College football 2022 Rivalry Week upsets, locks, and strangest thing

Head Coach Ryan Day (R) of the Ohio State Buckeyes shakes hands with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh (L) of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
Head Coach Ryan Day (R) of the Ohio State Buckeyes shakes hands with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh (L) of the Michigan Wolverines (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

We’ve reached Rivalry Week of the 2022 college football season, and some of this year’s traditional contests will have big playoff implications.

For college football teams on the outside looking in at a College Football Playoff bid, there is one more chance to pad the resume, impress the committee, and hope for some help.

All of the College Football Playoff top four teams struggled a bit to their wins in Week 12, but the committee remained steadfast in their rankings. From No. 5 on down, it’s looking pretty chaotic and the Rivalry Week games will play a part in clearing things up.

Right now, a handful of teams stand a shot (some better than others) at making the field of four when the smoke clears — LSU, USC, Clemson, and Oregon.

I’m going out on a big limb to say Alabama has zero chance of making the playoff this year, regardless of the outcome of games around them.

Looking back at my Week 12 picks before moving into this week’s predictions and spreads.

Upset: Once again, Chip Kelly ruins my week. I had UCLA in the upset, but USC and Caleb Williams just proved to be too much. However, I did hit the over correctly as neither team disappointed offensively.

Bonus Upset: Not only did Vandy beat the spread as I predicted, but they walked out of there with their second consecutive SEC win and their first over the Gators in decades.

Lock: TCU got the win, but couldn’t cover the 2.5-point spread. Big 12 games haunt me this season.

2-2 last week on picks brings me to 20-13 on the season. Here are my picks for Week 13 (Rivalry Week) games that have playoff implications, with odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

College Football Rivalry Week Upset Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs USC Trojans

What a way to end the season for both teams. One of the most celebrated rivalries in the sport and an opportunity for Notre Dame to create a big problem for the Trojans.

USC has already won their way into the Pac-12 Championship Game, but another loss could all but eliminate them from the playoff field, regardless of the conference title game outcome. The problem is, the Trojans are physically and mentally spent after an emotional and hard-fought win over UCLA.

Marcus Freeman has the Irish firing on all cylinders right now. This is not the same team that lost to Marshall and Stanford. Notre Dame is currently one of the most dangerous teams in the country.

Neither team has been stellar ATS spread this season — USC at 7-4 and ND at 6-5 — but 5.5 points seems too high, even for a Trojans home game.

Pick: One of two things will happen. USC will win it with a game-ending field goal, or the Irish will run away with this game. Either way, USC won’t cover that spread. Over/Under is 64.5, which seems a bit high. Take the under. 

Another upset? Why not!

College Football Rivalry Week Upset Pick: Baylor Bears vs Texas Longhorns

This is a game Texas needs to win and should win, which has been a big issue for the Longhorns this season. It’s hard to trust a Sarkisian team in the clutch times.

On the flip side, Baylor will be coming to Austin with a chip on their shoulder. Failing to hold the lead against TCU is likely still stuck in their craw, and they’ll be coming after Texas with some fire.

Both teams will be entering the game on short rest (and shaking off Thursday’s tryptophan intake), and Texas could be without running back Roschon Johnson, who suffered a leg injury against Kanas last week.

Texas is 4-2 ATS at home this year, and only 3-2 as a home favorite. Baylor is 3-1 as a road underdog. Bears will improve on that record.

Pick: There will be some big upsets this week, and this will likely be one of them. I’d call Baylor for the outright win, but certainly to beat a more than one-touchdown spread. 

Let’s move to some locks ATS

College Football Rivalry Week Lock: Kansas Jayhawks vs Kansas State Wildcats

The Sunflower Showdown won’t be very sunny for the Jayhawks this year. Kansas had a nice run and is bowl-eligible, but this Kansas State team is going to be too much for them.

The Wildcats need this win, and a loss from Texas, to make the Big 12 Championship Game, so you can bet that they’ll be prepared and ready to put this one away early.

Both teams are 7-3-1 ATS this season, but Kansas State has a big home advantage and a lot to play for.

Pick: Kansas State will open up an early two touchdown lead and not let up. 

Another rivalry week lock on tap.

College Football Rivalry Week Lock: Michigan Wolverines vs Ohio State Buckeyes

This is the big one. The Game. The game of the week, possibly the year in terms of the reulgar season. Two bitter rivals, both undefeated, both ranked in the top four of the CFP rankings, both realizing a loss could end their playoff hopes.

Yeah, not much on the line here.

Up until last week, this was looking like a pretty evenly matched game. Strengh against strength, and star players matching up head-to-head. The injury to Michigan running back Blake Corum may have changed all that.

The Wolverines want to…need to…run the ball and run it a lot. If they want to keep their defense fresh and keep C.J. Stroud and company off the field, they have to play a ball control game. Without Corum, that plan may not work as well. Even if Corum suits up, which seems to be likely right now, it’s doubtful he’ll be 100 percent.

On top of that, Ohio State has simply looked like the better team this year, and they want a little payback for last year’s loss at the Big House.

Pick: As they’ve done many times this season, Buckeyes pull away in the 4th quarter for a double-digit win against a tired Michigan defense. 

The Strangest Thing We Saw in College Football Week 12: The Vanishing 12th man

Texas A&M fans proudly refer to themselves as “The 12th Man”.  It’s even bodly presented in huge letters on the inner ring of their stadium. The fans at Kyle Field are known for having a big effect on games and for supporting their Aggies, win or lose.

Last week, the 12th man must have taken a coffee break.

After six straight losses and a nondescript game against UMass going on, Kyle Field more resembled a Miami Marlins game in terms of attendance. After halftime, the stadium was so empty that fans began a relay race to pass the time.

That is a strange sight in College Station, to be sure, and it could have been the scene that convinces boosters to pay whatever is necessary to send Jimbo Fisher packing.

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