Backyard Brawls. Clean, old-fashioned hate. Bedlam.
College football offers a Thanksgiving Day-like buffet of intriguing games this week, including a number of contests that will affect the BCS national championship race and conference titles.
From Auburn, Ala., to Boise, Idaho to Morgantown, W. Va., state rivalries and matchups between bitter rivalries take center stage.
Here are 10 things to watch this week:
1. Is there any way Texas A&M can upset No. 3 Texas on Thanksgiving Day night?
Probably not, but the Aggies have given Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy fits during his career. McCoy was on the losing end of his first two games against Texas A&M, throwing four interceptions and only one touchdown combined in losses in 2006 and '07.
But McCoy completed 23 of 28 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns in last season's 49-9 rout of the Aggies in Austin, and he's playing better than ever right now. In his last five games, McCoy completed 76.9 percent of his passes for 1,487 yards with 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions. His passer rating during that stretch is 175.8.
With only the Texas A&M game and a Dec. 5 meeting against Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game standing between Texas and a chance to play for the BCS national title, McCoy should be more than focused on Thursday night.
2. Should Alabama be concerned about the Iron Bowl?
It's an intense rivalry game and it's going to be played on the road at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium on Friday, so there’s always concern. But No. 2 Alabama is clearly the better team this season.
The Crimson Tide ended a six-game losing streak to Auburn with last season's 36-0 rout in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama's No. 1-ranked defense might be tested by Auburn's spread offense. Both defenses will try to slow down the opponent's running game -- Auburn's Ben Tate has run for 1,209 yards; Alabama's Mark Ingram has run for 1,399 -- and force the opposing quarterbacks to beat them.
3. Does Florida State even have a chance against Florida?
Probably not. The No. 1 Gators are two victories away from having a chance to defend their BCS National Championship, and Saturday's game will be quarterback Tim Tebow's final home game at the Swamp.
FSU became bowl eligible with last week's 29-26 win over Maryland, but its defense is probably far too porous to slow down Florida's offense. The Seminoles rank 106th nationally in total defense (434.4 yards per game), 105th in rush defense (193.5), 106th in pass-efficiency defense (149.3 rating) and 95th in scoring defense (30.2 points per game).
4. Should No. 6 Boise State be on upset alert?
The Broncos face their most difficult opponent since beating Oregon in their Sept. 3 opener when Nevada plays at Bronco Stadium on Friday night.
Nevada has won eight games in a row and averaged 55.6 points in its last five games. The Wolf Pack have been running wild during their winning streak, averaging 445.6 rushing yards per game in their last eight games.
Nevada's "Pistol" offense tries to attack defenses in myriad ways. Last week, the Wolf Pack became the first team in NCAA Division I history to have three 1,000-yard rushers in a single season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (1,129 yards) and tailbacks Luke Lippincott (1,028) and Vai Taua (1,185) have all accomplished the feat this season.
The Broncos have won 54 regular-season games in a row at home and have to win their final two home games (they play New Mexico State in Boise on Dec. 5) to stay in the hunt for a lucrative BCS bowl game.
5. Can West Virginia turn the tables in the Backyard Brawl?
Two years ago, Pittsburgh stunned then-No. 2 West Virginia 13-9 in the regular-season finale in Morgantown, W. Va., costing the Mountaineers a chance to play for the BCS National Championship.
The Panthers are 18-5 since that upset victory and are in great position to finally clinch a spot in a BCS bowl game. Pittsburgh will host No. 5 Cincinnati at home on Dec. 5 and the winner will claim the Big East title.
West Virginia would probably love nothing more than to spoil Pitt's breakthrough season in the 102nd edition of the Backyard Brawl.
6. Can Georgia’s defense slow down Georgia Tech?
In only two seasons, Paul Johnson has turned around the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry. Last season, he ended the Yellow Jackets’ seven-game losing streak to the Bulldogs with a 45-42 victory in Athens, Ga. Georgia blew a 28-12 halftime lead and allowed 26 points in the third quarter of that game.
This season, the No. 7 Yellow Jackets are 10-1 and already have clinched a spot in the Dec. 5 ACC championship game in Tampa, Fla. The Bulldogs are among the country’s biggest disappointments with a 6-5 record. They blew a 20-6 lead in a 34-27 loss to Kentucky at home last week.
Saturday night’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium might be a high-scoring affair. Georgia’s defense has surrendered 30 points or more five times this season; the Yellow Jackets have scored 28 points or more in seven straight games.
7. Will Oklahoma State finally beat Oklahoma?
The No. 12 Cowboys are in position to receive an at-large BCS bowl bid, most likely from the Fiesta Bowl, but they’ll have to beat rival Oklahoma on the road on Saturday to have a chance.
The rivalry is the most lopsided between in-state schools, with the overall series record depends on who you ask. The Sooners list the overall series at 80-16-7 while the Cowboys have it as 79-17-7 in favor of OU. The Sooners have won the last six games in the series, including a 61-41 victory in Stillwater, Okla., last season.
With a 6-5 record, defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma is trying to salvage a winning record in the regular season.
Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson, who missed last week’s closer-than-expected win over Colorado with a sprained shoulder, is expected to return to action against the Sooners.
8. What’s at stake for Arkansas against LSU?
With record-setting quarterback Ryan Mallett flourishing in coach Bobby Petrino’s pass-happy offense, the Razorbacks have become the hot SEC team in the eyes of bowl scouts.
If Arkansas can win its fifth straight game by beating LSU at Tiger Stadium on Saturday, there’s a good chance the Hogs could be selected to play in the Cotton Bowl.
Mallett is playing as well as any quarterback in the country, throwing for 10 touchdowns in his last two games. In his first season in Petrino’s offense, the Michigan transfer has thrown for more than 3,000 yards with 28 touchdowns.
LSU has lost two of its last three games, including last week’s deflating 25-23 loss to Ole Miss.
9. Who wins the Holy War?
The BYU-Utah series is one of the country’s most underrated rivalries. Simply put, these schools just don’t like each other very much.
The No. 21 Utes have won five of the last seven games against BYU and six of the last eight played at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. Both teams are 9-2 and have been eliminated from the Mountain West Conference title race.
BYU quarterback Max Hall will be looking for redemption, after throwing a career-high five interceptions in last season’s 48-24 loss at Utah.
10. Will Saturday’s trip to Stanford be Charlie Weis’ final game at Notre Dame?
A loss to the Cardinal would leave Notre Dame with a 6-6 record, and even Weis admits that performance isn’t good enough at his alma mater.
Athletics director Jack Swarbrick has said repeatedly that he would wait until the end of the season to decide Weis’ fate. A decision could come pretty quickly after the Fighting Irish play at Stanford.
A victory over the Cardinal might put Notre Dame back into the Gator Bowl discussion, but a 6-6 record might leave them without a postseason destination. Under that scenario, teams with 7-5 records would be given bowl priority over Notre Dame.