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November 25, 2010

Primer: Rivalries takes on added importance

It's Rivalry Week, and the "big daddy" of all rivalries takes on added importance this week.

All eyes will be on the Alabama-Auburn matchup as the Tigers try to remain at least No. 2 in the BCS standings. Auburn QB Cameron Newton's Heisman hopes also can be enhanced with a big game against the Tide.

That is one of three games Friday that involve the top four teams in the BCS. Just about the time the Alabama-Auburn game is ending, No. 1 Oregon's game against Arizona kicks off. And just about the time that one ends, No. 4 Boise State takes the field at Nevada. Thus, Boise State will walk onto the field with a good idea of where it will be in the BCS standings on Sunday should it win over the Wolf Pack.

No. 3 TCU ends its regular season with a game against woeful New Mexico on Saturday, but the Horned Frogs seem likely to fall behind Boise in the BCS standings no matter what they do on the field.

As for other big rivalry games, the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State contest will decide the Big 12 South title; Michigan-Ohio State will determine whether the Buckeyes again with at least a share of the Big Ten title; the Pittsburgh-West Virginia "Backyard Brawl" will go a long way toward determining the Big East title; BYU-Utah will be the last "Holy War" with the participants in the same conference; and Georgia-Georgia Tech will determine whether the Bulldogs become bowl-eligible.

Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina, Mississippi State-Ole Miss and Notre Dame-USC are other rivalry games with some intrigue.

The weekend kicks off Thanksgiving night with another example of neighborly hatred as Texas A&M travels to Austin looking to make sure Texas doesn't get to a bowl this season.

There are full days of football Friday and Saturday, so feel free to overindulge on turkey on Thursday because there will be no need to leave the couch the next two days.

Here's a look at every game involving a FBS team this weekend.


Michigan (7-4) at Ohio State (10-1), noon, ABC
THE BUZZ: The "Rich Rodriguez is gone" chatter has started up again, which adds some intrigue. Ohio State clinches at least a tie for the Big Ten title if it beats the hated Wolverines. The Buckeyes have won six in a row and eight of the past nine in the series.
THE LINE: Ohio State by 17. THE PICK: Ohio State 45-31

Michigan State (10-1) at Penn State (7-4), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: Michigan State clinches at least a tie for the Big Ten title with a victory. Expect some scoreboard-watching, too, as the Spartans actually will be pulling for Michigan this week; if the Spartans win, a Wolverines victory over Ohio State means the Spartans will be headed to the Rose Bowl.
THE LINE: Michigan State by 2. THE PICK: Michigan State 24-17

Cincinnati (4-6) at Connecticut (6-4), noon, Big East syndication/SportsNet New York/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: UConn has righted itself after a midseason swoon and is playing better than anybody in the Big East right now. But it may be too late for the Huskies to win the crown. Cincinnati, which has won the past two league titles, has to win out to simply become bowl-eligible this season. Cincy leads the series 5-1.
THE LINE: UConn by 1.5. THE PICK: UConn 33-28

Boston College (6-5) at Syracuse (7-4), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Two former Big East rivals go at it in what should be a defensive struggle. Syracuse is bowl-eligible for the first time since 2004 and has clinched its first winning season since 2001. BC enters on a four-game winning streak, which comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak.
THE LINE: Syracuse by 3. THE PICK: BC 17-13

Virginia (4-7) at Virginia Tech (9-2), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The Hokies already have clinched the ACC Coastal Division title and now go for their eighth consecutive victory over the Cavaliers. UVa's run defense has been abysmal, which bodes ill against the Hokies.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 23.5. THE PICK: Virginia Tech 49-21

USF (6-4) at Miami (7-4), noon, ESPNU
THE BUZZ: This is the third meeting between the in-state schools, with UM having won both of the previous contests. USF is 6-0 when it has scored more than 14 points and 0-4 when it has been held to 14 or fewer points. Miami QB Jacory Harris, who has missed the past three games with a concussion, might be back in the starting lineup.
THE LINE: Miami by 11.5. THE PICK: Miami 30-21

Tulane (4-7) at Marshall (4-7), noon, CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: Marshall started 1-6 and has played much better football in the second half of the season. A win in this one gives the Herd a .500 record in league play. Tulane is giving up 43.6 points in league games, but still has made strides this season.
THE LINE: Marshall by 9.5. THE PICK: Marshall 37-30

UCF (8-3) at Memphis (1-10), noon, Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: UCF already has clinched at least a tie for the C-USA East title, but the Knights can win the division outright with a win over the rancid Tigers. In that scenario, UCF also will win the right to play host to the league championship game on Dec. 4. Memphis has surrendered at least 41 points seven times this season.
THE LINE: UCF by 25. THE PICK: UCF 52-16

Indiana (4-7) at Purdue (4-7), noon, Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: These in-state rivals get together in a battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. This will be the 113th meeting, making it the second-oldest in the Big Ten, behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin (120).
THE LINE: Purdue by 3. THE PICK: Purdue 36-31

Kentucky (6-5) at Tennessee (5-6), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/Comcast Sports Net California/Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia/ESPN Game Plan
THE BUZZ: Tennessee must win to become bowl-eligible. The Vols have won 25 in a row over the Wildcats, the longest current winning streak in the nation over one team. Two of the past three games in the series have gone to overtime.
THE LINE: Tennessee by 3. THE PICK: Kentucky 28-23

Kansas (3-8) vs. Missouri (9-2) in St. Louis, 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Mizzou could win the Big 12 North if it wins this and Nebraska loses to Colorado on Friday; if both the Tigers and Huskers win, the Big 12 North title is shared but the Huskers get the league title-game berth because they beat the Tigers. This is the 119th meeting, making it No. 2 nationally among the most-played rivalries, behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin (120 meetings). Mizzou leads the series 55-54-9.
THE LINE: Missouri by 25.5. THE PICK: Missouri 44-16

Hawaii (8-3) at New Mexico State (2-9), 3 p.m., Altitude/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Since 2006, Hawaii is 15-2 in November. The Warriors are 11th nationally in total offense and New Mexico State is 108th in total defense.
THE LINE: Hawaii by 26.5. THE PICK: Hawaii 55-24

LSU (10-1) at Arkansas (9-2), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: LSU stays in the running for a BCS at-large bid if it wins. Arkansas, meanwhile, can get into that mix if it wins. If recent history is a guide, expect a close contest: The past five meetings have been decided by a combined 13 points.
THE LINE: Arkansas by 3.5. THE PICK: LSU 27-24

Florida (7-4) at Florida State (8-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN
THE BUZZ: The Gators have won six in a row in the series; that's the longest winning streak by either team since Florida won nine in a row from 1968-76. FSU's pass defense has been shaky, but can Florida's mediocre offense take advantage?
THE LINE: FSU by 2.5. THE PICK: FSU 23-17

BYU (6-5) at Utah (9-2), 3:30 p.m., The mtn./CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: This should be an especially intense "Holy War." This is a nasty rivalry as it is, but expect an even deeper layer of, well, hatred this season. Utah is leaving the Mountain West for the Pac-10, and that, in turn, led to BYU deciding to become a football independent. BYU has won three of the past four in the series.
THE LINE: Utah by 9. THE PICK: Utah 35-23

N.C. State (8-3) at Maryland (7-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: N.C. State is the ACC Atlantic Division title with a victory; if Maryland wins, Florida State is the division champ. This is the 67th meeting in the series, which is tied 31-31-4.

Washington (4-6) at California (5-6), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest/Comcast Sports Net California/Fox College Sports Central
THE BUZZ: Cal must win this to go bowling, while Washington must win out (vs. Cal this week and Washington State) to become bowl-eligible. Washington has struggled to stop the run, which means Cal TB Shane Vereen is in line for a big day.
THE LINE: Cal by 7. THE PICK: Cal 31-21

Northwestern (7-4) at Wisconsin (10-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN
THE BUZZ: By the time this one kicks off, Wisconsin will know the outcome of the games involving Michigan State and Ohio State. That's important because -- assuming they win -- the Badgers could end up in a three-way tie with those two for the Big Ten title. But if Ohio State wins and Michigan State loses, the Badgers will be going to the Rose Bowl because they beat the Buckeyes. But if Michigan State wins and Ohio State loses, the Spartans win the tiebreaker by virtue of their win over the Badgers.
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 23.5. THE PICK: Wisconsin 42-21

North Carolina (6-5) at Duke (3-8), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: UNC has won six in a row and 19 of the past 20 in a series between schools whose campuses are about 10 miles apart. The Tar Heels also have won 10 in a row in Durham.
THE LINE: UNC by 9.5. THE PICK: UNC 35-23

Iowa (7-4) at Minnesota (2-9), 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
THE BUZZ: Iowa has won the past three meetings in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale, a bronze pig that is 21 inches long and 15 inches high. This also is important for Iowa in terms of bowl positioning, but how psyched are the Hawkeyes going to be?
THE LINE: Iowa by 15.5. THE PICK: Iowa 34-17

Arkansas State (4-7) at Florida International (5-5), 3:30 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: FIU, which hasn't had a winning record since starting football in 2002, clinches the Sun Belt title with a victory over the Red Wolves. FIU has averaged 44.0 points per game during its current three-game winning streak.

Louisiana-Lafayette (2-9) at Louisiana-Monroe (5-6), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: ULM becomes bowl-eligible with a victory. This looks as it will be the final game for ULL coach Rickey Bustle, so put on some Clifton Chenier, eat some boudin and drink an Abita beer in his honor.

Florida Atlantic (4-6) at Middle Tennessee (4-6), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Each team has to win out to become bowl-eligible. FAU puts its three-game Sun Belt winning streak on the line; MTSU has lost two of its past three league games.

UAB (4-7) at Rice (3-8), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This game doesn't have much going for it. It's two middling C-USA teams getting together.

Western Kentucky (2-9) at Troy (5-5), 3:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Troy's defense has fallen apart, and Western RB Bobby Rainey will look to take advantage. Troy lost its last home game, but the Trojans haven't lost back-to-back home games since 1989, when they were a Division II program.
THE LINE: Troy by 13. THE PICK: Troy 41-24

TCU (11-0) at New Mexico (1-10), 4 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: TCU has won five in a row in the series, winning those games by an average of 25.6 points. TCU's hold on the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings is tenuous, and even the expected rout in this one may not help.
THE LINE: TCU by 43.5. THE PICK: TCU 56-0

Kansas State (6-5) at North Texas (3-8), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: K-State is the first Big 12 team to play at North Texas since Baylor in 2003. This is the final game at Fouts Field; UNT will open a new stadium next fall. The Mean Green have lost seven in a row at home. K-State coach Bill Snyder was a UNT assistant under Hayden Fry from 1976-78.
THE LINE: K-State by 14.5. THE PICK: K-State 31-21

South Carolina (8-3) at Clemson (6-5), 7 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Clemson has won 10 of the past 13 in the rivalry, but the Gamecocks beat the Tigers last season. Clemson won the ACC Atlantic Division title last season; this season, the Tigers will look to turn the tables on the Gamecocks, who are the SEC East champs.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 3. THE PICK: South Carolina 21-16

Mississippi State (7-4) at Ole Miss (4-7), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: The home team has won 10 of the past 11 in the series. Mississippi State, which upset the Rebels last season, hasn't won back-to-back games in the series since 1998-99.
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 3. THE PICK: Mississippi State 30-24

Oregon State (5-5) at Stanford (10-1), 7:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: Oregon State must beat Stanford or Oregon to become bowl-eligible; Stanford, meanwhile, needs to win to keep its BCS at-large hopes alive. Stanford QB Andrew Luck has 24 TD passes; the school's single-season record is 27, by John Elway in 1980 and Steve Stenstrom in 1993.
THE LINE: Stanford 14. THE PICK: Stanford 35-17

Wake Forest (2-9) at Vanderbilt (2-9), 7:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The hounds make their way to Nashville for the dog of the week. Maybe they can catch the Grand Ol' Opry on Friday night because that will provide all the excitement they get this weekend; the game itself should be about as exciting as a university library on a Saturday night. Heck, the Vandy libraries probably will be fuller than the stands during the game.
THE LINE: Vandy by 6. THE PICK: Vandy 27-24

Georgia Tech (6-5) at Georgia (5-6), 7:45 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Georgia must win to become bowl-eligible. The Bulldogs have won eight of the past nine in the series. Tech leads the nation in rushing at 319.4 yards per game, and the Bulldogs are allowing 125.4 rushing yards per game.
THE LINE: Georgia by 12.5. THE PICK: Georgia 31-27

Oklahoma (9-2) at Oklahoma State (10-1), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The "Bedlam Game" is huge this season for Oklahoma State. If the Cowboys win, they wear the Big 12 South crown and move on to their first appearance in the league championship game. OU has a huge lead in the rivalry, with an 80-17-7 advantage. This is just the 10th time in series history that both have been ranked at game time. OU has won seven in a row in the series and is 34-6-5 all-time in Stillwater.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 3. THE PICK: Oklahoma State 37-31

Notre Dame (6-5) at USC (7-4), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: USC has won eight in a row in the nation's oldest intersectional rivalry. This is just the ninth time in 81 meetings that neither team is ranked. The Trojans have won 19 non-conference games in a row, one shy of the school record.

Houston (5-6) at Texas Tech (6-5), 8 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Texas Tech became bowl-eligible last week; Houston is looking to do the same this week. Neither defense is all that good, so expect a shootout.
THE LINE: Texas Tech by 9.5. THE PICK: Texas Tech 45-34

UNLV (2-9) at San Diego State (7-4), 8 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Second-year coach Brady Hoke has done excellent work in turning San Diego State around, and now the question becomes whether he will be hired away by a bigger school.
THE LINE: San Diego State by 24. THE PICK: San Diego State 51-21

Louisiana Tech (4-6) at San Jose State (1-10), 8 p.m.
THE BUZZ: San Jose State has lost eight in a row and is last in the nation in scoring. Both are abysmal defensively, but Louisiana Tech can move the ball.
THE LINE: Louisiana Tech by 11.5. THE PICK: Louisiana Tech 38-23

Idaho (5-6) at Fresno State (6-4), 10 p.m., WAC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Idaho plays 13 regular-season games, and if the Vandals win this, they have an excellent shot at becoming bowl-eligible because they close the season against woeful San Jose State. But Fresno has won seven in a row in the series.
THE LINE: Fresno State by 10.5. THE PICK: Fresno State 40-34


42-12 straight up, 28-22-1 against the spread.


529-170 straight up, 295-300-12 ATS (games involving FCS schools don't have a spread)

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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