Even though it isn't what it used to be, rivalry week is still one of the best weeks of the season. Even the unimportant games have something at stake. Some of the great trophy games are played and bragging rights are settled for another year.
One of the consequences of realignment is that some of the great rivalries are no longer played (Texas-Texas A&M, Missouri-Kansas, etc.), and some got moved away from the end of the season (Stanford-Cal, Utah-BYU, etc.), but we still have plenty to choose from, and maybe some new ones will emerge.
I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!
My record this season on the picks is 64-38 overall, 53-48-1 against the spread. I've also hit on three upset specials.
Notre Dame (-5.5, cover) at Southern California (Jeweled Shillelagh): This is the biggest game for the Irish in a quarter century. They will not only get to keep this interesting-looking trophy (draw your own confusion) if they win, but they will also play for the BCS title. They're facing a team that has fallen on its face in every big game this season, is starting a backup QB and really doesn't have anything to play for.
Florida at Florida State (-8): The Gators will play in a BCS game if they win. Maybe even the title game. The Seminoles' computer rankings are so bad that even winning may not get them a shot at the title, but they have a huge chip on their shoulder pads. No elite team seems to be getting less respect.
Stanford at UCLA (+2): So, who does UCLA want to play in the Pac-12 title game? If the Bruins don't want to see Oregon, this would be a good week to give some backups some reps. Maybe get some little-used seniors some time in their final home game.
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Oregon (-9.5, cover) at Oregon State (Platypus Trophy): Oregon doesn't win close games. The Ducks win big. They put up basketball scores. If the Beavers can hold them down like Stanford did, you have to like their chances.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-7) (Bedlam Bell): The Sooners' defense has failed a couple of tests lately, although the offense did bail them out against West Virginia last week. OU can still win the Big 12 and is a likely BCS participant if it wins out.
Georgia Tech at Georgia (-14) (Governor's Cup): I love the name for this rivalry game: "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate." The ACC Coastal Division-champion Yellow Jackets will be looking to spoil the BCS title dreams of their rival.
Auburn at Alabama (-33, cover) (James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy): You can argue whether this is the biggest rivalry in college football or not, but you can't argue that it has the longest trophy name for the winner. It has been a bad year at Auburn, capped off by a bad week leading up to this game. Plus, there are rumors that Gene Chizik will keep his job. This figures to be the perfect capper to the Tigers' season.
Nebraska (-14.5, cover) at Iowa (Heroes Trophy): One of the new rivalries formed by realignment, Nebraska clinches a spot in the Bigger Ten title game with a win today.
Michigan at Ohio State (-3.5): Trophy? We don't need no stinkin' trophy! In the Big Ten, a league with trophy games seemingly every week, the biggest rivalry of all doesn't have one. Michigan has an outside shot at a BCS game if it wins. Ohio State can end its first year under Urban Meyer undefeated, some consolation for not getting to play in the postseason.
LSU (-12.5, cover) at Arkansas (Golden Boot): LSU looks to give Arkansas coach John L. Smith the golden boot out the door and stay in contention for a BCS berth.
TCU at Texas (-7.5, cover): The Longhorns still have a shot at winning the Big 12 and/or playing in a BCS game. That all goes away if they don't stuff the Frogs on Thanksgiving.
Mississippi State (+1.5) at Ole Miss (Golden Egg): There's a little more on the line for Ole Miss. The Rebels qualify for a bowl if they can knock off the Bulldogs. That said, I'm surprised MSU is an underdog.
Indiana at Purdue (-5.5, cover) (Old Oaken Bucket): Purdue's up-and-down season has a chance to finish with a three-game winning streak and a bowl. That probably won't save coach Danny Hope's job, and it shouldn't. The Hoosiers have gotten better, especially offensively, as the year has progressed.
Virginia at Virginia Tech (-10) (Commonwealth Cup): It has been a disappointing year for both teams, moreso the Hokies. The Cavaliers can make it even worse by winning and leaving the Hokies at home for the holidays for the first time in 20 years.
Troy at Middle Tennessee (-3, cover) (The Palladium): This unusual trophy is usually won by the Trojans, but MTSU has a shot this year. The Blue Raiders are in position to win or share the Sun Belt title. Troy is looking for bowl eligibility.
South Carolina (+4) at Clemson (Hardee's Trophy): It appears that only the Golden Thickburger is at stake here. Neither team is likely headed to a BCS game, although 11-1 Clemson might give the Sugar Bowl people something to think about.
Arizona State at Arizona (-3) (Territorial Cup): Rich Rodriguez's first year in Tucson has gone reasonably well, and it should finish on a high note. The winner will probably go higher in the Pac-12 bowl order.
Washington (-13.5, cover) at Washington State (Apple Cup): It's going to take a little time for Mike Leach to get things going in the right direction at Wazzu. The Huskies have the upper hand for now.
Illinois at Northwestern (-19.5, cover) (Land of Lincoln Trophy): This game used to be played for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk, but apparently the Sweet Sioux asked for it back, and now they play for a Monopoly game piece. The Wildcats have been one of the few pleasant surprises in the Big Ten this year, while things have gone so badly for the Illini under first-year coach Tim Beckman that some are calling for his ouster.
Kentucky at Tennessee (-13) (Bourbon Barrel): They don't actually play for the Barrel any more, but I bet both teams' fans will be hitting the bourbon early and often as it has been a disappointing year for both. So bad, in fact, that this game features a lame-duck coach facing an interim coach.
Rutgers (+2) at Pitt: The Panthers are favored in this Big Ten-ACC showdown. Oh, wait. Rutgers leads the Big East? Well, this game has no bearing on that. That gets decided next week.
Upset of the Week: Miami at Duke (+6.5). Who knows where the Hurricanes' heads will be after getting the news this week that all their hard work will mean another holiday season at home. This was supposed to be for the ACC Coastal title. Now, it's playing out the string.