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Rivalry Weekend Part II

Rivalry Weekend Part II

131Michigan vs Ohio State- The Game– This game is getting all the press, all the build-up. Everyone is questioning who’s the better team? Michigan has had a great season beating up on teams with losing records;- oh, sure, they’ve played a couple, or three, teams that had winning records, but not only one team that was ranked in the top 25. That would be Wisconsin and the Wolverines beat the Badgers by 14-7. At Ann Arbor. In front of all their fans in the Big House. This is where they’ve played all their games, isn’t it? No, that’s right, they played Rutgers in New jersey and got beat by Iowa in Iowa City. Michigan has taken on the personality of their coach, Jim Harbaugh. Flamboyant, chippy, argumentative, they’ve played rough and rumble football most of the year, because they were many points ahead. When they played the Badgers they had to scrap and fight to win, but when they played another rough and tumble team, Iowa, they lost, 14-13. Yes, there was a call that went against the Wolverines (it certainly wouldn’t have had they been in Ann Arbor), and there are plenty of people that argue they shouldn’t have lost. Maybe not, but they did. Now, it’s the Buckeyes. In the Horseshoe, in Columbus. For Michigan to win, they need to have two things: 1) the defense needs to keep Ohio State’s JT Barrett in the pocket and make him throw the ball. Stuffing ballcarriers would be good, too, but they’ve got to keep Barrett in the pocket. 2), run the ball. Pound it into the line, gain good yardage on 1st downs, and create manageable 2nd and 3rd downs. The more they control, the clock the better.
Ohio State hasn’t had the kind of year they thought they’d have. They’ve lost only once, against Penn State, but there have been other close games which the Bucks won, but didn’t look world-class in doing it. Against Michigan State, who’s only won three games, by the way, Ohio State won because Michigan State failed on a two-point try at the end of the contest. OSU has made a living with big plays. They strike fast and demoralize other teams. Ohio State hasn’t been able to get their passing game going, any better than Alabama has. QB JT Barrett and his receiving corps are as good as anyone’s, according to the questionable media, but they haven’t lived up to expectations. Their biggest problem is their defense. Unlike Alabama, they can’t seem to take it up a notch when the going gets tough and the tough get going. They’re susceptible to the run, and it could come back to haunt them. They have to stop Michigan on the ground or it’s going to be a long day. Most are picking Ohio State to win, and, if they do, no one is going to be happier than Penn State because that means the Nittany Lions go to the championship game (if they beat the lowly Michigan State Spartans like most everyone else has), which, I have to admit, would cause me to chuckle, but Michigan is probably going to win. (My usually “silent” editor disagrees)

123Auburn vs Alabama- The Iron Bowl- This is the second biggest rivalry game of them all! Army vs Navy is the biggest. Those that don’t believe me have not been in the state of Alabama at this time of year. First, Auburn;- The Tigers of the Ugly Corner of Lower Alabama did not start off well, losing to Clemson and Texas A&M. Then they won six straight. People starting talking about them and how they were becoming a threat in the SEC West. Next, they played Georgia, and lost, without giving up an offensive touchdown! The quick-paced offense that Coach Gus Malzhan likes to play relies upon the quarterback making quick decisions and correct decisions. That hasn’t always been the case. The Tigers have RB Kamryn Pettway who has made a name for himself, but the War Eagles are going to need more than that. QB Sean White is been inconsistent at best. The defense gives up plenty of yards on the ground, and the secondary has been porous. BUT, this is a rivalry game and anything can, and usually does, happen. Alabama, the number one team in the nation, has torn through their opposition, for the most part. They’ve had some bumps along the way, and when I say bumps, I mean a little speed hump during a game, not the whole game itself. The running game for the Tide is the bulwark of the offense. As the running game goes, so goes the Tide. Freshman QB Jalen Hurts has struggled in the passing game. Too frequently, and too quickly, if his primary receiver is covered, he tucks the ball and runs. And, might I mention, he is a very good runner, but he needs to be more patient and go through his progressions. If he adopts the belief that he’s the end-all for Alabama, Saban won’t get his sixth, or is it seventh, National Championship, for Bama’s defense is the heart and soul of this year’s edition of the Tuscaloosa Times. Ask LSU. Alabama has had good defenses in the past, but this might be the best. They rush the passer with a vengeance, they stop the run cold, and the secondary is able to cover almost anyone. OK, they have given up a few long completions, but they’re still good. Alabama should crush Auburn, but the Plainsmen have a habit of playing above their heads for this internecine game. Alabama cannot come stumbling out of the gates like they did against Chattanooga. Actually, that game gave St. Saban the reasons he needed to yell and holler all week and get this team fired up. Tide wins, Roll Tide!

459Utah vs Colorado- This might not be a rivalry game yet, but, after the Iron Bowl, this could be the best game of the day. Utah, at 9-3, and was in the running for the PAC-12 South Division title, that was until last week when they lost to Oregon. They won’t make the Championship game, but they can do USC a favor by beating the Buffaloes. The Utes can do it, it’s just a matter of whether they have enough “want to”. All three of their losses have been close games. They’ve got the passing game and their running game has become darn near impossible to stop. But, without the incentive of a Division Championship, it’s hard to say if they’ll play up to their potential.
Colorado has plenty to play for. They win, they’re in;- they lose, it’s over. No one thought they’d be in this position this season, but, here they are. Well-deserved credit goes to Mike MacIntrye and the job he has done building this program back up. It has taken a little while, like, four years, but they are now one game away from being in a Championship game. With that on the line, expect the Buffs to storm into the stadium with a vengeance. CU Wins.

Short Smokes

Georgia Tech vs Georgia- Battle of the Peach State- both teams are 7-4 and both teams are playing for respectability. I tend to lean toward the SEC, so I’m picking the Dawgs. The Jackets could engineer a win, though.

Kentucky vs Louisville– Battle of the Commonwealth- Kentucky finally has won six games, but if they want to really make a name for themselves, they’ll need to overcome Louisville. Won’t happen, but it, it, it mi-, might.

Kansas vs Kansas State– The Jayhawks finally beat a conference opponent last week, now they’re wanting to make it two in a row. If the K-State Wildcats win, Snyder will have his 200th win. I have serious doubts he’s going to permit KU to stand in his way.

Purdue vs Indiana– Hoosier State Rivalry- neither one of these teams is from Hickory, so that makes it hard to get behind one. Indiana will win

Virginia vs Virginia Tech– Battle of the Commonwealth- VA Tech is doing great under new coach Justin Fuente, UVA is playing tougher with Coach Bronco Mendenhall, but it won’t be enough to take down the Hokies.

Duke vs Miami– Miami is the better team, they should have no problems. BUT, this is Duke, and they’ve already gotten two big wins, Notre Dame and North Carolina. They’d love to add Miami to that list.

Mississippi State vs Ole Miss– The Egg Bowl- MSU’s season is over after this game, Ole Miss needs to win to be bowl eligible. Pulling for the Rebels. Not sure they’ll do it, but I’m pulling for them.

Notre Dame vs USC– if Brian Kelley and the Irish want to prove that this season was one of bad luck and crazy bounces, this is the time. Nothing would excite Notre Dame worshipers more than an upset of the red-hot Trojans. Sorry, USC in a walk-over.

Michigan State vs Penn State– Land grant battle- If Penn State wants to go the Big 10 Championship game, they must win this game. Michigan State played Ohio State tough, but came up short. Can MSU play that tough again? Yeah. THIS IS SPARTA!

Minnesota vs Wisconsin- Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe – Any game where an Axe is on the line has to be a good one. I’ve always associated Paul Bunyan with Minnesota, but the Badgers are going to take the Axe home.

Oregon vs Oregon State– The Civil War- nether team has a shot at the post season but to bragging rights out of this season, they must win this game. The Ducks should do it, but don’t underestimate the Beavers. Ducks and Beavers. Only in Oregon.

Nevada vs UNLV– they’re both 4-7, but, in this game, the winner gets a cannon. Who wouldn’t want to have a cannon? UNLV wins.

South Carolina vs Clemson– Palmetto State Rivalry;- Clemson has all the horses, but USC-South has Coach Boom directing them… . Wait, that’s another advantage for the Tigers. Clemson wins.

Tennessee vs Vanderbilt– UT was supposed to be SO good this year, but they weren’t. Vanderbilt has been better than expected. Vols win but I’ll be dad-gum if I’m pulling for them.

Florida vs Florida State– each team has 8 wins; Florida is in the SEC, Florida State is not, so I’m taking the Gators. Might regret that decision. Wanna bet?


UNA vs North Carolina-Pembroke- In the second round of the Division II playoffs, the Lions will host the Braves. This will make the fourth time these two teams have meet, twice has been in the post season. UNA is 3-0 against UNP. Look for the Lions to run right through the Braves, straight on to Victory! ROAR LIONS!



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