College Football: It Doesn’t Get any Better Than This

 

College football fans will be rocked out of their tryptophan haze by the feast of games this weekend after Thanksgiving. You may have heard of “Black Friday.” Well, this is “Black and Blue” weekend!

Even if the rest of the family is out fighting for those previously grossly-marked-up and now slightly-marked-down “bargains” at the  mall, you can ease back on the couch, grab a few containers of Gordo’s Cheese Dip and a giant bag of chips and get ready for some football.

No less than the BCS National Championship and the also-ran bowls match-ups will be clearer when the dust settles Saturday night. Many teams have a chance and this is the make-it or break-it weekend. Everybody better be ready to play. In the words of college football poet emeritus, Keith Jackson: “don’t worry about the mule…just load the wagon!!”

Alabama vs. Auburn

The Crimson Tide is currently ranked #1 and their long-time rival for LA (that’s Lower Alabama!) supremacy, Auburn, is just a shade behind at #5. This rivalry is called “The Iron Bowl” because it’s played in Birmingham and it should be a dandy.  Better have a bunch of Gordo’s and chips handy for this one.

For the first time nearly 20 years, both teams will enter the rivalry with one loss or less. In terms of its impact on the national championship race, this might be the most meaningful Iron Bowl since 1971, when the pair met for an Orange Bowl berth.

Saturday’s game will determine the Southeastern Conference West Division, with the winner moving to the SEC title game on Dec. 7. For Alabama, a victory moves the Crimson Tide one step closer to a third national championship in a row. But with a win and some help, Auburn could squeeze into the national title game.

Clemson vs. South Carolina 

This game is known as the Palmetto State Rivalry because it’s for bragging rights for the state of South Carolina. There’s also a lot more on the line than just bragging rights. Clemson is currently ranked #4 and South Carolina is ranked #9.

If they can defeat Florida and win the ACC,  Florida State can reach the BCS national championship game. Clemson can secure an at-large BCS bid by knocking off Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. However, history and the mind-games it enables, might be a problem.

Clemson has lost four in a row in the series, each by 10 or more points. For coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson, beating South Carolina remains the one hurdle not overcome during the program’s move back onto the national stage. South Carolina has BCS hopes of its own, but of the more traditional variety. With a Missouri loss to Texas A&M, the Gamecocks will win the SEC East Division and meet the winner of the Iron Bowl in the SEC title game. This is another great game and another great excuse to grab the Gordo’s and hunker down in the recliner.

Ohio State vs. Michigan 

It’s no hyperbole to note that the Buckeyes don’t like the Wolverines even a little bit and the feeling is most assuredly mutual. Since Ohio State is ranked #3 and Michigan is not ranked, this game is potentially a season-changer for the Buckeyes. They’ll be watching that little contest in LA to see what happens to #1 Alabama.

With a win against Michigan and an Alabama loss, the Buckeyes would move up to No. 2 in the BCS standings and need only a win against Michigan State on Dec. 7 to play for the national championship. After a disappointing season, nothing would make Michigan’s year quite like crippling the Buckeyes’ quest for a second undefeated season under coach Urban Meyer.

All Buckeyes will be focused on this game which starts at noon, Saturday. Since even the hard-core football fan has gotta eat…especially lunch…here are a few recipes that even the most culinary-challenged football fan can whip up before the kickoff.

UCLA vs. USC 

While this game doesn’t have the same ramifications for the College Championship as the others this weekend, it’s still UCLA (ranked #22) and USC (#23) and since it for the championship of Southern California, how about calling it the Plastic Bowl?

This game turned out to be a bigger deal than it appeared to be at the beginning of the season. It was after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 28 that USC decided to fire Lane Kiffin, replacing him assistant Ed Orgeron for the remainder of the 2013 season. This change worked for the Trojans, who have taken six of seven under Orgeron and stand one victory shy of a 10-win regular season.

What’s on the line for UCLA? The Bruins have lost the Pac-12 South Division, but beating USC would mark the program’s first multiple-game winning streak in the series since 1998. Since it’s the last college game of the weekend, the UCLA/USC should put a nice bow all those gifts that were scarfed up at the mall by the non-football fans in your family.

We don’t know what’s going to happen out there this weekend. To quote Keith Jackson again, “it’s probably gonna be a barn-burner.” Whatever happens, let’s try to be professional and don’t forget the Gordo’s!

 

 

 

 

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