To quote Gary Pinkel, “Those who win in November will be remembered.”
Pinkel announced today that he will retire at the end of the season to focus on a bigger opponent, lymphoma. We wish Coach Pinkel the best of luck with his health and his post-football life.
That quote seems fitting as we hit the home stretch of the regular season. The stakes are getting bigger every week as teams fight for bowl eligibility, conference titles, and playoff spots. Let’s see where the big games are this week.
2 Alabama (8-1) at 17 Mississippi State (7-2) – Saturday, 2:30, CBS
This is Alabama’s toughest test until a possible date with Florida in the SEC Championship. Derrick Henry and the Tide ran all over LSU last week in an impressive 30-16 win, but that doesn’t mean Dak Prescott and company will roll over for them. Far from it. The Bulldogs will be fired up and have had extra time to prepare for this one after playing last Thursday.
The recipe will be the same for ‘Bama. Feed the beast. The Tide win a close one here, riding Henry.
Prediction: 27-23 Alabama
21 Memphis (8-1) at 24 Houston (9-0) – Saturday, 6:00, ESPN2
Navy ruined Memphis’ perfect season last week, but the American conference can still get a team in a New Year’s Six bowl. I love the quarterback matchup here. Dual-threat Greg Ward, Jr. – the only FCS QB with at least both 10 rushing and passing TD – for Houston vs. 6’7″ possible first rounder Paxton Lynch for Memphis. This one will have a Big 12 shootout feel to it.
Expect Memphis to rebound and play well after a disappointing showing last week, but I like Houston at home.
Prediction: 38-34 Houston
12 Oklahoma (8-1) at 6 Baylor (8-0) – Saturday, 7:00, ABC
Speaking of Big 12 shootouts, can Baylor freshman Jarrett Stidham, keep the Bears high-powered attack going in Seth Russell’s absence? Continue finding WR Corey Coleman (20 TD this year) and they’ll be in good shape. Oklahoma, on the other hand, should take a page out of K-State’s playbook and try to control time of possession. In a 31-24 loss last Thursday, KSU stayed close with Baylor by running the ball and having their offense on the field for 38 minutes to the Bears’ 22.
In a small upset, I actually like the Sooners on the road here. Bob Stoops and his staff will have a game plan to keep Stidham uncomfortable.
Prediction: 31-30 Oklahoma
I’m eyeing the Pac 12 this week.
Oregon (6-3) at 7 Stanford (8-1) – Saturday, 6:30, FOX
Stanford has spoiled a couple Oregon seasons in recent years. Here’s the Ducks chance for revenge. After a sluggish start, Oregon has won three in a row and is playing its best football of the year.
10 Utah (8-1) at Arizona (5-5) – Saturday, 9:00, Fox Sports 1
Arizona, like Oregon, has underachieved based on preseason predictions, but a big win against a Top 10 opponent here could make their season. Expect Anu Solomon to play well at home and give the Wildcats a chance.
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