Bracketology/Bowls Expert

Rivalry Weekend Picks: Conference and division titles at stake

There are a lot of games to pick this week. There are big rivalry games with a lot on the line, and some for nothing more than bragging rights and a cheap trophy. Any division titles that are still undecided get settled this weekend too.

Last week, I was 6-4 both overall and against the spread. That makes me 58-25 overall and 41-40-2 vs the spread.

We have three days of games, so they are in chronological order. If the game has a trophy or nickname (or both), it is listed.

Thursday's games

Texas Tech at Texas (-4.5): Chancellor's Spurs. Texas can still win the Big 12 by winning out and with an Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma next week. Tech was flying high into Oklahoma a month ago and hasn't won since. Texas wins and covers.

Friday's games

Miami at Pittsburgh (+2.5): Miami still has a chance to win the ACC Cluster, er, Coastal with a win and losses by both Duke and Virginia Tech. I don't think they'll win the tiebreaker, but I think they'll win Friday. Hurricanes win and cover.

East Carolina at Marshall (-3): This game will decide the Conference USA East division. It could also decide who hosts the C-USA title game, since that honor goes to the team with the best conference record, with BCS rankings as a tiebreaker. Should be a fun game. The teams combined for over 120 points last year. Marshall wins, but the Pirates cover.

Bowling Green at Buffalo (+2): The winner of this game wins the MAC East division and gets fed to Northern Illinois in Detroit next week. That game will be indoors, so I guess that's something of a reward, because this one will not. Buffalo wins and covers.

Fresno State at San Jose State (+7.5): Fresno State has already won their division of the Mountain West, but this game is important not just to stay undefeated, but it gives them a chance to put up a dominant performance after NIU failed to do that on Tuesday against Western Michigan. Bulldogs win and cover.

Saturday's games

Duke at North Carolina (-6): Victory Bell. Duke and North Carolina playing for an ACC title. Happens every March, but never in November. The Blue Devils win the Coastal outright with a win. The Tar Heels will share the division title if they win, but cannot win a tiebreaker.

Virginia Tech at Virginia (+13): Commonwealth Cup. It's been a year of streaks for the Hokies. They have lost three out of four after winning six straight, but they can still play in the ACC title game with a win here and a Duke loss. Virginia Tech wins, Virginia covers.

Ohio State at Michigan (+16): "Ohio" will be looking to put up a big number on archrival ichigan to impress voters in an effort to convince them to move the Buckeyes back above Florida State. That won't work, even if they succeed in blowing out the Wolverines. I don't think that'll happen though. Ohio State wins, but Michigan covers.

Minnesota at Michigan State (-14.5): This game means more to Ohio State than it does to either team. The Spartans have already clinched the Legends division (I am SO glad those names are going away next year), but the Buckeyes need them to be 11-1 entering that game to give them the best chance of making an impression on voters. Minnesota has been remarkably resillient this year, but this is too tough a task. Spartans win and cover.

Penn State at Wisconsin (-24): The Badgers need this one to keep their hopes alive of taking an at-large spot in a BCS game. The Nittany Lions have been competitive at home, but road kill outside the Happy Valley. Wisconsin wins and covers.

Baylor at TCU (+12): Baylor lost control of the Big 12 last week, but not all hope. The Bears, like Texas, can still win the league by winning out and getting help from the Sooners. Considering how rough it's been for the TCU offense this year, this line seems a little small. Bears win and cover.

Alabama at Auburn (+10.5): Iron Bowl and James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy. Easily the winner for the longest trophy name, this rivalry is huger than huge this year. The SEC West title goes to the winner, as well as a potential shot at the national championship. Auburn is one of the best rushing teams in the country, but Alabama will take that away. The question is, can QB Nick Marshall beat the Tide with his arm? He's going to have to. Alabama wins, Auburn covers.

Florida State at Florida (+27.5): Florida is nothing short of a train wreck. They've become unwatchable to even their own fans. The Seminoles won't show any mercy. Florida State wins and covers.

Texas A&M at Missouri (-4.5): This is my upset special this week. More details in that column in the Eye on CFB blog. Aggies win and cover.

Tulane at Rice (-11): Rice wins the West division of Conference USA by beating the Green Wave. It says here they will. Rice wins and covers. But if not...

Louisiana Tech at Texas-San Antonio (-16): Texas-San Antonio could win the division by beating Louisiana Tech. The Roadrunners are not bowl eligible this year because they are still transitioning to FBS, but the league has not disqualified them from winning the division or playing in the conference championship game. That makes sense. This isn't like a one-bid league in basketball risking losing its spot by allowing an ineligible team to play in the conference tournament. The league will fill its bowl spots regardless. Roadrunners win, cover and root for Tulane.

Wyoming at Utah State (-21.5): The Aggies were granted new live in the MAC Mountain last week when Boise State went down. They have done a great job recovering from the loss of star QB Chuckie Keeton against the Broncos. In fact, they haven't lost since that game. They won't this week either. Utah State wins and covers.

UL Monroe at UL Lafayette (-14.5): Battle on the Bayou. The Ragin' Cajuns, may favorite team nickname that also sounds like a painful disease, can clinch the Sun Belt title with a win over their rivals. That should be easy enough. Lafayette wins and covers.

Other rivalry games

Thursday

Ole Miss at Mississippi State (+4.5): Egg Bowl for the Golden Egg. Miss State misses out on bowl eligibility. Rebels win and cover.

Friday

Iowa at Nebraska (-2.5): Heroes Trophy. Neither team seems as good as their record. Nebraska wins and covers.

Kanas State at Kansas (+16.5): Governor's Cup. Kansas had their moment of glory this year. Wildcats win and cover.

Oregon State at Oregon (-21.5): Civil War for Platypus Trophy. This game could have been for so much more. Ducks win and cover.

Washington State at Washington (-16): Apple Cup. Wazzu is bowl eligible in Mike Leach's second year. Still, Washington wins and covers.

Arkansas at LSU (-24.5): Golden Boot. Karma is a, well, you know. LSU wins and covers.

Florida International at Florida Atlantic (-28): Shula Bowl. The Panthers miserable season mercifully ends. FAU wins and covers.

Saturday

Georgia at Georgia Tech (+3): Clean, Old Fashioned Hate. Best name for a game. No Aaron Murray and the Dogs are still favored? Don't think so. Tech wins and covers.

Northwestern at Illinois (+3.5): Abe Lincoln's Tomahawk. Or something like that. The Wildcats finally get a conference win. And cover.

Purdue at Indiana (-21): Old Oaken Bucket. Even Purdue will be able to score on Indiana's wretched defense. Just not nearly enough. Indiana wins and covers.

Arizona at Arizona State (-12): Duel in the Desert. Arizona pulled off a big upset last week. The Sun Devils won't be caught napping or looking ahead. Arizona State wins, Arizona covers.

Notre Dame at Stanford (-14.5): Legends Trophy. Notre Dame has trophies for all their games. They won't get this one back. Stanford wins and covers.

UCLA at USC (-3.5): Victory Bell. This will cap off the remarkable turnaround by the Trojans under Ed Orgeron. USC-West wins and covers.

Clemson at South Carolina (-5): Palmetto Bowl. Great teams, but no stakes outside the state. USC-East wins, Clemson covers.

Air Force at Colorado State (-15.5): Ram-Falcon Trophy. The Rams get the seventh win needed for bowl eligibility. Colorado State wins and covers.

Idaho at New Mexico State (-3.5): Independents Bowl. That's not the real name, but it ought to be. Is Poulan Weedeater available to sponsor it? Aggies win and cover.

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