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College Football Preview: Rivalry Week Edition

There is no bigger weekend in college football's regular season so pull up a seat, pop open a cold beverage or three and get the popcorn ready. BTB has the best of Saturday's viewing all mapped out.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State (8) at Michigan (10)     ABC/WatchESPN     12 Noon Eastern

This year's edition of "the game" will be held in The Big House. The meeting between traditional Big Ten and national rivals summons up the best in college football traditions, and you can bet that the ghosts of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembeckler will be stalking the sidelines, at least in the memory of fans from both sides, in a quest to finally prove to the other who is the best in football. It does not get any bigger in college football, especially when both teams are ranked in the top ten nationally. There is no better kickoff for a weekend of football than this one folks.

Clemson (1) at South Carolina     ESPN/WatchESPN     12 Noon Eastern

These two in-state rivals are headed in opposite directions. The Tigers are at the pinnacle of college football while the Gamecocks are reeling with a 3-8 record and dealing with the aftermath of Steve Spurrier's departure from the program. Don't let that fool you. USC will leave it all on the table this week in hopes of spoiling the season of that other school and bringing National Championship dreams crashing down.  A win would give a jumpstart to the effort to get the team make on the right track. Every logical thought says that Clemson wins this one in a blow out but logic and rivalry games do not often go together.

Alabama (2) at Auburn     CBS     3:30 PM Eastern

They call this one the Iron Bowl. Second ranked Alabama comes into the contest looking to make a statement before the post season while their cross state rivals are looking to make a statement of their own. Even with a loss the Tide can still secure the SEC West and a date with Florida for the SEC Championship game but they have bigger things in mind. Losing would likely leave them on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Half of the state of Alabama (and no doubt fans around the country) will be celebrating if the Tigers can pull off the upset.

UCLA (22) at USC     ABC/ESPN2     3:30 PM Eastern

This rivalry is unique. On rivalry weekend you get border wars like the one in the Big Ten, In state showdowns like the ones in Carolina and Bama, but the Pac-12 offers up a contest between traditional powers that share the same city. There have been games where the stakes have been higher for the two schools, but don't tell that to the men pacing the sidelines or the fans in the seats. This time around it is only a Pac-12 South title at stake; national standings are not really on the line. The game will be an intense one for both sides and outside of OSU-Michigan, this should be the contest of the day. (I can't help but wonder how many times these two contests determined the combatants in the Rose Bowl over the years.)

Ole Miss (18) at Mississippi State (21)     ESPN2/WatchESPN     7:15 PM Easten

While there is a championship that should be secured during the Iron Bowl, if Alabama loses to Auburn the Egg Bowl will decide the SEC West. If things fall right the Rebels will make their first visit to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Either way it will be a tough challenge for Ole Miss. They have not won in Starkville since some guy named Eli Manning made his last visit with the club.

Florida State (13) at Florida (12)     ESPN/Watch ESPN     7:30 PM Eastern

I can almost hear Keith Jackson's unique voice calling "Whoan Nellie" over this one. This game used to be huge but in the 21st century it has lost some luster. For the first time in recent memory the two schools are both ranked in the top 15, there are title implications on the line, and possibly a Heisman winner taking the field. Florida-Florida State is big again. gators corner Jalen Tabor summed everything up perfectly in a recent interview.

'Nothing needs to be said in our locker room,'' Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor said. ''Those guys up the road, we don't like them and they don't like us. We feel like we're the best team in the state. They feel like they're the best team in the state. ... They're going to have to bring everything they've got in here.''

Fans in the Sunshine State have been waiting a long time for this one.

Oklahoma (3) at Oklahoma State (11)     ABC/WatchESPN     8:00 PM Eastern

Things end the way they started with a showdown in the middle of America. The Big 12 takes center stage to conclude rivalry weekend. The Bedlam Series renews with both conference and national honors riding on the results. The Sooners can win the Big 12 with a victory and they need a dominating performance to insure a berth in the playoffs. With no championship game in the conference it is not beyond the scope of reason for them to be the odd man out if they cannot make a statement this weekend. The Cowboys (how can you not like a school with that nickname folks, especially after giving us both Walt Garrison and Dez Bryant) would love to help make the necessary arrangements to insure that their in state rivals have a comfortable seat on the couch to watch the national

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