Rivalry Week is here, and it offers the greatest chance for College Football Playoff chaos to date this season.
That features five matchups between teams ranked in the AP Top 25, including No. 18 Cincinnati at No. 17 Memphis, No. 12 Wisconsin at No. 9 Minnesota, No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 21 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Ohio State at No. 10 Michigan and No. 5 Alabama at No. 16 Auburn. Matchups between Texas A&M and LSU and Virginia-Virginia Tech will be worth monitoring as well.
MORE: Week 14 picks against the spread
We at Sporting News are 80-17 through 13 weeks this season, including a 6-2 mark in Week 13. We’ll look to keep that mark going strong this week.
With that, SN’s Week 14 picks for college football’s top games (lines provided courtesy of Sportsbook Review as of 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 25):
Colorado at No. 6 Utah (-28.5)
Utah needs only to win out to remain in contention with Oklahoma and Alabama to remain in Playoff contention. At first glance, it seems the Utes have an easy win in 5-6 Colorado, but that’s precisely why Kyle Whittingham will need to keep his heavily favored team focused. The Buffaloes are fighting for bowl eligibility under first-year coach Mel Tucker, so they’ll use every possible means to play spoiler in Salt Lake City. If Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley (2,608 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, two interceptions) minimizes mistakes against a defense with 11 interceptions, Utah should advance to the Pac-12 championship as the South Division representative. Remember, the Utes must win in order to make the championship in Santa Clara.
Click Here: liverpool mens jersey
Pick: Utah 34, Colorado 17
Texas A&M at No. 1 LSU (-17)
Remember that record-shattering, seven-overtime odyssey between these two teams last year? Don’t expect a similar result this season. LSU has one of the nation’s most potent offenses in college football, putting up 561 yards and 48.5 points per game this season. There’s reason to believe A&M can keep this closer than most think, considering the Aggies have played tough against three top-10 opponents (all losses) and Kellen Mond can exploit a weak LSU defense. But Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the talented Tigers receivers should outpace anything the Aggies can muster offensively.
Pick: LSU 45, Texas A&M 31
MORE: Top Rivalry Week storylines
No. 23 Virginia Tech (-2.5) at Virginia
Who’d have thought the ACC’s Coastal Division would come down to the battle for the Commonwealth Cup? Both of these teams enter this rivalry on three-game win streaks, though the Hokies’ is arguably better, considering it includes a ranked win over Wake Forest and two shutouts. That said, these teams have near-identical metrics in total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense. The game may be in Charlottesville, but all the pressure will be on a Cavs team that hasn’t won in this series since 2003. It’ll be worth seeing how that affects both teams, especially early in the game. We’ll go out on a limb and say Bryce Perkins has a big game to lead Virginia, finally, to cathartic win over the Hokies.
Pick: Virginia 30, Virginia Tech 27
No. 18 Cincinnati at No. 17 Memphis (-11.5)
Could this be the first of a doubleheader between these two teams? If Memphis wins, they’ll rematch the Bearcats the following week in the AAC championship game. If Cincy wins (and Navy beats Houston), then the Midshipmen will get that honor for the AAC’s West division. That said, we think Memphis’ backfield duo of Brady White (3,074 yards, 30 touchdowns, seven interceptions) and running back Kenneth Gainwell (1,294 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) will wear down on Cincinnati’s defense. Get ready to see these teams play again during championship weekend.
Pick: Memphis 38, Cincinnati 28
MORE: Week 14 Playoff picture
No. 13 Wisconsin (-2.5) at No. 9 Minnesota
Another division-clinching game, this time out of the Big Ten West. The Gophers already won a primetime game against Penn State earlier this season in TCF Bank Stadium, but even that pales when compared to the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. This game will play out in typical Big Ten fashion in the first half before we start seeing the offenses land shots after halftime. Jonathan Taylor (1,685 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns) will make plays for Wisconsin, but the question is whether quarterback Jack Coan (2,029 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions) can make enough plays to keep the Minnesota defense honest. That will be the key difference vs. Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan (2,679 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, five interceptions) and running backs Rodney Smith and Mohamed Ibrahim (1,488 combined rushing yards, 14 touchdowns).
Pick: Minnesota 28, Wisconsin 24
No. 7 Oklahoma (-12.5) at No. 21 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma has had close calls in each of their last three games following a loss to Kansas State, and that doesn’t exactly engender conference heading into “Bedlam.” Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts (3,184 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, six interceptions, 1,156 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) can gash a Cowboys defense that gives up 415 yards per game. But he can’t keep committing untimely turnovers deep in enemy territory. The Cowboys’ cause is hurt with the likely season-ending thumb surgery to Spencer Sanders, but Dru Brown proved a capable replacement by completing 22 of 29 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Assuming the Sooners minimize mistakes, they should win — but never discount anything in a game like this.
Pick: Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma State 35
MORE: Week 14 bowl projections
No. 2 Ohio State (-9) at No. 10 Michigan
Can Michigan play spoiler for an Ohio State team tabbed by many as the most complete team in the country? The onus is on the Wolverines to overcome that fearsome Buckeyes advance, especially with the backdrop of a 3-16 record in this series since 2000. That must start with an aggressive, efficient aerial attack by Shea Patterson (12 passing touchdowns, one interception in last four games). To that end, his offensive line, which has allowed 20 sacks on him this season, must keep two men or more on Chase Young, who returned with a splash with three sacks last week against Penn State. The Wolverines’ top-10-caliber defense will attempt to stymie Ohio State’s top-ranked offense, headlined by Justin Fields (2,797 total yards, 43 total touchdowns) and J.K. Dobbins (1,446 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns). Michigan won’t get blown out like last season, but Ohio State will flex its muscle once more in yet another win.
Pick: Ohio State 31, Michigan 17
No. 5 Alabama (-4) at No. 16 Auburn
The last time Alabama entered Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers dominated nearly every facet of the game in a 26-14 win. It will be on Alabama to overcome the Tigers’ distinctively difficult homefield advantage with Mac Jones, who has completed 41 of 56 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns in replacement of the injured Tua Tagovailoa. He will face his toughest test to date this season against what is possibly the best, deepest defensive line in college football. That is comprised of Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, Tyrone Truesdell, Big Kat Bryant, Nick Coe and Caleb Johnson, who have combined for 34 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. To that end, Alabama will attempt to get Jones in rhythm with quick throws to DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Jaylen Waddle, who have combined for 186 receptions, 3,218 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns. On the other side, the Alabama defense, which has been uncharacteristically undisciplined this season, will attempt to keep Bo Nix — who has suffered his fair share of freshman mistakes — off balance. It will be closer than in previous years, but look for Alabama to win a close one to keep its Playoff hopes alive another week.
Pick: Alabama 31, Auburn 24