So many of these great rivalries feature a prize as well and many are steeped in decades of tradition. Anyone who isn't already experiencing a growing level of excitement over tomorrow's slate of games simply isn't my kind of fanatic and should consider just tuning in to the 'Trading Places' Saturday marathon on TLC. Of course, I don't suspect any of those types to be reading this but I'm sure you get my drift.
Noon on ESPN For the Paul Bunyon Axe: Minnesota @ Wisconsin (-7) The longest running Division 1A rivalry features two teams that are bowl eligible but which are both reeling from three consecutive losses. The Golden Gophers lead this series all time with 58 victories versus 45 losses and 4 ties but their prospects for a win tomorrow hinge on stopping the Badger's running attack. I don't think so, Wisky 35 Minn. 24.
3:30pm on ABC & GP For the Land Grant Trophy: Michigan State @ Penn State(-21): One of the more intriguing games of the day as the Spartans have reacted quite well to the Coaching change and are back to scoring lots of points. But their weakness all year has been a porous run defense which isn't good considering JoePa will turn Larry Johnson loose in his last game at Happy Valley. Nittany Lions 48 Spartans 21.
3:30pm on ABC & GP Kansas State (-15) @ Missouri: Believe it or not, the Tigers consider this a rivalry as they lead all time 54-28-5. And Mizzou can go bowling with an upset of the Wildcats, their double overtime win over Texas A&M has got them feeling pretty good. But the claws on the 'Cats are long and sharp this Fall, especially as of late, and since Bill Snyder has been Head Coach, the Purple Cats have won 9 of the last 10 meetings. I think the KSU Defense is the difference here, say KSU 35 Mizzou 28.
3:30 on ABC & GP FSU (-5.5) @ N.C. State: Not a rivalry, but a big game in the National picture. A victory seals up the ACC for the Noles as well as a BCS birth while a Wolfpack win would put them in a good bowl. While FSU hasn't exactly looked like a dominant team, the switch to Adrian McPherson at QB has seemed to ignite their Offense and the Defense has come up with the big play in wins over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. The Wolfpack's injuries hit them at the wrong time and consequently they lost the last three games, but their key player, RB T.A. McLendon looked almost back to full speed in the UVA loss. The key to this game though will be the play of QB Phillip Rivers who has been in a slump. Big players step up in Big Games: NCState 35 FSU 31.
3:30pm on ABC, GP For the Victory Bell: Southern Cal (-5.5) @ UCLA You could also call this one the Battle for LA, as these cross town rivals match the Crips and the Bloods in their love for each other. USC has won the last three going into the 72nd edition of this rivalry and is playing some of the best football in the Country right now. The Bruins are also playing very well as of late and with both harboring Rose Bowl ideas (more complicated for UCLA), this should be a donnybrook! UCLA has had a week off to prepare and I think that it will be the difference: Bruins 31 Trojans 28.
3:30pm on CBS The Iron Bowl: Auburn @ Alabama (-10.5) In a day filled with hate from Sea to Shining Sea, this is without a doubt the most intense rivalry in the South. The Tide are one of the best teams in the Nation and are coming off their wasting of the Bayou State while the Tigers had their hearts pulled out at the end by Georgia and suffered a number of injuries they could ill afford. You truly can't rely on records or injuries as some mystical force seems to infect these two when they face-off, so I'm thinking Alabama 28 Auburn 24.
3:30pm on ESPN For the Old Oaken Bucket: Indiana @ Purdue (-22) Certainly one of non-marquis games of the day but one of the oldest of all rivalries as these two meet for the 103rd time. Purdue has owned this one 61-35-6 and needs a win to be bowl eligible. The Hoosiers under first year HC Garry DiNardo have struggled to 3 wins thus far and have given up an average of 50 points a game in their last 4 losses. I think the Boilermakers avenge last year's bitter upset in a fitting fashion, say Purdue 48 Indiana 17.
3:30pm on Game Plan The Civil War: Oregon @ Oregon State (-4.5) This series stands at 40-39-6 in the Ducks favor, so I think it's safe to say that you could measure the intensity of this meeting quite easily. Since both are bowl eligible, this is a pride/bragging rights thing with the Ducks coming into it in the worse shape. Defense and mistakes will decide this one, as the Beavers are the sloppiest (23 t/o's) and most penalized of the two and the Ducks having the poorer defense. Oregon State 24 Oregon 21
6pm on SportsWest & GP New Mexico @ Colorado State (-16.5): This one isn't a rivlary either but it is for the Mountain West Conference Title. The Rams are their typically tough selves this year on Defense and with RB Cecil Sapp and QB Bradlee Van Pelt MWC POTY candidates, they've actually made HC Sonny Lubic smile once or twice, I know I saw one in their beating of Air Force. The Lobos have surprisingly made it this far with a young team and riding the emotions of last week's win over BYU (2nd since '81) and the emergence of Freshman RB Dontrell Moore and some good Defense, New Mexico finds itself bowl eligible with a chance to take the title with a win at CSU and over Wyoming next week. Not this year, Rams too Tough 38 Lobos 21.
6:30pm on Fox The Apple Bowl: Washington @ Washington State (-8.5) This should also be worth your time to watch as these two teams always put on a show. The Cougars are #3 and only two wins away from securing a Rose Bowl or Fiesta Bowl birth while the Huskies are a win away from bowling. This 83rd meeting is without a doubt the biggest game in Wazoo history but in their way is a Udub that has won 6 of the last 7 meetings. Given that the Huskies pulled themselves off the matt last week in Eugene, given that the Cougars are coming off a bye week, and given that there have been some upsets at odd times in this series, I'm going to step out on the limb: Washington 31 Washington State 30.
7pm on TBS Texas Tech @ Oklahoma (-13): As unlikely as anything else this season to date, the Red Raiders go to Norman to play for the Big 12 South Championship. Last week, Tech pulled off the upset of Texas as QB Kliff Kingsbury was 'en fuego' throwing it 38/60 for 474 yards and 6 TD's and 0 int's against the porous Longhorn secondary. The Sooners shook off their loss to A&M by laying waste to Baylor last week and are tough at home. Surprisingly, OU is next to last in passing yards per game surrendered in the Conference and while the Red Raiders play the Sooners tough, I think they hold service tomorrow: Oklahoma 28 Texas Tech 21
7:45pm on ESPN The Battle for 2nd Place in South Carolina Bowl South Carolina @ Clemson (-4): Ok, so I made that one up, but remember, Georgia whipped them both! Much as any other, the hatred of these two with each other can sometimes defy description. Colorful invectives and slurs, competing web sites slamming the other, political shenanigans, you name it, these two go at with a lot of passion. For South Carolina, a win means a bowl, for Clemson, a win means maybe a better bowl. This one is a tossup in my mind: Clemson 20 South Carolina 14.
8:30pm on ESPN2 Ole Miss @ LSU (-10): No fancy monikers in this one but there is no love lost between these two. While LSU holds a 47-34-4 advantage all time, Ole Miss has beaten them 4 out of the last 5, including a 35-24 win last year. Not the same team that blasted Florida earlier in the year, the Bayou Bengals were themselves dismembered by Bama last week while the Rebels took a week off the recover from a beating by Georgia. I tend to favor those teams that are coming off a bye week and given the Tiger's lack of a passing attack, I think I'll select: Ole Miss 28 LSU 24.
RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK Michigan @ Ohio State (-4): No need to name this one as these two have met 98 times and more often than not, it has been for the Big 10 Title. This year, the Buckeyes are #2 in the Nation and undefeated, a win propels them into the Fiesta Bowl maybe, barring something weird coming from the BCS computers, and a share of the Conference title. The Wolverines arrive in Columbus in position to ruin the season for the Buckeyes for the fourth time in the last decade, having knocked off undefeated OSU teams in '93, '95, and '96.
Michigan has won three in a row since getting blasted by Iowa and finding some continuity on offense, while Ohio State has struggled without their phenom RB Maurice Clarett, relying on their special teams and fantastic defense. I see this one as a titanic fight between two of the most storied progams in College Football and I envision a nail-biting down to the quick type of battle. Ohio State has the better D and the better kicker, it is their time. Ohio State 27 Michigan 24.
Hope your remote control has fresh batteries! Happy Thanksgiving to All!!