No Nebraska games this week (sad face) but there are plenty of fantastic matchups on the ledger for championship weekend in college football.
The Hail Varsity staff makes another round of picks with Brandon Vogel leading the way (400 points) followed by Jacob Padilla (395), Greg Smith (375) and myself (365).
Our weekly Friday Forecast is presented by the Gamblers Assistance Program, the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and Choices Treatment Center. If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, call the state-wide help line at 1-800-522-4700.
No. 1 Clemson (-9.5) vs. No. 7 Miami
BV: Clemson hasn’t lost the turnover battle in a game since the first week of October. If Miami can’t find an edge there, the Tigers are too talented to beat straight up. PICK: Clemson 27, Miami 17
GS: Miami will be without two of their top three pass catchers this week and have been living on the edge lately. Clemson wins and punches their ticket to the playoff. PICK: Clemson 24, Miami 10
JP: I probably wouldn’t pick Miami at full strength, so in their current state I’m definitely going with Clemson. PICK: Clemson 31, Miami 17
DP: Clemson wins this one. Miami has been flirting with disaster and won’t be healthy. But who knows, maybe Richt can bench his quarterback again and the Canes can get another “quality loss” to pad that resume. Two-loss teams are all the rage, don’t ya know? PICK: Clemson 27, Miami 17
No. 2 Auburn (-2.5) vs. No. 6 Georgia
BV: Man, I’d love to be at this game. Given the proximity of the schools to Atlanta, the city will be a ton of fun and the teams will deliver a classic. PICK: Georgia 21, Auburn 20
GS: I have been torn on the game all week. I’m hoping for a classic game. PICK: Georgia 17, Auburn 14
JP: These teams played each other a few weeks ago and Auburn handled the Bulldogs thanks to their best defensive effort of the season against the run. I don’t see the Tigers replicating that effort coming off a battle with the Crimson Tide. PICK: Georgia 24, Auburn 20
DP: The first of several regular season rematches on the docket, this one will be awesome. I would love to see Georgia win this game because of the position it would put the committee in with regards to Alabama’s playoff status. But I think Auburn wins. PICK: Auburn 16, Georgia 13
No. 3 Oklahoma (-7) vs. No. 11 TCU
BV: TCU “held” Oklahoma to 38 points the first time out, a touchdown below the Sooners’ average. Can the Frogs make it two touchdowns below average? I say yes. PICK: TCU 35, Oklahoma 31
GS: In a another rematch game, I have to go with the better coach. Right now Gary Patterson has the decided advantage. PICK: TCU 42, Oklahoma 40
JP: Gary Patterson is the better coach, but Oklahoma is the better team with the better quarterback. Kenny Hill completed less than half of his passes in the first meeting with Oklahoma while Baker Mayfield lit up the Frogs for 333 yards and three scores. I think round two follows a similar script. PICK: Oklahoma 42, TCU 31
DP: Man the disrespect for Lincoln Riley… Oklahoma is the better team. Normally you think in a rematch the guys that lost have a mental edge but that’s not the case here with Gary Patterson talking about sportsmanship, the Oklahoma offensive line getting slighted and Baker Mayfield being Baker Mayfield. Give me the Sooners. PICK: Oklahoma 45, TCU 28
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Ohio State (-5.5)
BV: While I would love for Wisconsin to plant the flag for plain, farm-raised football, I think the coveted “next step” for this program remains elusive. PICK: Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 24
GS: Nothing about this matchup tells me Wisconsin should win. Ohio State will expose them again. PICK: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 17
JP: J.T. Barrett is apparently set to play less than a week after having knee surgery. That worries me. I know Alex Hornibrook at full strength is still probably worse than a limited Barrett, but I’m going to pick Wisconsin to make everyone mad who doesn’t think the Badgers belong. PICK: Wisconsin 27, Ohio State 21
DP: Wisconsin hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 2010. The last time these two met in the Big Ten champ game, Wisconsin had its cheddar stomped on. Oh and by the way, this will be the Badgers’ first true test this season (unless you consider Michigan a “test,” I don’t). PICK: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 21
No. 10 USC (-3.5) vs. No. 12 Stanford
BV: Oh, I thought you guys knew. Teams from the South Division don’t win this game. PICK: Stanford 28, USC 24
GS: Since they last played, Stanford is much improved and has made a good change at QB. Give me Bryce Love to run wild. PICK: Stanford 24, USC 20
JP: USC is 1-2 against ranked teams with the one win coming against Stanford in week two. However, this is a different Cardinal team coming off a pair of impressive wins against Washington and Notre Dame and they will put up a much better fight. PICK: Stanford 27, USC 21
DP: Love, love, love Bryce Love in this matchup. Love it. PICK: Stanford 34, USC 27
BONUS: No. 14 UCF (-3) vs. No. 20 Memphis
BV: The Knights’ 40-13 win the first time out is a little misleading as Memphis was pretty unlucky on the turnovers front. This one will be closer, but UCF takes the crown. PICK: UCF, 45 Memphis 31
GS: UCF has been able to navigate the distractions for the second half of the season and continue to win games. Milton has a big game for UCF and they run away with this one. PICK UCF 51, Memphis 30
JP: UCF wins in thrilling fashion and Scott Frost has a change of heart and realizes he just can’t leave Orlando and those players. Just kidding. Still, the Knights finish this thing off. PICK: UCF 42, Memphis 31
DP: So let’s talk about the first time these two met… Central Florida was up 40-7 with about four minutes left and decided to kick (and recover) an onside kick. That’s not something teams forget. Memphis has had the better offense between the two since, with 50-plus in four of their final seven. Those Call of Duty distractions have an effect and Memphis pulls the upset. PICK: Memphis 56, UCF 49
Our picks today are for entertainment purposes only. Between 6 and 8 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by another individual’s gambling problem. Don’t gamble more than you can afford and if it stops being fun seek help.
Problem gambling is not a bad habit or a moral weakness. It’s a serious condition. But with help, problem gamblers can put the game in perspective and make decisions to improve their lives
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, in Lincoln call Choices treatment center 24/7 at 402-476-2300 or statewide call The Nebraska Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700. Help is free so call today.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.