Rivalry games come in all shapes, sizes
Former Alabama and Georgia State coach Bill Curry once wrote that college football rivalries pop out like measles every fall.
"Great college football rivalries engage the healthy, activate the disturbed, fascinate the thoughtful, amaze the detached, mystify the rational, horrify the scholarly, encourage the immature, enrich the greedy, and terrify the faint of heart," Curry wrote for ESPN.com in 2005. "Most of all, they take over every waking hour of the cultures they invade."
Welcome to rivalry week.
If college football rivalries are indeed like the measles, then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might want to go ahead and declare an epidemic in Alabama. Or at least put Paul Finebaum on the airwaves for 24 hours a day to mediate the sides in the country's most football-mad state.
It's hard to imagine the Iron Bowl becoming even more important in a state where the rivalry seems to mean everything 365 days a year, but Saturday's game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn will decide which team wins the SEC West and plays in the Dec. 7 SEC championship game in Atlanta.
Boy, I bet Harvey Updyke wishes he could go.
Here's a look at some of the most heated rivalries in college football and some that have, well, gone to the back burner:
Rivalry that matters the most (every year and especially this week)
No. 1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) at No. 4 Auburn (10-1, 6-1 SEC)
When; where: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday; Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.
Skinny: The Crimson Tide can move a step closer to winning an unprecedented third consecutive BCS national title. The Tigers still have an outside chance at playing for a BCS national championship -- or at worst playing for an SEC title and perhaps playing in a BCS bowl game -- if they can beat the Crimson Tide for the second time in the past six seasons.
Prediction: Alabama 38, Auburn 28
No. 2 Florida State (11-0, 8-0 ACC) at Florida (4-7, 3-5 SEC)
When; where: 12 p.m. ET Saturday; Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla. (ESPN)
Skinny: The undefeated Seminoles are two victories away from trying to play for a chance to win their first national championship since 1999. After playing the Gators, FSU will meet the ACC's Coastal Division winner in next week's ACC championship game. The reeling Gators have lost six games in a row, including an inexplicable 26-20 home defeat against FCS foe Georgia Southern on Saturday. Florida will finish with its first losing season since going winless in 1979 and its 22-year streak of playing in a bowl game, the longest among FBS teams, will come to an end. Can we just send Florida A&M to Gainesville?
Prediction: FSU 51, Florida 13
Rivalry that looked a lot better in September
No. 3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten)
at Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten)
When; where: 12 p.m. ET Saturday; Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich. (ABC)
Skinny: If the Buckeyes defeat Michigan and then Michigan State in next week's Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, they'll finish undefeated for the second regular season in a row -- and might still be left out of the BCS National Championship. The Wolverines have slogged through a mediocre season, including a 24-21 loss at Iowa on Saturday, in which they blew a 14-point lead and were shut out in the second half. But Michigan can salvage its season by ruining Ohio State's dreams in "The Game." Michigan has won only once in its previous nine meetings against OSU.
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Michigan 17
Replacement game (for now)
No. 21 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC)
at No. 5 Missouri (10-1, 6-1 SEC)
When; where: 7:45 p.m. ET Saturday; Faurot Field, Columbia, Mo. (ESPN)
Skinny: The SEC eased its two newest members in by having them play on the final Saturday of the regular season for their first two seasons in the league. While we'd prefer to see the Aggies playing Texas and the Tigers playing Kansas, this game will determine whether Missouri or South Carolina will win the SEC East and play in the SEC championship game. It's probably reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel's last regular-season game, too.
Prediction: Missouri 31, Texas A&M 27
Coaches who won't be sharing a golf cart any time soon
No. 6 Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC)
at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SEC)
When; where: 7 p.m. ET Saturday; Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C. (ESPN2)
Skinny: Clemson's Dabo Swinney and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier don't seem to agree on much of anything, as they've traded verbal jabs time and time again over the past few seasons. If Clemson can defeat the Gamecocks on the road, they'll be in great position to play in a BCS bowl game, especially if FSU earns a trip to the BCS National Championship. USC can still earn a trip to the SEC championship if Missouri loses to Texas A&M on Saturday, and the Gamecocks might be in play for a BCS bowl even if they don't make it to Atlanta. South Carolina has won four games in a row over the Tigers, who haven't won in Columbia since a 23-21 victory in 2007. If USC beats Clemson again, Spurrier might even say, "If we played Clemson 10 times, I think we'd beat them 10 times."
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Clemson 23
Be careful what you wish for
Oregon State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12)
at No. 13 Oregon (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12)
When; where: 7 p.m. ET Friday; Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.
Skinny: So a couple of Oregon's players are tired of playing in the Rose Bowl, huh? Well, enjoy the Alamo Bowl then. The Ducks once had what seemed like a clear path to a Pac-12 title and a spot in the BCS National Championship. But now Oregon has lost two of its past three games, including a 42-16 loss at Arizona on Saturday night in which it turned the ball over three times and allowed 304 rushing yards. Oregon State is falling even faster heading into Saturday's Civil War, dropping four games in a row after Saturday night's 69-27 loss to Washington.
Prediction: Oregon 56, Oregon State 41
Rivalry on the rebound
No. 22 UCLA (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at No. 23 USC (9-3, 6-2 Pac-12)
When; where: 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Coliseum, Los Angeles (ABC)
Skinny: There was a slim chance the crosstown rivalry was going to decide the Pac-12 South title, but the Bruins lost 38-33 to Arizona State on Saturday, giving the Sun Devils the division championship. Now, Saturday's game at the Coliseum will only decide which team wins L.A. bragging rights and potentially which team goes to Las Vegas or El Paso, Texas, during bowl season. USC interim coach Ed Orgeron can make another claim to the full-time job if the Trojans beat the Bruins for the 13th time in the past 15 meetings.
Prediction: USC 24, UCLA 23
No, really, this isn't basketball
No. 24 Duke (9-3, 5-2 ACC) at North Carolina (6-5, 4-3 ACC)
When; where: 12 p.m. ET Saturday; Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C. (ESPN2)
Skinny: College basketball's most famous rivalry will actually go a long way in deciding which team wins the ACC's Coastal Division and plays FSU for an ACC title. Duke kept its seven-game winning streak alive by coming from 14 points behind to beat Wake Forest 28-21 on Saturday. The Blue Devils can win the Coastal Division if they beat Tobacco Road foe UNC, which has won five games in a row after starting the season with a 1-5 mark. The Tar Heels finally seem to be figuring out coach Larry Fedora's spread offense, averaging 44 points during the win streak. UNC had 721 yards of offense in an 80-20 win over Old Dominion on Saturday.
Prediction: North Carolina 41, Duke 38
Best spoiler alert
Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) at No. 12 Arizona State
(9-2, 7-1 Pac-12)
When; where: 9:30 p.m. ET Saturday; Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Skinny: The Sun Devils won the Pac-12 South for the first time in school history and will play Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game Dec. 6 for a chance to play in their first Rose Bowl in 17 years. If Arizona State beats rival Arizona, it will host the Cardinal in the Pac-12 title game. If the Sun Devils lose, the game will be played at Stanford. Last season, ASU scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to rally from a 10-point deficit in a 41-34 victory over Arizona. The Wildcats will certainly have revenge on their minds.
Prediction: Arizona State 35, Arizona 31
Coach who needs a victory the most
Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4 Big 12) at Texas (7-3, 6-1 Big 12)
When; where: 7:30 p.m. ET; Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas.
Skinny: The Longhorns' ugly 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State at home two weeks ago might have been the nail in coach Mack Brown's coffin. If it wasn't the final straw, Brown surely can't afford a loss to the Red Raiders. At least the Longhorns won't have to play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day.
Prediction: Texas 34, Texas Tech 27
Rivalry that only matters within the state's borders
Georgia (7-4, 5-3 SEC) at Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3 ACC)
When; where: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday; Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta (ABC).
Skinny: Myriad injuries and bad defense derailed UGA's once-promising season, and now the Bulldogs will have to play the Yellow Jackets without star quarterback Aaron Murray, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in Saturday's 59-17 rout of Kentucky. UGA fans will get another sneak peek of junior Hutson Mason, who is expected to take over at quarterback next season. UGA has won 11 of its past 12 meetings against Georgia Tech and hasn't lost to the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta since 1999.
Prediction: Georgia 51, Georgia Tech 38
Northwestern (4-7, 0-7 Big Ten) at Illinois (4-7, 1-6 Big Ten)
When; where: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday; Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill.
Skinny: The Wildcats have lost seven games in a row and will try to avoid their first winless campaign in Big Ten play since 1998. The Illini finally beat a Big Ten foe with a 20-16 win at Purdue on Saturday. Maybe the in-state rivals should play Saturday's game at Wrigley Field, which would be an appropriate venue for their collective futility.
Prediction: Northwestern 27, Illinois 21
How quickly things change
Ole Miss (7-4, 3-5 SEC) at Mississippi State (5-6, 2-5 SEC)
When; where: 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
Skinny: Mississippi State refers to Mississippi as "Our State" and calls the Rebels the "school up north." Well, Ole Miss seems to have all the momentum now, at least in recruiting, and beat the Bulldogs 41-24 last season, ending a three-game losing streak in the Egg Bowl. MSU must beat the Rebels on Thanksgiving Day night to qualify for a bowl game after winning 24-17 in overtime at Arkansas on Saturday.
Prediction: Mississippi State 28, Ole Miss 27
Pad the record
Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3 ACC) at Virginia (2-9, 0-7 ACC)
When; where: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday; Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
Skinny: The Hokies have been as inconsistent as any team in the country this season, but their campaign will look a lot better than it actually was with another victory over the reeling Cavaliers. Virginia Tech has won nine straight games in the series and hasn't lost to the Cavaliers since a 35-21 defeat in 2003.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 21, Virginia 17
Thank goodness basketball season is here
Purdue (1-10, 0-7 Big Ten) at Indiana (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten)
When; where: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday; Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
The Hoosiers are really good on offense and woefully bad on defense. The Boilermakers stink on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Indiana 31, Purdue 10
Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey ran a school-record 48 times for 206 yards with four touchdowns in the Wildcats' 42-16 upset of No. 5 Oregon in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday. Carey has been a workhorse for Arizona all season, running 290 times for 1,559 yards with 16 touchdowns. Against the Ducks, Carey broke Art Luppino's Arizona career record of 48 total touchdowns set from 1953-56, and he also became the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,913 yards rushing, breaking the mark of 3,824 set by Trung Canidate from 1996-99.
Vote: Next week's game-changer?
On The Mark: Precision Passers
1. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Carr passed for 527 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns in a 69-28 rout of New Mexico. Carr leads the nation with 39 passing touchdowns this season and is one of three active FBS players (Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd) to have 100 career passing touchdowns.
2. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
Chelf completed 19 of 25 passes for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns in Oklahoma State's 49-17 win against previously unbeaten Baylor. Chelf added a rushing touchdown and had a 48-yard reception in the game. It was his second career 300-yard passing game -- both have come against Baylor.
3. Brett Smith, Wyoming
Smith posted an FBS single-game season high 640 yards of total offense and accounted for eight touchdowns (seven pass, one rush) in a 59-56 overtime victory over Hawaii. Smith's seven passing touchdowns are the most by a player in FBS this season. The Cowboys quarterback passed for 498 yards and rushed for another 142.
4. Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Reynolds set an FBS record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a game with seven in Navy's 58-52 win in triple overtime over San Jose State, including the game winner. He leads the nation with 26 rushing touchdowns on the season. Reynolds rushed for 240 yards, his second career game with at least 200 yards; both have come in the last three games.
5. B.J. Denker, Arizona
Denker completed 19 of 22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona's 42-16 upset win over Oregon. The Arizona quarterback added 104 yards on the ground. Denker's opponent-adjusted QBR of 94 was his highest of the season.
On The Mark: Ground-Gaining RBs
1. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Carey rushed for 206 yards on 48 carries in Arizona's 42-16 victory over Oregon. It was Carey's second 200-yard rushing game this season and his 14th straight game with at least 100 yards on the ground, the longest active streak and tied for the longest by an FBS player over the last 10 seasons (Jerome Harrison, 2004-05).
2. Andre Williams, Boston College
Williams rolled up 263 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns, lifting his season total to 2,073 yards. He is the first FBS player to reach 2,000 rushing yards in a season since Connecticut's Donald Brown in 2008. It was Williams' third straight game with at least 200 rushing yards and fourth straight with two rushing touchdowns.
3. Tim Cornett, UNLV
Cornett had 36 carries for a career-high 220 yards and matched a school record with four touchdowns in UNLV's 41-21 win at Air Force. It was Cornett's 16th career game with at least 100 rushing yards, the second most in school history (Mike Thomas, 1973-74).
4. Bishop Sankey, Washington
Sankey led Washington's monster 530-yard rushing effort in the 69-27 win at Oregon State. Sankey, one of three Huskies to rush for 100 yards in the game, posted 158 of his 179 yards in the first half and had three touchdowns. Sankey has rushed for a touchdown in every game this season, and his 34 career rushing touchdowns are tied for the school record (Napoleon Kaufman).
5. Brennan Clay, Oklahoma
Clay rushed for a career-high 200 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns in Oklahoma's 41-31 win at Kansas State. It was Clay's third 100-yard rushing game of the season.
On The Mark: Big-Play WRs
1. Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Lockett had 12 receptions for a career-high 278 yards and three touchdowns in Kansas State's 41-31 loss to Oklahoma. The 278 yards were the fourth most by an FBS player this season.
2. Davante Adams, Fresno State
Adams had nine receptions for a career-high 246 yards in Fresno State's 69-28 win over New Mexico. Four of his catches went for touchdowns, as he now leads the FBS in receiving touchdowns with 19.
3. Ty Montgomery, Stanford
Montgomery scored touchdowns on four of his five receptions in Stanford's 63-13 win over California. His career-high 160 receiving yards were more than he had in the previous four games combined.
4. Robert Herron, Wyoming
Herron had a career-high 11 receptions for 141 yards in Wyoming's 59-56 overtime win over Hawaii. He also set a career high with four receiving touchdowns, his first multi-touchdown game of the season.
5. Steve Hull, Illinois
Hull had a career-high 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns in Illinois' 20-16 win over Purdue. It was the ninth time this season that a Big Ten player had at least 10 receptions.