College Football: Great Rivalry Games on Tap From Coast To Coast This Weekend
This week is why you watch college football. Great rivalry games will be played all over the country.
What makes these games great is that it does not matter if a championship of any kind is on the line, how the season has gone for either team or when it is played. People will choose a side and either be rewarded with a year of bragging rights or try and duck their friends who pull for the other side.
Here is a look at the great rivalry games being played this weekend. Beyond the basic facts you will find a key to success for each team. A new rivalry fact will be added each day as well.
Auburn vs. Alabama
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On the line: Auburn wants to continue marching to the BCS National Title Game. Alabama hopes to derail the Tigers' title dreams.
Auburn offensive key: Protect Cam Newton in the pocket so he can make passes down the field.
Alabama defensive key: Stay focused on assignments and avoid being distracted by the number of formations employed by Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Iron Bowl Fact:
- Auburn has not allowed Alabama a first quarter touchdown since 1996.
- Alabama and Auburn did not play from 1907-1948. Despite demand from fans the two schools could not work out an acceptable financial agreement.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
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On the line: An outright Big 12 South crown for Oklahoma State...a chance to tie the Sooners for the division title.
Oklahoma offensive key: Script plays early on that will give Landry Jones a chance for success.
Oklahoma State defensive key: Win third down. The Sooners convert 45.6 percent of their third down attempts.
- This year will be only the fourth time the Cowboys have entered the game as the higher ranked team.
- Only one Big 12 team has beaten a Bob Stoops led team in Norman: Oklahoma State.
Michigan vs. Ohio State
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On the line: The Buckeyes still dream of a BCS game…even if the Rose Bowl is not the Buckeyes' destination. Michigan is looking to improve their Bowl options.
Michigan offensive key: There is no secret here--QB Denard Robinson. For the Wolverines to have a chance he must have a great day running and passing.
Ohio State defensive key: Make Robinson one dimensional. Michigan State held Robinson to only 86 yards rushing in their 34-17 win over the Wolverines.
- Michigan and Ohio State have combined for 76 Big Ten football titles.
- Since 1922, 7,638,051 fans have watched Michigan and Ohio State play in person.
Texas A&M vs. Texas
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On the line: First, Texas needs this win to avoid a losing season. The Aggies can almost assure themselves a bid from the Cotton Bowl with a win.
Texas A&M offensive key: Keep taking care of the football. In their last two games the Aggies have only turned the ball over three times. They have 24 on the year.
Texas defensive key: Take away the run from A&M and make quarterback Ryan Tannehill beat you.
Lone Star Showdown Fact:
- Both schools have references to the other in their fight song.
- The famous tower on the Texas campus in Austin is lit up in all orange when the Longhorns defeat the Aggies in football.
Notre Dame vs. Southern California
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On the line: In his first year Brian Kelly would love a 7-5 finish compared to being 6-6. USC is looking to use games like this one to maintain their relevance in the college football world while on NCAA probation.
Notre Dame offensive key: Be more physical than USC along the line. The Irish need to go straight at USC with the football. Keep it simple.
USC defensive key: Win the second quarter. Notre Dame has outscored opponents 119-81 in the second quarter this year. USC opponents have scored 102 points in the same period.
- The last time neither team was ranked going into the game was 2001.
- This is only the second time the game has featured new head coaches on both sidelines. The last time was in 1941 when Sam Barry was on the USC sideline and Frank Leahy on Notre Dame’s.
Florida vs. Florida State
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On the line: Florida State has lost the last six games in this rivalry, including three straight at home.
Florida offensive key: Get an offensive game plan and stay with it. The Gators' three QB system works against weak teams, but tough competition reveals it as a lack of offensive direction.
Florida State defensive key: Pressure QB Florida John Brantley to force quick throws.
- During the 1990s the Seminoles and Gators combined for fourteen conference crowns and three national titles.
- From 1958 through 1963, Florida would only play the Seminoles on the condition that the game be played in Gainesville. The first game in Tallahassee was a Florida State win over the Gators. The final score was 16-7. It was also the first Florida State win in the series.
South Carolina vs. Clemson
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On the line: South Carolina is looking to keep momentum as they get ready for the SEC Championship Game. A win over the Gamecocks would salvage a disappointing season for Clemson.
South Carolina offensive key: While Marcus Lattimore will be critical to the Gamecocks having a successful day, it is also important for Stephen Garcia to spread the football around to receivers other than Alshon Jeffery. Using the tight ends at times would help keep drives alive for SC.
Clemson defensive key: When Garcia gets pressured he tends to make mistakes. Clemson needs to dial the pressure up this weekend.
Palmetto Bowl Fact:
- In 1946 a Clemson fan strangled a live chicken during halftime at midfield.
- Clemson has more wins over South Carolina than any other team in the school’s football history. Wins against the Gamecocks account for more than ten percent of all of Clemson’s football victories.
Georgia Tech vs. Georgia
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On the line: Plenty. Georgia needs the win to become Bowl eligible and reach the .500 mark. A win might also be critical to Mark Richt keeping his job. Georgia Tech wants to get to win number seven and avoid being .500 for the season.
Georgia Tech offensive key: Tech is the top rushing team in the ACC. They are last in passing. To win the game they don’t have to throw a high number of passes. They just have to be timely and successful when they do.
Georgia defensive key: Play tough run defense on first down to force third and long.
Clean, Old Fashioned Hate Fact:
- Georgia and Georgia Tech claim different records for this game. Georgia was without many of their players in 1943 and 1944 due to World War II, games which Tech won. Georgia says the series record is 60-37-5 in their favor.
- Georgia and Georgia Tech were both charter members of the SEC. Tech left the conference in 1964 when he and Alabama coaching legend Paul “Bear” Bryant disagreed over scholarship allocations and other issues related to players.
Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss
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On the line: Pride. Mississippi State is Bowl eligible and would like to improve their Bowl opportunity. Ole Miss is assured a losing record, but would love to upset the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State offensive key: Be diverse on offense, which means giving QB Chris Relf the time he needs to throw the football.
Ole Miss defensive key: Get pressure on Relf. The Bulldogs QB had consistent success against Arkansas because of the protection he enjoyed from his offensive line.
Egg Bowl Fact:
- This game has been played on ten different fields and in seven different cities.
- The home team has won the Egg Bowl in 10 of the last 11 outings.
Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
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On the line: Virginia Tech is looking to go undefeated in ACC play after starting the season 0-2.
Virginia offensive key: Be patient on offense and take what Tech is giving on the pass. Don’t force throws.
Virginia Tech defensive key: Be mentally focused. The Hokies have superior talent.
- After playing 91 games Virginia Tech has scored 1525 points. Virginia has scored 1430. Throw it all together and average the score and the outcome would favor the Hokies 17-16.
- At stake in the game is the Commonwealth Cup. The trophy stands over four feet high and is made of marble and wood from a cheery tree. The final score from each game is etched on the side.