THE SEASON AHEAD: WEEK 8 HATES SOMEBODY
Rivalries are what make college football truly great. They're more developed, more passionate than in the professional version, and great moments and blown calls are remembered far longer.
The most bitter intrastate rivalries are often saved up for the end of the year. But some of the midseason grudge matches are also keepers. And this season, The Third Saturday in October -- made famous by an SEC border battle -- is also home to a few other heated games. The Third Saturday in October this year is Week 8.
Of course, the matchup that makes the week well-known is the tilt between Tennessee and Alabama, held this year in Tuscaloosa. It will mark the first time Nick Saban matches wits as Alabama coach with Phil Fulmer, though some of the drama will be gone since we know Fulmer will not be dodging subpoenas.
Keep your eyes open, boys. They won't take me down without a fight.
Nationally, the game likely to get the most attention is Southern Cal's trip to Notre Dame, a game that could severely test Charie Weis' gameplanning ability. Count on the Irish to be heavy underdogs in this showdown, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on NBC.
Though the Trojans have lost one of their favorite plays for South Bend.
Other rivalries will go toward shaping a conference or division race. Auburn visits LSU for the renewal of one of the most bizarre rivalries in all of college football. Fires, weird calls, the sudden inability of a place kicker to place the ball anywhere close to between the uprights -- anything can and often does happen in a game that just as often decides the SEC West. It's currently scheduled for 8 p.m., though with two big SEC games on, negotiations between CBS and ESPN could change that. The Eye could also try a doubleheader with the Alabama-Tennessee game.
Miami at FSU has only been spiced up since conference implications were added, and that has helped to push the game back from the first week of the year, where the ACC and ABC placed it the last couple of seasons. Both of these programs will also be looking to prove they have reclaimed their greatness. Time and network TBA, though it's a strong candidate for ABC Saturday Night Football if the two teams are having good seasons.
Not quite as big a deal emotionally will be Cal's visit to UCLA, but it could determine who has the best chance to knock off Southern Cal, aka who will be the second-place team in the Pac-10. South Florida at Rutgers, an potentially important battle in the Big East, airs Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.