By: Joe “Cright” Cardoso
What does it mean when you call someone your rival? It means a person or thing competing with another for the same objective, or for superiority in the same field of activity. College football is amazing, and a huge part of what makes it awesome is the fans and the environment it creates. Marching bands, tailgating, chants we have known since childhood, and last but not least, the rivalries.
Funny how when we all gather with family and friends and give thanks for what we have this week, some of us, myself included, are looking ahead to the weekend, or Thursday afternoon, when we hope to crush the dreams and hopes of our bitter rivals on the field. The trophies and cool nicknames are many, “The Egg Bowl”, “Civil War”. Houses and whole neighborhoods are divided over this. Yes, it’s just a game, but for some, this is the whole season just this one……GAME. As a lifelong Michigan fan, I can say with no doubt I hate Ohio State and can name a long list of Buckeyes I wanted to punch in the face for roasting us and ruining my holiday season. Let’s take a look at my favorite rivalry games and how they impact this college football season.
Palmetto Bowl (South Carolina vs. Clemson), Nov. 28 12 p.m. EST
Longest uninterrupted series in the South and third longest rivalry game overall. These two schools are only 132 miles apart, and what began in 1880 still rolls on. This season, Clemson has had a lock on the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. They have the ACC crown, but would want nothing more than to stomp USC. For the Gamecocks, they lost their coach mid-season and have been a wreck overall. What better way to end the year and spring board into the next? Beat Clemson, ruin those CFB Playoff dreams and have some bragging rights as well.
Bedlam (Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State), Nov. 28 8 p.m. EST
This season makrs the third time both teams are ranked in the top 10. I love the fact that this goes beyond the football field; these two schools have a COMPLETE sports rivalry in every sport. For the Cowboys this is for bragging rights and a good bowl bid. They have ZERO chance of a playoff bid, since they haven’t played ONE Power 5 conference opponent. For the Sooners, who leaped frog the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame for the fourth spot in the CFB playoff, a win gets them a Big 12 title and a spot in the Final Four. Do they lose the only hope they have, or is Notre Dame taking a L to Stanford? Which school takes a step to winning the Bedlam Bell?
Iron Bowl (Auburn vs. Alabama), Nov. 28 3:30 p.m. EST
Named after the role Birmingham had on the steel industry, this game has had it all: great players, coaches and finishes. Both teams had played in the last five now dead BCS championship games. The first battle was in 1893, and the hate and trash talk has only grown. For this year’s version, it’s simple: Bama CAN NOT LOSE or it is out of the Final Four. Win, and Bama goes to face the Gators in the ATL for the SEC championship. For the fans of the Auburn Tigers, it’s a chance to end the run of Bama making it to a major bowl at the Tigers’ expense. Auburn’s 2-5 conference record is not the standard, so beating the Tide would be big.
The Game (Ohio State vs. Michigan), Nov. 28 12 p.m. EST
In my humble opinion, this is the BEST rivalry in sports, next to Duke and North Carolina. And with two great coaches and rosters stacked with talent, “The Game” is BACK. The year war that ragged on between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembecheler is reborn with Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. Ole Jim has his Wolverines playing better ahead of what most experts predicted, and they are looking for a major bowl appearance with a win. Ever the lover of mind games, he has embraced this challenge with open arms, and will have his team ready for Saturday. For Urban Meyer, coming off a shocking loss at home to the Spartans, he needs to refocus his squad. Rivalry games, more often than not, do not take time for players to understand the impact. No playoff impact with this game unless Michigan State is beaten by Penn State. But these two teams hate each other. Harbaugh and Wolverines Nation would want nothing more than to beat a hated rival and really show “GO BLUE” is back.
Whatever game you watch, enjoy the strong rivalry and all that is great in college football. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be safe!
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