Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 13 (Rivalry Madness!)

Football Follies 2017: NCAA Week 13 (Rivalry Madness!)
Clemson and South Carolina in their Storied Rivalry clash in 1911. Clemson won 27-0. (Image: Wikipedia; By Taps staff - https://archive.org/details/taps1912clem, Public Domain, Link)

The week’s early MAC Attack is behind us, as usual at this time of the season, but at least the Rockets are saving their good stuff for later, and Thursday of Rivalry Madness week couldn’t be finer, with Ole Miss at #14 Mississippi State for the Egg Bowl.

In some parts of the country, the game goes perfectly with turkey and dressing; in others, it will be all about the pies and coffee.  Some people may even be clear-headed enough to focus on the football, and maybe toss some pigskin under the porch light at halftime.

Meanwhile, a rivalry-fest extraordinaire awaits, resuming on Friday (if not so much for most of our Inner Circle, which has gotten this checklist item mostly accomplished earlier this fall).

Just so you know, we Officially Don’t Care about this LaVar guy in the tweet-off with El Presidente.  But we wish him, and you, a Happy Thanksgiving.

Inner circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, hosts Temple on Saturday for the Golden Hurricane’s final shot at a three-win season.  Temple, at 5-6, still has a chance to be bowl-eligible.  You can see how this is going.  Owls give 3.5.

#4 Oklahoma is still in the danger zone hosting West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, on Saturday.  Someday y’all folks who aren’t Sooner fans and don’t follow them closely will realize why I shake this totem every week.  Anyway, they’re giving 22.5 to the Mountaineers, but with a Final Four slot on the line, and justification for other teams to edge up, and WVU not being beanbag (Kansas is beanbag, and look how that went), it’s constant-alarm time.  More touches for Sermon is one of my prescriptions.

New #19 Oklahoma State hosts Kansas (motto: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”), giving 41.  We can hope for less of the totally unnecessary taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct than in last week’s OU-Kansas game, although we do understand the urge to gawk at and snark-tweet the Gundy ‘Do.

Navy will be at Houston Friday morning at 11.  Both teams are 6-4 and likely to get bowl bids; neither can catch Memphis in the AAC West.  Houston gives 4.5, but we foresee a closer game.

Army is on its usual pantywaist three-week hiatus before The Game.  Air Force, 4-7 and out of the bowl running, hosts Utah State Saturday night for the final game of the season.  Falcons give 1.5 on their home turf.

Virginia Tech, clocking in at #25 after another spontaneous ascent because they’re frustratingly, intermittently really good, has to meet Virginia in Charlottesville this year for their Storied Rivalry.  We’re so worried some guy named Tom Jackson might be announcing the game.  It is ESPN, after all.  Friday night at 8.  Be there or square; the 8-3 Hokies give 7.5.

Finally, Nevada, 2-9, gets to the big game with pus-encrusted UNLV (5-6).  This one’s for the cannon, which as you all know by now is no little diddly paperweight, but at 500-odd pounds, one of the coolest rivalry trophies in football, bar none.  Cher should climb on this thing, that’s how unbearably awesome it is.  The Fremont Cannon is painted blue after last year’s Nevada victory, and Semper Blue is our motto.  Nevada gives 3; game time is 1 PM Mountain on Saturday in Reno.  Let the Wolf Pack howl!

The Fremont Cannon in Nevada blue. (Wikipedia)

New #18 LSU hosts Texas A&M on Saturday for what may not be the most Storied of Rivalries, but is nevertheless pretty old (1899), and has quite a few meetings on it, for what used to be a non-conference rivalry.  LSU has a lopsided 32-20-3 lead in the series, and a stingy give of 9.5 to the 7-4 Aggies.

Kansas State is bowl-eligible now, but can boost its booger cred with a win in a perilous finale with visiting Iowa State on Saturday.  We’re counting on Snyder’s boys to shake off the calorie fog and git ‘er done.  Wildcats give 2.5.  Make us proud, guys.

#12 TCU hosts Baylor for their Storied Rivalry on Friday morning at 11.  This one also has some legs on it, going back to 1899.  We are a bit horrified to report that the TCU-Baylor rivalry has featured the only college football game in which a coach perished during play; this happened in 1971, when TCU Coach Jim Pittman collapsed and died in the middle of the Baylor game.  We’re counting on Gary Patterson and Matt Rhule to remain upright, and turkey-trot to their final handshake on Friday.  Frogs give 24.5.

For Toledo, the game with Western Michigan on Friday morning doesn’t promise to be quite as, er, gamey this year as last, but the Rockets still want to win it, and may need to, depending on how the Northern Illinois game with Central Michigan comes out shortly thereafter.  (Go Chippewas.)  We’d like a nice, clean MAC West title for Toledo to take to the grudge match with the Zips.  Rockets are favored by 13.5.

Wyoming, we hear, gave Fresno State quite the welcome last week, with the Bulldog buses requiring an emergency vehicle escort to get them through the snow and ice to their tactical RP in Laramie.  Wyoming will have a very different experience capping the season off at San Jose State on Saturday.  Besides the weather being, shall we say, un-Wyoming-like, the 1-11 Spartans really suck.  I believe we’ve mentioned that before.  The Laramie Pokes give 20; we figure on them covering.

Top 10

#1 Alabama heads to #6 Auburn for one of the most heavily-freighted Iron Bowls in recent memory.  This one can’t fail to be the game of the week; if schedulers had their wits about them, it would be the marquee game on Saturday.  As it is, it will draw all matter in the universe to it in the late-afternoon slot.  Can Auburn pull one off?  Tide gives 4.5.  Popcorn.

#2 Miami (Da U) – yes, we’re dubious too – will be at Pitt Friday giving 13.5.

#3 Clemson will be at #24 South Carolina (motto: The Other USC) for their Storied Rivalry meet on Saturday.  In theory, the sudden ranking of the Gamecocks could help Clemson scramble back over Miami, assuming the Tigers’ 13.5-point give is a good steer.  Either way, it’ll be up to the ACC championship match.

Minnesota and Wisconsin meet for one of their earliest rivalry matches in 1903 (Minnesota prevailed 17-0.) (Image: Wikipedia; By Fielding Yost – From “Football for Player and Spectator”, published in 1905, available at MBooks – the Michigan Digitization Project (http://www.lib.umich.edu/mdp/)., Public Domain, Link)

#5 Wisconsin will be at Minnesota to renew the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, one of the worthiest trophies in college ball.  We, personally, are all about the axe.  (That said, there are a lot of epic trophies on rivalry weekend.  But a real axe, and not just a broken old axe-head mounted on wood?  We’re there every time.)  Badgers give 17.

Now, that’s an axe.

#7 Georgia lumbers over to Georgia Tech for Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate, the Scourge-of-Safe-Space-Nation rivalry we love to see matter.  So the ‘Dogs give 11.  You know GT will play them tough.

#8 Notre Dame nabs the marquee slot Saturday evening at #21 Stanford for their Storied Rivalry.  If everybody ranked #1 through #7 falls down dead in the next few weeks, the Arsh might have a shot at the CFP championship match.  Otherwise, this is just a rivalry.  The Legends Trophy is a base-mounted bowl in tasteful cut crystal, the sort of thing someone’s aunt probably thought up.  But, you know, who cares.  Shanty Irish give 2.5.

#9 Ohio State still has an outside shot at that Final Four slot, and of course couldn’t finish the season with greater urgency than playing the big game at Michigan.  Brush off your goosebumps-of-storied-yesteryear and get ready for some football on Saturday at 11. Buckeyes give 12.

#10 Penn State is at Maryland Saturday, giving 22.

Best of the rest

Rivalry Madness brings us some of the most beloved matches there are, so belly up with your fork and knife at the ready, and dig into to some two-fisted thankfulness.

AAC fans won’t want to miss the War on I-4 on Friday, in which #15 Central Florida hosts South Florida (of the C-USA Remnant), with the Golden Knights giving 10.

Missouri heads to Arkansas for the Battle Line Trophy, which we’re sure is meaningful to someone out there.  This year, we’re just having the all-purpose “Bless their hearts” reaction.  Mizzou, oddly enough, gives 9.5.  Seriously, folks, Bielema’s not that bad.

The matchup of Iowa at Nebraska is, of course, the rivalry for the humbly styled Heroes Trophy, which on our aesthetically-minded Trophy-o-meter barely registers, but of course that hardly matters.  Hawkeyes give 3.5.

Texas Tech is at Texas to play for the Chancellor’s Spurs, a rivalry that will never really equal the intensity of the old, pre-defection Texas-Texas A&M Storied Rivalry, one of the game’s all-time greats.  But they’re trying to drum up feeling in the Lone Star State for this newfangled thing, and we wish them well.  ‘Horns give 10.

Cal will be at UCLA Friday night for their Storied Rivalry, and we just kind of love that anybody’s willing to put money on this one.  Bruins give 7.

Come Saturday, Florida State will be at Florida for their Storied Rivalry, which is a great FBS rivalry, and doesn’t deserve the silly thing Jeb Bush did to it during his tenure as governor.  (This tale has Jeb! written all over it.)  Somebody, including Jeb!, thought it would be awesome to have a three-way rivalry for the “Florida Cup,” a trophy UF and FSU had been doing just fine without all those years.  So a trophy was commissioned, to be not just a trophy but a “work of art” – with predictable results:

The (currently inactive) Florida Cup of FBS football, trophy and work of art. (Image via social media)

One problem, of course, is that the three teams (including Miami) rarely if ever all play each other during a season.  So the trophy goes for years at a time being “inactive.”

Plus there’s also the problem of the actual Florida Cup: the now widely touted and much-anticipated pre-season soccer fest held in Florida, which has been so successful that it’s become an annual event, attended by thousands, and far better known.

Sigh.  Seminoles give 5.5.

Louisville is at Kentucky for the Governor’s Cup rivalry, giving 10.

Indiana is at Purdue to play for the Old Oaken Bucket.  And while the football rivalry may date to only 1891, the publication date of the poem “The Old Oaken Bucket,” by Samuel Woodworth, celebrates its bicentennial this year, so in that sense, we have a Storied Rivalry winner, hands down, and all the rest of y’all might as well just go home.

The Old Oaken Bucket.

No Rivalry Madness weekend is complete without an American icon crooning the poem set to music:

Hoosiers give 2.5.

North Carolina is at NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”), on the short end of 16.5.

#22 Northwestern is at Illinois for the Land of Lincoln Trophy, a very fine specimen with its spiffy tophat vibe.  We’re fans.  Purple’s giving 16.5.

It needs some bows or something. The Land of Lincoln Trophy. (Wikipedia)

Vanderbilt heads to Tennessee to suck up a Vol give of 1.  We think the Commodores can totally take ‘em.

Arizona at Arizona State for the Territorial Cup kicks off our Saturday night PAC-12 action.  You’d hope for something reminiscent of outlaw shootouts, outhouse doors, or at least Anasazi heroic lore with a Territorial Cup, but alas.  Wildcats give 2.5, for some reason.

Don’t let the depressing museum-display sheen fool you. The Arizona Territorial Cup has some fierce backstory. (Image via AZ Central)

Oregon hits Oregon State late, giving 24.5, and at least they play for a platypus.

One of these is a “platypus.”

#13 Washington State is at #17 Washington to duke it out for the Apple Cup.  (No apples change hands.)  Huskies give 10.5 in the home stand.

Meanwhile, we’re certainly not going to forget the Rumble in the Rockies, featuring Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) at Utah, late but great on Friday night.  The Youths donate 10.5.

Other ranks

In FCS, McNeese State prevailed over Lamar 13-3 to finish the season 9-2, and ranked #15 in the coaches poll.  Good job, Pokes.

No tournament play for the Cowboys, but Southland’s Central Arkansas is set for round 2 next week, meeting the winner of New Hampshire and Central Connecticut State, this week’s round 1 bout.  We wish them the best.

In Div II, Saturday sees an all-PSAC clash in round 2, as West Chester, winner of last week’s match with Shippensburg, meets Indiana (PA).  Should be a great game.  California (PA) retired honorably after a loss to Assumption.

MIAA’s conference champ Fort Hays State (KS) will take on Ferris State Saturday.  The other conference hopeful, Northwest Missouri State, succumbed to Ashland (OH) last week.

In Div III, HCAC champ Franklin College lost a 35-34 heartbreaker to Wartburg in round 1, so the Heartland pennant is out for the season.

NJAC’s Wesley and Frostburg State both advanced from round 1.  Nicely done.  On Saturday, Frostburg State hosts Washington & Jefferson, and Wesley meets Brockport.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, we are thrilled report, is the winner of the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl, having knocked off Buffalo State 35-20.  Well done, shipmates!

Springfield (MA) lost narrowly to Husson U. (Bangor, ME) last week, so ECAC’s finest is out of the Div III tournament.  Great effort, gents.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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