LET'S GET IT ON
While Michigan-Ohio State has gotten all the attention, there are actually several rivalry games on tap this weekend. In fact, this is the first of a two-week festival of rivalries. The rundown:
WEST VIRGINIA AT PITTSBURGH, 7:30 p.m. (Thursday)
The Backyard Brawl carries some meaning this year. The Mountaineers are almost certainly out of the NC hunt, but any hopes they have of making it to the BCS hinges on beating Pitt and Rutgers. Pittsburgh needs a resume-padding win against either West Virginia or Louisville to make a postseason berth more likely. Question: Is West Virginia looking forward to Rutgers? We find out tonight.
TENNESSEE AT VANDERBILT, 12:30 p.m.
The Vols will be looking for revenge after last year's embarassment at Knoxville capped the worst year of Phil Fulmer's career. (Except, of course, that year he swore off doughnuts for no real reason.) Vandy is trying to make this the second five-win season in a row, which would be an accomplishment for the SEC's only private school.
AUBURN AT ALABAMA, 3:30 p.m.
This game at this time leaves me deeply conflicted. Auburn is No. 2 on my list of favorite teams, while Michigan ranks No. 3. But the Michigan-Ohio State game is the biggest game of the season. CBS and ABC should be shot for not avoiding this. As for the actual game, Alabama looks to avenge last season's debacle, which included Brodie Croyle lying on his back enough to take a nap. Auburn is trying to salvage something from a disappointing season.
KANSAS STATE AT KANSAS, 3:30 p.m.
Not conflicted about this one. It's a Big XII game. In any case, Kansas State (in case you haven't noticed) is bowl-eligible plus one, a huge boost for first-year coach Ron Prince. Kansas still needs a win to get to the postseason, and time is dwindling; their remaining game after this one is against Missouri.
WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON STATE, 6:45 p.m.
Having fallen out of postseason contention after a strong start, Washington has found its bowl game: Making life difficult for the Cougars. Washington State would probably make a bowl regardless of the outcome here, but a seventh win would make that a lock.
CAL AT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 8 p.m.
The bookend of a great day of college football rivalries, this one is for all the marbles. Win, and Cal locks up the Pac-10 title and demolishes USC-West's national championship hopes. Lose, and the Bears have to watch the Trojans go to the NC game they believe they should be in, unless USC-West stumbles to UCLA. Of course, that would knock the Trojans down to the Rose Bowl and destroy any BCS dreams for Cal. The Bears need this one.