Power Ranking the 10 Rivalry Games with the Most Riding on the Outcome
It's that time of year again.
Rivalry Week is upon us.
Soon we might get to enjoy a Maryland/Indiana rivalry, which sounds good for basketball, but woeful on the gridiron.
Fortunately for all of us, as we recover from turkey and cranberries there will be plenty of rivalry games to help pass the time.
The 10 on this list include several with BCS and conference title implications and even a game that could give us a different AP champion than the eventual BCS title holder.
So before you take off to see the family or friends for Thanksgiving, take a minute to be thankful for rivalries, especially these.
10. Washington at Washington State
In the large scheme of things, the Apple Cup doesn't mean a whole lot this season.
Washington State is woeful, Mike Leach is facing more allegations of player abuse and the Cougs have yet to win a game in the Pac-12 this season.
Washington, led by quarterback Keith Price, has already matched last season's win total and has the opportunity to finish with nine wins if the team gets this win and wins its bowl game.
This rivalry has been around for a very long time, starting in 1900 with a 5-5 tie.
UW holds the all-time advantage, 67-31-6.
9. TCU at Texas
Who says a rivalry has to be old to qualify?
In TCU's first season as part of the Big 12, the team gets to travel to Austin and take on in-state foe, Texas.
TCU has struggled this season, sitting at just 3-4 in the conference and fighting through quarterback issues to get there.
If it can win out, TCU will finish the season above .500 in its first season as part of the Big 12, which is no small accomplishment.
The significance is greater for Texas, however.
If the Longhorns win out, beating both TCU and K-State, they will find themselves in the Cotton Bowl, as well as second in the conference after a somewhat tumultuous middle of the season.
This is a new rivalry, but will develop into a great one over time, and both teams could use the "W."
8. South Carolina at Clemson
In truth, there is nothing riding on this outcome other than a win or a loss.
A possible at-large BCS bowl bid for Clemson, perhaps, but even that is a long shot.
Neither of these in-state rivals has a shot at changing their bowl fortunes in this game, as SC is out of SEC title contention and Clemson, in spite of a 10-1 record, cannot reach the ACC title game.
That's what happens when you lose to a division rival.
But let's not forget about this game.
This rivalry is severely underrated. The entire state of South Carolina will be showing its team colors this weekend, with families divided and friends arguing favorite teams to no avail.
Even though there is not much in the way of national significance, it will be definitely worth a watch.
7. Nebraska at Iowa
Aside from the lame attempt at a name, this is a match made in heaven when it comes to rivalries.
The "Heroes Game" is an annual meeting between these two, featuring a traveling trophy and wheelbarrows loaded with corn being distributed to the masses.
Here is the significance of this game:
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz continues to prove he is the most overpaid man in America, leading the Hawkeyes to only two wins in the Big Ten this season.
Nebraska currently sits atop the Legends division, tied with Michigan.
If the Huskers win, they get to face Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
If Iowa, by some miraculous diving intervention, finds a way to win, the Huskers have to hope for a Michigan loss against Ohio State to keep their Rose Bowl dreams alive.
So if the Huskers win two more games, they will be conference champs after just two seasons.
Pretty impressive accomplishment for Bo Pelini's crew.
6. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State football has won one conference title in the school's history.
The Cowboys have no shot at the Big 12 title this season, but have a shot at assuring the Sooners don't have a chance, either.
No. 21 OSU will travel to Norman to take on No. 13 Oklahoma and try to end the Sooners' dreams of a BCS berth.
This weekend is setting up to be loaded with games that will have an impact on the BCS race, including this one.
If K-State loses to Texas in its last game and the Sooners win their last two, Bob Stoops's boys earn a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
That's a ton of "ifs," but this game outside of the whole "Bedlam" thing is still significant, if not quite as significant as last season's.
5. Michigan at Ohio State
This game is actually key for both teams.
With a win, the Buckeyes might find themselves primed to win the AP national title.
A Michigan loss would knock it out of Big Ten title contention, and pave the way for Nebraska to earn a bid to the Rose Bowl.
In the greatest rivalry in college football, the Buckeyes are looking to finish off a perfect season, one of only two teams that has that shot, while Michigan looks to run its win streak against the Bucks to two.
This game has no BCS title implications, but the better part of the Midwest will be watching this one, if only to root against the Buckeyes.
4. Oregon at Oregon State
Oregon, after bulldozing opponents all season long, now needs help from division rival Stanford if it hopes to make the Pac-12 title game.
The Ducks must win this edition of the "Civil War" and pull for a Stanford loss to UCLA if they are going to make it to the conference title game.
This game is at Reser Stadium, and the Beavers will be out for some Duck hunting, looking for their first win in the series since 2007.
In the 116th edition of this in-state rivalry, the No. 5 Ducks and the No. 16 Beavers will be playing not only for in-state supremacy, but for conference position.
A win by State would mean it jumps Oregon in the Pac-12 North standings and finishes second behind only Stanford—something Duck fans might not be able to handle.
3. Florida at Florida State
For Florida State, whether it wins or loses this game will not alter the outcome of its season.
The Seminoles are going to the ACC title game and if they win that, they will be in the Orange Bowl.
It's Florida that has much riding on this outcome.
The Gators sit behind Georgia and Alabama in the rankings, but still have a great shot at the Sugar Bowl since those two play each other and one of them is going to drop after the loss.
The Gators could find their way in with the boost to the computer rankings that a win over a top-10 team would give.
However, if they play as they did against ULL and rely on special teams play to win the game, they are going to be in trouble against the 'Noles.
The Gators will be looking to end a two-year winning streak for the Seminoles in this series.
2. Georgia Tech at Georgia
Georgia is on a crash course for an epic matchup with Alabama in the SEC title game.
The winner, if all goes as planned this weekend, earns a trip to the BCS title game and a chance to continue the SEC domination.
But as Lee Corso would say: "Not so fast, my friend."
The No. 3 Dawgs have to take care of bitter rival Georgia Tech first, then they can set their sights on Alabama and a shot at the title game.
And while Georgia has been climbing atop the SEC East rankings to much fanfare, Tech has been quietly doing work and sits at the top of the ACC Coastal Division.
Yep, the Yellow Jackets are going to be in the ACC title game against Florida State.
The lesson here is that the Bulldogs must pay attention to Tech—they are not to be ignored if Mark Richt's squad hopes to keep their BCS title hopes alive.
1. Notre Dame at USC
One more win.
That's all the No. 1 Irish need to earn a trip to the BCS title game.
With USC quarterback Matt Barkley out, this game loses some luster, but it is still the contest that will give Notre Dame fans the opportunity to legitimately claim the Irish are back as one of the elite programs in the nation.
And while we are talking about elite programs, let's mention something for all the disgruntled SEC fans who think their team should be ahead of the Irish.
Get over it.
Notre Dame hasn't lost, every team in the SEC did, and unlike those same SEC teams, the Irish didn't face a single FCS opponent, so leave the "weak schedule" nonsense at the door.
With a win here, Notre Dame completes the perfect regular season and proves that the program is not the overrated, irrelevant beast of the past that we have supposed.
The Irish should be heavy favorites on the road with Barkley out. And if you haven't watched this Manti Te'o-led defense operate yet this season, make sure you catch this game. It's a thing of beauty.
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