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The Rivalry Report: Week 4, Sept. 26

Joel Barker@joelabarkerSenior Writer ISeptember 26, 2009

24 Oct 1998: Bradley Ledbetter #93 of the Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to snap the ball during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at the Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Volunteers defeated the Crimson Tide 35-18.

College football is synonamous with happiness, joy, and excitement to me. I'm sure many of you feel the same way.

Some of the greatest attractions to the sport include the millions of fans that pack stadiums every weekend, the great marching bands, the tremendous passion that the players exhibit, and most of all, the rivalries.

There are many great rivalries that have been around for decades. Army vs. Navy; Ohio State vs. Michigan; Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia; USC vs. UCLA; and Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma are some of the nation's best.

The Sis a hotbed for many college football rivalries. Auburn vs. Alabama; Florida vs. Florida State; and Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, just to name a few.

One rivalry that has been a huge part of my life is Tennessee vs. Alabama. For most of my early football -years the Vols could not compete with the Crimson Tide. That is, until some guy named Peyton broke the curse with a 41-14 thumping in 1995.

My best friend James and I grew up watching college football every weekend. I was a diehard Tennessee fan almost from birth. James moved here from Los Angeles. His background was mostly NFL football. I lived in Georgia, just two miles from the Tennessee line and about 30 miles from the Alabama line. Naturally college football was — and still is — pretty much everything.

So I had the pleasure of basically introducing the fine sport to James. Unfortunately he did not take after me and become a Big Orange fan. No, in fact he turned into an avid Alabama fan. Soon after James moved here from California in 1994, most of his wardrobe was Crimson.

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The rivalry now took on an even bigger role for me. We decided early on that there would be no trash talking between us, a pact that wasn't always honored when we were younger.

Now, 15 years later we are still the best of friends and the trash talking is kept to a bare minimum, but there is still no doubt where our allegiances lie. 

This article will be the first of a weekly series containing mine and James Morrison's weekly picks. The fact that our teams are rivals ensures that we see things differently a lot of times when it comes to college football.

For the rest of the season James will pick his top five games and give his opinion, while I will give a rebuttal or agreement. Conversely, I will do the same and he will offer a rebuttal or an agreement.

Comment on your favorite rivalry or just rip us to shreds on our picks. We want to see your comments either way.

You can find James's B/R profile here .

So without further adieu... Here are James's picks.

James's Picks

Alabama vs. Arkansas: The hogs have been impressive on the offensive side of the ball so far this season, but this is the first tough defense that Ryan Mallett will face. Although Mallett is a great quarterback,  I dont think that Arkansas has enough offensive fire power to outscore the Crimson Tide, who are also averaging over 40 points a game thus far. Alabama 38-17.

Joel's take – I agree except for one thing. Alabama holds Arkansas to less than 17. This Bama defense is spectacular and Arkansas has not faced anything like it yet. Bama 30-12

 

Miami @ Virginia Tech: The Hurricanes are the surprise team of this young '09 season. Many people picked the Canes to be 0-4 thru their first 4 games but now the Canes look like they could come out of this gauntlet 4-0. They will have their hands full next week when the Sooners come a-knockin, but I believe that they will go into that game 3-0. Miami 27-10.

Joel's take – Once again, I couldn’t agree more. Miami is back! Couple that with Virginia Tech’s ineptness on offense and this one could get ugly. Miami 30-7

Texas Tech @ Houston: Houston shocked the nation when they ousted Oklahoma State from the top 5. They will have to have another stellar performance to win this game because the Red Raiders are looking to get back on track after losing to rival Texas. They may not be able to run the ball very well, but they did pass for over 400 yards against the Longhorns. Look for Tech to get back to their winning ways and knock off Houston. Texas Tech 49-45.

Joel's take – I was impressed with Texas Tech last week. I think Texas is the No. 1 team in the country and Tech stayed in the game the whole way. Houston will put up points, but Tech scores more. Red Raiders 52-48

 

Clemson vs. TCU: C.J. Spiller is back to his old form after running over and around Boston College. They may not win the ACC, but they could give the rest of the conference a run for their money. TCU is one of the few non-BCS conference teams left that have a small chance to bust the BCS party. Unfortunately for them, though, Clemson will take care of business. Tigers 27-20.

Joel's take – TCU’s defense is better than some think, but Clemson is improved and CJ Spiller looks like a man possessed so far. Home field advantage determines this one. Clemson 27-24

California @ Oregon: Jahvid Best showed the country why he could crash the Heisman party this year by scoring five touchdowns, and all of Cal's points, last week. Oregon's rush defense will be seeing Best in their dreams for a long time. Cal 42-30.

Joel's take – I picked Cal to win the Pac 10 in the preseason. Best vaults to the top of the Heisman charts, and the national media will jump on the Golden Bear Bandwagon after this one. California 31-13

Joel's Picks

Fresno State @ Cincinnati: I am high on Cincinnati Bearcats football! Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard are as good a QB-WR combo as there is in football. Fresno State came close against Wisconsin and was completely outclassed at home against Boise St . – Cincy wins big 45-19

James's take - I second this pick. Some gave me a hard time for even ranking Cincy in my preseason top 25 but now they look like they could run the table. Cincy 42-21

 

North Carolina @ Georgia Tech: I was high on Georgia Tech until last week. Of course losing on the road to a strong Miami team is nothing to jump ship over. UNC has had some close calls, but I like their QB, Tyler Yates and I think Butch Davis is a genius. I’m taking the TarHeels on the strength of Yates and a strong defensive effort. UNC 24-16

James's take - This one, I have to pick against you. I think that UNC doesn't have what it takes to stop the option and that Ga. Tech gets back on track. Tech 27-14.

 

Arizona State @ Georgia: Mark Richt should have fired defensive coordinator Willie Martinez after last season’s debacle. They played well enough on offense to beat Arkansas and South Carolina, but that lack of defense will hurt them eventually. I’m calling the shocker this week. Arizona State behind a strong offense and a strong enough defense takes it 30-27.

James's take - Georgia has put up huge offensive numbers so far this season but barely won their games. They also bombarded a good South Carolina defense that snuffed Ole Miss last night. UGA 33-20

 

Michigan State @ Wisconsin: Michigan State has lost two straight heartbreakers. Wisconsin beat Fresno in a game the Badgers should have lost and last week they beat up on Wofford. Michigan State has more talent and a strong need to get back into the win column. I’ll take Mark Dantonio and the Spartans over an overachieving Badger team 34-28.

James's take - Michigan State  was close to handing the fighting Irish their second upset loss last week. They also showed signs of life that I thought were gone when they lost to Central Michigan the week before. Spartans 28-27

 

Washington @ Stanford: If I were a betting man, which I am not, this would be the game that I would lay a few dimes on. Washington is coming off of a huge victory over USC and will play at Notre Dame next week. It’s the classic trap game against a more than formidable opponent. I think Stanford, behind QB Andrew Luck and Senior RB Toby Gerhart, will get it done this week. Cardinal 26-20

James's take - This one I do have to agree on. Washington has their heads in the clouds after doing what one PAC-10 team that is unranked does each year. Beat USC. The Cardinals have been slowly getting better each year. Cardinals 20-17 

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