Solid rivalry weekend may be even better in 2024

Missouri wide receiver Luther Burden III (3) runs with the ball after catching a pass as Florida linebacker Mannie Nunnery (34) defends during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 33-31. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Missouri wide receiver Luther Burden III (3) runs with the ball after catching a pass as Florida linebacker Mannie Nunnery (34) defends during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 33-31. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

If this was next year and the College Football Playoff had already expanded from four teams to 12, games involving No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 12 Mississippi, No. 11 Penn State and No. 9 Missouri would be a lot more interesting.

All four enter this rivalry weekend with a chance to earn an invite to a New Year's Six bowl, which is nice. But in 2024 they'd be jockeying for a playoff spot.

For now, the stakes are more confined even though the big games such as No. 2 Ohio State at No. 3 Michigan are undeniably bigger than they will be in a 12-team CFP.

Nine teams, five of them undefeated, still seem to have legitimate playoff hopes this season. In a 12-team format with six conference champions guaranteed a spot that number would approximately triple and include teams such as Kansas State and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 and Arizona in the Pac-12.

Outside of CFP stakes this weekend, the Big 12 title game is totally unsettled with four teams alive. Two teams are vying for one spot in the Pac-12 title game.

Nobody has clinched anything in the American Athletic Conference or Mountain West. The Sun Belt East is up for grabs.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines will determine who wins the Big Ten East though that is only a sliver of why it is the most intriguing game of an always intriguing week.

The picks for games involving ranked teams and FBS foes:

No. 1 Georgia at Georgia Tech

Bulldogs have won five in a row by an average of 34 points.

PICK Georgia 38-15.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 3 Michigan

The storylines are plentiful with Michigan still under investigation by the NCAA for alleged impermissible scouting and sign stealing and with Coach Jim Harbaugh serving the last game of a Big Ten-imposed suspension. Ryan Day and Ohio State have lost two in a row in the rivalry after a decade and a half of Buckeyes' dominance.

This will be the 13th meeting when both teams are in the top five and none have ever had higher stakes.

PICK Ohio State 28-21.

Washington State at No. 4 Washington

Huskies have won eight of the last nine.

PICK Washington 42-27.

No. 5 Florida State at Florida

Both teams will start backup quarterbacks after the Seminoles lost Jordan Travis (leg) and the Gators lost Graham Mertz (shoulder) to injuries last week.

Florida's defense has been dreadful (6.67 yards per play allowed), which should ease FSU's transition to QB Tate Rodemaker and help the 'Noles stay in playoff contention.

PICK Florida State 35-24.

No. 16 Oregon State at No. 6 Oregon

Oregon State was eliminated from the Pac-12 race last week when it lost at home to Washington. The Beavers could still keep Oregon out of the conference title game for the second consecutive year with an upset and a parting gift for the Big Ten-bound Ducks on Friday.

PICK Oregon 38-23.

Texas Tech at No. 7 Texas

Longhorns can clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game in their last season in the conference with a win Friday and would still be alive even with a loss -- though their playoff hopes will be out the window.

PICK Texas 31-17.

No. 8 Alabama at Auburn

New Tigers Coach Hugh Freeze is 2-3 against the Tide when he was with Ole Miss.

PICK Alabama 31-14.

No. 9 Missouri at Arkansas

Tigers are 7-2 against the Razorbacks since joining the SEC.

PICK Missouri 31-21.

Kentucky at No. 10 Louisville

Wildcats have won four in a row in Governor's Cup.

PICK Louisville 27-20.

No. 11 Penn State vs. Michigan State

Nittany Lions have won three of four with the Land Grant Trophy on the line.

PICK Penn State 35-10.

No. 12 Mississippi at Mississippi State

Last four Egg Bowls have been decided by 10 points or fewer, but the Bulldogs limp into today's matchup with one SEC victory and an interim coach.

PICK Ole Miss 34-14.

TCU at No. 13 Oklahoma

Sooners expecting QB Dillon Gabriel to go with a shot at the Big 12 title game still in play.

PICK Oklahoma 36-24.

Texas A&M at No. 14 LSU

Tigers QB Jayden Daniels is the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, but won't be playing on championship weekend. He needs to make a lasting final impression and the opportunity is there for him to go off again against an Aggies team playing out the string.

PICK LSU 42-34.

No. 15 Arizona at Arizona State

Wildcats broke a five-game losing streak in the Territorial Cup last year.

PICK Arizona 27-14.

No. 17 Iowa at Nebraska

Cornhuskers are trying to get bowl-eligible for the first time since 2016.

PICK Nebraska 14-13.

No. 18 Notre Dame at Stanford

Irish QB Sam Hartman needs three touchdown passes to pass Graham Harrell (134) for third on the major college football career list.

PICK Notre Dame 49-17.

Iowa State at No. 19 Kansas State

Wildcats need a Farmageddon win and help to earn spot in the Big 12 title game.

PICK Kansas State 28-16.

BYU at No. 20 Oklahoma State

Cowboys will go to the Big 12 title game with a win.

PICK Okla. State 36-24.

Vanderbilt at No. 21 Tennessee

Commodores trying to avoid winless SEC season for the third time in four years

PICK Tennessee 45-14.

TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO at No. 23 Tulane

Winner goes to the AAC championship game.

PICK UTSA 27-21.

No. 25 Liberty at UTEP

Flames trying to stay unbeaten heading into the Conference USA title game.

PICK Liberty 42-21.

RECORD

Last week: 20-3.

Season: 189-63.

  photo  Penn State cornerback Johnny Dixon (3) celebrates with Adisa Isaac (20 after sacking Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt (2) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
 
 
  photo  Houston quarterback Donovan Smith (1) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown after catching a pass against Oklahoma State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
 
 
  photo  Mississippi tight end Caden Prieskorn (86) fights off Louisiana Monroe linebacker Ja'Terious Evans (27) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Mississippi won 35-3. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
 
 

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