This week, the finest of weeks, is about food, football and family.
It is also a week to be thankful for what we have. In college football, there is much to appreciate. Well, unless you're a Texas A&M fan. Then maybe you might want to sit this one out.
But for everyone else—and even those fans of programs currently closing out an unfulfilled year—there is still plenty to celebrate.
I’ll start: I am thankful we have college football on Thanksgiving this year once again. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the perfect nightcap to a long day, and this game needs to stay on T-Day moving forward.
We asked Bleacher Report readers to tell us what they were thankful for in college football, and the answers ranged wildly. With rivalry games on the docket, a playoff to be decided and emotions running high, there was much to unpack.
Let us explore all that we are thankful for this week.
A Lack of Elephants
Response: ‘Bama not in the CFB playoffs
We begin with some heat, and @Reaper310 was not alone on this one. Plenty of others seemed thrilled that Alabama will almost certainly not make the College Football Playoff this year.
Now, this is not set in stone. There is a chaos scenario in which Alabama slides into the postseason, although it would require an avalanche of losses. In all likelihood, ‘Bama will be at a marquee bowl game instead.
That is a rare occurrence in recent years. In fact, Alabama has failed to make the playoff only once (2019) since it began. This is not something that normally happens, which is a testament to what Nick Saban has built in Tuscaloosa.
Yes, if you’re not a fan of the program, all that dominance would probably be a bit much. Alabama has normalized excellence, and many programs and fanbases have been on the other side of this ritual along the way.
There is hate there, but there is also respect. Alabama has earned plenty of both.
Response: The late-night games! Pac-12 after dark!
In a word, yes.
For years, I have cherished each and every Pac-12 game that starts at an unreasonable hour. Whether it’s for gambling or pure entertainment purposes, watching football games well after midnight is one of my most cherished Saturday traditions.
This week, we’re given a double dose of late Pac-12 games, including the Apple Cup. UCLA-USC and Utah-Oregon essentially closed out the weekend, and both games were decided by three points.
What a showcase.
The general vibe of late Pac-12 games just feels right. These matchups typically feature an abundance of points, a lack of quality officiating, special teams blunders and an assortment of other miscues.
That is precisely what I look for in football games, no matter the time. The Pac-12 simply does it better after hours.
It doesn't matter the teams or the time; staying up late for these games is a part of my Saturday routine.
Strongly endorse and celebrate.
Response: Marvin Harrison Jr.
There were a handful of players suggested, although Marvin Harrison Jr. stood out above all others.
Harrison has done something spectacular in every Ohio State game I’ve watched this year, and this is not at all hyperbole.
He's much more than numbers, but the numbers are great for the sophomore wideout. Harrison has 1,037 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns this year.
With Jaxon Smith-Njigba battling hamstring issues essentially all season, Harrison has been asked to do more in Ohio State’s offense. Oh, has he ever.
The circus plays have come in bunches, although his sideline catch against Indiana a few weeks back is still hard to comprehend. This hurt my entire body just watching it.
Harrison is both productive and thrilling to watch, and few players on offense have been more impressive this year.
In general, we must celebrate and be thankful for players this talented. With such a small window at the college level, each game should be enjoyed.
Harrison is certainly making the most of his chances in 2022. What a talent.
Response: Easy. Lincoln Riley.
The last time USC had won at least 10 football games was 2017. Lincoln Riley has hit the 10-win mark in his first year with the program. And we’ve got a good chunk of games still to go.
It is difficult to overstate just how remarkable Riley and his team have been. The offseason buzz, if I’m being honest, felt like a bit much. The reality, however, is that Riley and USC have surpassed the unbelievable expectations that have followed this program since Riley was named coach.
The transfer portal, of course, deserves an assist here. Caleb Williams’ decision to reunite with his former coach has proved to be enormous. Williams, fresh off another brilliant performance, could be in line for the Heisman. It’s been that type of year.
There is plenty of kudos to go around, although it starts with Riley. For USC fans that have been waiting for, well, anything, the past three months have been an unbelievable turn.
The best part? We’re not done.
This season is just a sign of things to come. If you’re a talented quarterback or wideout on the West Coast, why go anywhere else?
Response: Thankful that playoff expansion is coming soon
This was also a popular response, which is fascinating.
To be clear, I have no issues with playoff expansion. More teams means more football games, and more football games is never a bad thing. I was, however, a little surprised by how many people seem unsatisfied with our current system.
The four-team postseason isn’t perfect. From the timing of the semifinals to the way it is decided, I have my own issue with the postseason. But it has been good for college football.
Playoff expansion will certainly increase drama at this time of the year. A huge collection of games will carry much greater meaning than they do right now, which is a good thing.
Will it water down some other matchups? Probably. But getting more teams involved—and more fanbases engaged—is a welcomed change.
Say it with me once again: more teams, more football games, more joy.
The Beautiful Hate
Response: Rivalries make this sport so great. Nothing like the atmosphere in a college football rivalry.
When I am asked about my love of college football, I start here. There is no other place to begin.
The NFL is a wonderful product, but it cannot duplicate the rivalries college football creates. It’s a place where hate and respect tend to lock arms, and it’s fitting that these rivalry games shape a team’s ceiling at the end of the season.
We are in it right now, and 2022 is a special year on this front. Ohio State and Michigan will compete for a chance to win the Big Ten title and make the postseason. They don’t need any extra motivation—the hate is very real in that rivalry. The fact that the stakes are so high only adds to a pressurized situation.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will dazzle us on Thanksgiving. Oregon and Oregon State will play in a tremendous game this weekend as well. We have the Iron Bowl, always and forever. And we just saw how powerful a meaningful rivalry game could be with USC and UCLA.
There are many things to be thankful for in college football. But this one, more than anything else, just feels right.