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College Football Preview: In-State Rivalries Take Center Stage

Illustration for article titled College Football Preview: In-State Rivalries Take Center Stage

Texas beat Texas A&M 49-9 yesterday. They're now 11-1. But unless you were in Texas you had no idea this game was happening. Even I didn't think to check this score until late Thursday night. That's because I spent Thanksgiving with family. Included in part of my day was a trip to Ford Field to watch the Titans destroy the Lions in person. Watching a team get beat as badly as the Lions was kind of uncomfortable. Especially when your wife's family is mostly Lions fans. It's kind of sad. Don't get me wrong, as a Titans fan it was great, but the Detroit fans were so abusive of their team it was like watching a couple you know is about to be divorced get into a nasty verbal fight in a room full of people. You want to tune it out and enjoy your day, but you just can't. The infinite variety of unique and fascinating ways I heard the Lions cursed yesterday could fill a novel. And the entire time I felt like I shouldn't be hearing it all, like this was something that should be happening behind closed doors. Anyway, on to a weekend in college football where Oregon, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Virginia, and Florida State all have a chance to ruin their most-hated in-state rivals' season.

By the way, hate the BCS? Root for this implosion to occur. Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma. Sending Texas Tech to the Big 12 Title Game. Oregon State beats Oregon meaning the Beavers win the Pac-10. Florida State beats Florida who then beats an undefeated Alabama in the SEC Title Game. What happens in this scenerio? Three different one-loss teams that didn't win their own conference are all competing for a shot at the BCS Title. Even more interesting two of them might play for the national title. All would be ranked higher in the BCS than the teams that did win their conferences. Meet the Texas, USC, and Alabama one-loss derby. I know we've seen it before with Oklahoma but can you imagine if three of the top five contenders for the national title didn't win their conference? (The other two teams contending for the national title that did win their conference would be Texas Tech and Penn State.) Anyway on to the most intriguing games of the weekend.

Fresno State at Boise State (-21)- Can Boise State close out their season 12-0 with a win over Fresno State? Yeah, it's looking like it. Little known fact, since taking over Boise State from Dan Hawkins (who I believe is now working as a bike valet in Boulder) Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is 34-3. Seriously, 34-3. Including, of course, a BCS bowl win over Oklahoma. How is Petersen not an extremely hot coaching candidate? Why wouldn't, say, Washington mortgage their soul to get him? And, be honest, you had no idea he was 34-3, did you?


Georgia Tech at Georgia (-8)- Georgia's defensive gameplan: Try and keep Georgia Tech from rushing for over 300 yards. This Paul Johnson offense is way too gimmicky to work in a major conference. Right? Meanwhile, Georgia fans will silently weep at the end of this game over the presumed exit of Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford. That redshirt year on Knowshon really worked out well.

Virginia at Virginia Tech- Win and the Hokies are your Coastal Division champs. Lose and Georgia Tech advances to the ACC Championship. At least there's no animus between Virginia and Virginia Tech fans. These guys love each other. By the way, is Al Groh really safe for another year? Has Virginia just given up on ever being good at football? It's fine if they have but I feel like they owe it to their fans to hold a press conference and allow the AD to say, "I know there's been a lot of question and rumors surrouding this football program. Let me be clear: we are not ever going to be very good. If you're hoping for more than 8 wins in a season, you should root for another team. Like Virginia Tech or Richmond. We just aren't about winning football games here. We're going to focus on law school softball championships, instead. That's all. Go 'Hoos."

Kentucky at Tennessee (-4)- Tennessee has beaten Kentucky more consecutive years, 23, than any team has beaten another team in the country. Once, when I was a kid, I witnessed one of UT's coaches running off the field after a win over Kentucky screaming, "Go to hell Kentucky, now you can have your damn basketball season!" Why do I feel like a Kentucky coach could say the same thing at the end of tomorrow's game?

Syracuse at Cincinnati (-22)- - Win and Cincy is BCS bowl bound. Lucky for Cincinnati there's no history of a twenty-plus point underdog Syracuse team going on the road and winning a game no one anticipated they could win. Nope, this one is going to be completely easy.


Florida (-16.5) at Florida State - Hopefully this is Tim Tebow's final regular season college football game. If only so we can spend the next three months hearing Mel Kiper and Todd McShay incessantly debate Tebow's draft status. Here's a guess, one guy will think he's a stud and the other guy will think he isn't. Then they will repeat these positions 4 billion times until the draft arrives. Then, on draft day, a team will select him and, guess what, they'll debate about Tebow again. If there's any irony in the world, Tebow will get drafted by the Titans. My wife will deliver our second son, I'll go down to the nursery and Tebow will be circumcising babies on his day off.

Maryland at Boston College (-6.5)- Beat Maryland and BC is in the ACC Championship Game. Lose and that honor goes to Florida State. Has anyone else noted that it's possible the ACC regular season is going to end without any team winnning 9 games? Has this ever happened in a major conference before, where the best team only has 8 wins? Especially now that there are 12 regular season games.


Auburn at Alabama (-14.5)- Auburn has beaten Alabama six consecutive years. If they find a way to march into Tuscaloosa and win again, Tommy Tuberville, the original beaver pelt trader, Alabama fans are going to come undone. I don't know what will happen but I feel like I'll turn on the television and the entire state of Alabama will look like Jonestown, Guyana.

Oregon at Oregon State (-3)- The final obstacle to Oregon State's first Rose Bowl since 1965 arrives. I've never been to a rivalry game in the Pac-10, but I've heard this game is the one to attend above all others. think if you're a college football fan, you have to be rooting for Oregon State to go to the Rose Bowl, right? Can you imagine what odds you could have gotten on this when Oregon State was 1-2 (with a loss to Stanford and a blowout loss to Penn State) and about to play USC on Thursday night back in September?


Oklahoma (-7) at Oklahoma State- The over/under on this game is 72. Meaning, if you have a hearbeat, you should be watching come Saturday night. Oklahoma State hasn't beaten Oklahoma since 2002. Is this the game where people finally sit around and realize that Sam Bradford has 42 touchdowns against 6 interceptions? I think the Heisman is his to lose today. Either that or all the Big 12 voters will conflict with one another and Tim Tebow will snag another one. We'll see. Personally, my vote is for the Oklahoma girl at the top of the preview.

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