College Football Rivalry Week is always good for a few matchups that will absolutely shake up the national picture, and some that will not be doing as much. This year’s extended weekend is no different, with a slate of hit or miss games that. So, in order to help you maximize your time spent watching college football over the next three days, here are the five best rivalry week matchups to watch while you’re devouring as much Thanksgiving food as possible.
1. The Apple Cup – Washington at Washington State
My favorite team, a team that I’ve been a fan of for the majority of my life, plays at 2:30 CST on Friday against their rival, with a chance to win their tenth game for the first time since 2012. Since I became a fan, I’ve never once skipped a game for the sole reason of watching a different game that’s on at the same time. Until this weekend.
Let me try to help you understand my fascination with this game. The Apple Cup has been played 108 times, going back to 1900. And yet, this year marks only the second time in the game’s history that the winner will be awarded with a PAC12 title (either conference or divisional). This is the game that, in 2008, was instead christened the “Crapple Cup”, with an 0-11 Washington team facing off against a 1-10 Washington State team. This teams have, historically, not been any good.
So then, that makes this year’s Apple Cup a once in a lifetime event. A proverbial Haley’s Comet of college football. Skipping this game to watch two teams with virtually nothing to play for try and muddle through a game played on a chilly midwestern afternoon would be an absolute crime, and I will not be doing that. And I will not apologize for it.
2. The Game – Michigan at Ohio State
Michigan/Ohio state is typically must-watch viewing, however it’s been a minute since it was due to the game actually being good, instead of getting to watch one of the two teams get stomped. This game was supposed to be nasty a year ago, however Ohio State finally figured things out offensively and ran wild on the Wolverines. This season looks to be different, however, and this game looks to be the 10-7 slugfest that we’ve come to expect and love from these two teams.
And there are actually stakes this year! Michigan gets into the Big Ten title game with a win, and Ohio State could potentially work their way in with a win and a Penn State loss. While this is unlikely, getting the chance to spoil Michigan’s best season in at least five years is something that Buckeye fans are undoubtedly salivating over. Expect this game to get mean and nasty, and plan on the victor bringing it up early and often.
3. The Iron Bowl – Auburn at Alabama
Outside of the Kick Six, this game hasn’t really been one of the best over the Rivalry Weekend slate of the past few seasons. Alabama has continually evolved while Auburn has spun their wheels somewhat as of late, however that could be different this season. After a hot start to the season, the Alabama defense has stopped doing things like scoring every game, and while their quarterback might be the best they’ve ever had, if Auburn can keep the ball out of Alabama’s hands and let some crazy things happen offensively, this could turn into a shootout that could favor the Tigers. Let’s be honest, this probably won’t be a good game, but it’s likely the last chance the Tide have of losing this season, pending an interesting playoff matchup, so just keep an eye on it.
4. Rumble in the Rockies – Utah at Colorado
One of the newest national rivalries gets a fun spin on things this season, as both Utah and Colorado are nationally relevant. The Utes are coming fresh off a loss to Oregon, however they can still salvage what’s been an excellent season with a win over a Colorado team enjoying their best season since 2002. This game also settles the PAC12 South, with Colorado getting in with a win. After years of mediocrity, the Buffs would like nothing more to be nationally prevalent again. And while Colorado might not see the Utes as a rival just yet, expect that to change this season if Utah comes into Boulder and spoils a party 14 years in the making. And knowing what we know about Colorado fans, they’ll be more than willing to let this get out of hand if the score starts to go south quickly.
5. Florida at Florida State
Sure, this game might not have the playoff implications that the others do, but it’s arguably the best game of the weekend that doesn’t have major post-season meaning. The Gators have already locked up the SEC East, and neither of these teams will be able to crash the final playoff field prior to championship weekend. However both have shown flashes of excellent games this season, despite having two pretty forgettable seasons, all things considered. Plus it helps that they really just don’t like each other at all. Just watch this one until the fourth quarter and then flip over to Wyoming/New Mexico.