Rivalries will roar this weekend
This weekend provides fans with the best aspect of college football.
The biggest rivalries and in most of those rivalries seasons are on the line.
Ohio State fans will be happy with their season and a possible BCS spot, or totally disgusted with their season, depending on what happens in Ann Arbor.
Alabama and Auburn means more than it has in a long time.
‘Bama’s renaissance year would not be complete if Auburn still got bragging rights for another year.
Penn State has their destiny in their hands, but is on the road, for a Big Ten championship.
USC has a seemingly out-of-place non-conference game before their classic rivalry against UCLA; but it could be a test just as tough as what Oregon and Arizona State gave the Trojans.
Right here at home, big games still await both Tech and UVA following this Saturday, but this is still the one everyone tunes in for.
Virginia’s year has been up and down, and Tech’s national title hopes crashed against Miami two weeks ago, but the scene in Charlottesville will be no less rabid regardless.
First course – #7 Virginia Tech (8-1) at Virginia (6-3) (Noon – ESPN)
Family members from or at both schools, friends at both schools, neighbors from both schools, describes myself and basically anyone in this state, even anyone (such as myself) without any direct allegiance here.
The 87th edition of this rivalry seemed it would be a Tech blowout until the Hokies’ troubles (and Marcus Vick’s fumbles) two weeks ago.
But Tech has had two weeks to do nothing but be upset about what the ‘Canes did to them.
Not that this battle needed any more fuel, but Tech should be bringing a completely full tank to this one.
For Marques Hagans, from a stats perspective, the argument could be made he has been the best QB in the state.
He has thrown for more yardage and the same number of TDs as Vick.
Hagans and Vick even have the same number of games with for 50 or more rushing yards; three apiece.
Vick had the upper hand as far as poise, turnovers and decision-making, that was until Miami’s outing.
Hagans will have to do it all himself though, as Virginia will have a very challenging time doing anything on the ground against the Tech D.
My pick – Virginia Tech 34, Virginia 24
During commercials – #9 Ohio State (8-2) at #17 Michigan (7-3) (1:00 – ABC)
This is the big early game for everyone outside Virginia.
If Penn State loses later on to Michigan State, the winner here is the Big Ten champion.
Since Lloyd Carr has been Michigan’s coach, his Wolverines are 4-0 when Ohio State comes into The Big House ranked in the top ten.
Michigan began this season 3-3 and have won four in a row.
OSU has been just as impressive since losing to Penn State in early October.
The Bucks have won five in a row, all of which by 11 or more points.
In that span, Antonio Pittman has averaged 129.6 yards per game.
Add in playmakers Ted Ginn and Santonio Holmes and State has the talent advantage, but Ohio State vs. Michigan is always a barnburner regardless of talent.
My pick – Michigan 27, Ohio State 24
Second course – #8 Alabama (9-1) at #11 Auburn (8-2) (3:30 – CBS)
Football is a lot of fun in Virginia.
Tech/UVA is an important rivalry and a lot of people are excited about it.
In Alabama, it’s fair to say this one is a little more than &uot;important.&uot;
also doesn’t hurt that the winner takes the SEC West Division.
Auburn’s won the last three in this series, dubbed, &uot;The Iron Bowl,&uot; see I told you it was more than just &uot;important.&uot;
Both these teams primarily run the ball and do a very good job with ‘Bama’s Kenneth Darby (1072 yards) and the Tigers’ Kenny Irons (1102 yards) being the main backs.
My pick – Auburn 20, Alabama 14
During commercials – #5 Penn State (9-1) at Michigan State (5-5) (4:00 – ESPN)
Michigan State, at one point a long, long time ago, all the way back on Oct. 1, looked like favorites to win the Big Ten.
The Spartans had been the only team to beat Notre Dame, were 4-0, and everyone (including myself) was giving all sorts of love to Drew Stanton.
MSU then lost to Michigan.
Michigan has been great ever since; the Spartans are now 5-5.
JoePa deserves to have this conference-clinching game in Happy Valley.
It would also be a much more assured victory for PSU if it was there.
Last year at home, PSU won 37-13 over MSU.
Two years ago, MSU won 41-10 in East Lansing.
JoePa’s offensive talent should be too much against a struggling defense, and it certainly would be if not for the pressure on Penn St. in this one.
Who would’ve guessed that at the start of the season?
My pick – PSU 35, MSU 32
– #16 Fresno State (8-1) at #1 USC (10-0) (10:30 – Comcast)
Number one versus number 16, sounds like a perfect first round playoff game to me, we could even call it the &uot;San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl,&uot; seriously, there will be such a thing on Dec. 22.
USC better take this as just as seriously as a one-game, do-or-die showdown too.
Fresno might not have the talent to beat the Trojans, but they will have the right attitude and are going in with absolutely nothing to lose.
Fresno’s already locked up the WAC with their victory last week against Boise State, so their post season activities are set.
Coach Pat Hill is known for wanting to schedule power conference teams, then preparing and motivating his team to
knock a &uot;big boy&uot; off.
That being said, taking down Virginia, Kansas State, or Colorado is still a long stretch from the almighty Trojans.
Pete Carroll’s coaching ability should also be mentioned as a reason why USC will not take this lightly.
Fresno should hang in against the Trojans much like Oregon and Arizona State were able to, but stopping Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, LenDale White, et. al. for the entire night is a bit much to expect.
Hill will have his guys ready though, they will not be blown out.
My pick – USC 42, Fresno St. 34
Last week’s record: 3-3
For the season: 33-22