Hot damn, it’s Rivalry Week! (Unless your rivalry game got moved up a week – or more – by the lame scheduling nonsense that Big TV now imposes on the sport.) It’s a time when the stakes – and the hate – don’t get any bigger. Well, at least until the conference championship games next week.
They don’t make Rivalry Week like they used to, do they? Luckily, it’s still awesome, especially if you have someone to hate. (And we sure do, meaning we’ll be watching all the other games using a satellite dish and a tablet with 4G at a tailgate.)
Ohio State @ Michigan – Okay, we’re pretty sure we’ve got this down: the favorite is that traditional college football powerhouse led by God’s Gift To Coaching. The underdog is in turmoil with several key players melting down, but given the coach’s history, you have to figure they’ll eventually turn things around. Yep, we figure in a couple years you could see the underdog back in the saddle, so take a deep breath and be patient, Mich…wait…what?
Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State – Would you say the Sooners are favored more because Baker Mayfield is injured, their only loss is to the trainwreck that is Texas, or the game is in Stillwater? We don’t get it, but then we also don’t know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. (Though we do know exactly when to mute that annoying TV commercial with Kenny Rogers.)
Notre Dame @ Stanford – Who do you think is rooting harder for the Cardinal – the Big 12 or the Big 10? Meanwhile, Stanford is rooting for Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Auburn, Florida State, TCU, NC State, and…well, you get the picture.
Alabama @ Auburn – Before you assume this one’s in the bank, just remember that it’s as nasty a rivalry game as any in football, so you can “throw out the records”. Also, remember that Auburn – not ‘Bama – was the preseason darling and SEC title favorite in many circles. Are you done remembering? Okay, now you can assume this one’s in the bank.
Navy @ Houston – Navy’s always been good, but this is ridiculous. The craziest thought of all is Navy playing in their conference championship game and then playing their most important game of the year. (Welcome to conference life, Middies!) The biggest issue in Annapolis might be the thought that, after all these years, Ken Niumatalolo – an amazing man – might get an offer from somewhere that’s too good to refuse.
UCLA @ USC – Back in the olden days when Southern California kids would walk through miles of sunshine to get to school – y’know, the ’80’s and ’90’s – the Rose Bowl was always on the line for at least one team in this game, and unless Washington was shredding the Pac-10, it was on the line for both teams. This is just like that. Except that the winner earns the right to play for the right to play in the Rose Bowl. Oh, and the Rose Bowl is now a consolation prize. Other than that, it’s just like the good old days.
Baylor @ TCU – Is this year’s Battle Of The Walking Wounded officially a rivalry game yet? We’ll give you 61-58 reasons why it is.
Iowa @ Nebraska – Baseball players like to say that you can be a .300 hitter in June and July, but if you’re a .250 hitter, you’ll be a .250 hitter come October. Iowa isn’t a .250 hitter, but 1.000? Against a Nebraska team, in Lincoln, that desperately needs this to save face? On the B1G roulette wheel, we’d lay our chips on red, not black.
Florida State @ Florida – Okay, so Florida had a really good day against Ole Miss. Other than that, their most impressive win was their loss to LSU, which is looking less and less impressive by the minute (especially since Ole Miss destroyed the Tigers). Jim McElwain’s had a phenomenally good first year in Gainesville, but the last couple weeks will remind everyone there’s a lot of work to be done.
Penn State @ Michigan State – With most teams, you’d be thinking, “Y’know, they’ve been playing with fire all year, and something’s gotta give. I bet Sparty’s prime for a dream-derailing upset.” Just one thing: Mark Dantonio is not about to let that happen, meaning that Nittany Nation will spend the offseason staring at either 8-5 or 7-6, and neither one of those is going to be particularly appetizing.
Ole Miss @ Mississippi State – Who has the higher stakes in this year’s Egg Bowl? Ole Miss still has a shot at the SEC Championship in the unlikely (okay, laughable) event that Auburn wins the Iron Bowl. Even with that, the stakes might be higher in Stark Vegas, where Dak Prescott – talk about a class act – will definitely exit and the fans have to be praying that Dan Mullen doesn’t follow him out the door.
Texas A&M @ LSU – Welcome to The Hat’s Last Stand. Does it even matter how the game turns out? Probably not. We think the good people of B.R. have blown a common sense fuse, but if that’s really the case, a win over the Aggies won’t reset the circuit breaker.
North Carolina @ North Carolina State – It’s kinda weird to think that the Heels have a real live shot at the playoff this year, isn’t it? This is the kind of week where those sorts of unusual dreams frequently turn to dust. Just sayin’…
Washington State @ Washington – The Cougs have played surprisingly well since getting pantsed by an FCS school to open the year. They’ve also dodged a lot of bullets. Speaking of dodging bullets, Coach Pete might want to dodge one here by winning the Apple Cup lest the impression begin that maybe, just maybe, he’s following in the shoes of Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins.