Rivalry Weekend is Here!

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Rivalry Weekend is Here!

Ahhhh, it’s Rivalry Weekend and we can finally get to spoiling and making seasons with games that we all want to call before they’ve begun and yet they never turn out the way we thought.  They just never do.  I suppose you could say that Rivalry Weekend is a form

of a playoff because many of these teams play their natural rival and one team always has the other’s “number” and that is always a horrible place to trip up.  Even the team in the rivalry that sucks has a lot to gain by playing well because they are not only playing for bragging rights, but they are also playing to ruin the other team’s season.  The hate factor is so high in some of these rivalries that you can taste it long before the game is even played.  One game that isn’t on Rivalry Weekend this year is Ohio State/Michigan.

Have you ever asked someone from either state how they feel about the other?  My wife’s from Ohio, could care less about football, and isn’t that interested in the game itself, but she has an in-born mistrust of Michigan that everyone from Ohio has.  Everyone from Michigan is the same way.  I mean, imagine how funny it is to watch the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry from afar.  If Ohio State lost in a math tournament everyone in Michigan would throw a party!!!  No joke.  They don’t care what the hate is over…they just hate…each other.

Auburn/Alabama?  Yeah, they don’t get along.  Living in the South makes you acutely aware of how intense the distaste is between these Southern schools.  Pittsburgh/West Virginia?  They don’t call it the Backyard Brawl for nothing.  Pitt ruined RichRod’s last season at WVU and that justified their entire season.  Why do you think Dave Wannstedt still has a job and had an opportunity to get into the Top 15?  That win against West Virginia bought him many, many more years in Pittsburgh.  MANY.
Clemson/South Carolina?  They fight on the field every single year.  You know why?  Because in South Carolina you’re either a Clemson dude or an SC dude.  That’s just the way it is.  Clemson = wine and cheese and USC(the other one) = lunch pail.
Florida and Florida State?  They’ve decided a National Title against one another.  I don’t think there is a more intense sess pool of hate than a Rivalry loss in a title game.

Arkansas and LSU?  Arkansas has ruined LSU’s season before.  2002, 2007, and 2008.  That’s a lot of ruining for a school that is famous for a disgruntled National Champion Basketball Coach and an overhyped NFL running back who plays for the Raiders.

USC and UCLA?  USC and UCLA have a very intense rivalry but the unfortunate reality is that no one who isn’t on the West Coast really cares.  It’s unfortunate but true.   (Sorry Pac-10ers.)

With all of that said and done you know what bothers me the most?  What really gets in craw…

We have all these cool rivalries that don’t happen this weekend.

Georgia/Florida, Texas/Oklahoma, Army/Navy…How come we don’t have a full rivalry weekend with EVERY game all at once?  Is it all based on money and the fact that the schools and conferences can’t make as much as they could if they spread them all out?  Is it because College AD’s are just bad at scheduling?  What’s the deal?

Wait a minute…Maybe some of these rivalries aren’t really rivalries but they’re just games that are really interesting because both teams usually have something to play for?  Maybe?

Think about it.  Isn’t a rivalry an in-state/proximity thing?  Like, when you were in High School your rival school was right up the street.  In some cases you could walk from one school to the other.  Can you really have a rivalry between Ann Arbor, MI and Columbus, OH?  It’s about 200 miles between those two cities (hardly walking distance if you asked me) and I know that I said Ohioans and Michiganers hate each other, but maybe that’s more like a McCoy and Hatfield feud kind of thing.

I mean, in a rivalry, the two teams beat up on each other but then have to live right up the street from one another so they can’t be too hateful, but if you’re the Hatfields and McCoys you don’t care.  If you’re France and Germany there’s a lot of area to cover and kinda don’t care if another country hates you.  Hate and a Rivalry are different.  You can combine them if need be, but they’re still different things.

So, with this “rivalry theory” in place let’s get a grip on what is hate and what is a good-natured rivalry:

Texas and Oklahoma? That’s just plain hate.  First off, Texas used to be it’s own country so it automatically fits into my “France and Germany” mold.  Second, you can’t really ruin one team’s season in this game because of when it’s played, so you just get bragging rights which aren’t that hot since this game runs in streaks and we never get any real “back and forth”.  Third, if you’ve ever watched “Saving Grace” on TNT then you’ll notice that the ribbing is incessant when the one Longhorns fan who works in the Oklahoma City PD comes to work wearing a Longhorns belt buckle.  I mean, if you’re gonna take time out of working to catch lunatics, degenerates, maniacs, rapists, and killers to play practical jokes on your colleague because he went to UT you’ve got to REALLY hate Texas.  I mean…HATE IT!  (Two Cops on that show vandalized a bridge in the name of this rivalry and had sex in public while they’re were drunk off their asses.)  Verdict: If that’s not HATE I don’t know what is

Auburn and Alabama? This one fits perfectly into the “in-state” category.  You probably could walk from Auburn to Tuscaloosa in decent time and this game always makes waves.  For example, Auburn could ruin Bama’s season if they win(and make me very happy.)  Verdict: RIVALRY

Clemson and South Carolina? Well, these teams hate each other (they fight every year and people in South Carolina through beer bottles at Marching Band competitions [well, they used to.])  You get the idea.  Plus, they are fairly close together.  You could get from Clemson to Columbia in a little over an hour. Verdict: RIVALRY with some HATE on top

Florida and Florida State: These two teams decided a National Title once and you can get from Gainesville to Tallahassee in about an hour or so.  Yeah, the Noles are still pissed over 1996.  I know kids who go to FSU now who talk about losing to Florida in 96 and they were barely old enough to care. Verdict: RIVALRY with some ANGST on the side

Georgia/Florida: This game is played on a neutral field like Texas/Oklahoma and it never really decides anything because the rivalry is so streaky.  If Florida could’ve won in the 80’s that would’ve helped.  If Georgia could win now that would help.  Honestly, this one is actually the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” and everyone knows it.  Mark Richt put too many eggs into this game’s basket and he’s lost his team since the “celebration game”.  Verdict: PARTY/WASTE OF TIME

Pitt/WVU? Oddly enough, these schools are pretty close together (even though they are not in the same state) and they do not play on a neutral field.  They call the game a BRAWL.  You know, the thing you get kicked of the game for doing?  They named the game after that!  Plus, Pitt ruined WVU’s season a couple years ago and WVU could easily ruin Pitt’s season this year while Pitt’s chasing a BCS Bowl.  Verdict: TIDE-CHANGING RIVALRY

Army/Navy? There’s no hate here since the Armed Forces are all about respect.  Really, the only thing they do nowadays is play a bad football game and play a lot of practical jokes on each other.  (Oh, and they do push-ups!) Verdict: FOOTBALL GAME TURNED FRAT PARTY TURNED BOOT CAMP

Arkansas/LSU? These two schools are sort of close together, but not really.  Arkansas has ruined LSU’s season a couple times, but I think the people in this rivalry don’t really hate each other…they just sort of get jacked up for the game and come down as fast as they got up.  Verdict: IT’S A GAME THAT TURNS OUT TO BE GOOD SOMETIMES

USC/UCLA? These two teams occupy the same city!  Now that has rivalry written all over it.  I don’t think they hate each other because USC is too busy buying Reggie Bush’s family a house and UCLA is too busy wishing Troy Aikman was still in school.  Verdict: RIVALRY WITH A NICE TAN

There’s one I left out of the original list because I wanted to save it for the end.  Please realize a couple things.  1)  I’m NOT a homer and I call it like I see it.  2)  I’m not an alum of either of these schools.  3)  I really believe what I’m about to say.  I ain’t “playing radio”.

Georgia/Georgia Tech: This one is interesting.  The schools are barely an hour apart.  They are both in proximity to Atlanta so you could say that they both occupy the same town, but the disparities between the two schools are pretty intense.  People from UGA call Georgia Tech the “North Avenue Trade School” and people from Tech tell the same joke about an SEC education:

“How do you get a degree from UGA?  Drive by and they throw a diploma in your window.” They’ve since changed it to say “Hey, since academic standards got tougher how do you get a degree from UGA?  Do you still roll through Athens with your window down?” the answer is great “No, you have to stop now.”

I mean, you really have to hate another school to call their academic integrity into question or to refer to a Top 10 research institution as a “trade school” when the “trade school” is joking that you can get a degree by simply driving through town with your window down.  I mean, that’s cold.  Downright cold.

Georgia Tech and Georgia can easily decide things because one team or the other is good.  With Georgia on their run that has obviously ended GT had plenty of chances to screw things up for the Dawgs.  This season UGA can ruin Tech’s run behind the undefeateds by beating them and tanking their ranking, throwing them out of the BCS and into some crap bowl like the “Poulan Weed Eater Bowl”.  That’s serious.  Players in this rivalry never get over it no matter how long it’s been since they played.  People in Georgia mark their calendars for this game.  My cousin calls my uncle to brag every time Tech wins.  I mean brag…like it’s disrespectful (thank goodness my uncle has a good sense of humor.)  Did I mention that we have 4 pro sports teams in Atlanta and this game manages to cut through all that crap (and it will even though the Hawks are the hottest team in the NBA and the Thrashers are playing well and the Falcons need to get it together this weekend.)  That’s a lot to get through, but it makes it through every year.  (On a personal note my High School Band was at a random Georgia Tech game once and our uniforms were sort of UGA colored and at some point during the 2nd Quarter someone threw beer on us from the upper deck and shouted “Georgia sucks”.)

 

(Click the pic, you know you want to…)  That’s how hot this rivalry is. Verdict: RIVALRY WITH A DOUBLE ORDER OF HATE AND IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR

Check out my picks for Rivalry Weekend after the jump.  You’ll be shocked…a little.

Clemson @ South Carolina: Like I said, I expect a fight before the game, during the game and after the game,  From a practical Football perspective you have to pick Clemson…not because I think they’re world-beaters or anything, but they have C.J. Spiller.  He’s had 7 consecutive games with a 50 yard TD run, 310 all-purpose yards in a game, 19 50-yard TD’s, 9 80-yard TD’s, and 8 career games with 200 all-purpose yards.  Yeah he’s pretty good, and  I think that equals death for the Gamecocks…how about you?   Tigers claw the Gamecocks.

 

Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma: Who in a million years would have guessed that Oklahoma State would be ranked #12 for this game and the Sooners would be unranked?  Not I said the fly.  I can’t say that even with the loss of Dez Bryant that I distrust the Cowboys because I like Mike Gundy and I think he’s pretty cool (I especially liked the “I’m a man” thing.   Cowboys Rope the Sooners.

Now, these games happen on Friday and I want to make clear that I may not be able to get this column up by Friday at 2 when most of these games start, but it is important that I put my thoughts down on virtual paper.  (For the record it is Wednesday night about 8:30 EST and I’m watching the Backyardigans with my kids if you must know ;o)

Alabama @ Auburn: It’s at Auburn, Auburn is semi-resurgent this season under Gene Chizik (golf clap for Gene Chizik) and Nick Saban is under the weight of every Herringbone-hat-wearing Bama fan to get this thing done so they can settle this thing with Florida in the SEC Title game.  they’ve had some injury issues and I think this might be the time that Ingram and McElroy slip.  I don’t know why but I have a funny feeling about this game.  I can’t explain it, but I have this image of Bo Jackson running down the sideline in his old Auburn jersey.  That’s all I’ve got.  The Tigers War Eagle the Tide.

 

Pitt @ West Virginia: If Pitt loses (and I don’t think they will) and Dave Wannstedt gets fired I won’t be surprised.  There is basically no excuse for Pitt to lose this game.  Bill Stewart at WVU is a nice guy, but they jumped at him way too fast after their bowl win and now Michigan AND West Virginia have lost their luster.  That’s what you get when you go for the “sure thing” instead of doing your homework.  It’s not Dan Marino and Tony Dorsett, but Pitt rolls.

Illinois @ Cincinnati: By now means is this a rivalry of any kind.  Have you ever driven from Cincinnati to Urbana?  I have…there’s nothing there!!!!  You might as well pick a cornfield and just start a new life for yourself out there.  I don’t even get why this game is on the schedule.  Did Illinois already play Illinois State?  Does Xavier need to get a football program?  Do they have one?  Something other than this game is called for.  With that said, Cincy rolls. (and Tony Pike has the perfect Heisman-winning national champion Quarterback name.)

 

USC @ UCLA: USC’s gonna lose.  Whatever mojo they had is gone for this season.  The only way they can make this worse is to sit Matt Barkley because he’ll probably spend all of next season looking over his shoulder if they do that.  Bruins roll unexpectedly.

FSU @ Florida: This is one that most people will write off, but I think that Florida is scamming us a little bit because they’re as good as everyone says they are.  Not that they’re bad, but not THAT good.  Tim Tebow is great, but let’s not have a “is he the best ever conversation” until he’s actually done and we can only have this conversation with at least one guy over 60 participating.  (I nominate my Dad…he’s 66 and shoots straight.  I’ll get back to you on that one.)  {Also, I was kind of touched at how emotional Urban Meyer got over Tim Tebow.  I kinda like Urban now.} FSU is probably not real happy.  Usually, this would mean a sort of lagging and lethargic effort from the lesser team, but I bet Florida State can put some of that angst to work and really get after the Gators.  FSU will lose, but not without a fight.   Gators escape.

Georgia @ Georgia Tech: Before I make the prediction you’ve already anticipated I want to say one thing.  Mark Richt doesn’t need to be fired.  None of his Assistants need to be fired.  They ALL need to be shuffled around so they can be effective in something they’re good at.  If he looked for 5 seconds Richt would find a better D coordinator that Willie Martinez and if he respected himself he’d start calling ALL the plays like yesterday.

Paul Johnson isn’t messing around and he knows that he’s within a few untimely losses by other teams of the BCS title game.  Lots of things would have to happen for that to happen, but I know he isn’t messing around.  I’ll predict stats since you have probably gathered that I’m picking Tech.

Tech runs for 300 yards and passes for 200.  UGA has over 100 yards in penalties.  Tech holds the ball for over 40 minutes.  UGA struggles to score at all.  MAJOR blowout, but a controlled blowout where UGA leaves the field and wonders where all of Tech’s points came from.

The way I have this setup I think Georgia Tech would jump to #6 and then all that has to happen is Bama gets its revenge against Florida in the SEC title game and Texas loses and we have ourselves a situation.  It’s all possible (highly unlikely) but possible.  Ask yourself this…if Texas loses, Bama loses is GT in the conversation for the title game because the BCS is so screwed up?  Honestly, ALL of the undefeateds but one have to lose for Tech to mathematically correctly get into the game, but in college football we don’t do proper math… so would Tech be in the conversation because Cincy is in the Big East and TCU the Mountain West?  Just a thought.  If you catch a wild hare and figure this thing out please let me know!

Tech rolls and the BCS gets jacked up this weekend…

Tune in Monday for a weekend wrap from The General

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