What To Watch: The Best Of Rivalry Weekend
By Steve Barnes
It is an old adage in sports that in a rivalry game, throw the teams’ records out the window because anything can happen.
That window seems to be closed this year. Well, maybe open enough to get a cool breeze inside at night.
Friday, Washington hosts Washington State. Earlier in the year, several Huskies said they considered Oregon the arch-rival. Wonder how the Cougars feel about that. Mike Leach’s bunch will throw it until the Black Friday sales are done, but it won’t be enough.
OOPS: Speaking of Oregon, the Ducks host Oregon State. In the biggest foot-in-mouth outburst of the year, some Oregon players said they didn’t want to go to the Rose Bowl. Have fun in San Antonio.
BIG BOOT: Finally on Friday, Arkansas visits LSU for the Big Boot. That is a trophy, not a potential firing. LSU looked good in not only making Johnny Manziel look mortal, but also flawed. Arkansas lost to Mississippi State at home. Sorry, Hogs.
SLEEPING THROUGH: Saturday is the big day of Rivalry Weekend. The early game features Ohio State at Michigan. I am glad this is the early game because I still may be sleeping off Thanksgiving and would not want to miss a competitive game.
ACC TITLE SPOT?: Duke goes to North Carolina and yes, if the Blue Devils win, they go to Charlotte to play Florida State for the Atlantic Coast Conference crown. Should Duke pull it off, will they name an area around campus, “Cutcliffeville?”
WOUNDED DAWGS: Georgia is at Georgia Tech. At least if the Bulldogs can put enough players on the bus to get from Athens to Atlanta. The latest casualty was UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. With the Tech wishbone offense, this game may have more running than a marathon.
RESUME GAME: USC gets UCLA this week. Call it the “Please Keep Coach O Around” game for the Trojans. Even if Southern Cal beats the Bruins, it will be hard to give Ed Orgeron the job, but he could be playing for an assistant head coach title.
DOES IT MATTER?: In sort of a rivalry match, Stanford hosts Notre Dame. There must be something on the line in this one. If anyone figures it out, please let me the rest of us know.
NO WAY TO RECOVER: Florida tries to get over the post-Georgia Southern hangover, but Florida State is not much of a remedy. The Gators have leaked the news they are firing their offensive coordinator and offensive line coach after the game. It may be a week too late after the video of two UF linemen blocking each other in last week’s loss went viral. On the flip side, FSU would love to embarrass the Gators in Gainesville the way Florida did the Seminoles a few years back in Tallahassee. Oh yeah, there is some guy name Winston who would like to rack up some stats for Heisman votes.
OVERRATED IRON BOWL: The biggie is the Iron Bowl. By biggie, I mean hype. Auburn probably is a little overrated this season due to the familiarity in former Tiger assistant Gus Malzahn’s offense. But they haven’t faced a defense like Bama’s. By the way, if it is possible, the Crimson Tide might be a tad underrated.
A GOOD CHANCE TO IMPRESS: For those players looking to visit New York City for the Heisman presentation, this is a good shot to do it. If Jameis Winston can shred the Gators, voters might have to pocket their concerns about his off-the-field issues. If AJ McCarron can have a couple of ESPN moments at Auburn, he could punch his ticket. Finally, after Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota’s candidacies went into witness protection, Braxton Miller can have Ohio State undefeated again. If it is Winston, McCarron and Miller, the bias in me says it will go to Miller. Too many voters will wonder just what happened one night in December last year in Tallahassee and many people in general are just plain tired of Alabama’s success.
The again, it is rivalry week, so anything can happen.