A quick glance at Saturday’s college football listings in ACC, Big Ten and SEC

Here’s a quick glance at Saturday’s college football games with kickoff times and television listings:


Friday’s games

Pittsburgh 24, Miami 14

(Pittsburgh improves to 5-7, 3-5 ACC; Miami 10-1, 7-1 ACC)

Virginia Tech 10, at Virginia 0

(Virginia Tech improves to 9-3, 5-3 ACC; Virginia 6-6, 3-5)

Saturday’s games

Florida State (4-6) at Florida (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Georgia (10-1) at Georgia Tech (5-5), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (7-4), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Boston College (6-5) at Syracuse (4-7), Saturday 11:20 a.m., ACC Network

Duke (5-6) at Wake Forest (7-4), Saturday 11:30 CT, ACC Network

North Carolina (3-8) at N.C. State (7-4), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Big Ten

Friday’s game

Iowa 56, at Nebraska 14

(Iowa improves to 7-5, 4-5 SEC; at Nebraska 4-8, 3-6 SEC)

Saturday’s games

Ohio State (9-2) at Michigan (8-3), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, Fox

Indiana (5-6) at Purdue (5-6),Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2

Penn State (9-2) at Maryland (4-7), Saturday 2:30 p.m., BTN

Wisconsin (11-0) at Minnesota (5-6), 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC

Michigan State (8-3) at Rutgers (4-7), Saturday 3 p.m. Fox

Northwestern (8-3) at Illinois (2-9), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, FS1


Thursday’s game

Mississippi 31, Mississippi State 28

(Mississippi improves to 6-6, 3-5 SEC; Mississippi State 8-4, 4-4 SEC)

Friday’s game

Missouri 48, at Arkansas 45

(Missouri improves to 7-5, 4-4 SEC;  Arkansas 4-8, 1-7)

Saturday’s games

Georgia (10-1) at Georgia Tech (5-5), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

Florida  State (4-6) at Florida (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (7-4), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Alabama (11-0)  at Auburn (9-2), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

Vanderbilt (4-7) at Tennessee (4-7), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN

Texas A&M (7-4) at LSU (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network






Rivalry Weekend heats up

I’m a graduate of the University of South Carolina. My wife has two degrees from Clemson University.

We’ve been married – happily, I should add – for nearly 38 years.

Don’t ask me how that’s even possible, since she doesn’t like football and I’m a Southern boy who spent two-thirds of his 41-year career in sports journalism covering teams in the ACC and SEC.

Heck, I also spent a few years covering pro football, both in the USFL and NFL. I’ve even written stories and columns about NFL Europe, the WFL, the CFL and even the XFL. But never the LFL, unfortunately.

LFL? Lingerie Football League.

Enough said, which is why I attached the photo you see on this blog without further comment.

Please don’t complain to my boss. I promise it won’t happen again.

Well, unless it produces a dramatic increase in web traffic and enough of you readers start sending me money because you’ve suddenly developed a great appreciation for my writing.

But enough about me. This is Rivalry Weekend.

As someone who grew up in South Carolina, my primary focus Saturday will be getting mentally prepared for the Clemson-South Carolina game on ESPN.

So until then, you’ll likely find me pacing from the recliner to the couch, doing my best to command the restraint needed to simply change channels rather than throw something at the television when things go wrong.

Don’t bother trying to reach me on the phone, unless its merely to check in via text. I’ll be too busy to talk all day.

Now excuse me while I clear some DVR space because the TV networks already have made my day way too complicated.

Channel Surfing Madness

Florida State at Florida, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Georgia at Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. CT,  ABC

Ohio State at Michigan, 11 a.m. CT, Fox

Indiana at Purdue, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2

Louisville at Kentucky, 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Showdown of the Year

Alabama at Auburn, 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

My Main Event

Clemson at South Carolina, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN

No matter which team or teams you support, I hope you have a good day. Unless you’re a Clemson fan.

Oh, and to be fair, The Wife doesn’t like for me to watch NFL games on Sundays, either. But that’s probably because she grew up in Cleveland where they no longer have an NFL team.

There. I just landed the first cheap shot against a Tiger graduate.

Bring it on, Clemson fans.


ACC Landscape: Week Thirteen

Wrapping up his second season as South Carolina’s head football coach, Will Muschamp’s quest to rebuild the Gamecocks into an SEC  contender is ahead of schedule.

Picked to finish only fourth in the SEC East, his players exceeded expectations with five conference wins. USC (8-3, 5-3 SEC) was even in contention for the division title until a 24-10 loss to Georgia three weeks ago.

Now, with Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC) visiting Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, the Gamecocks have another chance at earning a signature win.

“You don’t need a lot of extra motivation at the end of the day,” said Muschamp. “If you don’t get excited about playing your archrival, then something is wrong with you. That’s the way I look at it.”

The fact Clemson is looking to extend its winning streak in the series to four in a row, including a 56-7 rout last year, should light an extra fire under his players, Muschamp said. So should the fact that the game has been picked for a national primetime telecast on ESPN.

That may even explain why so many national college football writers have picked South Carolina to win, choosing to make the game their upset special of the week. I’m not that reckless with my picks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game qualifies as an instant classic.

Of course, Rivalry Weekend’s biggest upset occurred Friday when Pittsburgh stunned No. 2 Miami, 24-14.

That’s the loss Swinney will talk to his players about since the Tigers will face Miami in the ACC Championship Game next Saturday in Charlotte. He’ll remind his players that the Hurricanes were undefeated until they dropped their guard and were sucker punched by the Panthers. He may even remind his players that Pitt did the same thing to them last November.

“It’s about winning the game and this team having an opportunity to continue on because its playoff football for us every week,” said Swinney, who knows a second loss now could deny Clemson one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. “We’ve got a challenge on our hands with South Carolina. They’ve gotten better as the year has gone.”

Swinney, who played and coached at Alabama, said he believes the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is as intense as the Iron Bowl clash between Auburn and Alabama.

 “Zero difference in this state. Zero. Year-round, that’s all people talk about. It’s just different logos. It’s the same type of intensity, emotion,” Swinney said.

The strength of both teams is their defenses, but Clemson has a decided edge on the defensive front. Not only are they difficult to run on, but the Tigers have one of the nation’s fiercest pass rushes.

If the Gamecocks are going to keep the game close into the fourth quarter, quarterback Jake Bentley will have to be effective keeping plays alive with his legs. He’s passed for nearly 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns and run for another six touchdowns. But he’s also tossed nine interceptions, and if he’s turnover prone against the Tigers, South Carolina could be staring at another huge lategame deficit.

Meanwhile, Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant has been efficient, and occasionally explosive, for the Tigers. He’s passed for 2,200 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions.

The Tigers are scoring an average of 10 points more per game than the Gamecocks – 35.3 to 25.4. Meanwhile, both teams rank among the top 20 teams in the nation in scoring defense with the Tigers at No. 3 while allowing 13.9 points per game and the Gamecocks ranking No. 20 at 19.6.


(All times Central)

Friday’s games

Pittsburgh 24, Miami 14

(Pittsburgh improves to 5-7, 3-5 ACC; Miami 10-1, 7-1 ACC)

Virginia Tech 10, at Virginia 0

(Virginia Tech improves to 9-3, 5-3 ACC; Virginia 6-6, 3-5)

Saturday’s games

Florida State (4-6) at Florida (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Georgia (10-1) at Georgia Tech (5-5), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (7-4), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Boston College (6-5) at Syracuse (4-7), Saturday 11:20 a.m., ACC Network

Duke (5-6) at Wake Forest (7-4), Saturday 11:30 CT, ACC Network

North Carolina (3-8) at N.C. State (7-4), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m., ESPN


1 Miami (10-0, 7-0): Last Week – W, Virginia, 44-28. The Impact – Hurricanes twice rallied from 14-point deficits, scoring pair of touchdowns in seven seconds for first comeback and then finishing game with 30 unanswered points. Malik Rosier passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as UM extended nation’s longest win streak to 15 games. Mark Richt now needs to make sure his players don’t overlook Pitt since ’Canes are already set to face Clemson for ACC title on Dec. 2.

  1. Clemson (10-1, 7-1): Last Week – W, The Citadel, 61-3. The Impact – Tigers scored on 10 of 13 possessions as Dabo Swinney emptied his bench early and often against an outmatched FCS opponent in The Citadel. Fifteen players caught passes and nine carried the football, but the rout wasn’t enough to prevent Miami from taking the No. 2 spot in the CFP rankings. That’s a battle that will be settled next week, though. This weekend the Tigers are looking to win their fourth straight over rival South Carolina after losing five in a row.
  1. Wake Forest (7-4, 4-3): Last Week – W, N.C. State, 30-24. The Impact – Demetrius Kemp’s forced fumble and end zone recovery allowed the Demon Deacons to win their fourth conference game and continue N.C. State’s late-season slump. It was also the Deacons’ first win over a Top 25 opponent since 2011. John Wolford and Tabari Hines connected on three touchdown passes of 21, 7 and 18 yards and Wolford finished with 247 yards passing.


  1. N. C. State (7-4, 5-2): Last Week – L, at Wake Forest, 30-24. The Impact –  Since Dave Doeren announced his goal was still to win 10 games after losing at Notre Dame, N.C. State has lost two more. Three of the Wolfpack’s four losses have been by seven or fewer points. But the loss to Wake Forest was particularly painful since the Wolfpack held a 22-minute edge in time of possession and ran 94 plays in compiling more than 500 yards.
  1. Louisville (7-4, 4-4): Last Week – W, Syracuse, 56-10. The Impact – Lamar Jackson continued his assault on the school record book, compiling 381 yards and scoring four touchdowns. Jackson racked up his 11th consecutive 300-yard game to become the Cardinals’ career yardage leader with 12,474, which is third best in the ACC. Tailback Malik Williams had a career-high 180 rushing yards on only nine carries, including TD runs of 46 and 56 yards.



  1. Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3): Last Week – W, Pittsburgh, 20-14. The Impact – Hokies’ defense kept Panthers out of end zone on final drive despite Pitt having a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Cam Phillips had 117 yards on eight catches to increase his school record to 2,981 receiving yards. The win allowed Justin Fuente’s team to end two-game skid.


  1. Boston College (6-5, 3-4): Last Week – W, Connecticut 39-16. The Impact – Playing at Fenway, BC became bowl eligible after winning for fourth time in five weeks. A win over Syracuse would allow Eagles to break even in ACC after an 0-3 start in conference. A.J. Dillon rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns covering 48 and 53 yards.
  2. Florida State (4-6, 3-5): Last Week – W, Delaware State, 77-6. The Impact – FSU played MEAC school and it wasn’t nearby Florida A&M. Seminoles nearly tied school record for largest margin of victory. If FSU beats Florida Saturday, earning a bowl bid will become mere formality since Louisiana-Monroe comes to Tallahassee for a rescheduled game on Dec. 2. Receiver Justin Motlow became the first Seminole Tribe of Florida product to score a touchdown for FSU.
  3. Virginia (6-5, 3-4): Last Week – L, at Miami, 44-28. The Impact – After 5-1 start to season, the Cavaliers have lost four of five. Still, Bronco Mendenhall’s squad should be able to relax heading into Saturday’s home game against rival Va Tech since a bowl berth is already in the bag. Against UM, Cavs couldn’t run the football, finishing with 55 yards on 28 carries, including 23-yarder by Jordan Ellis on final play. They’ll need to be more productive that against Hokies.
  1. Syracuse (4-7, 2-5): Last Week – L, at Louisville, 56-10. The Impact – The schedule has taken its toll on Dino Babers’ Orange. Since upsetting Clemson Oct 13, the Orange has played road games at Miami, Florida State and Louisville and had a home date against Wake Forest. Syracuse lost all four contests with Louisville shredding the Orange defense for 727 yards.
  2. Duke (5-6, 2-5): Last Week – W, Georgia Tech, 43-20. The Impact – David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils, who had been held to combined 46 points in previous four games, racked up 43 while shutting out Georgia Tech in the second half. The win ended a six-game skid by Duke and revives the Blue Devils’ hopes of earning a bowl berth by beating Wake Forest. For that to happen, Blue Devils will have to be exceptional on defense.



  1. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-4): Last Week – L, at Duke, 43-20. The Impact – Yellow Jackets have lost three of their last four games and likely would have to upset Georgia Saturday to become bowl eligible. There’s a slight chance they could get an invitation with five wins since they only played 11 games this season. But that’s a gamble Paul Johnson would rather not take. After trip to Athens on Saturday, Johnson may regret schools’ decision not to reschedule or replace game against UCF that was postponed by Hurricane Irma.
  2. Pittsburgh (4-7, 2-5): Last Week – L, at Virginia Tech, 20-14. The Impact – Panthers’ chances of staying in contention for bowl bid ended when Virginia Tech made a late goal-line stand. Pat Narduzzi’s team had a first down at the 1-yard line after Kenny Pickett connected with Jester Weah on 74-yard pass with less than 30 seconds remaining. But the threat ended with a pass breakup in the end zone with three seconds left and tailback Darrin Hall being dropped for a 3-yard loss on the final play. Hall finished with four yards on 15 carries and Pitt gained just 55 yards on 30 carries.
  1. North Carolina (3-8, 1-6): Last Week – W, Western Carolina, 65-10. The Impact – It took all season but Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels finally won back-to-back games. After falling behind 7-0, UNC responded with six consecutive touchdown drives, including three scores in less than three minutes. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Elliott tossed four touchdown passes in the first half. Tar Heels had a 231-32 edge in yardage in second quarter while scoring 35 of their points.


(Predicted winners in bold caps)

Friday’s games

Pittsburgh 24, MIAMI 14 — STUNNING UPSET

Virginia Tech 10, at VIRGINIA 0

Saturday’s games

Florida State at FLORIDA

GEORGIA at Georgia Tech

LOUISVILLE at Kentucky



North Carolina at N.C. STATE

CLEMSON at South Carolina

Last Week: 7-2

Overall: 69-21 (76.6%)

Some thoughts on being thankful

Today I’m thankful for:

1. My wife of nearly 39 years and counting. She knows who she is.

2. My 3 children, who have allowed me to know the adults they’ve become.

3. My 2 grandsons, who are still learning life’s lessons and who they want to become.

4. My 2 dogs, who adore me no matter what I do or say, even when I shout at the TV.

5. My 2 sisters, even if we don’t see each other nearly enough.

6. My parents, who are no longer on this earth but who will always be missed.

7. My mother-in-law, who granted me permission to marry her daughter, who fortunately had already said yes, even if she did stand me up on our first date.

8. For my 41 years in sports journalism, spent at 8 newspapers in 3 states, including 25 years as a sports editor.

9. For the dozens of sports writers and copy editors I was blessed to hire, manage and watch advance in their careers.

10. For this new challenge of retirement life has given me before I was fully ready, but for which I’m grateful because it means I’ll never again have to give readers less than what they deserve in this age of corporate, cookie-cutter newspapers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your deadbeat blogger

SEC Landscape: Week Thirteen

After the way Gus Malzahn’s Tigers dominated SEC East champion Georgia two weeks ago, it would be easy to make the case that Saturday’s Iron Bowl clash between Auburn and Alabama is the conference championship game.

“The good thing for us is that we’re playing at home,” said Malzahn of the game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. “We do have experience playing the No. 1 team.”

Indeed, the Tigers (9-2, 6-1 SEC) have the challenge of closing the regular season every year against the Crimson Tide (11-0, 7-9 SEC), who have won four national titles since Nick Saban took the reins in Tuscaloosa in 2007. Alabama was on the verge of winning its fifth national championship under Saban until Clemson pulled out a last-second victory in January.

Meanwhile, Auburn won the national championship in 2010, sandwiched by two of Alabama’s titles in 2009 and 2011.

Other than a 27-23 loss at LSU on Oct. 14, no SEC school has been within two touchdowns of the Tigers this season. Their closest margin of victory came in a 15-point win at Texas A&M.

Unbeaten Alabama has dominated its conference schedule, claiming three SEC games by 56 or more points with its only real scare a 31-24 win at Mississippi State.

While the Crimson Tide appear destined to win another SEC championship by facing off against Georgia on Dec. 2 in Atlanta, its Malzahn’s intent to spoil those plans.

“We’re a stronger team than we were five weeks ago,” Malzahn said, referring to the loss at LSU. “Our goal is to win the SEC Championship. We’ve made that clear from Day 1.”

Currently ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff poll despite two losses, the Tigers would receive a significant boost if they were to beat top-ranked Alabama to advance to the SEC championship game. 

Auburn is led by running back Kerryon Johnson (1,172 yards, 16 touchdowns) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (2,445 yards, 16 touchdowns).

Saban said both players are among the best in the SEC at their positions, but Johnson’s shiftiness and power as a running back causes him concern.

“The guy has a burst, speed, power, he can make you miss …. He’s as complete a player at running back as anyone in our conference.”

Meanwhile, Auburn’s defense is tasked with slowing down dual threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has thrown for 1,828 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 700 yards and eight more touchdowns.

“The scariest thing is, when things break down, he takes off like a running back.” Malzahn said of the Crimson Tide’s Hurts.

The two rivals rank among the top five in the conference in most team statistics.

Alabama is No. 1 in scoring offense (41.36 points per game) and scoring defense (10.2 ppg). Auburn is No. 3 in both categories, averaging 37.6 points on offense and allowing 16.5 points.


(All times Central)

Mississippi 31, Mississippi State 28, Thursday

(Mississippi improves to 6-6, 3-5 SEC; Mississippi State 8-4, 4-4 SEC)

Friday’s game

Missouri 48, at Arkansas 45

(Missouri improves to 7-5, 4-4 SEC;  Arkansas 4-8, 1-7

Saturday’s games

Georgia (10-1) at Georgia Tech (5-5), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

Florida  State (4-6) at Florida (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN

Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (7-4), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

Alabama (11-0)  at Auburn (9-2), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

Vanderbilt (4-7) at Tennessee (4-7), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network

Clemson (10-1) at South Carolina (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN

Texas A&M (7-4) at LSU (8-3), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network


  1. Alabama (11-0, 7-0): Last Week – W, Mercer, 56-0. The Impact – If you trust comparative scores, the Iron Bowl will be a breeze for Crimson Tide. In addition to their common SEC opponents, Nick Saban’s team is coming off a 56-0 rout of Mercer, which only lost 24-10 to Auburn. Tide will be well rested with quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa sharing QB reps and both throwing three TD passes. Nine players had carries, combining for 265 yards rushing.
  1. Auburn (9-2, 6-1): Last Week – W, UL-Monroe, 42-14. The Impact – Gus Malzahn’s squad will have the homefield advantage on The Plains for Saturday’s Iron Bowl against rival Alabama and they need a win to leapfrog the Tide for a date with Georgia in the SEC title game. Kerryon Johnson, the SEC’s leading rusher, got in good workout against UL-Monroe with 137 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. QB Jarrett Stidham passed for 235 yards and two scores.
  1. Georgia (10-1, 7-1): Last Week – W, Kentucky, 42-13. The Impact – With Nick Chubb rolling to 151 yards and two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder in the fourth quarter, and Sony Michel adding 87 yards and three touchdowns, Georgia bounced back from its loss at Auburn to get back on track for Saturday’s home game against rival Georgia Tech. Then its on to the SEC Championship game against the Alabama-Auburn winner.
  1. Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3): Last Week – W, at Arkansas, 28-21. The Impact – Nick Fitzgerald continues to stake his claim as the SEC’s best dual threat quarterback after torching  Razorbacks for three touchdowns, 153 yards passing and 101 rushing. He also found Deddrick Thomas for the winning TD with 17 seconds left. Now they get to finish strong with Egg Bowl home game against Ole Miss.

  5. LSU (8-3, 5-2): Last Week – W, at Tennessee, 30-10. The Impact – Tigers cashed in on pair of muffed punts by Tennessee’s Marquez Callaway for 10 points. But LSU has had its own special team’s issues in last two weeks with kicker Connor Culp missing three PATs and making just one of four field goal attempts. After being held to just nine yards rushing in the first quarter, Ed Orgeron’s squad finished with nearly 200 yards and four rushing touchdowns.


6. South Carolina (8-3, 5-3): Last Week – W, Wofford, 31-10. The Impact – Linebacker Skai Moore tied the school’s career record for interceptions with his 14th against Wofford. QB Jake Bentley passed for nearly 200 yards but used his legs to reach the end zone three times, taking over the team lead in rushing touchdowns with six – all in past four weeks. Gamecocks have been talking a good game but can they play one against rival and defending national champion Clemson? If USC doesn’t take an early lead, Will Muschamp may end up regretting all the bulletin board material his players have given Dabo Swinney’s team this week.

7. Kentucky (7-4, 4-4): Last Week – L, at Georgia, 42-13. The Impact – Mark Stoops program failed to get above .500 in SEC action for first time, but Wildcats could reach eight wins overall if they can beat rival Louisville on Saturday. That would soothe some of the disappointment of finishing only third in SEC East despite a road win over South Carolina.

8. Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3): Last Week – W, Mississippi, 31-24. The Impact – Freshman Nick Starkel passed for 272 yards and ran for a touchdown but it was a Pick-6 that put the Aggies over the top against Ole Miss. Will it be enough to save Kevin Sumlin’s job? Doubtful, which frankly amounts to unreasonable expectations by the fan base.

9. Mississippi (5-6, 2-5): Last Week – L, Texas A&M, 31-24.  The Impact – After scoring 24 points in the first half, the Rebels were shutout by Texas A&M and again fell back under .500 for the season. Ole Miss will need to pull off an upset of rival Mississippi State on the road in the Egg Bowl to qualify for a bowl game.

10. Missouri (6-5, 3-4):  Last Week – W,  at Vanderbilt, 45-17.  The Impact – Barry Odom’s Tigers have scored 45 or more points in five straight games, averaging 52, while becoming bowl eligible heading into regular-season finale at Arkansas. Missouri is only the sixth Power 5 school to become bowl eligible after losing five of its first six games. Mizzou defense also has gotten better, coming away with nine turnovers in last three games.


11.Arkansas  (4-7,  1-6):  Last  Week – L, Mississippi State, 28-21.  The Impact – Bret Bielema saw Razorbacks lose late lead last week, blowing their last chance at qualifying for a bowl. Proving the grass isn’t always greener on other side of fence, he’s headed into the final game of his fifth season at Arkansas with a 29-33 overall record and 11-28 in SEC. That, after going 68-24 in seven seasons at Wisconsin, including 37-18 in Big Ten.


12.Tennessee (4-7, 0-7): Last Week – L, LSU, 30-10. The Impact – Vols need to beat Vanderbilt on Saturday to avoid their first season with eight losses in program history. A win would also prevent Tennessee from going winless in the SEC after going 9-4 overall in 2016.

13.Florida (4-6, 3-5): Last Week – W, UAB, 36-7. The Impact –  Gators stepped out of conference and used five field goals from Eddie Pineiro, including two from 50 yards, to bring a five-game losing streak to an end.  With no chance to earn a bowl bid for just the third time in 31 seasons, Gators season will end with a rivalry clash at home against Florida State.

14.Vanderbilt (4-7, 0-7): Last Week – L, Missouri, 45-17. The Impact – Commodores dominated the third quarter, outscoring Missouri 17-3, but they were already down 35-0 at that point. The loss denied Derek Mason any chance of evening the Vols’ won-loss record this season. Vanderbilt will now end season battling Tennessee to escape the  SEC East cellar with both teams looking for first conference win of season. Ralph Webb became ninth SEC player to finish career with more than 4,000 yards rushing.


Beard’s Picks

(Predicted winners in Bold Caps)

Mississippi 31, at MISSISSIPPI STATE 28

MISSOURI at Arkansas

GEORGIA at Georgia Tech

Florida State at FLORIDA

LOUISVILLE at Kentucky

Alabama at AUBURN

Vanderbilt at TENNESSEE

CLEMSON at South Carolina

Texas A&M at LSU


OVERALL: 77-17 (81.9 %)

Note: Each week during the college football season, I’ll be  updating how things are unfolding in the Big Ten by Wednesday, the SEC by Thursday and ACC by Friday.  

Big Ten Landscape: Week Thirteen

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh desperately needs to win a game his team isn’t supposed to win.

Having gone 1-6 in matchups against Top 10 teams in his three years in Ann Arbor, Mich., he’ll get another chance for a breakthrough win when the Wolverines (8-3 overall, 5-3 Big Ten)  host No. 8 Ohio State (9-2, 7-1) at the Big House.

Despite that home-field advantage, the Wolverines are nearly two touchdown underdogs entering the 113th edition of “The Game,” which will be televised at 11 a.m. CT on Fox.

“It’s our team’s opportunity to put an exclamation mark on the season,” said Harbaugh. “They are a really talented team, very well coached, (have) really good players.”

As for the Wolverines, they haven’t been nearly as good as Harbaugh had hoped this season. 

Michigan fans are aware that none of their eight wins this season have come against winning teams. The combined records of the teams Michigan has beaten is 34-52. Also, Michigan’s five victories in the Big Ten have come against Purdue, Indiana, Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland. Combined, those teams have won just 12 of 40 conference games.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have dominated Michigan in recent years by winning 12 of 13, including the last five.

If Harbaugh is going to end that skid, he’ll likely have to do it without quarterback Brandon Peters. Peters was shaken up in last week’s 24-10 loss to Wisconsin and hasn’t cleared concussion protocols.

If that doesn’t change before kickoff, fifth-year senior John O’Korn will get the start for Michigan. While he’s passed for 761 yards, O’Korn only has one touchdown pass and has thrown five interceptions. Peters has thrown four TD passes with no interceptions.

Meyer said Ohio State’s defensive game plan will be more focused on Michigan’s ability to grind out rushing yardage with Karan Higdon (874 yards, 10 touchdowns and Chris Evans (594 yards, 6 touchdowns).

“They’re going to be a downhill rushing team. That’s pretty much been their MO,” said Meyer.

Meanwhile, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett could keep pressure on the Wolverines’ secondary the entire game. He’s passed for 2,698 yards and 32 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. He also has eight rushing touchdowns and 605 yards on 115 carries  to complement J.K. Dobbins, who has surpassed 1,000 yards rushing and scored six touchdowns.

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring offense (44.9 points per game) and is fifth in scoring defense (19.8 ppg). Meanwhile, Michigan is No. 8 in the league in scoring offense (26.3 ppg) and third in scoring defense (17.1 ppg).


(All times Central)

Friday’s game

Iowa 56, at Nebraska 14

(Iowa improves to 7-5, 4-5 SEC; at Nebraska 4-8, 3-6 SEC)

Saturday’s games

Ohio State (9-2) at Michigan (8-3), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, Fox

Indiana (5-6) at Purdue (5-6),Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2

Penn State (9-2) at Maryland (4-7), Saturday 2:30 p.m., BTN

Wisconsin (11-0) at Minnesota (5-6), 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC

Michigan State (8-3) at Rutgers (4-7), Saturday 3 p.m. Fox

Northwestern (8-3) at Illinois (2-9), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, FS1


  1. Wisconsin (11-0, 8-0): Last Week – W, Michigan, 24-10. The Impact – Badgers have proven to be the best team in the Big Ten but that might not be good enough to put them in the hunt for a national title unless they win the league championship in two weeks. Badgers’ weak strength of schedule won’t be helped by Saturday’s game at Minnesota, which has lost six of eight.


  1. Ohio State (9-2, 7-1): Last Week – W, Illinois, 52-14, The Impact – Talk about optimism, Buckeyes still haven’t given up hope of making the CFP’s final four teams despite being ranked ninth this week. There’s no way that many dominoes can fall in their favor, but they’ll still get a good consolation prize by winning at Michigan. Meanwhile, J.T. Barrett played his final home game and added to his legacy of 35 school or league records by becoming the Buckeyes’ all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback with 3,070 to move past Braxton Miller.


  1. Penn State (9-2, 6-2):Last Week – W, Nebraska, 56-44. The Impact – It was probably too late to boost his Heisman chances but Saquan Barkley rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns after failing to surpass 100 in five of six games. Only a junior, Barkley became the Nittany Lions career leader in touchdowns with 39 to move past Lydell Mitchell.


  1. Michigan State (8-3, 6-2): Last Week – W, Maryland, 17-7. The Impact – Spartans have been at their best in bad weather and proved it against in the snow against Maryland as Brian Lewerke passed for just 20 yards. A win over Rutgers will allow Mark Dantonio’s team to flip last season’s 3-9 record


  1. Northwestern (8-3, 6-2): Last Week – W, Minnesota, 39-0. The Impact –In what was the Wildcats’ most complete performance, Clayton Thorson tossed three touchdown passes and the Northwestern defense forced five turnovers as Pat Fittzgerald’s team won its sixth straight. After a 2-3 start, Wildcats can win their ninth game on Saturday.



  1. Michigan (8-3, 5-3): Last Week – L, at Wisconsin, 24-10. The Impact – Jim Harbaugh has restored respect for Michigan football but it hasn’t translated into national dominance. Heading into Saturday’s home game against No. 9 Ohio State, Harbaugh could use a few breaks to go his team’s way. The Wolverines are just 1-6 against Top 10 opponents under his watch.


  1. Iowa (6-5, 3-5): Last Week – L, Purdue, 24-15. The Impact – What’s happened to the Hawkeyes’ offense? After scoring 55 against Ohio State three weeks ago, Iowa has been outscored 62-29 in consecutive losses and no longer can finish with a winning Big Ten record.


  1. Purdue (5-6, 3-5): Last Week – W, at Iowa, 24-15. The Impact – After stunning upset at Iowa for first conference road win of season, Boilermakers can qualify for a bowl for first time since 2012 with home win over rival Indiana at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday. QB Elijah Sindelar, who had his first three touchdown effort against the Hawkeyes, has now passed for 1,544 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Boilermakers have only rushed for nine touchdowns this season.


  1. Indiana (5-6, 2-6): Last Week – W, Rutgers, 41-0. The Impact – Hoosiers need to win the Old Oaken Bucket to reach a bowl, but so does home-standing Purdue. Tom Allen’s team has won two in a row, including shutout of Rutgers. The 14 points IU has given up last two weeks is fewest in back-to-back Big Ten games since consecutive shutouts in 1993. Richard Lagow has thrown for 1,563 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Morgan Ellison has rushed for 688 yards and six TDs.


  1. Minnesota (5-6, 2-6): Last Week – L, at Northwestern, 39-0. The Impact – J. Fleck’s fleet must have left their oars at home last week. Once week after scoring 54 points against Nebraska, the Gopherss were shut out at Northwestern. QB Demry Croft threw three interceptions and completed just two passes to his receivers.



  1. Maryland (4-7, 2-6): Last Week – L, at Michigan St., 17-7.The Impact – The Terps’ bid for a bowl game officially ended with their three straight loss. After scoring 42 points in a win over Indiana, Maryland has mustered just 41 total in the losing skid, including 17 points the last two weeks.


  1. Nebraska (4-7, 3-5): Last Week – L, at Penn State, 56-44. The Impact – Cornhuskers had their best offensive outing in the Big Ten this season, as Tanner Lee passed for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns, including seven receptions by Stanley Morgan Jr. for 185 yards.


  1. Rutgers (4-7, 3-5): Last Week – L, at Indiana, 41-0. The Impact – A late-season shutout at Indiana isn’t exactly a sign of progress for Chris Ash, and with no bowl invite coming, a home game against Michigan State will be the Scarlet Knights’ last chance to impress. But if nothing else, Ash did see his players end a 16-game skid in Big Ten this season by winning three of four conference games during one stretch.


  1. Illinois (2-9, 0-8): Last Week – L, at Ohio State, 52-14. The Impact – Illini failed to score in the first half and couldn’t stop Buckeyes from scoring, falling behind 38-0 at the break. Lovie Smith has stuck with a freshman-laden lineup, but he has to be concerned that a loss of confidence has become an issue after nine straight losses.


(Projected winners in bold caps)

Friday’s Game

IOWA at Nebraska

Saturday’s games

OHIO STATE at Michigan

Indiana at PURDUE

PENN STATE at Maryland

WISCONSIN at Minnesota





Last Week: 6-1

Overall:  72-20 (78.2)

Note: Each week during the college football season, I’ll be updating how things are unfolding in the Big Ten by Wednesday,

Latest CFP rankings


This week’s top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings are the same with the only change being Miami’s move past Clemson into the No. 2 spot. The two teams are on a collision course in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, Clemson has a little more reason to be concerned about its regular-season finale at South Carolina. The Gamecocks moved into the CFP rankings at No. 24. Meanwhile No. 1 Alabama travels to No. 6 Auburn.

1  ALABAMA 11-0

2 MIAMI 10-0

3 CLEMSON 10-1



6 AUBURN 9-2

7 GEORGIA 10-1





12 TCU 9-2



15 UCF 10-0



18 LSU 8-3


20 MEMPHIS 9-1







A different view on sports



Clearing my mind and notebook while hoping someone will  send me a photo for my office wall of Miami coach Mark Richt wearing America’s best bling, the Turnover Chain:

Poll badgering

Fox Sports color commentator Joel Klatt took aim at the designated cupcakes being consumed in the south on Saturday, noting Alabama and Clemson were enjoying “November byes.”

Granted, what Klatt said in an attempt to make a case for Wisconsin’s playoff worthiness contained a smidgen of truth. Dabo Swinney’s defending champion Tigers did spend Saturday afternoon overpowering The Citadel, 61-3. And yes, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide pounded Mercer, 56-0, while going through the motions of being the nation’s No. 1 team.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin had to survive a stern Big Ten clash with Michigan, 24-10.

Is that fair? Probably not. But let’s not forget that the main reason Paul Chryst’s team is  unbeaten after 10 games is a schedule that is only rated as the nation’s  50th toughest.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma (No. 1), Clemson (No. 4), Miami (No. 21) and Alabama (No. 23) have all played much tougher slates.

Klatt also should be reminded that Alabama plays Auburn this week and Clemson faces South Carolina. Those rivalry games will be road trips for the Crimson Tide and Tigers against teams that have winning records.

The Badgers? They face a 5-6 Minnesota team.

I do agree with the main point Klatt was trying to make when he slipped into snarky mode. College football’s guaranteed victories against step-down opponents should be played in September not November.

The final month of the regular season should be reserved for conference clashes and traditional rivals.

That’s the only way anyone can continue to argue that every game counts.

My power five

I’m not sold on Clemson being one of the four teams once the CFP dust settles because I don’t believe the Tigers will beat Miami on Dec. 2 in the ACC Championship game.

Breaking out my crystal football, the four teams I believe will be playing for the national championship are Miami, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio State.


SportsPickle.com: “Lonzo Ball arrested for shoplifting ‘How to Shoot a Basketball’ DVD.”

Fark.com: “Danica Patrick to retire from full-time racing in attempt to preserve her unblemished record of no wins.”

TheOnion.com: “NFL announces plans to stream ‘Thursday Night Football’ exclusively on Delta flights.”

TheKicker.com: “Report: Seahawks playbook just squiggly lines indicating Wilson’s scrambles.”

SportsPickle.com: “Christian Pulisic writes heartfelt essay on Players Tribune revealing it turns out he’s actually German.”

TheOnion.com: “Jim Harbaugh conducts entire ESPN interview with whistle clenched in teeth.”

Alternate Cup

Within minutes of Italy being eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, I tweeted that the United States should “stage its own 8-team mini-World Cup” next summer with the likes of Italy, Netherlands, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, South Africa and China.

Apparently, mine was a shared genius since ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and others had similar thoughts.

But the real catalyst for such a tournament was the United States Soccer Federation. It was already kicking around a few ideas to make up for the failure of the U.S. men’s team in CONCACAF qualifying. With FIFA agreeable and ESPN apparently willing to bankroll it, momentum has quickly built.

It probably didn’t hurt that FIFA already has announced that the World Cup field in 2026 will be expanded to 48 teams, so there’s no chance this will become a regular pity party.

Connecting dots

From Dwight Perry’s “Sideline Chatter” in the Seattle Times:

“Introducing your new No. 1 team in this week’s NFL Who Beat Who Power Rankings — the San Francisco 49ers! After all, the 49ers (1-9) beat the Giants (1-8), who beat the Broncos (3-6), who beat the Cowboys (5-4), who beat Washington (4-5), which beat the Seahawks (6-3), who beat the Rams (7-2), who beat the Jaguars (6-3), who beat the Steelers (8-2), who beat the Vikings (7-2), who beat the Saints (7-2), who beat the Panthers (7-3), who beat the Patriots (7-2), who beat the Falcons (5-4), who beat the Bears (3-6), who beat the Ravens (4-5), who beat the Raiders (4-5), who beat the Chiefs (6-3), who beat the Eagles (8-1).”

They said it

TBS comedian Conan O’Brien,after the IOC said it might include pole-dancing, poker and foosball in the next Games: “They also said it’s the first Olympics that will be held in a frathouse basement.”

RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Four more Russian cross-country skiers were stripped of their Sochi Olympic medals for doping. Officials became suspicious when they had faster times than the bobsledders.”

Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com “ No way was China putting American basketball players in jail for 10 years. If NBA pulled their shoe factories it would put tens of thousands of Chinese children out of work.”

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “Just to add some extra incentive to the upcoming UCF-USF game, I think the winner — whether it’s UCF’s Scott Frost or USF’s Charlie Strong — should get the Gators job. On second thought, maybe the loser should get the Gators job.”

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Browns fan Chris McNeil has secured a Cleveland parade permit for Jan. 6 just in case the team completes a “perfect” 0-16 season. Now comes the tough part: Convincing Roger Goodell to show up and hand out the participation trophies.”

Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., after golfer Tiger Woods said his knee is “trashed”: “Just like his marriage, reputation and driving record.”

Comedy writer Jerry Perisho, anticipating a debate question during the next presidential campaign: “Are you ready to take a 3 a.m. phone call from the UCLA basketball coach?”

No more miracles

Maple Grove High School ran out of miracles in the 6A Minnesota High School state football playoffs.

The Crimson, who scored three touchdowns in the final minute to beat St. Michael Albertville 29-27 last week, had no answers in a 26-0 loss to No. 1 Eden Prairie in the semifinals on Thursday.

Maple Grove’s best scoring chance again came late in the game but ended with an interception.

Eden Prairie improved to 12-0 and will face Minnetonka for the state title this Friday. Minnetonka defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 17-14.

Eden Prairie won 39-21 when it played Minnetonka (11-1) earlier this season.

Fact of day

A bat reportedly used by Lou Gehrig when he hit his final two home runs in 1939 is on the Heritage Auctions block just six years after it was bought for $403,664.

Sweet tweets

Rehastagging this weeks’ top Twitter shots from @Randy_Beard11:

“Baker Mayfield’s Heisman stats this week: 257 yards passing, 3 TDs, at least one FU and one crotch grab as Oklahoma cruises past Kansas. No, that’s not going to help him.”


 “It really will be the Not For Long league if NFL meets Goodell’s reported demands for $49.5 million salary, lifetime health insurance and use of private jet for life.”

“Jay Bilas needs to stay in his lane and stick with basketball. His top 4 in college football would be Alabama, Miami, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Badgers should make it only if they are still unbeaten and win Big Ten title.”

“It’s Duke. Of course it’s a dirty play by Wendell Carter Jr.”

 “Well, at least the United States has another partner to share in the misery of not qualifying for the World Cup: Italy. Got ousted by Sweden.”

 Back in trouble?

The NFL is investigating allegations that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston grabbed the crotch of a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March 2016.

The driver said she is not pursuing criminal charges or looking for a civil judgment against Winston, but felt the assault should be revealed in light of all the other women who have come forward to report being assaulted and harassed.

Winston denied the allegations on Friday, but not in the most convincing terms.

“While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way,” Winston said in a statement.

When he was playing football at Florida State, of course, Winston was accused of a sexual assault in 2012. He was never charged criminally in that case but he did settle a civil lawsuit with his accuser late last year.

If there’s fire to go with this smoke, it wouldn’t be good for Winston’s long-term future with the Bucs.

Weekend success

With all the non-conference games against second tier team, I should have had a good weekend of picks. And I guess I did, even if I did foolishly believe Western Carolina had a real shot at North Carolina.

Bottom line, I missed just one game each in the Big Ten and SEC and two in the ACC.

The 7-2 effort in the ACC improved my season total to 69-21 (76.6 percent) in the conference. In the Big Ten, I’m now 72-20 (78.2 percent). And in the SEC, I’m still above 80 percent after going 8-1 for a season total of 77-17 (81.9 percent).

At least my goal of an 80 percent winning percentage for the season is alive in one of the three conferences.



One missed pick from perfection in both Big Ten and SEC — 21-4 overall — in Saturday’s college football predictionsACC Landscape: Week Twelve

Big Ten Landscape: Week Twelve

SEC Landscape: Week Twelve

ACC Landscape: Week Twelve

One missed pick from perfection in both Big Ten and SEC — 21-4 overall — in Saturday’s college football predictions

Looking back at how I fared with Saturday’s college football picks in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC.


at FLORIDA STATE 77, Delaware State 6 — WON

at MIAMI 44, Virginia 28 — WON

at CLEMSON 61, The Citadel 3 — WON

at VIRGINIA TECH 20, Pittsburgh 14 — WON

at North Carolina 65, WESTERN CAROLINA 10 — LOST

at Duke 43, GEORGIA TECH 20 — LOSS 

at LOUISVILLE 56, Syracuse 10 — WON

BOSTON COLLEGE 39, at Connecticut 16 — WON

at WAKE FOREST 30, N.C. State 24 — WON


OVERALL: 69-21 (76.6%)


at INDIANA 41, Rutgers 0 – WON
at NORTHWESTERN 39, Minnesota 0 – WON
at WISCONSIN 24, Michigan 10 – WON
at OHIO STATE 52, Illinois 14 – WON
Purdue 24, at IOWA 15 – LOST
at MICHIGAN STATE 17, Maryland 7 – WON
at PENN STATE 56, Nebraska 44 – WON
OVERALL: 72-20 (78.2%)


at ALABAMA 56, Mercer 0 – WON
at AUBURN 42, UL-Monroe 14 – WON
MISSISSIPPI STATE 28, at Arkansas 21 – WON
at GEORGIA 42, Kentucky 13 – WON
at SOUTH CAROLINA 31, Wofford 10 – WON
at FLORIDA 36, UAB 7 – WON
LSU 30, at Tennessee 10 — WON
Texas A&M 31, at MISSISSIPPI 24 — LOST
MISSOURI 45, at Vanderbilt 17 — WON

OVERALL: 77-17 (81.9%)

Revisiting Saturday’s college football games in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC with my TV listings and my predictions

A look at Saturday’s college football games in the ACC, Big Ten and SEC with television information, game times and my picks in bold caps. All times Central.


Delaware State (2-8) at FLORIDA STATE (3-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Virginia (6-4) at MIAMI (9-0), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ABC

The Citadel (5-5) at CLEMSON (9-1), Saturday 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

Pittsburgh (4-6) at VIRGINIA TECH (7-3), Saturday 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network

WESTERN CAROLINA (7-4) at North Carolina (2-8), Saturday 2 p.m. CT, ACC Network

GEORGIA TECH (5-4) at Duke (4-6), Saturday 2:30 p.m., ACC Network

Syracuse (4-6) at LOUISVILLE (6-4), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU

BOSTON COLLEGE (5-5) at Connecticut (3-7), Saturday 6 p.m. CT, CBS Sports Network

N.C. State (7-3)at WAKE FOREST (6-4), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU


Rutgers (4-6) at INDIANA (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, BTN

Minnesota (5-5) at NORTHWESTERN (7-3), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, BTN

Michigan (8-2) at WISCONSIN (10-0), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, Fox

Illinois (2-8) at OHIO STATE (8-2), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, ABC

Purdue (4-6) at IOWA (6-4), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, BTN

Maryland (4-6) at MICHIGAN STATE (7-3), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, Fox

Nebraska (4-6) at PENN STATE (8-2), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, FS1


Mercer (5-5) at ALABAMA (10-0), Saturday 11 a.m. CT, SEC Network

UL-Monroe (4-5) at AUBURN (8-2) Saturday 11 a.m. CT, ESPN2

MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-3) at Arkansas (4-6), Saturday 11 a.m. CT. CBS

Kentucky (7-3) at GEORGIA (9-1), Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT, CBS

Wofford (9-1) at SOUTH CAROLINA (7-3), Saturday 3 p.m., CT, SEC Network

UAB (7-3) at FLORIDA (3-6), Saturday 3 p.m. CT, SEC Network

LSU (7-3) at Tennessee (4-6), Saturday 6 p.m. CT, ESPN

Texas A&M (6-4) at MISSISSIPPI (5-5), Saturday 6 p.m. CT, ESPN2

MISSOURI (5-5) at Vanderbilt (4-6), Saturday 6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network