College Football Games of the Week – Rivalry Week Special: Michigan-Ohio St, USC-Notre Dame and more
There might be no greater irony in American sports than celebrating a holiday where you’re thankful for what you have – and then promptly playing the team you hate the most two days later.
That’s the case in Week 13 – also known as Rivalry Week, when schools across the country play their most bitter of enemies. Oftentimes, they have major bowl or playoff implications – as some of these matchups especially do.
In recognition of the weekend we all love to hate, DailyMail.com has decided to do a less-deep-divey edition of our Games of the Week, honoring the games that will be the most contentious and could have the biggest impact on the College Football Playoff.
Welcome to Week 13 of the college football season. Here are the Dailymail.com picks for games to keep an eye on…
Even games like Georgia (white) vs. Georgia Tech (blue) are important traditions in this sport
Honorable Mention: ‘America’s Game’ Army Black Knights (currently 4-6) v. Navy Midshipmen (4-7)
- Saturday, December 10 @ 3:00 (CBS) / Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
This is an honorable mention because it’s a great rivalry that occupies a special place in the college football calendar.
Historically, Army-Navy is the final game played of the college football regular season – always the week after the conference championship games.
While neither team is playing well this year – and with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy already won by Air Force – the pageantry and tradition of this game is worth watching it.
Army has been producing special uniforms to honor specific divisions ever since 2015
Navy isn’t one to be shown up, having produced some absolutely beautiful uniforms as well
For one, both teams release special uniforms for this game each year. Since 2015, Army has honored specific divisions of their unit. Highlights include 2017 tribute to the 10th Mountain Division and 2018’s homage to the 1st Infantry Division.
Meanwhile, Navy has a similar tradition of honoring certain divisions like the Blue Angels, but also general parts of the navy like their air corps or the Marines.
It’s a fun, fast game that honors a group of college kids who are about to serve the country – but are enemies for just this one day, fighting for the right to ‘sing second’.
10) ‘Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate’ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-6) @ no. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (11-0)
- Saturday @ Noon ET (ESPN) / ‘Between the Hedges’ Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
You can have your El Clasico, your State of Origin, your Old Firm. For my money, there is no better name of a rivalry in sports than ‘Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.’
These two teams have hatred that goes beyond the gridiron and strikes you right at your moral compass.
They can’t even call each other’s schools by their real names. Each week, Yellow Jackets fans refer to their rivals as ‘the University (sic) of Georgia’ while Bulldogs supporters call their enemies the ‘North Avenue Trade School’.
Hatred remains through the generations: picking up more ammunition for the other through conference realignment, the stealing of bells and cars, and multiple World Wars. While UGA is expected to easily win over Tech, expect the animosity to last all day.
This affair may be more lopsided, but wins are still important for the no. 1 Georgia Bulldogs
9) ‘The Egg Bowl’ Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-4) @ No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels (8-3)
- Thursday at 7:00pm ET (ESPN) / Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS
If the World Cup or NFL football on Thanksgiving doesn’t appeal to you, why not try the Egg Bowl?
It seems someone took all the British jokes about how American football should be called ‘hand egg’ seriously in Mississippi, because they made a trophy out of it.
This particular golden egg was created out of necessity from a game in 1926, when Ole Miss beat a then-known-as Mississippi A&M Aggies team at A&M’s home field.
Rebels fans tried tearing the goalposts down in a stadium that wasn’t theirs, and naturally, Mississippi A&M fans didn’t take too kindly to that. Fights ensued, with some Bulldogs fans defending the goalposts with wooden chairs and people chasing after each other.
In an effort to prevent these things from happening in the future, both schools created a trophy that fans could take instead of destroying or stealing property. Hence, the ‘Golden Egg’ was born and the teams have fought over it ever since.
A trophy born out of necessity is fought over each year between Ole Miss and Mississippi State
8) ‘The Sunshine Showdown’ Florida Gators (6-5) @ no. 16 Florida State Seminoles (8-3)
- Friday @ 7:30 (ABC) / Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Oh how the overhyped have fallen.
In Week 1 of this year, Florida shocked the country by upsetting a No. 7 Utah team in ‘The Swamp’ – then compounded the shock when the AP Poll shot them up from being unranked to No. 12 in the nation.
Since they last left the rankings via a loss to then-No. 11 Tennessee, the Gators have gone 4-4 under first year head coach Billy Napier. While the expectations were low this season after a mass exodus in the team, to have all the momentum in the world to having none of it is daunting.
Napier can at least recover some good will by knocking off a strong Florida State team which has also been dealing with its fair share of roller coaster rides.
Finishing ranked would be a sign of great progress for the ‘Noles under coach Mike Norvell, who entered this season with a simmer of a flame under his hot seat. Now, more people are beginning to believe in him and his team. A win over Florida will surely help his case even more.
Two very successful teams can see hatred boil over against each other in the Sunshine State
7) ‘The Palmetto Bowl’ South Carolina Gamecocks (7-4) @ No. 8 Clemson Tigers (10-1)
- Saturday @ 4:00 (FOX) / ‘Death Valley’ Clemson Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
My deepest apologies to the fans of the University of South Carolina for writing them off so easily last week.
But even the most ardent Gamecocks fan can admit that last week’s upset over Tennessee was special and unexpected. Prior to last week, the most yards QB Spencer Rattler threw for was 377 in a loss to Arkansas. The most touchdowns he threw were three against Vanderbilt.
So for Rattler to come out of the gates swinging, tossing for 438 yards and six touchdowns is nothing short of a career defining moment.
South Carolina fans hope he can produce something similar against a Clemson team that has nothing serious riding on this game outside of personal pride as they look to the ACC Championship Game.
Clemson’s dominance has defined this rivalry, but last weeks upset gives Gamecock fans hope
6) ‘The Iron Bowl’ Auburn Tigers (5-6) @ No. 7 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2)
- Saturday @ 4:00 (FOX) / Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
The last time these two teams met where neither were ranked in the top five was November 24, 2007 when a No. 25 ranked Auburn team edged out Alabama 17-10.
This is normally one of the most important games of the season for all of college football. Trips to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game have been confirmed or denied with the result of this game.
In fact, of the 16 seasons played between 2007-2022, the SEC West has been won by either Alabama or Auburn 12 times (the other four times have all been LSU).
Notable results since that 2007 game include a 48-45 shootout in 2019, a quadruple overtime ‘Bama victory last year, a 55-44 thriller in 2014, and of course, a field goal that was run back 109 yards by Auburn in a game known affectionately on the Plains as the ‘Kick Six’.
This year, Alabama is outside the top five. Auburn’s season should have been good as over once Brian Harsin was fired. However, if interim coach Cadillac Williams can find a way to beat the Tide, they’ll be bowl eligible.
It might not be as important to the SEC West this year, but the Iron Bowl breeds contempt
5) ‘The Apple Cup’ No. 13 Washington Huskies (9-2) @ Washington State Cougars (7-4)
- Saturday @ 4:00 (FOX) / Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
So they call this trophy the Apple Cup because the state of Washington exports a lot of apples. It honestly couldn’t be more simple than that.
Washington has an outside shot of making the Pac-12 Championship Game. They’ll need help, but first, they need to win the Apple Cup. If the same Ducks team they beat two weeks ago slips up, and Washington beats Washington State, then they could very well end up playing USC in the title matchup.
Michael Penix Jr. has had a great year for the Huskies as the nation’s top passer, he’ll rely on that air attack against a Washington State team that’s had two three game winning streaks coupled with a three game losing streak.
Wazzu hasn’t beaten the Huskies at home since 2012, so they’ll hope they have luck on their side and down them here.
For more reasons why this game is important, see below.
After Wazzu beat the Huskies in Seattle, Washington hopes to take the Apple Cup back
4) The rivalry formerly known as the Civil War No. 9 Oregon Ducks (9-2) @ no. 21 Oregon State Beavers (8-3)
- Saturday @ 4:00 (FOX) / Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR
They’ve abandoned the name Civil War since 2020, but the hate between these two remains heated – if not lopsided.
While two of the last three games in Corvallis were won by the Beavers, those were the only two games Oregon State has won in this rivalry since 2008. In that time, the Ducks have become a major college football powerhouse.
They have a narrow lead in the race for the last spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If they can win, then it doesn’t matter what happens with the Huskies who beat them two weeks ago.
With leaders like QB Bo Nix galvanizing the offense – like in last week’s win over Utah – it’s more likely than not that the Ducks will deliver. However, considering Oregon State’s track record of keeping games close (see: three point loss to USC, three point loss to Washington) they can’t be counted out.
For more reasons why this game is important, see above.
Can Oregon State spoil the Ducks’ hopes of making the Pac-12 Championship with a victory?
3) ‘The Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket’ Purdue Boilermakers (7-4) @ Indiana Hoosiers (4-7) AND ‘The Battle for the Heroes Trophy’ Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-8) @ Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4)
- PUR-IU Saturday at 3:30pm ET (ESPN) / Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN
- NEB-IOWA Friday at 4:00pm ET (Big Ten Network) / Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Both of these games are included not because they’re equal in rivalry status, but because they both have major implications in the Big Ten West title race.
That’s not to shun Iowa-Nebraska and it’s importance. But these two teams have met 52 total times. Meanwhile, Indiana and Purdue have fought for the Old Oaken Bucket 123 total times.
‘The Old Oaken Bucket’ is a poem that was written by Samuel Woodworth of Massachusetts in 1817 about a well on his property in the town of Scituate. The poem is sentimental about his home, and even though it has no true connection to the state of Indiana, the two schools felt a sentimentality about their state because of it.
As a result, they made the trophy an actual oak bucket. The winner of the game gets a link of their school’s first initial added to it. Meanwhile, the Heroes Trophy looks nothing special – akin to something you’d hand out to a high school for winning their state championship.
The Old Oaken Bucket is one of the more special trophies in the college football landscape
So if you again ask why we’re mentioning both games here, it’s because of its importance to the race in the West.
Iowa and Purdue are both tied atop the standings, but with the Hawkeyes beating the Boilermakers earlier this year, they control their own destiny.
If Iowa loses and Purdue wins, then Purdue reaches their first ever Big Ten title game. If they both lose, it becomes more chaotic than we have time to dive into.
Even though their trophy might not be as fun, Iowa will be fighting for the win and a spot in the conference title game as they battle against a struggling old foe in Nebraska
2) ‘The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh ‘ No. 15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3) @ no. 6 USC Trojans (10-1)
- Saturday @ 7:30 (ABC) / ‘The Grand Old Lady’ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
The USC Trojans have a decent shot to make the college football playoff. They’ll just need to knock off one of their oldest rivals to do so.
After struggling at the start of the year, Notre Dame has put together a tidy little first season for coach Marcus Freeman. An upset over Clemson a few weeks ago could set the stage for this matchup – one that the Trojans need to win in order to stay in the hunt.
Last week, USC was able to hold off a tough challenge from UCLA – with USC nabbing a game sealing interception to kill off the Bruins’ final drive.
A win in the Pac-12 Championship Game is imperative for USC to make the playoff, but Notre Dame can kill off that hope before that game is even played with a win.
Two storied programs separated by thousands of miles renew their rivalry in Los Angeles
The winner gets the Jeweled Shillelagh, adorned with Notre Dame clovers and Trojan heads
1) ‘The Game’ No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (11-0) @ No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0)
- Saturday @ Noon ET (FOX) / ‘The Horseshoe’ Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
This game should be considered as a College Football Playoff Quarterfinal. It’s win and in for the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
Even considering last season, with the teams near each other in the rankings at No. 2 and No. 5, the stakes feel much bigger this year.
This could quite possibly be the best game these two have played since the 2006 edition saw No. 1 Ohio State edge out over No. 2 Michigan in what became yet another matchup given the title ‘Game of the Century.’
There may not be a game more filled with hate this week than Michigan vs. Ohio State
Now, with so much on the line, we’ve entered a Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome scenario: two teams enter, one team leaves [with a chance at the College Football Playoff].
Both teams have a variety of weapons at their disposal. A deadly Michigan run game faces off against a debilitating Ohio State passing attack. The Wolverines defense is the second best in the nation, but the Buckeyes are not too far behind.
It’s a game that will command your respect and attention. Noon on Saturday – almost always played beneath a grey mid-western sky – we’ll see which team is truly deserving of the playoffs.
With so much on the line, will Michigan fans repeat their success they finally got last year?