Saturday, August 25, 2007

THE SEASON AHEAD: WEEK 13 COULD GET UGLY


Week 13 will be violent. Blood will run freely through the streets. Roving bands will threaten the countryside. A dark cloud of mayhem will hover over the land.

Yes, this is the weekend when rivals large and small meet, when games between a team that's 1-10 and one that's 2-9 can captivate a state because it is the game of the year.


This is Week 13. Only they're all wearing helmets.

This being the week of Thanksgiving, there are several good games on Friday, continuing the American tradition of preventing things like family and friends from getting in the way of football.

At 1 p.m. ET, the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State still has no television home. Not that it would be a crushing below to humanity if this game doesn't hit the airwaves; we aren't talking about a clash of the juggernauts here. But the rivalry has produced some interesting games in the past.

Arkansas goes to LSU at 2:30 p.m. on CBS in a game that will be both a rivalry meeting and a match-up with conference title implications. LSU, of course, is the odds-on favorite to be the SEC West's representative in the championship game; Arkansas would love to derail that dream, and could also be in the running for the division title.

An hour later, ABC features would-be Big XII South champion Texas at Texas A&M. Yet another game where the upstart rival would relish knocking the favorite out of the championship picture, and with Oklahoma likely to be not far behind the Longhorns, the Aggies could get that chance. And don't rule out the (outside) possibility that the Aggies could also be playing for the division title.

The Friday slate finishes up with a 9:05 p.m. tilt between Boise State and Hawaii on ESPN2. Even if Hawaii could win the WAC without defeating Boise State, it would probably be an empty feeling for the islanders if they did. And there's no guarantee they won't need to beat the Broncos to claim the crown.

The Saturday schedule is too full to get into too many details. Witness:

--Alabama at Auburn, where the Tigers will awkwardly chant, "Fear the opposite index finger." Nick Saban has made it a priority to beat the Plainsmen, in part because it's that important to Tide fans.
--Clemson at South Carolina. More on this one later, though Spurrier would love to be able to win two in a row over a rival coached by a Bowden.
--FSU at Florida. Meyer is 2-0 against the Seminoles, perhaps the most painful part of FSU's recent slide.
--Georgia at Georgia Tech. Ah, C&F will miss Reggie Ball, who could find new and hitherto unimagined ways to implde against Georgia. Now Chan Gailey has to find a way to lose this game all by himself.
--Tennessee at Kentucky. Whether this is a big "rivalry" game or not, it's still another chance for a Kentucky team that lost by five in Knoxville last year.
--Duke at North Carolina. A game that could have no other conceivable reason to watch other than to see how Butch Davis will do in the second most important rivalry meeting between these two schools.
--Oklahoma State at Oklahoma. If the Sooners go in a game behind Texas, this one becomes that much more important.
--Utah at BYU, 2 p.m., CSTV. The only college football game called the Holy War.
--Virginia Tech at Virginia. The Hokies have won four of the last five.

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