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How To Football: Week, uh, 14

Your guide to the strange world that is post-Thanksgiving conference games

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Schedule as of 9:10 a.m. Thursday
WatsonTiger Excel Productions, LLC.

I-20 Shift

  • Louisiana Tech-North Texas: We should kick the college football week off with a pretty good game out of the C-USA, where SP+ is leaning towards the Mean Green by less than a field goal.
  • Air Force-Utah State: The Aggies picked up their first win of the year on Thanksgiving against similarly hapless New Mexico 41-27. This week they’ll have more of an uphill task but still a winnable game against the 2-2 Falcons.

Cajuns In The Mountain Shift

  • ULL-Appalachian State: Sadly, it would appear as if the Mountaineers’ four-year run as Sun Belt champions is drawing to a close. They’re still having a good season, but the loss to Coastal Carolina with an injured QB has put them behind in the Sun Belt East while ULL has already won the west. Fear not, for there is a silver lining: the Cajuns have not beaten the Mountaineers, ever, going 0-8. That includes two losses last year, 17-7 in the regular season in Lafayette and 45-38 in Boone for the championship. Here’s hoping that continues this year.
  • Boise State-UNLV: Boise’s gonna win big, no surprise here. - Nope, COVID

EXPOSE THEM, Figuratively Shift

  • Texas A&M-Auburn: As it stands at the moment, the Aggies are trying to backdoor their way into the playoff with the dubious #5 ranking, but as we’ve seen last weekend they are nowhere near playoff caliber. I have a gut feeling that this game will be have some rather large playoff implications.
  • Oklahoma State-TCU: Remember last week when I said that Oklahoma State-Texas Tech was going to be more defensive-focused than usual? Yeah, the Cowboys won that one 50-44. So I don’t really have any idea what I’m really talking about, but SP+ has the margin of this game being decided by less than a touchdown, so let’s go with that.
  • Memphis-Tulane: SP+ is calling this one an effective tossup, but I’m not really sure how much that factors in the fact that as or writing, Will Hall could be officially announced as head coach at Southern Miss literally any minute now. That probably won’t matter much as Hall will coach the game Saturday in Yulman Stadium, but it should be pretty good anyway.
  • Nebraska-Purdue: SP+ is calling this one a tossup with a lean towards the Boilmakers. Take another sip of that and let it swirl around in your mouth so you can explore the complexities of the flavors: Nebraska is an underdog against Purdue. Happy Scott Frost Day!
  • Kent State-Miami (OH): Another tossup from SP+, NOPE, COVID got this one as I was writing. Guess we’re stuck with Arkansas-Missouri!

Can I Get A UMmmmmm Shift

  • Indiana-Wisconsin: We’ve been banging the #7Windiana drum since The Stretch, and this week will probably decide that dream becoming a reality one way or another. Wisconsin is the better team and is favored by multiple touchdowns, so the hill will be steep and uphill, but if there’s any football team I can trust to overcome adversity, it’s gotta be the Indiana Hoosiers,,
  • Florida-Tennessee: That’s too morbid of me, I’m sorry. I apologize for pushing this on you, this should be excluded from the list and be in the sickos pile. My bad.
  • Georgia Tech-NC State: Ah finally, some quality football programming between two extremely competent and well-established football programs.
  • Maryland-Michigan: I’ve been fascinated with UM recently and their place in the Big Ten. How can a football program with hardly any recent success hang in a conference with the likes of Ohio State and Wisconsin with programs like Indiana and Purdue rapidly ascending and competing for resources? Is this a school that become a winner at all? We’ll find out when they play Maryland Saturday afternoon. - Nope, COVID
  • West Virginia-Iowa State: Given the nature of this article I pull the “could this be a trap game?? Only one way to find out!” card a lot, but yeah, this is so obviously a trap game it might as well be painted on a rock by Wile E. Coyote using Acme Co. paint.

Blowout Special Shift

  • Alabama-LSU: lol
  • Colorado-Arizona: The Buffaloes are 3-0, but it’s not really a great looking 3-0 with single-score wins over UCLA and Stanford and a 10-point win over San Diego State and the Wildcats are 0-3 but it’ yeah, it’s an ugly 0-3. Even still, the Buffs favored by only eight points.
  • Oregon-Cal: I really would like to know why the worst shift of each weekend happens to be the primetime shifts. I understand that COVID has ruined everything but still, why are we scheduling all the blowouts at night?
  • Clemson-Virginia Tech: Like this one.
  • Houston-SMU: I guess this game should be pretty good? Hopefully? Jesus. - Nope, COVID
  • Last minute game changing edition- Coastal Carolina-BYU, 4:30pm CDT, ESPNU: This game was announced at 6:34 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday morning, and instantly changes the dynamic of the week as two undefeated teams from the G5 square off in a showdown in Provo. This game is immensely huge because while beating Coastal wouldn’t be enough to punch the Cougars’ ticket to the playoff, in the big picture that might become the straw that breaks the camels’ back. Coastal probably isn’t playing for playoffs, but an undefeated season for a program that is still in it’s teenage years and has only been in the FBS since 2017 would be a huge boon for the program.
  • Last Minute Game Changing, Aloha Edition- San Jose St at Hawaii, 5pm CDT, Team1 Sports app: After Santa Clara County suddenly banned football last week, every team in the area was sent scrambling, including the 4-0 Spartans, who will now take their Mountain West lead 4,200 miles west to face Todd Graham’s Rainbow Warriors, who just took down undefeated Nevada in the wee hours last Sunday morning. And while not a Midnight Hawaii special, the game will be carried in the states through Spectrum Sports on the Team1 Sports app, which means the best broadcaster in the US is calling the game, and that’s a win for everyone.

Concerning Various Feral Canines Shift

  • Oregon State-Utah: The Beavers did the near-impossible and sprung a Black Friday upset over their arch rival Ducks, using their third string quarterback to seal it. There is proof of concept in what Jonathan Smith is doing in Corvallis, and if he can pick up a win to seal at minimum a .500 season in 2020 would be a huge boon for the program. Oregon State is playing on ESPN and I’m kinda excited to watch it, that’s huge.
  • UCLA-Arizona State: Less excited to watch this one if I’m keeping it a buck fifty. The Sun Devils have only played one game, and that was when they blew a lead late against USC, so it’s really hard to comment on them but the Bruins seem to be marginally improved at best.
  • Fresno State-Nevada: YOUR Hawaii Rainbow Warriors knocked off the previously undefeated Wolfpack late Saturday night, and as a result they are trying to keep pace with San Jose State and Boise for the conference title, but first they need to break their tie with the Bulldogs...who also lost to Hawaii.
  • Wyoming-New Mexico: It’s football.

#PAC12AfterSaturday Shift

  • UAB-Middle Tennessee State: NOPE, COVID.
  • Washington State-USC: Subject to change, as I’m not really sure how much a game scheduled for Sunday can actually be trusted. Hard to say what to expect out of this game as USC won two games with Houdini escape acts and Wazzu hasn’t played a game in nearly a month. Who knows anymore man.