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How To Football: Week 16 (Sixteen)

After 16 weeks, the long covid football season draws to a merciful close

NCAA Football: Clemson at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Schedule as of 10:30 Thursday
WatsonTiger Excel Productions, LLC.

Understudy Shift

  • Oregon-USC: Because this is 2020, the Ducks are playing in a conference championship game when they didn’t win their own division, because their rivals at Washington were hit with a COVID outbreak. I’m not sure how well it will be received if they win the game, but I personally would love to find out.
  • UAB-Marshall: Not the sexiest game on the slate by name recognition, but this one is shaping up to be a banger, with SP+ calling it essentially a toss-up. The one thing I’d be concerned about is that UAB has played one (1) game since November 1st, a 21-16 win over Rice. Coincidentally enough, the Thunder Herd’s lone loss came via a shocking 20-0 loss to the Owls.
  • Ball State-Buffalo: The Bulls have run roughshod over it’s schedule, winning five games by the following scores: 49-30, 42-10, 42-17, 70-41, 56-7. Ball State hasn’t been near as convincing, so I’m not sold it will be all that good.
  • Nebraska-Rutgers: Rutgers has a better record than Nebraska. That is all. On to Saturday!

The Bad Shift

  • Iowa State-Oklahoma: The Cyclones defeated the Sooners 37-30 early in the season and now have to replicate that result to win their first conference title since 1912, which is essentially as good as saying “ever.” The problem is that the OU defense has played much better down the stretch, allowing only 36 points in their last three games combined, which averages out less than two touchdowns per game.
  • Northwestern-Ohio State: So yeah, this is happening.
  • Texas A&M-Tennessee: It appears as if the Volunteer job is not opening up, but I suppose that could potentially be subject to change if this game completely falls off the damn rails.
  • Florida State-Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are actually favored here by five points or so per SP+, which is always fun when the Seminoles are on the bad end of that line.
  • Washington State-Utah: It’s football.

The Really Good Shift

  • Ole Miss-LSU: Unfortunately, Florida and Early Signing Day wasn’t the end of the LSU season, and we have one more game to watch. As you might have guessed, unfortunately this game happens when all the other good games worth watching are on.
  • Clemson-Notre Dame: Like this rematch of what was arguably the game of the year in early November. Unlike last time, Trevor Lawrence is good to go and play, which in all likelihood swings the pendulum back into the Tigers’ favor. The only bad thing about this game is that I don’t think it matters and both teams are locked into the playoffs unless the Irish beat Clemson again.
  • ULL-Coastal Carolina: Another rematch of a game played earlier this year, the 30-27 defeat is the lone stain on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ season. This game is going to be an incredible banger and it absolutely sucks that it happens at the same times Ole Miss-LSU does. - Nope, COVID
  • Air Force-Army: Because it wasn’t weird enough for 2020 that the Army-Navy game was the last regular season game, the Black Knights had to play another game that actually decides the fate of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy. And if you’re worried about having to watch a repeat of Army-Navy from last week, don’t worry, Air Force seems to have their ducks in a neater row than Navy does. This will be much a more compelling game.
  • Boise State-San Jose State: If you haven’t been paying attention you may gloss over this game assuming the Broncos will romp to another conference championship. Rest assured, that won’t happen here. Sure they may still win, SP+ favors them, but it’s the Spartans who have the superior record. This meeting was supposed to happen on November 28th, but that game was cancelled.

The Okay I Guess Shift

  • Alabama-Florida: The transitive property is a toxic argument in a normal year, much less 2020 but I can’t feel like last week was at all encouraging for the Gators. SP+ favors the Crimson Tide by only 10 points which I can believe only if Florida crosses the Bama 40 on every possession and gets seven instead of three on those drives, while keeping Alabama off the field. Which is an incredibly tall task.
  • Cincinnati-Tulsa: Both the Bearcats and Golden Hurricane are undefeated in conference play, but got that answer from two different formulas. Cincinnati is just good, full stop while Tulsa landed on blackjack every time the deal had 20, winning three straight one score games by virtue of some frenzied comebacks and a Hail Mary. However, this game has been scheduled to play four different times before this (Oct. 17, Dec. 4th. 5th, and 12th. As a result, neither team have played a game in the past month, so they might come out a little rusty.
  • Michigan State-Maryland: Will this be a good game? No, absolutely not. Will it be close late? Very likely. And that’s always worth something.
  • Stanford-UCLA: It’s football.

Play Us Off, Herm Shift

  • Arizona State-Oregon State: It’s a travesty that the last college regular season game isn’t Army-Navy and the penultimate game isn’t some Hawaii game that kicks off at 11:00 p.m., but I suppose it’s incredibly on-brand for 2020 to make Sun Devils-Beavers out send off to bowl season. Which, by the by, we should be in the early stages of by now.

Thank you for following along, or at least trying to, during this stupid, dumb, chaotic, wild, unpredictable season. Hopefully we’ll be back to normal next season.