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Rivalry Week In College Football

It doesn’t get better than rivalry week in college football, especially when it has playoff implications.

No. 1 Alabama will be looking to avenge last year’s Iron Bowl loss to the Auburn Tigers. No. 2 Florida State will play a Florida Gators team that is playing with house money in Tallahassee.

No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Mississippi State are also in action this weekend.  Here is a review of the top games in college football this weekend.

Arizona at Arizona State

This is the biggest battle for the Territorial Cup in recent memory. Both Arizona and Arizona State will both enter their matchup on Friday ranked for the first time since 1986. It is also another reason the battle for Arizona is huge this year.

Should UCLA lose to Stanford on Friday, the winner of Arizona-Arizona State will win the Pac-12 South and play Oregon next week in Santa Clara.

Both teams have an explosive offense and a suspect defense. So that should make for an exciting game.

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon will be a game-time decision as he injured his right foot last weekend against Utah.

I will take Arizona State because of quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back D.J. Foster, who is seventh in the Pac-12 in rushing yards.

Winner: Arizona State

Georgia Tech at Georgia

Clean, old fashioned hate is what they call this rivalry and it is the truth. But this year, there’s a lot more on the line than bragging rights in the state of Georgia.

While this game won’t help Georgia get into the SEC Championship, they still have an outside shot of sneaking into the four-team playoff. They would need to beat Georgia Tech and hope Missouri loses to Arkansas and defeat the SEC South winner. It’s a long-shot, but it is possible.

Georgia Tech has already clinched their spot in the ACC Championship against Florida State, but they hope to improve their resume for a spot in the Orange Bowl.

The rush defense of Georgia will be tested because the Yellow Jackets come into this game ranked fourth in the nation in rushing offense. Earlier this month, the Florida Gators ran for 418 yards against this same Bulldogs defense.

While Georgia Tech has good shot to win this game, it is hard to go against the Bulldogs in this game. Georgia is the more talented team of the two.

Winner: Georgia

Minnesota at Wisconsin

Saturday won’t just be a battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the winner of Minnesota/Wisconsin will play in the Big Ten Championship.

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon comes into the game with a chance to improve his Heisman credentials in another big game. Last week against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Gordon ran for over 200 yards for the third consecutive week, giving him a total of 813 yards and seven touchdowns in that stretch.

Minnesota (9-2) will try to slow down Gordon and break a long losing streak to its border rival. The Golden Gophers have lost 10 straight in the series and haven’t won in Madison since 1994.

Everyone will talk about Gordon pregame and deservingly so, but the Badgers aren’t just a one-man band. Wisconsin comes into Saturday’s game with the second best defense in college football and that’s the reason why they should prevail over Minnesota again.

Winner: Wisconsin

Mississippi State at Ole Miss

This is the first time since 1999 and just the third time in the past 57 years that both Mississippi State and Ole Miss enter the Egg Bowl nationally ranked.

For the Bulldogs, they still have a lot on the line. With a win Saturday and an Alabama loss Mississippi State will win the SEC Western Division. Even if Bama wins the Iron Bowl, the Bulldogs are still fighting for a spot in the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff.

After winning their first seven games of the season, Ole Miss has lost three straight conference games, including last weekend’s 30-0 game against Arkansas. Many will pick Mississippi State because of the Rebels recent slide, but Ole Miss has a chance to win this game.

The Rebels are 12th in the nation in pass defense and 28th in rush defense. Look for Robert Nkemdiche to get pressure on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott throughout the game.

This game is a tossup, but I will take Ole Miss because of their defense and the fact that Mississippi State with the 69th ranked defense in the country,

Winner: Ole Miss

Florida at Florida State

This game feels a lot like it did 10 years ago. An unranked Florida team entered their annual game with Florida State having already firing its head coach Ron Zook. Not only did a 6-4 Florida team play well, it defeated the top-10 Seminoles.

This year, the Gators will again be entering the game with a fired coach in Will Muschamp and with a 6-4 record. While Florida State is ranked No.2 in the USA Today poll, don’t be surprised if this is a close game.

The Seminoles have won six games decided by a touchdown or less, including last week’s 20-17 victory over Boston College.

Jameis Winston and the Florida State offense will lineup against the best defense they have seen all season. The Gators rank 11th in total defense and have one of the best cornerbacks in the country in Vernon Hargreaves III.

While my heart says Florida has a good chance to win this game, Florida State will probably win by a field goal once again.

Winner: Florida State

Auburn vs Alabama

For the sixth straight season, the Iron Bowl will have national title implications. The winner of the Auburn-Alabama game has won four of the last five BCS championships. This year’s game could be decided by the rushing game.

Auburn ranks ninth in the nation in rushing yards. Alabama ranks second in the country in rushing yards allowed. If the Tigers are going to upset the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, quarterback Nick Marshall will have to have a big game.

Last week against Sanford, Marshall was held to 171 passing yards and minus-8 yards rushing. While Auburn won the game 31-7, the team appeared to not take the game seriously in the first half.

It is hard to go against the much better and balanced Alabama offense on Saturday at home. Auburn should keep it close in the first half before the Tide pulled away late.

Winner: Alabama

 

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