Week 13: Rivalries, championship hopes, CFP implications
No rivalry has produced more big games than Michigan-Ohio State.
The Wolverines and Buckeyes reunite for their annual Big Ten Grudge on Saturday and it will be the 24th time the two have been ranked in the top 10 in the AP poll at kickoff.
That’s seven more than the closest rivalries (Notre Dame-USC and Nebraska-Oklahoma). Of the rivalry games in the spotlight over Thanksgiving weekend, Alabama-Auburn had eight top-10 games in its history and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State has just two. The Sooners, ranked 10th and the No.7 Cowboys, will make three on Saturday at Stillwater.
Of all the rivalry games played this weekend, the one with the second most clashes in the top 10 is Florida-Florida State with 14. The Gators and Seminoles are decidedly unranked this season.
Still, it’s a rivalry whose interest abounds, as it will cross the country for three days when you can gorge yourself on college football.
No. 2 Ohio State to No. 6 Michigan.
Bedlam makes a strong case, but Buckeyes-Wolverines gets a slight nod due to the greater likelihood of offensive fireworks.
Ohio State has the best offense in the country, fueled by a Heisman Trophy contender for quarterback.
CJ Stroud threw 36 touchdowns and completed 71.1% of his passes, guiding an attack of almost 8 yards per game on average.
The Wolverines have two of the best passer in the country at Aidan Hutchinson and David Ajabo (combined 20 sacks), but the real cons for Michigan is its powerful running game.
Hassan Haskins (1,063 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns) and Blake Corum (5.98 yards per carry) are the punch.
The winner takes the Big Ten East, a spot in the conference title game and will be a stone’s throw from the college football playoffs.
And then there’s The Game’s already well-established plot: Ohio State has won eight straight wins, all five since Jim Harbaugh became Michigan coach.
Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama
The Heisman race cleared up last week with Stroud and No.3 Alabama’s Bryce Young taking on the role of favorites, but Young’s teammate deserves attention.
Anderson has been the nation’s most dominant player this season, scoring 26.5 tackles for a loss, including 13.5 sacks. The NCAA record for one-season lost tackles is 32 by George Selvie of the USF in 2007.
In the Iron Bowl, Anderson has a chance to feast on an attack from Auburn who got cranky with a backup quarterback during a three-game losing streak.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2-14 – Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s record against Oklahoma. Among the most high-profile rivalries, Bedlam is one of the most historically unbalanced (90-18-7), as the state of Oklahoma has spent much of its existence closer to Kansas than to the superpower with which it shares a state. The Cowboys closed the gap under Gundy but still rarely beat the Sooners. This year, they are the favorites.
4 – The ranking of Cincinnati in the Top 25 of the college football playoffs. The Bearcats are well positioned to become the first team outside of the Power Five conferences to reach the playoffs, if they can win. They play East Carolina on Friday.
6 – Number of years in a row Clemson played (and won) the Atlantic Coast Conference title match. This streak is not quite dead yet for a Tigers team that suffered three losses before November. Clemson will play against SEC rival South Carolina on Saturday, but if No.21 Wake Forest loses to Boston College and No.23 North Carolina State to North Carolina, Clemson wins the ‘ACC Atlantic.
51.82 – The punt average of San Diego State punter Matt Araiza, who is on track to breaking the FBS record. The 22nd-ranked Aztecs face Boise State on Friday at 9:00 a.m. PST, with major implications for the Mountain West Conference Championship on both sides.
2014 – The last time Rutgers played in a game of bowls. The Scarlet Knights play in Maryland on Saturday and the winner is eligible for the bowl. The Terps last made the playoffs in 2016.
Charlotte in Old Dominion.
Old Dominion was one of two FBS schools that decided not to play at all last season due to the pandemic.
The Monarchs returned this season with a “new” coach in former Penn State assistant Ricky Rahne, who was hired in 2019.
After a 1-6 start through 2021, ODU has claimed four straight wins and needs one more to become bowl eligible.
Off the field, ODU received an invitation to escape Conference USA and join the Sun Belt. It’s been a good few months for the monarchs.
David Cutcliffe, Duke
A coach is unlikely to save or lose his job based on this weekend’s results, but it sure looks like the end of an era is coming to Duke.
Cutcliffe, 67, has enjoyed remarkable success (six bowl games and one appearance in an ACC Championship game) in 14 seasons in a program that has rarely come out of the bottom of the ACC for the past 50 years. . But the Blue Devils are 3-8 heading into their game against Miami and the slippage over the past three seasons suggests it’s time for a change at Durham.
Follow Ralph D. Russo on https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen on http://www.appodcasts.com