Why College Football over Thanksgiving Will Make for the Best Weekend in Years
There is no greater sport in the United States than college football and there is no greater week in college football than rivalry week. Next weekend's games will be extra special. There will be classic rivalries and games with championship implications.
The 2011 football season has already been one of the best seasons in recent memory. Next weekend's game could push it to the No. 1 season of the last decade.
Will there be a rematch of the game of the century? Will BCS chaos peak at a new height? Can Notre Dame get its first signature win? Can Georgia continue its hot streak?
This weekend we will not have all the answers, but we will have one weekend of classic football.
Florida State at Florida
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The Seminoles ended a six-game losing streak last season to the Gators with a 31-7 victory. Florida State will try to make it two in a row next weekend and this is a win Will Muschamp dearly needs.
The Gators have lost five of their last seven games this season with their only wins coming against Furman and Vanderbilt. Florida State has won five games in a row after falling to defeat three straight games earlier in the season.
The Gators will need some offensive creativity to top the Seminoles. The Seminoles are currently seventh in the NCAA in scoring defense. The Gators, on the other hand, are 84th in the nation in scoring offense with an anemic 24.6 points per game coming into this weekend.
Florida leads the all-time series 33-20.
Notre Dame at Stanford
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This game is must-see TV for several reasons. First off, the Oregon Ducks need the Cardinals to win this game if they are going to have a shot at leap-frogging Alabama.
After a rough 0-2 start, the Fighting Irish have won seven of the last eight ball games going into this week. Stanford, on the other hand, is 9-1 but was dismantled by Oregon last week at home.
This will be Andrew Luck’s last chance to make an impressing Heisman statement in front of the home crowd. Luck leads the balanced attack of the Cardinals, who are averaging 46.4 points per game.
The Irish have been pretty good on offense, averaging 33.6 points per game, but have yet to get the signature win they need under second-year coach Brian Kelly.
Will Luck make a Heisman statement or will Coach Kelly get the signature win?
Clemson at South Carolina
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This game lost a little of its luster this weekend with Clemson being demolished by North Carolina State 37-6. However, it still is a must-see because both teams are ranked in the top 25, which is an unusual position for them both during this weekend.
South Carolina and Clemson are separated by 129 miles but the hate between these two fan bases is deep. Clemson came into this week averaging 37.3 points per game, while the Gamecocks are ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense and are only giving up 19.3 points per game.
The Gamecoks have had one distraction after another this season but are still 9-2 overall. Clemson is also 9-2 but have lost two of their last three games.
Clemson leads the series 65-39-4.
Penn State at Wisconsin
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One of the nation’s top defenses in Penn State will square off with one of the nation’s premier offenses to see which one cries mercy first. The Nittany Lions have the No. 3-ranked scoring defense in the nation, only giving up 13.9 points per game. The Badgers, on the other hand, are fourth in the nation in scoring at 46.5 points per game.
Russell Wilson has scored 30 total touchdowns this season, compared to only three interceptions. Over the last four games he has scored 12 touchdowns and has not thrown an interception.
Scoring on the Nittany Lions might present a tougher challenge than usual. Penn State has only given up five touchdowns over the last three games.
Georgia at Georgia Tech
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Clean, old-fashioned hate returns to the south next weekend as the Georgia Bulldogs head to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs have won nine straight games this season after starting off 0-2. Georgia Tech beat Duke this weekend to move to 8-3.
The Yellow Jackets have the No. 3-ranked rushing offense in the nation at 319.5 yards per game. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, have one of the top rushing defenses in the nation. Todd Grantham’s defense is only giving up 81 yards per game after today’s game.
Mark Richt has had a great deal of success against the Yellow Jackets with a 9-1 record since arriving at Georgia. His Bulldogs defeated Georgia Tech 42-34 last season.
The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 61-39-5.
Alabama at Auburn
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The 76th edition of the Iron Bowl will for the third straight season have national championship implications. The Tide are going to be heavy favorites as they attempt to win with the style points to hold off Oregon and Oklahoma and set up a rematch against LSU.
The Tide will be led by Heisman candidate Trent Richardson, who has rushed for 1380 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns.
Auburn has been inconsistent all season but a win in this game would heal all disappointment. They are led by Michael Dyer who has rushed for 1194 yards and nine touchdowns.
Does Gus Malzahn have any tricks left up his sleeve? If not, it could be a long day for the Tigers. The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the nation on defense despite having given up 300-plus yards rushing against Georgia Southern, who is a member of the FCS division.
The Tide lead the series 40-34-1 but Auburn has won eight of the last 11.
Ohio State at Michigan
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The Wolverines have a chance to do something they have not done since 2003 and that is beat Ohio State. The Buckeyes have defeated Michigan nine of the last 10 times that they have played.
However, for the first time in a long time, the Wolverines are on the rise while the Buckeyes are on the decline. With a win this weekend against Nebraska the Wolverines have moved to 9-2. At the time of this article, the Buckeyes are trailing Penn State in the fourth quarter with their record set at 6-4.
The Buckeyes have been anemic on offense this season but have the 18th-ranked scoring defense in the nation. The Wolverines have Denard Robinson, who has scored 27 touchdowns and tallied over 2500 total yards. The Wolverines have a solid defense as well. Michigan currently ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense.
Michigan leads the series 57-44-6.
Arkansas at LSU
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While the BCS picture is cloudy at best, the Tigers have the clearest picture—just win and they’re in. That might be easier said than done as they face the Razorbacks, who are looking to defeat LSU for the fourth time in five seasons. Arkansas defeated LSU last week 31-23.
LSU will bring the nation’s second-ranked defense into the game against Tyler Wilson and the high-powered Razorback offense, which is averaging 38.8 points per game coming into this weekend.
This game has more than just national championship implications. If Arkansas wins the game it will move the SEC to a likely three-way tie with Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU all at one loss. However, if LSU can win the game, they might have punched their way to the title game even with a loss in the SEC championship game.
Despite Arkansas' recent success, the Tigers still lead the all-time series 34-20-2.