Week 13: Games to Watch (Rivalry Weekend / Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving is here.  Enjoy this time with your family and friends.  I hope each of you has a blessed day tomorrow and enjoys the weekend ahead with some incredible college football match-ups and some pretty good NFL games on tomorrow as well.

This weekend is rivalry weekend, by my count there are at least 16 legitimate rivalries that will be played this weekend.  Most of these are rivalries within state boundaries.  This will add plenty of excitement to an incredible weekend… probably the best weekend all year for college football fans to watch the tube.

Given that it is Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to add a little NFL flavor to this weeks post.  Just so everyone knows what football games are on to watch tomorrow amidst the turkey, dressing and many naps.

Last weekend wrap up:

All I can say is wow!  Two weekends in a row the #1 team in the country has gone down and this past weekend we had both #1 and #2 go down.  This is the 3rd time in the BCS Era (since 1997) that the top 2 teams have lost in the same weekend, it happened twice in 2007.  Notre Dame is now officially on upset watch as the new #1.  November is crazy!

  • #1 Kansas State got absolutely owned by un-ranked Baylor down in Waco, to the tune of 4 TDs.  I was never a fan of Kansas State as a national title contender, I do have all the respect in the world for Bill Snyder.  However I just never was that impressed with their team.  So seeing them lose didn’t surprise me, but how they lost was what surprised me.
  • #2 Oregon got beat in OT by the ever tough #13 Stanford Cardinals.  Stanford was able to contain the mighty Oregon offense to 14 points in regulation.  In OT, Oregon missed a field goal off of the upright and Stanford made their FG.  Game over!  What made all of this weekend so exciting was that #1 and #2 lost within minutes of each other.  It almost had a March Madness feeling to it, switching channels back and forth seeing if the two Goliaths were going to get beaten.  After Kansas State lost, ND was into the top 2.  After Oregon lost, Alabama rose back into the top 2.  I wasn’t liking the national title match-up last week, but love the current match-up if it holds – #1 ND v. #2 Alabama.  But, there is a lot of football to be played.
  • #18 USC got handled pretty easily by #17 UCLA for the battle of LA.  UCLA cruised out to a 28 point lead and was able to hold the lead and finished out the W by 10 points.  Does this finally put the dagger in Kiffin?  This guy has done nothing at all of his coaching stops.  And, now he had the pre-season AP #1 and his team now has 4 losses.  The mighty Trojans are a long shot from the height of the Pete Carroll era, which seems like forever ago now.

By far my worst weekend yet, I went 1-4 on my picks.  I’m okay with this because I love college football and the crazy upsets that are inevitable.  This leaves me sitting at 67% so far on the year.

BCS Standings Update:

  • SEC leads the way gain with 6 ranked teams.  3 of the top 4 and 5 of the top 10.  Just an absolute dominance in the rankings.  With Alabama back in the top 2 – could the SEC make it 7 straight national titles?
  • The Pac-12 also has 6 ranked teams, again they are spread all over the top 25.  The top team is now #5 Oregon, being book-ended by #25 Washington.  The median of the Pac-12 teams is a 16, versus the SEC median increasing to 5.5 this week.
  • The Big 12 lost one ranked team this week, sliding back to 4 ranked teams.  Their lone jewel last week at #1, Kansas State is now #6 after a shellacking in Waco.
  • The lone independent is now the #1 team in the country.  The #1 Notre Dame fighting Irish are leading the pack and one win away from a trip to Miami.  This is the first time Notre Dame has been atop the rankings since 1993 – 19 years in waiting.  The buzz in South Bend is palpable!
  • Again we have the Big 10, ACC and Big East each with 2 ranked teams.  Nothing more to say here. (copied from last week, literally)
  • The two surprise conferences in the rankings are the MWC and the MAC each with one team.

BCS Scenarios – not all of them, but the ones that should be watched the most.

  • #1 Notre Dame – it is as simple as winning in LA on Saturday night and the Irish are headed to the title game in Miami.  See comments below about this match-up.
  • #2 Alabama – has to beat their arch rival Auburn which is horrendous this year at 3-8 overall and 0-7 in the SEC.  After taking care of Auburn, ‘Bama must take care of #3 UGA in the SEC Championship game.  That will be a fun game to watch, but should ‘Bama win out they are headed to Miami as well.
  • #3 Georgia – has to beat their inner-state rival Georgia Tech on Saturday and then has to knock off #2 Alabama in the SEC Championship game.  They have two tough games on their schedule remaining, but they control their own destiny, win out and they are in the national title game.
  • #4 Florida – even as a huge Gator, I have to say that we are the least pretty #4 ranked team ever.  Incredible on defense and special teams, but horrendous on offense.  The most incredible thing about my Gators is that they have heart, fight and know how to win, despite one of the toughest schedules in the country this year.  With that said, if we can somehow find a way to beat #10 FSU on Saturday and #1 ND somehow loses to USC then we will more than likely make it in.  There is an outside chance the human element props Oregon up enough to raise them over us in the BCS rankings, because their is a sentiment of not wanting an all SEC national title game again.  The point being only 3 teams control their destiny, UF being the first that does not.

Games to Watch:

There are 5 top 25 match-ups this weekend and a slew of great rivalry games.  This really is my favorite weekend to watch all year.  In a rivalry, only one thing is going on in each teams mind… smash your rival’s season with a crushing end of the year defeat!  Pride drives it all – everyone wants the right to one year of pride in beating their rival (and if you can, annihilate them on the scoreboard in the process).  These games get ugly and have history that make it even uglier (sometimes in the stands too).

As I mentioned above, for your ease I have included the 3 Thanksgiving Day NFL games as a part of the below summary so that you can easily not miss any football tomorrow!

Thanksgiving Day

  • We no longer have Texas A&M vs. Texas on Thanksgiving Day.  I think it’s dumb that Texas disintegrated that rivalry, the college football fans lose.  And, Texas has to be glad they did… because A&M looks like they would own Texas this year!  Off my soapbox, Thanksgiving Day college football now gives us TCU v. #16 Texas.  A new state rivalry that most are hoping can over time provide the sparks of the lost rivalry mentioned above.  Marketers are dubbing this one – “Instant Classic.”  We’ll see on that one, but some good Turkey day college football viewing nonetheless.

Rivalries with no BCS implication:

  • On Friday, you have the Battle for the Golden Boot as #7 LSU and the Mad-Hatter going over to Fayetteville to play Arkansas.  Does Bobby Petrino look like the coach of the year or what, after seeing this team fall apart without him on the sidelines?  Much in the same way the Saints look without Sean Payton.  LSU should pick up the win here as the Razorbacks look helpless again without Petrino.
  • #19 Michigan heads to The Horseshoe to meet unranked Ohio State (reminder: OSU is on probation, so they aren’t ranked in the BCS.  In the AP they are ranked #4).  Denard Robinson should be back for this one, but no one knows exactly what role.  He’ll more than likely play WR, RB, QB, etc.  Michigan ended a 7 game losing streak last year at home, but I think Ohio State wins this one in a game that is decided by a touchdown or less.  Braxton Miller has really improved steadily all year.  Great rivalry with tons of college football pageantry.  Dot the “i”!
  • The Bedlam Series features #21 Oklahoma State v. #13 Oklahoma this year.  Can OU take back the reigns of this rivalry, after losing last year for the first time in the previous 9?  OU is also playing for the Big 12 title and a possible BCS bowl game.  This will be a very close and hard fought game, but I’m going with the Sooners at home.
  • #8 Stanford v. #17 UCLA.  Both teams are coming off big wins.  Stanford over then #2 Oregon and UCLA over their inner-city rival USC.  This is another inner-state showdown from Cali.  This game will be really fun to watch and I’ll take UCLA in a close one at home.
  • The Battle of The Palmetto State features #12 South Carolina v. #11 Clemson this year.  This is one of the best match-ups ranking wise in the 105 year history of this game.  Over the last few years this game has added some spice with both Coaches taking shots at each school through the media.  Should be a good game, but I’ll take Clemson over the Lattimore-less Gamecocks.

Rivalries with BCS implications:

  • The Civil War features #5 Oregon vs. #15 Oregon State.  This game has plenty of Pac-12 implications and Rose Bowl implications as well.  Can Oregon bounce back after a disappointing loss to Stanford in OT last week?  I think they do as they need this one to keep their slim chances of a national title shot alive, but this one will be a very close contest.
  • #4 Florida travels to Tallahassee to take on #10 FSWho.  This game has the spotlight back on it after a few years of one or the other being under the radar, this is the first time since 2000 that both are ranked in the top 10 coming into this game.  Clearly I’m not a fan of the Seminoles, but think this will be hard game for my Gators to pull off.  Driskel is set to return from a high ankle sprain, after missing last weeks game.  Two great defenses will keep this game close, but in the end ‘the school up north’ has a better offense and wins by 7-10.  Fireworks will be going off in this one.  The Gators need this one bad to keep a shot at the title alive as well.
  • Hide your trees ladies and gentlemen – The Iron Bowl.  Auburn heads down to Tuscaloosa to take on #2 Alabama.  This is one of the most heated rivalries in the game, but lacks some luster this year as Auburn is horrible.  This one will be chippy.  Implications here are that ‘Bama needs to win to keep their #2 ranking, wouldn’t that be something if Auburn’s only SEC win this year was against their arch rival, ending their national title hopes.  Auburn will leave it all on the field, but this one shouldn’t be close at all.
  • Marquee Match-up: #1 Notre Dame travels to USC.  The Coliseum has been the place where many ND national title hopes have gone to die, 3 times before.  Matt Barkley is out for the Trojans, leaving the big-armed red-shirt freshman Max Wittek at QB.  This one is hard for me to pick from a score standpoint.  I think ND wins as Coach Kelly will have his guys locked in for this one, playing for 20 years of ND fans that haven’t seen this happen in a while.  On one hand, I think ND could run USC off the field.  They play great D and good O, against a USC team that has underperformed in historic proportions this year, with 4 losses already.  But, given the history of this game and that USC is playing to save their season and possibly Kiffin’s job I could see them finally putting their talent together for 4 quarters and making this another historic game in this rivalry.  Either way this is THE marquee game this weekend and will be very fun to watch.

Summary of the Games to Watch:

Date Time (CT) Rk Away Rk Home Channel BMW’s pick
Thanksgiving 11:30 AM Texans v. Lions CBS NFL Game
3:25 PM Redskins v. Cowboys FOX NFL Game
6:30 PM TCU v. 16 Texas ESPN Texas
7:20 PM Patriots v. Jets NBC NFL Game
11/23/2012 11:00 AM Ohio v. 23 Kent State ESPNU Kent State
1:30 PM 7 LSU v. Arkansas CBS LSU
11/24/2012 11:00 AM 19 Michigan v. Ohio State ABC Ohio State
11:00 AM Georgia Tech v. 3 Georgia ESPN Georgia
2:00 PM 5 Oregon v. 15 Oregon State Pac 12 Oregon
2:30 PM 4 Florida v. 10 Florida State ABC Florida State
2:30 PM Auburn v. 2 Alabama CBS Alabama
2:30 PM 21 Oklahoma St. v. 13 Oklahoma ESPN Oklahoma
5:30 PM 8 Stanford v. 17 UCLA FOX UCLA
6:00 PM 12 South Carolina v. 11 Clemson ESPN Clemson
6:00 PM Missouri v. 9 Texas A&M ESPN2 Texas A&M
7:00 PM 1 Notre Dame v. USC ABC Notre Dame
Other Notables:
11/24/2012 1:30 PM Baylor v. Texas Tech FOX

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  We all have tons to be thankful for.  All of which we don’t deserve.As always it is great to be a Florida Gator.  Please pummel the Seminoles this weekend.  Take the rivalry back!As always it is great to be a Florida Gator.  Please pummel the Seminoles this weekend.  Go Gators!

Can you believe I made it through an entire post without mentioned Johnny Football?  Oops.  Next week we’ll take a look at the Heisman front-runners.

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