A Boot, an Egg ... forged from Iron
Heated SEC rivalries highlight end-of-season holiday weekend
Kick the tryptophan to the curb, folks -- it’s Thanksgiving weekend. Who’s ready for some rivalry football?
There are more than 10 FBS matchups this weekend that are long-standing holiday weekend rivalries, not the least of which is the Lone Star Showdown. The 118th Texas-Texas A&M matchup is expected to be the final meeting for a while; the Aggies are moving to the SEC in 2012, if you haven’t heard.
(And why hasn't Kansas-Missouri -- the Border Showdown née Border War -- garnered as much national attention? Mizzou also is joining to the SEC next year, if you haven’t heard ...)
Speaking of the five-time reigning national championship conference -- and let’s be honest, it’s going to be six in a row -- 11 of the 12 SEC teams are playing traditional holiday rivalry games this weekend:
Battle for the Golden Boot
• Arkansas at LSU (2:30 p.m. ET Friday, CBS)
LSU and Arkansas meet for the 57th time; the Tigers hold a 34-20-2 advantage. … A combined total of 21 points has been the difference in the past six games, and one point separates the point total for each team: Arkansas has scored 185 points, LSU 184 in games dating to 2005. Two of past four games have gone to overtime and three points or less have determined the outcome of four of past six games. … When No. 1 LSU and third-ranked Arkansas meet Friday in Tiger Stadium it will mark the highest-ranked matchup in Death Valley since 1959, when the top-ranked Tigers beat No. 3 Ole Miss 7-3 on Halloween.
SEC West is Title Road
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate
• Georgia at Georgia Tech (noon ET Saturday, ESPN)
Georgia leads the all-time series 61-39-5 and has won the past two and nine out of the past 10 meetings. ... Georgia Tech’s last win in the series was 45-42 in Athens in 2008. The Yellow Jackets’ last win in Atlanta against the Bulldogs was a 51-48 overtime victory in 1999. … The winning team has scored at least 30 points in each of the past four meetings, while six of the past seven games have been decided by eight points or less. … Both teams enter the game ranked in the AP Top 25 for just the ninth time in the history of the series. Georgia is ranked 13th, the same ranking it had in 2008 when the Yellow Jackets last beat the Bulldogs.
|43||Notre Dame over Navy||1964-2006|
|36||Nebraska over Kansas||1969-2004|
|32||Oklahoma over Kansas State||1937-68|
|29||Nebraska over Kansas State||1969-97|
|28||Texas over Rice||1966-93|
|26||Syracuse over Hobart||1906-31|
|26||Tennessee over Kentucky||1984-present|
|25||Penn State over West Virginia||1959-83|
Battle for the Barrel
• Kentucky vs. Tennessee (12:20 p.m. ET Saturday, SEC)
Tennessee is 74-23-9 against Kentucky, and the Vols’ 26-game winning streak is the longest active annual rivalry streak in the nation. (Only Penn State's current 29-game streak against Temple is longer -- the Owls haven't beaten the Nittany Lions since Oct. 18, 1941 -- but the schools do not play every year.) … However, the past two games in Lexington went to overtime. Tennessee won 30-24 in 2009 and 52-50 in four overtimes in 2007. Four of the past seven games have been decided by six points or fewer and five of seven were decided by 10 or fewer points. … With a victory, Tennessee will be eligible for the 50th bowl trip in school history, second only to Alabama, which will make its 59th bowl trip this season.
• Alabama at Auburn (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, CBS)
Saturday’s game marks the 76th meeting between the Crimson Tide and Tigers; Alabama leads the series 40-34-1. … Five of the past eight games have been decided by seven points or less and 19 of the past 23 meetings have been decided by 10 points or less. … Since the series moved to each school’s campus after the 1998 season, the visiting team is 8-4. Auburn has gone 5-1 in Tuscaloosa, while Alabama is 3-3 at Auburn. … Overall, the Tigers have won 14 consecutive games at Jordan-Hare Stadium, tied for the fifth-longest home win streak in school history. (It’s AU’s best run since 16 in a row from 1988-90.)
• Florida State at Florida (7 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN2)
This week’s meeting will mark the 56th in the series; Florida holds a 33-20-2 edge, including a 20-8-1 record in Gainesville. ... The Gators have not lost to Florida State at home since 2003. … Since 1976, the series is 18-18-1 in the past 37 meetings. ... A harbinger? The series is rife with win streaks -- Florida was unbeaten from 1958-63 (including a tie in ’61), 1965-66, 1968-76. Florida State won four in a row from 1977-80, then the Gators reeled off five consecutive wins. FSU answered with a 7-1-1 stretch, including a win in the Sugar Bowl (1995). Florida then won three of four, incuding a Sugar Bowl victory (1997). The Seminoles bounced back with five wins in six years before the Gators won six in a row from 2004-09. Last year, FSU won for the first time since 2003.
Battle of the Golden Egg
• Ole Miss at Mississippi State (7 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU)
Through 107 games, Ole Miss leads the series 60-41-6 and is 20-12-3 in Starkville. … Saturday will be the 84th “Battle of the Golden Egg;” the schools started playing for the trophy in 1927. Ole Miss holds a 54-24-5 advantage in the “Egg Bowl.” … However, when the game kicks off, Mississippi State will have held the Egg for 728 consecutive days, dating to Nov. 29, 2009. MSU has not won three consecutive Egg Bowls since 1939-42. … The home team has won 10 of the past 12 games, and it won't be good news for the Rebels if the Bulldogs are ahead at halftime; MSU is 15-2 under Dan Mullen when leading at the half.
• Clemson at South Carolina (7:45 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN)
This will be meeting No. 109 between Clemson and South Carolina, and the 103rd consecutive year the schools have met -- the third longest year-in, year-out streak in a rivalry (Kansas-Nebraska, 106 games; Minnesota-Wisconsin, 105). … Clemson holds a 65-39-4 advantage and has more wins against South Carolina than any other school (and those victories represent 10 percent of the Tigers’ all-time victory total (656)). … South Carolina has beaten Clemson each of the past two years, the first time the Gamecocks have done that since 1968-70. … The Tigers have won six out of nine and 10 of 14 overall, and nine of the past 11 games played in Columbia.
... And then there’s Vanderbilt-Wake Forest, squaring off for the 14th time. The black-and-gold Commodores hold a 7-6 advantage against the the old-gold-and-black Demon Deacons. (Wake Forest opened in 1834; Vanderbilt in 1873 -- that’s the difference between “old” gold and gold, we presume.)
Outside of the SEC there are other must-see rivalry games this weekend, beginning with the aforementioned ...
|1||Minnesota vs. Wisconsin||121|
|2||Kansas vs. Missouri||120|
|3||Kansas vs. Nebraska||118|
|Texas vs. Texas A&M||118|
|4||Cincinnati vs. Miami (Ohio)||116|
|North Carolina vs. Virginia||116|
|5||Auburn vs. Georgia||115|
|Oregon vs. Oregon State||115|
Lone Star Showdown
• Texas at Texas A&M (8 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN)
Texas leads the all-time series, 75-37-5, including a 24-22-1 record in College Station. … This will be the 64th time the game will be played on Thanksgiving; Texas is 42-19-2 on the holiday. … Texas A&M is one of just seven teams without a senior starter on the offensive line (Arizona, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Tennessee, UNLV and USC). The Aggies' O-line has been flagged for holding just twice in 2011 -- and hasn’t been called for holding since Sept. 17 against Idaho. … Since 1990, Texas' Mack Brown has more wins (206) than any other coach and also has the highest winning percentage (.762).
Horns-Aggies one last time ...
• Pittsburgh at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN)
This will be the 104th brawl; the Panthers hold a 61-39-3 advantage. WVU won the past two meetings, but Pitt is 21-17-3 in games played in Morgantown. … The 1921 “Backyard Brawl” was the first college football game broadcast on the radio (KDKA), a 21-13 victory for Pitt.
The Game (not to be confused with Harvard-Yale)
• Ohio State at Michigan (noon ET Saturday, ABC)
With few exceptions, this series has been held at the end of the regular season since 1935. Through 107 games, Michigan leads 57-43-6. ... Ohio State’s 2010 victory was vacated. ... OSU’s Luke Fickell and Michigan’s Brady Hoke are each in their first seasons. This is only the third time that the schools have each had a first-year coach at the helm for The Game. In 1897 Gustave Ferbert’s UM team defeated David Edwards’ Buckeyes; in 1929 Sam Willaman’s Buckeyes defeated Harry Kipke’s Woverines. ... You’ve gotta love a rivalry that cuts this deep: In 1968, Ohio State scored to go up 50-14 and Woody Hayes went for a two-point conversion. When asked why, legend has it he said: “Because I couldn't go for three.”
• Virginia Tech at Virginia (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC or ESPN2)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the University of Virginia first met in 1895 and have played annually since 1970 but the Cup is a relatively new tradition, beginning in 1996. … Virginia Tech leads the all-time series 50-37-5 and the Cup series 11-3. … At 92 games, this is Virginia Tech’s oldest rivalry. (Virginia’s is the 116-game series with North Carolina, known as the “South’s Oldest Rivalry”.)
• Missouri vs. Kansas (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, FSN)
SI.com’s Dan George, a Kansas native, summed up the rivalry by stating “It’s more than the schools -- it’s a state thing going back to before the Civil War, when William Quantrill’s Confederate guerillas burned Lawrence and murdered nearly 200 people. Neither Missouri nor Kansas folks have forgotten it.” … For the record, Kansas and Missouri face off for the 120th time; the series is tied 55-55-9 -- but the Tigers are 3-1 in games played at Arrowhead Stadium. (Full disclosure: Dan’s a buddy -- and a KU grad, Class of 1973.)
• Oregon State at Oregon (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ABC or ESPN2)
Entering the 115th matchup, Oregon holds a 57-46-10 lead in the series (26-9-1 since 1975). ... From 1959 to 1961, the Platypus Trophy was awarded to the winning school. The trophy was lost for 40 years and found in 2005. Beginning in 2007, the trophy was awarded to the winning school’s alumni association. ... The Ducks’ 41 wins since the start of 2008 are tied for the most in a four-year period in school history.
USC Game ... or UCLA Game
• UCLA at USC (10 p.m. ET Saturday, FSN)
The rivalry doesn’t have a monicker; it just depends on from which side your talking. For the Bruins, it’s the ’SC game. For the Trojans, it’s the UCLA game. ... Through 80 games, USC leads the series 43-28-7 (it vacated the 2004 and ’05 victories). ... USC has lost just once in the past 12 matchups and has won the past four meetings. ... The Trojans last loss to the Bruins in the Coliseum was in 1997. ... Playing just the eighth night game in the series, at stake on Saturday are pride, year-long city bragging rights, possession of the Victory Bell and points in the Crosstown Gauntlet standings.
Enjoy the holiday -- and all the side dishes of rivalry football. And remember: Turkey does contain tryptophan, a natural sedative. However, that lethargic feeling may be a side effect of how your team fares …