Floyd of Rosedale, Paul Bunyan and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry all take center stage this weekend.
So much blood, sweat and tears have been poured into these heated series and each rivalry has its’ own significance. Regardless of what the teams’ records are, rankings or what’s at stake, the players lay it all out on the line in these games.
Expect cheap shots, targeting penalties, ejections and a whole lot of hate. The victories are unforgettable, the post game press conferences are priceless with coaches taking jabs at one another. Most importantly it’s a special time for College Football fanatics to enjoy because it all happens just once a year.
Michigan State at Michigan: Very few rivalries get as heated as these two in-state foes battling for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Last season Michigan star linebacker Devin Bush stood in the middle of the field and refused to move as Mark Dantonio and his team walked the line. Bush tried his best to tear up the Sparty”s field turf with his cleats, openly disrespecting the Dantonio, the players and the fans. It was the first time I heard Dantonio openly swear in a post game press conference. Jim Harbaugh has figured out how to beat Dantonio, winning the last three head to head after dropping the first game. Still, the games are always entertaining and the defenses come to play. Neither team is in contention for the Big Ten East this time around. The Spartans are 4-5 and riding a four-game losing streak. Rumors have been going around about Dantonio’s job security despite him being the most winningest coach in the history of the program. The No. 14 Wolverines have been disappointing thus far, but they have an opportunity to finish the season out on a high note by winning their three remaining games. The game is still perceived by many as big brother against little brother. However, we’ll get to see if Dantonio can use that underdog role as motivation for his players and get a much needed win.
Minnesota at Iowa: The No. 7 Golden Gophers are 9-0 for the first time since 1904 and come into this game with their highest AP ranking since 1956. However, Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes will have won six of the last seven meetings, including four-straight. Still, P.J. Fleck is having a special season in his third year with Minnesota and he’s definitely a Coach of the Year candidate. The Golden Gophers are one of the last two undefeated teams in the Big Ten and sits atop the West Division. Minnesota is on an 11-game win streak, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1941. The No. 23 Hawkeyes have struggled mightily on offense, but they got an elite defense and place kicker that keeps them in games. Minnesota has yet to face a defense of this caliber on the road in what will be a very hostile environment at Kinnick Stadium. It’s going to be a blackout crowd and the fans want to keep Floyd of Rosedale in Iowa City for another year. It remains to be seen if Iowa could be possibly catching Minnesota on an emotional letdown after last week’s upset win over Penn State. Regardless of the matter Fleck should be expecting every opponents’ best effort from this point forward. Iowa needs to right the ship on its’ season and handing Minnesota its’ first loss of the year will prove Ferentz has everything sailing right. Still, whoever wins this game will have a priceless feeling hoisting that pig Saturday night.
Georgia at Auburn: What a historical rivalry between these two teams. It’s the pride of the south. Everyone wants to talk about the Iron Bowl or the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is just a significant on a national scale. It’s going to be a tall order for the Tigers two of the next three games and playing two top-five teams, but all will be at home where the team is undefeated. Both of Auburns’ losses have been on the road to highly-ranked teams. Now the Tigers finally return back to Jordan-Hare where they have outscored the opposition 135-45 on the Plains. Georgia is currently the highest-ranked one-loss team in the College Football Playoff rankings. Now the Bulldogs have a chance to solidify their ranking by beating a solid Tiger team on the road. Not to mention a win over Auburn for Georgia would put a lot of pressure on Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Kirby Smart should have his team pumped up for this matchup. The home team has won the last three games in this series and Georgia needs to snap that streak to stay in contention for the SEC Championship Game and the Playoffs. Smart needs to show the College Football world that Georgia’s home loss to South Carolina was a fluke and that his team is the real deal. Gus Malzahn’s name has been swirling around about the Arkansas job and the last thing he needs is that to be a distraction for his team.