Believe it or not, it’s already the final full week of the 2016 college football regular season, which means there are lot of big rivalry games — including the likes of Notre Dame-USC and Auburn-Alabama. With it being the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the USA, there are several matchups on Friday. Here’s a look at five crucial games and their Sports Interaction NCAA football odds. Matchups on Saturday unless noted, and rankings from the most recent College Football Playoff Top 25.
No. 6 Washington at No. 22 Washington State
When: Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Point spread: Washington -5.5
NCAAF ATS pick: Huskies
It’s the 109th Apple Cup, and it hasn’t been this nationally important in many years. The winner here plays in the Pac-12 Championship Game for the first time, and if the Huskies win this game and that Pac-12 title game they should get into the College Football Playoff. The Cougars have no chance at the CFP. Washington has won the past three in the series.
Last year in Seattle it was 45-10, but it should be noted that Wazzu star QB Luke Falk, one of the nation’s leading passers this year, was out with an injury. UW forced seven turnovers and returned three of them for defensive touchdowns.
No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State
When: Noon ET
Point spread: Ohio State -6.5
NCAAF ATS pick: Buckeyes
The winner of this mega-showdown might win the Big Ten East Division. If Michigan pulls the upset, it will go to its first Big Ten Championship Game. If Ohio State wins, it must have Penn State lose on Saturday at home to Michigan State — that’s unlikely — to win the East.
But what will the College Football Playoff committee to with the Buckeyes if they are done after Saturday and have just one very close loss at Penn State on their resume? It’s the biggest game between these schools since 2006 when No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan 42-39. OSU has won four straight and 11 of the past 12 meetings, and last year was a 42-13 blowout.
Minnesota at No. 7 Wisconsin
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Point spread: Wisconsin -14
NCAAF ATS pick: Badgers
Wisconsin claims the Big Ten West with a victory and either a rematch with Michigan or Ohio State next week — the Badgers lost close games to both earlier in the season — in the Big Ten title game or a date with Penn State there. If UW loses and Nebraska wins at Iowa, then the Cornhuskers are West champions.
Wisconsin has won 12 games in a row against Minnesota, with the winner getting Paul Bunyan’s Axe. It’s the most-played rivalry game in college football. Last season it was 31-21 in Minneapolis.
TCU at Texas
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Point spread: Texas -2.5
NCAAF ATS pick: Longhorns
OK, this one isn’t for a conference championship and is a rather blah matchup between the 5-5 Horned Frogs and 5-6 Longhorns. But it became much more interesting over the weekend when Texas lost to absolutely terrible Kansas for the first time since 1938 and that UT has decided to fire Coach Charlie Strong. Yet the school put out a release simply saying that Strong’s future will be evaluated after the regular season.
So this will be a rather uncomfortable spot for him because everyone knows he’s gone. Expect the players to step up and play hard for their coach to get bowl eligible (Strong presumably wouldn’t coach that game). TCU has won the past two meetings with Texas by a combined 81 points.
No. 12 Utah at No. 10 Colorado
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Point spread: Colorado -10
NCAAF ATS pick: Utes
Colorado is one of the national stories of the year and the Buffaloes win the Pac-12 South Division with a victory here. Utah would have been in that same position had it not been upset in the final seconds Saturday against Oregon.
Now a Utes win gives the South title to red-hot USC. Utah has won four in a row over Colorado, all by seven points or fewer. Last year it was 20-14 in Salt Lake City. Joe Williams ran for 187 yards and a touchdown for the Utes. The two teams combined for seven turnovers in wintry conditions.