Hello everyone, and happy Thanksgiving! The season has rapidly gotten away from us, and we’re down to just a handful of regular-season games after this week’s action. As upsetting as that is, let’s follow the spirit of the week and give thanks for a wonderful week of fun college football. We’ll look at three games on the podcast and three here in print. Here’s hoping you enjoy both your appetizer and your main course. Onward!
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#3 Michigan (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) at #2 Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) | The Game
Noon | ABC
- Polls we’re not sick of hearing about: This marks just the second time that The Game will be contested with both teams ranked among the top three. That other outing came in 2006 — also at the Horseshoe — in which the teams were ranked first and second. Then-number one Ohio State won a crazy contest, 42-39, in which the teams combined for 900 yards of offense. Future Baltimore Raven Troy Smith threw for 316 yards in the victory. The Buckeyes went on to get clobbered by Florida, 41-14, in the BCS title game.
- On the other hand: We can’t mention that 2006 madness without noting that these are the top two defenses in the Big Ten. Michigan (245.6 yards per game) and Ohio State (279) have combined to stifle opposing offenses all year. The Wolverines are first and third, respectively, in points allowed (10.9 and 13), and they have allowed 14 and 15 touchdowns (again, respectively) this year.
- Pulling even: This series has been about as down-the-middle as it gets, even with the Buckeyes having won four in a row. A fifth straight Ohio State victory would split the difference between the two schools in the 56 games contested in Columbus. Michigan currently owns 27 victories in Ohio State, with two games finishing in ties. Michigan has won 58 of 112 games overall, with six ties.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: For everyone who wants an eight-team playoff, watch this game. It’s a de facto quarterfinal.
#21 Utah (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at #9 Colorado (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) | Rumble in the Rockies
7:30pm | FOX
- Newbies: Whomever wins this game will play for a Pac-12 title for the first time. Both schools joined the then Pac-10 as part of its realignment, as you know, and one of them will join fellow first-time championship game combatants Washington or Washington State in Santa Clara. A conference title would be the 27th for Colorado, and the 25th for Utah. Colorado has won 31 of the prior 62 games between the Buffs and Utes, with three ties. Utah has won the last four games in the series, however.
- No average Joe: The big story for Utah has been the success of running back Joe Williams. Williams had given up the game earlier in the season, but was eventually convinced to come back after a number of injuries in the Utes’ backfield. The senior has 1013 yards on 136 carries in the five games since his return. Only one opponent (Oregon last week) has held Williams to fewer than 170 yards. Williams had just 477 yards on 104 carries at Utah prior to this year.
- A complete 180: Colorado’s sports information department notes that only UCF (0-12 last year to 6-5 this year) and Wyoming (2-10 last year to 8-3 this year) have experienced greater turnarounds than the Buffaloes. Colorado finished 4-9 last season, and is 9-2 thus far this year. Other bowl-eligible schools in this list include Eastern Michigan, Troy, Army and Georgia Tech, with North Texas still one game away from eligibility.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Colorado handled Washington State at home last week. With a win, they could see them again.
#13 Florida (8-2, 6-2 SEC) at #15 Florida State (8-3, 5-3 ACC) | Florida Cup
8:00pm | ABC
- Will he or won’t he?: One of the interesting background notes to this game — and properly every Seminole contest until LSU hires a new coach — is the Tigers’ flirtation with Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. Campus Sports reports that LSU has made a “substantial offer” to Fisher. Fisher has enjoyed tremendous success at Florida State, but obviously has history in Baton Rouge. The FSU leader has five wins in six outings against Florida during his time in Tallahassee.
- Acting defensive: Florida has been known in recent years for its defense, and this campaign is no different. The Gators sport a national top-five unit in pass defense, scoring defense and total defense. Two of Florida’s last three opponents have cracked the 400-yard barrier, though, giving Florida State some apparent room to maneuver. The Seminoles have tallied 405 combined yards of offense or greater in all but two games this season, and have 1070 yards and 90 total points in their last two contests.
- Dalvin demonstrating: FSU running back Dalvin Cook now leads Florida State in career rushing. Cook leapt past former Seminole and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warrick Dunn last week against Syracuse, and Cook’s 4166 yards eclipse Dunn’s 3959. Cook is 536 yards behind NC State’s Ted Brown, who holds the all-time career rushing total. North Carolina’s Amos Lawrence awaits in second place, 225 yards ahead of Cook. The junior has 50 carries for 329 yards and two scores in two career games against the Gators.
Print that, tweet that, whatever: Florida State has won five of six, all under Fisher. Could a sixth win be Fisher’s last in Tallahassee?
Thank you all for reading, everyone, and especially for your support of the site and this column. May we all remember the many blessings for which we have to be thankful this week. We’ll see you back here next week!