College Football Rivalry Week Preview

This week is all about giving thanks and spending time with friends and family. This week is about showing your love for others.

Unless you are into college football, because this is rivalry week, aka hate your opponents week.

College football week 14 is always loaded with rivalry games. Here is some background, history, and predictions for this weekend’s biggest games.

Michigan vs Ohio State

Rivalry: The Game
First meeting: 1897
All-time series: Michigan leads 58–50–6

Summary: Jim Harbaugh is 0-4 against Ohio State and Michigan’s losing streak is 7 years, going back to 2012. Wolverines last win was 2011, during the transitional season in between Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, when interim Luke Fickell coached the Buckeyes to a 6-6 season.

What’s at stake: Ohio State is considered one of the top two teams and a win keeps them in position for a potential #1 seed in the playoffs. A loss may not knock them out of the top 4, but would put them in a very uncomfortable position.

For Michigan, it’s just about respect and getting off the schneid and finally getting that victory that has alluded Harbaugh since his arrival.

Prediction: Part of me wants to pick Michigan. They have been amazing since halftime of the Penn State game 5 weeks ago. But this Ohio State team is truly awesome and I can’t see Michigan containing Chase Young or the defense slowing down Justin Fields or JK Dobbins. Buckeyes win, but it’s going to be closer than many will expect.


Alabama vs Auburn

Rivalry: Iron Bowl
First meeting: 1893
All-time series: Alabama leads 45–36–1

Summary: Alabama blew out their rivals 52-21 last season, after losing 26-14 in 2017. This game is always intense and always has playoff implications for at least one team.

What’s at stake: Fair or unfair, Mac Jones legacy as an Alabama QB is at stake. Jones will start due to the injury to Tua Tagovailoa. It will be his second career start and a win will end Alabama’s regular season season at 11-1 and in position to potentially sneak into the playoffs for the 6th straight year, even without winning the SEC.

Auburn has lost big games to Florida, Georgia, LSU and are simply looking to get one big break in 2019.

Prediction: WAR. DAM. EAGLE. Mac Jones has never played a “real” team. Auburn lost by 11 at Florida, 3 at LSU, and 7 against Georgia. They are due. They are playing at home and I am going with Auburn in the opposite.


Virginia vs Virginia Tech

Rivalry: Commonwealth Cup
First meeting: 1895
All-time series: Virginia Tech leads 58–37–5

Summary: Virginia has not beaten their rivals since 2003. It’s been 15 straight years of losses. Last year’s was probably the worst. With under 2 minutes, Virginia Tech tied the game at 31-31 after a fumble was recovered for a TD and they hit a 42 yard field goal in overtime to keep the streak going.

What’s at stake: ACC Coastal Championship on the line. The winner earns the right to lose to Clemson by 42 next weekend in the ACC Championship Game.

If it’s Virginia, they will be the 7th different team in the last 7 years to represent the Coastal division.

Predictions: How can you pick against a team that has won 15 in a row? Easy. I am taking the better team. Virginia vs Clemson in the ACC Championship Game next week.


Wisconsin vs Minnesota

Rivalry: Paul Bunyan’s Axe
First meeting: 1890
All-time series: Wisconsin leads 60–60–8

Summary: Minnesota beat Wisconsin 37-15 in Madison last year to snap a 14 year losing streak to the Badgers.

What’s at stake: ESPN’s College Gameday will be at Minnesota! It’s the first time the Gophers have ever hosted the program.

The series is tied and whoever takes the all-time edge will win the Big Ten West Championship. Wisconsin has appeared in 5 of the 8 Big Ten Championship Games (2-3 record) while Minnesota has never appeared, and have not won Big Ten since they were co-champions in 1967. They have 10 Big Ten championships, with most of those coming in the ’30s and ’40s. The winner of this game faces Ohio State.

Prediction: PJ Fleck’s boat is going to sink, courtesy of Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor. Badgers have the defense capable of containing the Gophers WRs. I think Taylor runs for over 200 yards and the Badgers go back to the Big Ten title game.


Oregon vs Oregon State

Rivalry: Civil War
First meeting: 1894
All-time series: Oregon leads 65–47–10

Summary: Oregon has won the last two and 10 of 11 games overall. They have outscored the Beavers 124-25 the last two years (69-10, 55-15).

What’s at stake: Following their loss to Arizona State last Saturday, Oregon is out of the CFP picture. They have already clinched their spot in the PAC-12 Championship game, which means nothing is really at stake beyond rivalry pride.

An Oregon State win means bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013.

Prediction: Ducks take out their frustrations from last week’s loss on their rivals. They win by three touchdowns.


Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State

Rivalry: Bedlam
First meeting: 1904
All-time series: Oklahoma leads 88-18-7

Summary: It’s crazy to think that Oklahoma State has won just 18 times in over 100 games. Less than 20% of the time. Sooners have won the last 4 games and are averaging 51.5 points. These games are always a shootout. Last year’s game was 48-47 and 2017 was 62-52. Expect more fireworks in 2019.

What’s at stake: An Oklahoma win keeps them in pursuit of a playoff spot.

Prediction: Oklahoma State is banged up. Chubba Hubbard is among the best RBs in the country by WR Tylan Wallace is out and they have a new QB. Sooners will be focused and ready, after last week’s scare against TCU.


Florida vs Florida State

Rivalry: Sunshine Showdown
First meeting: 1958
All-time series: Florida leads 35–26–2

Summary: These schools have both been so up-and-down over the past decade, it’s hard to remember the last time they were both great at the same time. 2014 was the last close game, a 24-19 Seminoles victory. Since 2004, only two other games have been decided by a touchdown (2004 and 2006). Florida won last year’s game 41-14.

What’s at stake: Florida is looking to finish 10-2 and could be in the mix for a potential at-large spot in a NY6 bowl (depending on how things shake out at the top).

Florida State is 6-5 and will go to a bowl game and will continue their search for a new head coach immediately.

Prediction: Gators win to keep their NY6 bowl game hopes alive.


Ole Miss vs Mississippi State

Rivalry: Egg Bowl
First meeting: 1901
All-time series: Ole Miss leads 62–45–6

Summary: Since 2015, these schools have alternated wins. Mississippi State won last year’s Egg Bowl 35-3.

What’s at stake: 5-6 Mississippi State has not missed a bowl game since 2009. That would happen if they don’t beat their rivals. Ole Miss is 4-7.

Prediction: Ole Miss wins and this is the last game Joe Moorhead coaches at Mississippi State (will voluntarily leave to go northeast – Rutgers? Boston College?)


Georgia vs Georgia Tech

Rivalry: Clean, Old Fashioned Hate
First meeting: 1893
All-time series: Georgia leads 67–41–5

Summary: Georgia is 15-4 since 2000. Georgia Tech actually has 2 wins in the last 5 years (2016 and 2014). Georgia won 45-21 last year and 38-7 in 2017.

What’s at stake: Georgia needs to avoid a terrible loss to stay in the playoff mix. If Georgia beats LSU in the SEC Championship game on 12/7, they will be in the playoffs, provided they don’t lose to Georgia Tech first.

Prediction: Georgia Tech will be Georgia within the next 3-4 years. Geoff Collins is a really good coach. But not yet. Georgia rolls into the SEC Championship Game next week.


Louisville vs Kentucky

Rivalry: Governor’s Cup
First meeting: 1912
All-time series: Kentucky leads 16-15

Summary: Kentucky took full advantage of Louisville’s rough 2018 season, winning 56-10. Louisville has won 6 of 8 overall, but Kentucky has won 2 of the last 3.

What’s at stake: Hatred and bragging rights. Nothing more, nothing less. Louisville has had an extremely successful season in coach Scott Satterfield’s first year as head coach and Kentucky, at 6-5, has had a good year, considering the injuries they have dealt with, especially at the QB position.

Prediction: This is one of the tougher games to predict on this list. I’m going with Kentucky because it’s at home and because Mark Stoops declared this week that he was not a candidate for the Florida State job and was staying at Kentucky. That kind of declaration can get kids pumped up and ready to play.


Clemson vs South Carolina

Rivalry: Palmetto Bowl
First meeting: 1896
All-time series: Clemson leads 70–42–4

Summary: Clemson has made the CFP 5 straight years. They have also beaten their rivals 5 straight years. Dabo Swinney lost his first 5 games against South Carolina after being named permanent head coach in 2009 but has gotten them back of late.

What’s at stake: At 11-0, Clemson needs to win it’s final two games to guarantee its spot in the CFP for the 5th straight season (out of 6 all-time playoffs). A loss would put their spot in serious jeopardy.

South Carolina is 4-7 and this will be their final game of the season.

Prediction: Clemson cruises. They will never take their foot off the gas as they get ready for next weekend and then the playoffs. They want to make a statement and Dabo Swinney loves embarrassing his rivals.


Indiana vs Purdue

Rivalry: Old Oaken Bucket
First meeting: 1891
All-time series: Purdue leads 74–41–6

Summary: Purdue has won the last two years, by a touchdown in both games (28-21 in 2018 and 31-24 in 2017).

What’s at stake: In the grand scheme of things, nothing. Indiana is going to a bowl game and Purdue is not. Nothing more than bragging rights and an Old Oaken Bucket is at stake.

Predictions: This has been a miserable year for Purdue. Injuries have derailed the Boilermakers, but it was rough before injuries hit. #9WINDIANA is still a realistic possibility. Going Hoosiers here to finish 8-4 and pursue that 9th win in a bowl game.


Washington vs Washington State

Rivalry: Apple Cup
First meeting: 1900
All-time series: Washington leads 73–32–6

Summary: Last year’s meeting was a snowy battle in Pullman, with a spot in the PAC-12 Championship game and Rose Bowl appearance on the line. Huskies won 28-15. Washington has won 6 in a row overall and 9 of the last 10. Cougars last win was 2013, in Mike Leach’s first season. They finished 3-9, but did win the Apple Cup. Washington coach Chris Peterson has yet to lose to his rivals.

What’s at stake: Nothing. Nothing at all. Both teams are 6-5. Both teams are bowl eligible, but they have both had extremely disappointing seasons. An Apple Cup victory will at least salvage some pride for one of these teams.

Prediction: I’m going with Washington State because they have a much more explosive offense, Washington is dragging itself to the finish line and Mike Leach is simply due for a win in this series.


Arizona vs Arizona State

Rivalry: Territorial Cup
First meeting: 1899
All-time series: Arizona leads 49-42-1

Summary: Arizona State won a wild game 41-40 in 2018. Sun Devils outscored Arizona 20-0 in the fourth quarter. Arizona had a chance, but kicker Josh Pollack missed a 45 yard field goal with 15 seconds to go and Arizona missed a bowl game as a result of this loss. Arizona State has won the last 2, and 7 of the last 10.

What’s at stake: Nothing more than bragging rights. Arizona State’s upset over Oregon last week gave them the 6 wins needed to go bowling. Arizona is 4-7 and will not play in a bowl for the second straight season under coach Kevin Sumlin.

Prediction: Arizona State wins. Arizona started 4-1 and has lost 6 straight games, this will be #7. Wildcats have serious coaching questions moving forward, while Sun Devils build off the momentum of last week’s win over Oregon.


UCF vs USF

Rivalry: War on 1-4
First meeting: 2005
All-time series: South Florida leads 6-4

Summary: After South Florida won the first four games in C-USA from 2005-2008, UCF has made up ground and has won 4 of 6 AAC meetings, including the last two. Last season’s 38-10 win ended in horrible fashion when UCF QB McKenzie Milton sustained a serious leg injury.

What’s at stake: Honestly, not much. UCF is looking for their 9th win and a decent bowl bid. USF might be playing in the final game under Charlie Strong (but it’s unlikely he gets fired).

Prediction: UCF wins and ends the season strong at 9-3, giving them a chance at another 10 win season in a bowl game.

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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