Viewing Guide: Rivalry Week

The closer we get to Thanksgiving the more every college football fan begins to feel like they're about to have a pile of presents to unwrap. It creeps up on us with the same ethereal sense of urgency and release as watching a clock tick towards happy hour from your cubicle.

Or trapped in your car while racing home to take a dump. Sweet, sweaty release.

Regardless of any religious affiliations (Doperbo is a Druid, Chooky is a Canadian), I can assure you the proverbial presents I'm talking about don't have jack to do with the tiny 8 lbs. 6 oz. version of the Baby Jesus and every goddamn thing to do with Rivalry Weekend. Well, this is it. This is essentially the best weekend of college football of the year. Regardless of teams being up, or down, on the road to the BCS or wallowing in the sewer of suckitude and mediocrity, somehow we all end up circling this weekend like a pack of ragged, drunken buzzards. We dismiss all previous weekends of great college football with the curt finality with which I dismiss Nicholas Cage movies, vegetables, and social etiquette.  And it's not just the delicious, bountiful football games, as gloriously filled as they are with Rancor, Championship Implications, Hate, Moral Victories, Discord, Coaching Changes, and all of my other favorite descriptive words. It's the football games and SO much more.

Here's a quick Recipe for Bliss: First, you combine all the football, THEN you spread it out evenly over 3 glorious days in the fall. Next: Mix in the gastronomical speedball of continual tryptophan injections cut with perpetual satiety. Third: Add a healthy dose of seeing family and friends. And Finally: Mix in the manic urgency to get away from said family/friends and escape into football before you black out and wake up foggy and bloody, with a cleaver in one hand and a dismembered appendage in the other.

Note: That very last part MIGHT just be attributable to me with the, you know, cleaver. But don't any of you sanctimonious bastards pretend you don't feel the need to escape from the visiting family for awhile.

And thus, we have Rivalry Weekend. Not just where we are at war with our family and our waistlines, but where College Football straps on their helmets and jockstraps to do battle with their most hated of rivals. In honor of this gamekakke set before us, I'll spell out all of the best contests and help you guys separate the wheat from the chaff. Or, if I may, the Party from the Bullshit.

Better throw my vest on my chest

Thursday:

#17 Texas aTm at #121 Texas (ESPN):
Category: Party
Well Well, lookie what we have here on Thursday night. The perfect distraction after a day with my family in the form of an outlet for rage. For the Aggies, they're coming off a fantastic home victory against an overrated, but still formidable Nebraska team. They're chasing down a possible ten win season, their first since their last cheating debacle, and their first "clean" submission since Moses attempted to explain to the Ag fanbase that sticking it in the golden calf is, in fact, sinful behavior. Eons later and some lessons are never learned. They have a great QB, a good offensive scheme, and this is a game where the Ags very rarely fail to show up. They've flipped the monkey humping their neck that is nationally televised games off their back, the way their fans flick bat guano from their shoulders.  And they're looking to put on a showcase for recruits at the worst possible time for Texas.

For a Texas fan, there's a plethora of options to vent during the viewing of this game. What's a plethora, you ask? Let me count the ways. We have the game itself, against a hated and impish opponent with perpetual little man's disease that never fails to bring out our disdain. There's the coaching implications, such as if Texas wins this game and perhaps wins a bowl game, does a certain offensive coordinator get his ass picked out of the fire by the scruff of his neck by his overprotective mother? The consequences of hearing Aggy fan for an entire offseason run their mouths about their superior record AND a win in the Moral Victory Bowl (Movement) is almost unbearable. Like women with full mustaches or Scipio when he insists upon lecturing to us the merits of sobriety and the works of Maya Angelou during mandatory "team building exercises."  At the same time, there's a legitimate argument to be made that the long term success of the Texas program might be tied to us losing this game, and not going to a bowl. There are severe consequences to each outcome, and the possibilities are enough to drive one insane. In fact, science has shown that 31% of all recorded cases of spontaneous human combustion have occurred under VERY similar circumstances. But don't worry, Texas fans, after last week's bludgeoning of the mighty Florida Atlantic Owls, clearly we've fixed all of  the problems with our football team using a very scientific method:

Thanks Mack. Glad that's solved.

Belmont concurred, issuing the following statement in support of Mack's remarks:

Friday:

1:30 - #2 Auburn at #11 Alabama (CBS):
Category: Party
In the words of the esteemed co-emcee of this week's mailbag, Mr. Biggie Smalls, looking at this matchup should make every single one of us scream Come on....COME ON MOTHERFUCKER! If this game appears to be anything less than scintillating to your cerebellum it's because you had your balls surgically removed years ago by some cruel and demonic handmaiden that is almost certainly masquerading as your wife. And you're stupid. Auburn is looking to continue bitch slapping people on their way to a national title game, which they will promptly turn around and vacate thanks to the Newton clan's entrepreneurial stylings. But first, they have to head to Tuscaloosa and front-kick the Tide right in the stomach. And Alabama is hardly a slouch this year. On top of that, Saban is a man who understands the value of winning rivalry games (Cough Cough Mack Brown). There's nothing he, his team, and that baffling mob of a fanbase want to do more than cut horizontally across Auburn's belly, step on their spilled out entrails, and then kick their still standing body from the open box car of a moving train. To use the soul of your most hated enemy as Charmin ultra soft during their greatest year and scream scoreboard is what Conan would say is best in life: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and make them shut the fuck up. Vegas has 'Bama as a five point favorite, which I find inexplicable. Auburn's win last week wasn't as close as the final score. I say it's a coin toss. This game should be a bloodbath.

Alabama's version of War Eagle. They hope.

2:30 - Colorado at #15 Nebraska (ABC):
Category: Bullshit
They're calling this a rivalry game? Really? It's so heated that it will be 100% discontinued when both teams switch conferences, and neither side will care. Guess Texas also stole Nebraska's chief rival at the Big 12 negotiating table, as well. And when you can't get Kansas to return your calls for Rivalry weekend, you know you're in trouble. Bo Pelini can't even muster up a slight tinkle in his khakis for this game. Although he should, considering the only thing more embarrassing than his team's performance last week was his own behavior on the sidelines. Hell, the only reason this game is even worthy of mentioning is to pile on top of that piece of human garbage, hell, that WHOLE FAMILY of human garbage up there in Lincoln. Between making a spectacle of yourself and ensuring you'll never get a favorable officiating call ever, literally assaulting your own quarterback on the sidelines after he was injured, or having your brother physically attack a cameraman after the game, everyone deserves to be fired. Not only fired, they deserve to be sterilized by being staked to the earth and having a herd of the clydesdales that pass for females in Nebraska stampede over their genitals. What's the matter Carl, was that TexAgs cameraman in between you and the nearest booster's daughter you were looking to romance? Congratulations, Nebraska fans. For years you loved to trumpet about how you were the best and most gracious fans in the country, and while some of us suspected that was only while you were front-running, even if that wasn't the case you've now managed to sell your souls entirely for the sake of winning. And you're not even doing that. Welcome off your high-horse. Enjoy the Big 10, Good Riddance, and scoreboard. Sincerely, the State of Texas.

6:00 - #21 Arizona at #1 Oregon (ESPN):
Category: Party
I guess Civil War is on Championship Weekend. Hey Nebraska, are you paying attention? This is how you schedule an attractive game on Rivalry weekend when you don't have a rival your rivalry game is on a different date. Foles is healthy (I think), and while Arizona is being blown out of the polls faster than 4Loko is blowing off store shelves, technically they're still ranked. Combine that with the fact that the last time Oregon took the field they struggled worse than a morbidly obese person attempting to tie their own shoes, and we actually have a game with some intrigue. Granted, that intrigue might only last about 5 minutes into the game, but it is intrigue nonetheless.  Two ranked teams, one vying for a national title shot and with an offense that makes angels cry, and we're in business. Drinking Game: Guess the quarter in which Stoops Minor literally blows smoke out of his ears and rips his shirt off like Hulk Hogan. Alternate Game Title: Pick the Quarter Oregon Goes Up By 4 Touchdowns.

9:15 - #4 Boise St at #19 Nevada (ESPN):
Category: Party
I'll be perfectly honest, I was pretty tempted to categorize this game as Bullshit. Sure it's two ranked Teams, and Nevada has held their water all year. They deserve our respect. The problem here is that some of those victories were close to the point of lucky, and I don't think there's a single person on this planet that doesn't expect Boise State to bend Nevada over their knee and spank the crap out of them like John Wayne did to Maureen O'Hara in McLintock! And just like that fiery redhead, the beating might be so intense it drop kicks Nevada right into Stockholm/Battered Wife Syndrome. If they're not thanking them for the beating, they'll surely be thanking them when it's over.

Hey Coach Peterson, Hand me that coal shovel

Saturday:

11:00:

Round 2. Long Viewing Guide Ahead.

Virginia at #16 Va Tech (ESPN2):
Category: Bullshit
We know that Virginia's coach will cry when he wins. And we know that he cries when he loses. The only thing left to figure out in this game if he cries at the sight of symbiotic parasites that live, breathe, and help scheme on the necks of opposing football coaches. My guess is yes. This game will be a massacre, and it's not worth 1 sentence of discussion. But I've given you several, because it's the season of giving. And because I had already typed out the first two sentences instinctively before I realized how bad this game sucks.

South Florida at Miami (ESPNU):
Category: Bullshit
I actually kind of feel bad about this, since I don't feel like I've given a Miami decent preview in a number of weeks. Additionally, we all probably deserve a good Jacory Harris picture, especially now that he's injured. But you people know my stance on South Florida, and I'm not budging. Much like Heath Ledger's Joker, I'm a man of my word.

Kentucky at Tennessee (ESPN3):
Category: Bullshit
See Above.

Nawt. Gon'. Do't.

Kansas at #14 Missouri (FSN Something or Other):
Category: Bullshit
Hey, remember that one time a few years ago when Kansas had that coach that roughly resembled Ayer's Rock, Missouri had that one quarterback who was 5'8" and ate his own boogers, and this game was actually a competitive matchup? Yeah, me too. But there's no Aqub Talib or gratuitous shots of Pangaea the Super-Coach to save our amusement now. Which is a shame, because I've genuinely enjoyed watching Missouri's team play this year. It's a damn shame a seemingly promising coaching hire in Turner Gill attempted to amalgamate some of the worst assistant coaches in college football on one tired, old, sorry staff. What, Carl Reese was too busy, Turner? Mixing in his key eye for talent evaluation, and all of a sudden Kansas is a team that would transition from mild wheezing to violent hacking if forced to fight their way out of a paper bag.  Sorry, I'm afraid Biggie does not give this game his seal of approval.

Michigan at #8 Ohio State (ABC):
Category: Party
Not even years of Michigan losing and a defense that makes female decision making look firm and decisive could rub the luster off of this game. Even though many of the recent games have been blowouts, this is still the standard to which all morning games are held. Except when Texas and OU are playing at 11 a.m. But I digress. There's nothing I would love more than to see Michigan step up and finally punch Ohio State in the mouth after years of being on the business end of the final score tally. And while that seems unlikely, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility here. Maybe Michigan can score a couple times early and then force Jimmy Sweater Vest into playing from behind and going for touchdowns instead of field goals. The man actually finds certain sexual and surgical procedures less invasive than opening up his playbook. But if we're being honest, this game is probably still going to be a solid Ohio State Victory. But we do get to enjoy things as Rich Rod continues to inch his Michigan team closer to being "back." Here's to another good few yards up for Sisyphus's boulder.  Like the rest of Big 10 football, it continues to plod predictably forward and onward. But despite the disparity in talent in this game, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that this is probably one of the top 5 most heated rivalries in all of sports. These guys let the hate flow through them more than HenryJames if he sees white after Labor Day. Mention one team to an opposing fan and their face contorts in an uncontrollable snarl of hatred and they let out a combination snarl/roar that wakes neighbors and incites roaming packs of dogs to howl. If you can't get excited about watching this game, you shouldn't be a fan of college football. Get off my lawn and out of my viewing guide before I unleash the hounds.

Pictured: Woody Hayes watching his last UM/tOSU game at the resting home

2:30

BYU at #20 Utah (FSN):
Category: Bullshit
Oh great. Mormons. Who let these zombies in here? The last thing I needed was to be bombarded by a bunch of perpetually sunny-faced dorks with sleeveless button ups, bike helmets, and no sense of personal awareness and/or dignity. If I wanted to be around that crowd I'd re-up my subscription to Orangebloods. And if someone else wants to show up in the comments and tell me how Utah is the non Mormon school and resents being lumped in, save it. Your protest has been duly noted and logged into the system, but being the Lesser Mormon school in Utah is like being a 2%er at Texas aTm. Sure, you say you hate the Corps, but you still drool like Pavlov's Dog when you see the Sieg Heil sign passed back up to you by your Milkmen, squeeze your diminutive ball bags, and full form tackle 80 year old women who accidentally step on the grass. The game? BYU has sucked balls all season, and their recent win streak has been against some of the most fetid members of college football's flotsam and jetsam. Utah has a young team and they're well coached, but they've struggled in 5 of their last 6 games, 2 of which were blush inspiring losses that reeked of shame and anal tearing. And when the two powerhouses of Utah collide, you know you can strap on the magic underwear throw out the record books. Who wins? Is saying Hinduism the wrong answer?Atheism? Their women can't even tease you properly.

Oh yeah, sweetheart? Your future 10 kids say otherwise.

Florida at #22 Florida St. ABC/ESPN):
Category: Party???
I'm absolutely unsure with what I should do with this mess. Florida State is most recently 2-2 while struggling mightily in their last 4 games. They almost lost to Clemson, and letting Maryland get within 15 points of you on the final scoreboard should count as two losses. And as for Florida, I'm not sure where to begin. They've been more than mortal all season, and I'm not seeing much to inspire me that they're going to finish on any kind of strong note. However, on the upside is the fact that this looks to be a game of two equally talented teams. Plus we can get the Nostalgia Factor for the last years of the twentieth century and pretend we're looking at two super-powers squaring off. Oh, and did I mention that these two teams HATE? While it's probably too much to ask that they pull a Billy Cole and whip pistols from their pants and start unloading on one another en mass, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm holding out hope. We'll all be happy to settle for some personal foul penalties and some shots of the New Cowgirls. Which is great, because all we get at Texas fans are excessive shots of the Hellraisers; where the women outweigh and out-beard their spindly male counterparts.

/projectile vomits.

Holy shit, I'm actually jealous of Florida State for something.

/vomits out of all orifices.

#5 LSU at #12 Arkansas (CBS):
Category: Party
This is one of those new-fangled "rivalries" that was made by the strange bedfellows of conference re-alignment. It lacks a bit on tradition, but this season it certainly makes up for it in regards to the potency of the teams strapping on their cleats. LSU is fighting for a BCS At-Large spot. Arkansas is fighting to bring down LSU and maybe start a 3 way brawl with them and Alabama for a BCS invitation as well. And shit, Arkansas would only have 1 loss if Petrino hadn't sat on his bloody hands with his offensive play-calling against Alabama earlier in the year. They're a good team. And this game could be Havoc in Fayettenam. Now that Les Miles has vanquished the Ghost of Nick Saban, rumor has it he's actually hit an even mental keel and has started approaching sanity. Ha Ha, just kidding, he was spotted just this week by reporters screaming for 45 minutes at the practice field grass for being too green. When he finished there, he threw off his clothes, climbed the fence, and did the backstroke in Mike the Tiger's pond, spitting water into the air and giggling the entire time. People say that the LSU fans are the craziest and orneriest bunch of lunatics in college football, and there's a solid point to be made there. However, Arkansas is full of mountain people. They practice incest at an even more disturbing rate than Louisianans, and I'm fairly sure they no longer feel pain. If the two fanbases got into, it it could be one insane brawl. Lets check in with our new correspondent, Insanity Wolf. Insanity Wolf, how insane do you think it could get?

Hmmm. That's goddamn insane. But can we ratchet up the intensity? And how about get something a little more topical to the actual opponents/fans that are playing?

We've just gone plaid.

6:00

Home Stretch. Ignore if you hate or are tired of Awesome. Or a racist.

#18 South Carolina at Clemson (ESPN2):
Category: Bullshit
Normally this game coasts easily into Party category, but Clemson has been mediocre all season, and we all know that Spurrier is jogging lazily towards the SEC Championship game next week anyway. What, did you really think that guy was going to gameplan all Holiday week when there were golf courses to be played? Please. It doesn't matter how much these two teams hate each other, and that this is a battle for state pride, or any of that jazz. More interesting battles will be taking place on the streets as opposing fans fight over the last pair of deck shoes at Payless.

#25 Mississippi St. at Ole Miss (ESPNU):
Category: Bullshit
Yawn. This game is going to be a complete spanking. Mississippi State is going to walk into Oxford and pull this number on the rebels and Reverent Nutt:

Offered without comment

Oregon St. at #6 Stanford (Versus):
Category: Party
Shouldn't this be Stanford vs. Cal? Yeah yeah, I know, Rivalry weekend in the Pac-10 is next weekend. The only reason this game is being mentioned is because I like Harbaugh and Stanford. It's not a real rivalry, and it's not nearly as compelling as the other games on around it. But at least Biggie says S'up.

7:00

Houston at Tech (FSN):
Category: Bullshit
Can this even be called a Rivalry now that Leach is gone and there's no one of note from his coaching tree calling plays for Tech? And since both are terrible? If this game falls in the forest, does it make a sound? No.

Georgia Tech at Georgia (ESPN):
Category: Bullshit
Two terrible and mediocre teams, squaring off in a Rivalry that probably just squeaks into the top 35 of college football. There's literally nothing at stake here. I guess technically Georgia is playing for official bowl eligibility, but come on. And whether Richt stays or goes has long been determined, so it's hardly like he's playing for his job. I'm not sure anyone outside of the campuses at Athens or Atlanta could give a rat's ass about this game. This is making me yawn just thinking about it. Can you imagine a world where this is the only night game? You'd simply be enjoying the afternoon games, like normal. But then you'd be hit with a slow and snaking sense of disquiet that ratchets up the closer you get to the evening game slots. Then, when it hits, you'd frantically start searching the channels and punching buttons like a guy who brought home a stripper the night before and sits bolt upright in the morning, tearing through his bedroom, searching, hoping, feverishly praying for any sign of a condom wrapper or used prophylactic.  Certainly there must be...something? Fortunately, the Goddess of Rivalry Weekend is not so cruel. On to better things.

Notre Dame at USC (ABC):
Category: Bullshit
I was dangerously close to labeling this game as Party based solely on the merit of just how storied a rivalry this game has been through the decades. But I can't, because both of these teams are so bad. Sure, that human sacrifice Notre Dame threw down on the practice field a few weeks ago seems to be working, and the win over Utah was nice. The win over Army was about as smooth as an HJ from a professional female weightlifter. Callouses, man. Not good. And USC continues to be almost Les Miles-esque in their level of Bi-Polar behavior. They mix in some nice wins, and then they let loose one of the longest and most audible farts in the history of gastrointestinal tracts last week against a hobbled Oregon State team. How the hell does that happen? As a result, the marrow has been sucked entirely from the bones of this matchup, and while I'll still turn an eye to the television broadcasting it from time to time, cheering for the earth itself to open it's crusty maw and swallow both teams whole, it's not going to be an evening priority. What do you think, Insanity Wolf, is there some better entertainment out there than watching this game?

Yep. Definitely a more exciting option

#13 Oklahoma at #9 Oklahoma State (ABC):
Category: Party
Now we're cooking with gas that Sailor Ripley siphoned out of the cars of fellow Barkers. This is probably the second most compelling game of the weekend, if not the first. A potent in-state rivalry, aided even further by the fact that the typical whipping boy of the overall series is the favorite and looks more like the complete team. The Big 12 South division and a trip to the Championship game is on the line. Two coaches that wear visors...at night (@#!@#$*#%^!!). To paraphrase Joliet Jake's admission in the Dixie Square Mall, this game has got everything. Gundy, a guy I thought was already unemployed before the season started, has done enough to keep his job, and then some. Meanwhile, Stoops has to be so insanely jealous of Pelini getting to express his true soul and not so hidden assface on the sidelines last weekend that he has to be revved up to a fever pitch for this game. If things go ugly for Oklahoma early, look for Stoops to kneecap Jermie Calhoun, hip-check Austin Box, and dash out onto the field to grasp the head referee's ankle and start leaving molar marks on his calf with rabid intensity. The odds of this in vegas are currently 3-1. Meanwhile, if Oklahoma State goes down early, they have the firepower to blast their way back into the game, so almost no lead will be considered safe. Mike Gundy will spend at least 4 hours Saturday morning gelling his hair into spikes sharp enough to pierce flesh. It's his version of warpaint, and he likes it to be functional. Considering T. Boone has had his pitchfork up his ass the last two years, I can't say I blame him. Oklahoma State is looking for a rematch for a suddenly reeling Nebraska team, and their first ever BCS bowl bid. There's a lot at stake. What a great way to end rivalry weekend. Go Cowboys.

Watch out for when he unhinges his jaw. Means he's about to mix it up.

As always, kindly ignore my grammar and spelling. Are there any games I missed which you think are worthy? Threats against my life, this week especially from Mormon religious fanatics, please direct to the comments section. Also, Bob, sorry about the crack about Nebraska women. Again. Ish.

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