percent at Tulsa)
  • ACC: Virginia Tech* (40 percent vs. Virginia), Wake Forest (32 percent at Duke), Florida State (25 percent vs. Florida)
  • Big 12: Texas Tech (74 percent vs. Baylor), TCU (34 percent vs. Oklahoma State), Baylor (26 percent vs. Texas Tech), Kansas State (24 percent at Iowa State)
  • Big Ten: Purdue (61 percent at Indiana), Indiana (39 percent vs. Purdue), Maryland (21 percent at Penn State), Minnesota (21 percent at Wisconsin)
  • Conference USA: FAU (89 percent vs. Charlotte), Southern Miss (84 percent at UTEP)
  • Independents: Liberty* (58 percent vs. NMSU)
  • MWC: Wyoming (64 percent at New Mexico)
  • Pac-12: Arizona (50 percent vs. Arizona State), Colorado (31 percent at Cal), USC (24 percent vs. Notre Dame)
  • SEC: Vanderbilt (56 percent vs. Tennessee), Tennessee (44 percent at Vanderbilt)
  • Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina (50 percent at South Alabama)

Three rivalries pit five-win teams against each other: Texas Tech-Baylor, Purdue-Indiana, and Tennessee-Vanderbilt.

* With wins, Virginia Tech and Liberty would move to 5-6, still in need of another win next Saturday.


Each year, I post weekly S&P+ picks as a way of affirming the ratings’ validity. I use my S&P+ system as a complement to most of my analysis, and the picks are a way of showing it generally knows what it’s talking about.

S&P+ tends to hit between 50 (meh) and 54 percent (great) against the spread from year to year. It isn’t always the single best performer, but it holds its own.

Beyond picks, though, it goes deeper than any other set of college football analytics on the market. You can go into granular detail regarding team strengths and weaknesses in a way that no other set of ratings allows. (See the annual team statistical profiles as proof.)