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How To Football: Week 14

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Your guide to the double-barrel college football holiday weekend.

Arkansas v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

As we head into the holiday break, we also enter the final full-fledged college football Saturday or the year. But because this weekend is the sales event weekend of the year, we get a two for one with a (nearly) full slate on Friday beforehand.

GameDay will be broadcasting from Minneapolis for the Big Ten West deciding game between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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Last Call For #MACtions Shift

  • Western Michigan-Northern Illinois: With a win, the Broncos can wrap up the MAC West championship while NIU will miss out on bowl eligibility regardless of what happens.
  • Ohio-Akron: Pretty much the only thing on the line here is that Akron has to win to avoid being the only team to go winless in FBS this year.

Who Brought Egg Salad Shift

  • Ole Miss-Mississippi State: The only college game on Thanksgiving is best summed up in the tweet below:

Doorbuster Shift

  • Virginia Tech-Virginia: The Cavaliers have lost 15 straight meetings in what is probably the meanest rivalry run in college football: 34-31 last year, 10-0 in 2017, 23-20 in 2015, 24-20 in 14, 16-6 in 13, 17-14 in 12. Earlier in the season it appeared as if this would definitely be the year for the Hoos, but since then both teams have kind of come back to normal and met in the middle to where this game will actually decide who will represent the ACC Coastal in the championship game and possibly take an Orange Bowl bid, making a loss for UVA this year particularly devastating.
  • Texas Tech-Texas: The Longhorns should be able to avoid going .500 this year, but they’re going to be cutting it awfully close. I also am very curious to see how Texas fans show out for a Black Friday game for a 6-5 team.
  • Miami (Ohio)-Ball State: The Red Hawks have the MAC East locked up and Ball State will likely not go bowling, but regardless of all that, this still should be a pretty tight game.
  • Kent State-Eastern Michigan: Really the only thing on the here is Kent State’s bid for bowl eligibility. What is notable is that Eastern Michigan already has that locked up. We all need to appreciate the job Chris Creighton has done at #TheFactory in Ypsilanti.
  • Iowa-Nebraska: Scott Frost was right to tell Husker fans to be patient, because after missing a bowl in his first year it’s going to come down to the regular season finale against Iowa at home. The Hawkeyes are favored by less than a touchdown, and if we know anything it’s that they are very good at making their opponents play their game, which trends to be low-scoring.

Turkey Sandwich Shifts

  • Cincinnati-Memphis: The biggest game of the weekend is potentially a preview of what we’ll see next week for the American Championship. Memphis has absolutely been rolling recently while the Bearcats have won their past two wins by a combined five points.
  • Washington State-Washington: While the Huskies have dropped off since losing to Utah, culminating with a 20-14 loss to Colorado last week, the Cougars have remained college football’s random number generator, beating Oregon State 54-53 last weekend. Because this is a game with Wazzu I have no idea how it is going to go or what to expect, and I am completely fine with that.
  • West Virginia-TCU: The Horned Frogs need this game for bowl eligibility, which they will likely achieve because it’s going to take a minute for Neal Brown to sort out WVU.
  • Boise State-Colorado State: #MurderSmurfs.
  • Appalachian State-Troy State: Speaking of Neal Brown, his former team needs a win over the Sun Belt “Group B” leaders App State to reach eligibility. Likely not to happen, but you never can really know.

Tryptophan Shift

  • USF-UCF: Two years ago this was one of the best games of decade in college football. Now, it’s looking more and more like a wash for the Knights, which just says all you need to know about how fast and hard the Bulls have fallen.

The Game Shift

  • Ohio State-Michigan: Without a doubt, this will be the game with the most narrative attention paid to it. The Buckeyes passed their first real test of the season, but Michigan has quietly been not as terrible on offense as they were to start the season. Since their 28-21 loss to Penn State: 45 points against Notre Dame, 38 against Maryland, 44 against Michigan State, and 39 against Indiana. The thing is that Ohio State is better than all of those teams. If they can steal a possession or a score, then I can see an upset.
  • Louisville-Kentucky: Speaking of teams who have vastly improved over the course of the season, llvll can get back to eight wins in year one of the Satterfield era AND take home the Governor's Cup in one fell swoop. It should make for a pretty entertaining game.
  • Indiana-Purdue: The Boilermakers have won the Old Oaken Bucket in the first two years of Jeff Brohm’s tenure, but a litany of injuries have opened the door for the Hoosiers to take it back this year.
  • Northwestern-Illinois: Look, the week is stretched thin on account of the two days of football. Plus, how often do you get a chance to see a seven-win Illinois before December?
  • Furman-Austin Peay: Not only is it Rivalry Week in the FBS, but FCS kicks off the opening round games of their playoff system. One of the two games on in the noon hour is Furman at Austin Peay, a meeting of the Ohio Valley (AP) champion and SoCon at-large. Most of the first round games are close, but this is the best offering in that noon shift with a projected margin of 3.5.

Ahrn Bawl Shift

  • Alabama-Auburn: Obviously, this is the leader for biggest game of the shift and is one of the four marquee meetings of the day. Essentially, it all comes down to two quarterback questions: How much has Bo Nix grown over the course of the season and is Mac Jones ready for the challenge of going against Auburn’s defense?
  • Wisconsin-Minnesota: The Big Ten West championship game with the winner getting the “right” to face Ohio State in Indianapolis. Matchups make for good games, and I am so looking forward to the Gopher’s 8th ranked offense against the Badger’s #14 defense.
  • Miami (FL)-Duke: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Grambling-Southern: So if you’re reading this here blog then you should know all about this game. But if you haven’t been paying close attention then you should know that this game is the SWAC West championship, with the winner playing Alcorn State next week.
  • Villanova-Southeastern Louisiana: Last Thursday, the Lions had their hearts broken at the one yard line in the River Bell Classic that seemingly dashed the Lions’ hope of a playoff bid. But they somehow backed into the field AND get a home game against Villanova. Of all the opening round games this looks like the tightest, with the visiting Wildcats favored by less than a field goal.

Revenge Shift

  • Texas A&M-LSU: I don’t think anybody here needs reminding of what happened last year and what it means to the program to even the score. O might try to score 72 in regulation.
  • Iowa State-Kansas State: If you’re in the stadium for the game then this shouldn’t matter but if you’re watching at home, the rest of the evening slate is pretty bad. This is the best it really has to offer, a game that will probably be really well-played but not much in the way of storylines, which really drive the post-Thanksgiving games.
  • Navy-Houston: Like I said above, it’s a light week. Houston may be punting on 2019, but Navy is operating at or near peak Navy, so if you really love to see a well-ran option, this game has some value to you.
  • North Carolina-NC State: The Tar Heels can go bowling with a win, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that NC State solely exists to ruin UNC’s party. If you want a good petty rivalin’, then apart from A&M-LSU this is the game of the shift for you.
  • Oklahoma-Oklahoma State: This game has been severely mislabeled, as it’s nowhere near as chaotic as the name “Bedlam” would have you believe. Since Les Miles left Stillwater, the Cowboys have beaten the Sooners just twice, despite coming a point shy last year. This year OSU can probably move the ball on the Sooners well, but OU should be able to rip up the Pokes.

Dying Of The Light Shift

  • Arizona-Arizona State: The last #PAC12AfterDark shift of the year is fairly disappointing, but that’s par for the course this year. The first game up should be a pretty easy win for Herm and the Sun Devils for the third straight year.
  • Cal-UCLA: Same deal here, only without the established rivalry aspect of it. The meeting of the Bears’ offense against the Bruins’ defense is your classic stoppable force against movable object pairing that we have all come to love so much out of our west coast brethren.
  • Fresno State-San Jose State: This might be a relatively close game, but it’s unfortunately between two bottom third teams.
  • Army-Hawaii: Fortunately, the night shift ends on the best way possible: A Hawaii home game against Army kicking off at 11:30 on CBSSN. It’s an out of conference game with two teams from the two opposite ends of America who play two different styles, with it grading out to be a relatively close game. I love it, and the only way it could be more perfect is if Robert Kekaula is on the call.