Rivalry week is finally upon the college football season and with that comes perhaps the best slate of games on the 2012 schedule.
In the micro sense, rivalry week is an opportunity for every team to matter again. Winning against a bitter in-state rival can not only bring bragging rights for the next 12 months, but we've even seen those victories save coaches from the hot seat.
Nevertheless, this season, the macro is more interesting. The best matchups of Week 13 not only have the bragging rights factor, but may also reshape the entire BCS picture.
With so much at stake, you won't want to miss a minute of the action. For that reason, here is a look at when and where you can watch each of Saturday's best games.
No. 5 Oregon Ducks at No. 15 Oregon State Beavers
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Ore.
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Live Stream: Pac-12 Video
Fresh off submarining their national championship hopes, the Oregon Ducks will need to beat their in-state rival just to stay in the hunt for a Pac-12 championship. A win puts the pressure directly back on Stanford, which will be on the road against a red-hot UCLA team on Saturday.
The Oregon State Beavers, meanwhile, could sneak into BCS bowl contention with an upset win over the Ducks. Though it seems unlikely, remember that the Beavers' two losses this season have come by a combined seven points.
Nevertheless, I'm taking Oregon to come away with a win. Stanford's brilliant defense was simply the perfect match for the Ducks' high-powered rushing attack, swallowing up Kenjon Barner like no defense has been able to do.
Granted, the Beavers do boast the second-best run defense in the Pac-12, giving up a mere 108.7 yards per game this season. That means winning won't be as easy as expected for Oregon.
But the Cardinal have perhaps the best front seven in college football and the Ducks still managed to make solid headway running with Marcus Mariota.
Oregon wins and keeps its hopes of both a national and Pac-12 championship alive.
Score Prediction: Oregon 38, Oregon State 24
No. 4 Florida Gators at No. 10 Florida State Seminoles
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Both coming in with one loss and a strong stable of skeptics, the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles will both get a chance to prove their worth on Saturday.
The Gators play tight defensive games on a weekly basis, but their offense continues to struggle.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel has not exactly been a game-changing force, having thrown for under 125 yards in six of Florida's 11 games this season. And it's not like the running game is some bastion of brilliance. Leading rusher Mike Gillislee has been both appallingly bad and brilliant at different points of the year, with very little rhyme or reason.
On the other side of the field, the Seminoles' schedule strength (or lack thereof) is keeping them out of the national championship picture. Saturday will mark just the second game Florida has played against a ranked opponent all season.
Mostly for that reason, I'm picking the Gators. Seminoles quarterback E.J. Manuel has been sensational all season, but his supporting cast has not proven its worth against an elite team and has even played down to the competition at times.
It's never pretty, but Florida has somehow gotten the job done all season.
Score Prediction: Florida 23, Florida State 20
No. 8 Stanford Cardinal at No. 17 UCLA Bruins
When: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Live Stream: UCLA All-Access
The good thing for the Cardinal is that they will most likely walk out of the tunnel knowing whether or not a win is necessary to lock up the Pac-12 North division.
If Oregon wins, we'll undoubtedly see an all-out free-for-all, as Stanford tries to keep its chances at a BCS bowl alive. However, a loss by the Ducks sets up what could be a very interesting game.
UCLA already has the Pac-12 South locked up after last week's victory over USC. An Oregon loss means these two squads will face off against each other in the Pac-12 championship game and take out any incentive that either side has to win or use anything but a vanilla playbook.
I'm picking Stanford to come away with a win, but it's very tentative. The Cardinal have more talent and showed their ability to stop top-notch offenses last week, so the Bruins would likely struggle against the first team defense.
However, with the Oregon factor lingering, it's still a scary pick. For bettors, this is one of those matchups where you want to wait until just before kickoff before placing your wager.
Score Prediction: Stanford 24, UCLA 13
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