Kick those unwanted family members out of the house, fire up the online gambling account, and get ready for the single most exciting 48 hours in college football. Rivalry weekend is upon us and the next two days will be filled with intrigue, upsets, and disturbing levels of crowd violence. Every college graduate and childless drunk lives for this - so let's get started with the five best games!
(2) Alabama at Auburn
Line: Alabama -11
For my money, there’s no better rivalry in America than the one between the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. These two teams are entrenched in a level of mutual hatred that Middle Eastern radicals would call mildly disturbing. Last year the Crimson tide rolled to a 36-point victory en route to the SEC Championship game, a fact the fans in Auburn dealt with like the parents of a fat kid who has to take special ed kickball classes and shower with his shirt on to avoid further embarrassment. This year the fine folks in Las Vegas (who still have the majority of my freshman year tuition money) seem to think that this game may end similarly, as evidenced by the 11-point spread* they’ve tagged this year’s battle with. But something about this one smells like a possible upset. The Iron Bowl is not an easy game to win and if Alabama gets caught looking ahead to their game against the Gators next Saturday, this one could end badly. Auburn is hungry for a win and has been playing well enough lately to make that a real possibility. If any of the big three are going to lose this weekend – Alabama is by far the most likely.
Prediction: Alabama overcomes their quarterback issues and pulls it out in the second half.
Alabama 28, Auburn 21 – Tigers cover the spread.
Florida State at (1) Florida
Line: Gators -24
This will be the final time college football’s golden boy plays at home, so if you’re willing to sit through three dozen Tim Tebow tribute montages and some awkward sexual tension between Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, this may be one of the most enjoyable college football games ever to be optioned into a Lifetime Movie of the Week (if only Mark Ruffalo had the range to play Urban Meyer). The Seminoles enter this match-up with a season high two-game winning streak and will use what their media guide calls “an acceptable level of talent” to try to derail their rival Gators bid for a second consecutive national title. Will Tebow give the Gainesville faithful one last glimpse of greatness or will Bobby Bowden ruin everything like most old people usually do? It’s one of the greatest college football player's last-ever home game and CBS is going to try their darndest to mention it every 30-45 seconds. Tune in to watch it live, because the newly-launched ESPN Tebow channel may not show it for at least 72 minutes after it’s over.
Prediction: Tim Tebow is a warrior, a saint, and someone who understands the value of cover a 24-point spread.
Florida 41, Florida State 13 – Gators cover the spread.
(12) Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Line: Oklahoma -8
Can somebody please tell me why Notre Dame is reaching out to Bob Stoops as a possible coaching candidate that can put them back in the national championship picture? Is this some kind of joke, or does the $18 million that the school will have to pay Charlie Weis in order to kick him and his “Gravy of the Month Club” membership to the curb starting cloud their otherwise impeccable judgment. Bob Stoops does two things well - making horrible mistakes in big game situations and trying to find a second thing he can do well. He’s 0-for-humanity in BCS games and is putting the finishing touches on a 6-6 season that nearly ruined the career of his starting quarterback. In his season finale, Stoops will welcome the cross-state rivals he used to dominate on an annual basis in a game that may officially serve as a temporary passing of the torch in Oklahoma collegiate football.
Prediction: For some inexplicable reason Oklahoma is the favorite. The gambling Gods have given you the opportunity to bet against Bob Stoops in a big game he’s supposed to win. Yes, please!
Oklahoma State 24, Oklahoma 20 – Cowboys cover the spread.
Georgia at (7) Georgia Tech
Line: Georgia Tech -7
Mark Richt hasn’t quite joined Charlie Weis and Rich Rodriguez on the “nobody wants you here anymore” bandwagon, but he has been receiving a little more trash on his lawn these days after squandering last year’s Moreno-Stafford team and followed it up with a six win 2009 campaign. Last year the Bulldogs were thoroughly dismantled by the Yellow Jackets, and Richt has to be feeling the pressure to perform a little bit better this time around. Will he be able to rally his stable of five star recruits to victory? Can future NFL star A.J. Green dominate the Georgia Tech secondary? How many awkward shots of Joe Cox’s parents will ABC show as Brent Musberger points out that “watching your son fail so many times in a row can’t be easy?” There’s a lot of questions heading into this Peach State rivalry – all of which pale in comparison to “Is Georgia Tech now the top program in the state?”
Prediction: Any way you slice it, Georgia does not have the speed on defense to stop the triple option.
Georgia Tech 27, Georgia 17 – Yellow Jackets cover the spread.
UCLA at (20) USC
Line: USC - 14
BYU-Utah may have more national and/or Mormon-related ramifications to it, and watching TCU beat a 1-10 New Mexico team while whining about how nobody respects their quality wins has the unintentional comedic value of a Jim Tressel sex tape – but there’s something inherently intriguing about the USC-UCLA rivalry that makes it must-watch television. Whether it’s the fact that Pete Carroll has taken a WWE/Vince McMahon-inspired turn from being a beloved hero to hated villain, the three conference losses his Trojans have blemishing a usually pristine conference schedule or the way Rick Neuheisel continues to make promises he, in absolutely no way, is able to keep, this coaching match-up has some serious Hollywood sizzle to it that every D-list celebrity in the stands not important enough to receive Lakers tickets can appreciate. As everyone (except the NFL) knows, Los Angeles loves their football and everybody in tinseltown is ready for the annual installment of this heated, albeit laid back, rivalry.
Prediction: USC won’t get caught sleeping and UCLA is a pretty marginal team.
USC 30, UCLA 13 – USC covers the spread.
Rutgers -3 over Louisville
Pittsburgh +1 over West Virginia
Clemson -3 over South Carolina
Arizona -3 over Arizona State
Tennessee -3 over Kentucky
Source: John Meachem/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
* Based upon a composite of lawful U.S. gaming statistics subject to change.