Thanksgiving is a great time to get gorged on turkey, pie and college football rivalry games.
The traditional fare of the Iron Bowl, Florida-Florida State and Ohio State-Michigan is worth watching, but this week is also time for some surprising traditional and non-traditional matchups.
Even if the Egg Bowl isn’t the SEC West play-in game that seemed a possibility a month ago, Mississippi State-Ole Miss features a team hoping to play for a national title.
Wisconsin-Minnesota is a long-lived traditional rivalry that has rarely packed so much meaning with the Big Ten West title and perhaps a Heisman Trophy on the line.
And even though Missouri and Texas aren’t playing their traditional rivals this week, their matchups with Arkansas and TCU, respectively, are loaded with significance on the national and conference championship stage.
The Week Ahead: Nov. 25-27
All Times Eastern.
Listen to the Week 13 recap and analysis podcast:
TCU at Texas
When and where: Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
We’re watching because... we miss Texas-Texas A&M as much as anyone, but this is still a darn good game. This is TCU’s last chance to make a statement to the playoff selection committee, and the Horned Frogs will have to do it on offense. Texas is only 6-5, but the Longhorns have had the best defense in the Big 12 since conference play began.
Vegas says: TCU by 6 1/2
Arkansas at Missouri
When and where: Friday, 2:30 p.m., CBS
We’re watching because... this is perhaps the most unlikely game playing a role in the SEC championship. Missouri lost at home to Indiana and to Georgia by 34 but can clinch the East with a win over the Hogs. Missouri can win the SEC East for the second consecutive season but has to go through the hottest team in the league to do it. Arkansas has ended a 17-game SEC win streak by outscoring LSU and Ole Miss 47-0.
Vegas says: Arkansas by 1 1/2
Arizona at Arizona State
When and where: Friday, 3:30 p.m., FOX
We’re watching because... few games have more potential for a bonkers finish. Both teams have won on Hail Marys this season — Arizona over Cal and Arizona State over USC — not to mention the regular late-night craziness that follows Pac-12 teams. Fans will be doing their share of scoreboard watching, too. If UCLA loses to Stanford, the winner of the Territorial Cup wins the Pac-12 South outright. One question will be the status of Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon, who left the win over Utah on Saturday with a right foot injury.
Vegas says: Pick ‘em
Stanford at UCLA
When and where: Friday, 3:30 p.m., ABC
We’re watching because... UCLA still has the Pac-12 South, a Pac-12 title and potentially a playoff spot on the line against a team that has the Bruins’ number. This is not the Stanford team we’re used to seeing, but the Bruins have reason to be worried even against a below-average Cardinal team. Stanford has won the last six in the series, four by two touchdowns or more.
Vegas says: UCLA by 4 1/2
Michigan at Ohio State
When and where: Saturday, noon, ABC/ESPN
We’re watching because... Ohio State may be primed for an upset. The Buckeyes let Indiana hang around for three quarters last week and has had a negative turnover margin for three consecutive games. Is that a case of looking ahead to Michigan or a real reason for Urban Meyer to worry? A year ago, another lackluster Michigan team challenged a then-undefeated Ohio State in a 42-41 loss.
Vegas says: Ohio State by 20
Georgia Tech at Georgia
When and where: Saturday, noon, SEC Network
We’re watching because... this game may mean everything to Georgia or nothing. The Bulldogs will know Friday afternoon if they’re going to the SEC Championship Game. An Arkansas win keeps Georgia in playoff contention. A Missouri win, and Georgia can start planning for a bowl. Georgia Tech has its division title wrapped up, but the Yellow Jackets have plenty of motivation after winning just one meeting in the series since 2001.
Vegas says: Georgia by 13
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
When and where: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
We’re watching because... this is an Egg Bowl with national significance, who knew? Ole Miss collapsed in last year’s Egg Bowl, a win that shifted the momentum for Dan Mullen’s program in 2014. The Bulldogs still have a chance at the SEC West if Alabama loses the Iron Bowl and may be a playoff contender even if they don’t reach Atlanta. Ole Miss, which has gone from No. 3 in the AP poll to 8-3, can ruin it all for Mississippi State.
Vegas says: Mississippi State by 2
Florida at Florida State
When and where: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... the last time a lame duck coach for Florida went to Tallahassee, the Gators spoiled a special day for Florida State. The Seminoles christened Bobby Bowden Field on Nov. 20, 2004 only to watch Florida players carry fired coach Ron Zook off of it after a 20-13 win over the 10th-ranked Seminoles.
Vegas says: Florida State by 7 1/2
Minnesota at Wisconsin
When and where: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
We’re watching because... the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe doesn’t usually figure into the Big Ten title race, and that’s pretty cool. Minnesota keeps plugging along and filling its trophy case — the Gophers already have the Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa) and Little Brown Jug (Michigan) this season and could add the Axe and a Big Ten West title. The coaches don’t need this advice, but just let us sit back and watch Melvin Gordon and David Cobb do their thing.
Vegas says: Wisconsin by 13 1/2
Auburn at Alabama
When and where: Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... the last Iron Bowl ended like this.
Vegas says: Alabama by 9 1/2
Oregon at Oregon State
When and where: Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC
We’re watching because... one of the nation’s more underrated rivalries again factors in the national title race, if only for one team. The Civil War was once a balanced rivalry before Oregon began its current six-game win streak (two of those Oregon wins were decided by less than a touchdown, however). Oregon State has a losing record while Oregon is looking to stay in the title race. If that situation in a rivalry game doesn’t sound familiar, ask a West Virginia fan.
Vegas says: Oregon by 20