College Football Rivalry Week Predictions and Best Bets

College footballs rivalry week is here and several games that always mean a little extra have even higher stakes considering the playoff implications.

No game is bigger than Saturdays showdown between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan. The winner essentially clinches a spot in the College Football Playoff, assuming a win in the Big Ten title game the following week, and delivers a crushing blow to their rival. No. 6 Oregon is on the cusp of a playoff spot and has to hold off No. 17 Oregon State to stay in the hunt for a final four spot.

Theres a handful of other rivalry games that could play a factor in the committees final rankings: No. 7 Texas Tech hosts Texas Tech, No. 5 Florida State looks to stay undefeated on the road against Florida, No. 8 Alabama is in Auburn for the Iron Bowl, No. 4 Washington gets Washington State at home and No. 1 Georgia can add to its record-setting winning streak Saturday against Georgia Tech.

This holiday weekend is loaded with phenomenal football games, but our focus is on Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines host the Buckeyes, and Eugene, where the Ducks face the Beavers for the final time as a member of the Pac-12.

No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan

Spread: Ohio State +3.5 (-120) | Michigan -3.5 (-105)
Moneyline: OSU (+145) | MICH (-188)
Total: 45.5 – Over (-110) | Under (-110)
Game Info: Saturday, Nov. 25 | 12 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: Michigan Stadium | Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy

Robert Goddin/USA TODAY Sports

The Game is the most important college football game of the year to date. Its the unbeaten Buckeyes (11–0, 8–0 Big Ten) against the unbeaten Wolverines (11–0, 8–0 Big Ten). The winner advances to the conference title game in Indianapolis, where No. 17 Iowa awaits. Win there and youre back in the College Football Playoff. Lose on Saturday and there are very few avenues to the final four.

Michigan, of course, has been the talk of the sport for months as a sign-stealing scandal hangs over the program. Coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended three games by the Big Ten, linebackers coach Chris Partridge was fired and analyst Conor Stallions, who was at the center of the NCAA investigation, resigned.

All the while, the Wolverines have kept on winning. Theyve had some close calls with Sherrone Moore on the sidelines in Harbaughs place — a 24–15 win at No. 11 Penn State and a 31–24 victory on the road over Maryland in the last two weeks.

Michigan boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the FBS, allowing just nine points per game, but its three worst performances have all come in November. The offense has also stalled, posting a season-low point total against the Nittany Lions in a game that saw J.J. McCarthy throw for 60 yards on just eight attempts. He also threw his first interception since September the next week against the Terrapins. Blake Corum hasnt slowed down at all — he leads the country with 20 rushing touchdowns and had his best game of the year against Penn State when the Wolverines abandoned the pass in the second half.

The next-best scoring defense in the country is Ohio State, which allows just 9.3 points per game. The Buckeyes passed their biggest tests to date against the Nittany Lions and Notre Dame earlier in the season, though theyve hardly been challenged in November. Kyle McCord had his best game of the year two weeks ago in a 38–3 win over Michigan State in a game in which Marvin Harrison Jr. accounted for three touchdowns. TreVeyon Henderson is also playing his best ball of the year and he has 100-plus rushing yards in three of four games since returning from injury.

Its been all Michigan in the last two installments of this rivalry. From 2012-2019, Ohio State won every meeting. The two teams did not play in the 2020 COVID-19 season; then the Wolverines rolled 42–27 in Ann Arbor in 2021 and 45–23 in 2022 in Columbus. Saturday will mark the first time since 2018 the Wolverines are favored to beat the Buckeyes.

Ohio State, a rare underdog, has performed much better against the spread this season with a 7–3–1 mark compared to Michigans 5–5–1 record. However, instead of handicapping this heated rivalry between two of the top teams in the nation, lets turn our attention to the total. Yes, these are the two best defenses in college football, but the Buckeyes average 33.6 points per game and the Wolverines are good for 38.3. Whats more, at least 50 points have been scored in the last nine meetings and the last two saw these teams combine for well over 60. The offensive talent on both rosters will win out and the over will hit once again at The Big House.

Best Bet: Over 45.5 (-110)

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No. 16 Oregon State vs. No. 6 Oregon

Spread: Oregon State +13.5 (-110) | Oregon -13.5 (-110)
Moneyline: ORST (+375) | ORE (-599)
Total: 62.5 – Over (-105) | Under (-120)
Game Info: Friday, Nov. 24 | 8:30 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: Autzen Stadium | Eugene, OR

Oregon QB Bo Nix

(AP Photo/Matt York)

The Ducks still have a shot at making their first playoff appearance since the inaugural year of the CFP. In order to do so -- and to first set up a rematch with No. 4 Washington in the Pac-12 Championship -- they must first beat a Beavers team thats given them problems in recent seasons.

Oregon State (8–3, 5–3 Pac-12) almost upset the Huskies on Saturday. Washingtons 22–20 win was its tightest margin of victory since a 36–33 win over Oregon in October. The Beavers held one of college footballs highest-scoring offenses well under its average and Michael Penix Jr.s 162 passing yards were a season-low.

The Ducks offense has been even more potent than the Huskies — Heisman Trophy candidate Bo Nix threw for six touchdowns in the first half in a 49–13 road win against Arizona State last time out. Oregon (10–1, 7–1 Pac-12) averages the second-most points (46.5) and yards (546.6) in the country behind only LSU. Dan Lannings team also has a shutdown defense that allows just 16.7 points per game, a top-10 mark nationally.

Damien Martinez is Oregon States No. 1 weapon on offense. He has the 11th-most rushing yards in the country and hes been on a roll in November with over 400 total yards and six touchdowns in three games. DJ Uigalelei struggled in the rain last week, ending a five-game streak without an interception. The Ducks are fully capable of taking away the run, which means Uigalelei will have to have a big game through the air in order for the Beavers to keep up.

Nix ranks top-five nationally in passing yards (3,539) and second in passing touchdowns (35), a huge chunk of which have gone to Troy Franklin, but Oregon also has a 1,000-yard rusher in Bucky Irving, who adds balance to the offense.

Autzen Stadium has been one of the toughest places for opponents to play in recent years. Oregon States wins in 2022 and 2020 were both in Corvallis — the Beavers havent won in Eugene since 2007. The Ducks, frequently favored by double digits, also have an 8–2–1 record against the spread, compared to Oregon States 6–5 mark.

Though all three Beavers losses have been by three points or fewer, look for Oregon to roll at home and punch its ticket to Las Vegas to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Best Bet: Oregon -13.5 (-110)

College Football Betting Record: 18–8

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