Lots of Turkey Day grid action

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 24, 2005

There’s way too much football beginning Thursday to go with everyone’s turkey.

Of course there’s the traditional Thanksgiving Day NFL games with Michael Vick in the spotlight against the Lions.

And on Friday night, Oscar Smith and Landstown will play for the championship of Hampton Roads as the high schools get down to a final four.


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Oscar Smith/Landstown was moved from the 8,000-seat Sportsplex to the 30,000-seat Dick Price Stadium in Norfolk because, well, a lot more than 8,000 people want to see it.

Here’s the collegiate spread of the football buffet.

Hampton University, undefeated through the regular season, begins their playoff run at home Saturday night against Richmond.

This would have been the biggest game in the Commonwealth had it not been for Miami’s woeful offensive showing against Georgia Tech.

Now, the Hokies have second life for the ACC title game; with the .500 Tar Heels coming to Blacksburg.

Thursday n Pittsburgh (5-5) at #12 West Virginia (8-1) (8:00 n ESPN)

The Mountaineers have this, the 98th “The Backyard Brawl,” and then surprising South Florida (4-1 in the Big East) on Dec. 3 in order to take the Big East and a BCS game.

Dave Wannstedt’s first season could go from a big letdown to a big reason for Panther fans to be excited for next year, all in this game.

With a win not only would the Panthers be bowl-bound, but they would get there at the expense of their biggest rivals conference championship chances.

WVU will be ready though.

In five conference wins, only Louisville has been close.

Tomorrow night’s forecast in lovely Morgantown is according to The Weather Channel, “Windy, with flurries and a few snow showers throughout the night. Cold. Low 16F. Winds at 15 to 25 mph.”

Sounds good for the Mountaineers running game (237 yards per game, 8th ranked nationally).

My pick n WVU 24, Pittsburgh 14

Friday – #2 Texas (10-0) at Texas A&M (5-5) (Noon n ABC)

About three months ago, a lot of folks thought Texas A&M would be the last major hurdle for the Longhorns and their undefeated season.

Now, talent-wise this game seems like a huge mismatch.

Now, Texas is a 28-point favorite.

The only hope for A&M (and Penn State, LSU and Va. Tech) is that the, “in this rivalry you can throw the records out the window” clich\u00E9 comes true.

Seeing the passion of this game and seeing about 110,000 Aggie fans try to keep their boys in the game is good entertainment, for awhile.

Texas should turn this into a rout, it might not happen early, but it should not be close by the end.

My pick n Texas 47, A&M 21

Nebraska (6-4) at Colorado (7-3) (3:30 n ABC)

With a Colorado win, the oh-so-deserving Buffaloes and the how-is-he-still-there Gary Barnett will win the Big 12 North and get a crack at dehorning Texas.

Colorado should not be in the Big 12 championship game.

If Colorado loses, Iowa State goes, fine by me.

Nebraska could be playing to save their coach’s job, or it could already be too late.

Either way, there’s no logical reason to think Nebraska should beat Colorado other than it’s just what should happen.

My pick n Nebraska 28, Colorado 24

Saturday n #23 Florida State (7-3) at #19 Florida (7-3) (3:30 n CBS)

This is another situation which the sense of an entire season for both teams goes 180 degrees with a win or a loss.

FSU has won their ACC division and will take on either VT or Miami next week, but even with making a championship game, an FSU season with a Miami loss, a Florida loss, and five or maybe even six losses overall, is an ugly one.

Florida’s 6-0 at home and Urban Meyer’s first year, even last week’s loss to South Carolina, would be a big success with a big rivalry victory to finish it off.

The Gator defense should force enough Drew Weatherford turnovers to make the difference.

My pick n Florida 27, Florida State 19

During commercials – Virginia (6-4) at #10 Miami (8-2) (3:30 n ABC)

The Cavs have gone from losing to Maryland, to beating Florida State, to losing to UNC (7-5 in case someone forgot), to beating Georgia Tech, to losing (that’s putting it kindly) to Virginia Tech.

That same Georgia Tech team upset Miami last week, taking what many thought was the hottest team in the country seemingly out of the ACC championship.

Miami should still be the team with the most to play for, with a win, they could still find themselves in the title game should UNC upset Tech later in the evening.

At 9-2, Miami could also still have an outside chance at one of the at-large BCS spots.

Virginia seems on pace for the always popular, blue-fielded, MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

My pick n Miami 31, Virginia 16

Primetime – North Carolina (5-5) at #5 Virginia Tech (9-1) (7:45 n ESPN)

The Hokies were apparently George Bush’s Thanksgiving pardon this year, and they can cash it in against the Tar Heels.

Last year, the Tar Heels upended Miami’s undefeated run and have continued their role as David on a couple more occasions this year (UVA and BC).

Going into Lane Stadium is a tall order, especially with Tech having their worst home performance in more than a decade last time there.

Instead of being down against UVA, Tech was obviously focused and fully ready.

There’s not much reason to think the trend won’t continue.

My pick n VT 23, UNC 9

During commercials – Richmond (8-3) at Hampton (11-0) (8:00 n ESPNU)

The ESPN “family of networks” has Virginia completely covered in primetime Saturday night.

Hampton has made the 1-AA playoffs three times but never advanced out of the first round.

This year’s Pirate team is better than any of those previous ones though.

Defensively, HU is one of the best all-around teams in all of 1-AA; giving up more than 14 points in only one game so far this season.

Offensively, Hampton has plenty of big playmaking ability as usual, as their top two receivers (Marquay McDaniel and Onrea Jones) both average more than 15 yards a catch.

In addition to that though, HU has also averaged 251 yards per game rushing in the regular season.

Richmond is tough defensively too, and certainly well-tested through an Atlantic 10 schedule, but in this case Hampton is for once the more experienced playoff team.

My pick n Hampton 35, Richmond 21

Last week’s record: 5-0

For the season: 38-22