Sure, there are a chock-full of important games in the FBS that may/will have reverberations across the country and affect the look of the national championship and New Year’s Six picture. Take your pick of which one might be most important: Michigan State at Ohio State, Baylor at Oklahoma State, TCU at Oklahoma, Michigan at Penn State, California at Stanford, etc.
in other words, four of our Top 10 teams in our latest poll square off against each other, and another of our Top 10 takes on the team that’s No. 11 in our poll. Big weekend, right?
Those contests don’t even catch my interest at all, especially given what else it is this weekend: Rivalry Week! So here’s what I’m really looking forward to on Saturday…and I mean it. Seriously.
Harvard at Yale (2:30 PM, NBC Sports Network): Last season, we had the privilege of covering “The Game” for the first time, and we probably witnessed the greatest game in the storied rivals’ history since the “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” draw back in 1968. The drama going into the 132nd edition of the rivalry actually started at the end of last week’s games in the Ivy League, when nationally-ranked Harvard fell at home to Penn, incurring their first loss of the season overall and falling into a three-way tie for first place in the league. (Penn and Dartmouth are also 5-1 in the Ivy League.) Since the league does not employ tiebreakers to crown a sole champion, a Harvard win over the Elis will hand the Crimson at least a share of their third straight Ancient Eight title, which would be the first time the Crimson will have won three league titles in succession in school history. Yale, 6-3 and 3-3 in league play, is looking to finish with a winning record in Ivy games and ruin the Crimson’s chance at a championship.
Lafayette at Lehigh (12:30, WFMZ-TV, Patriot League Network): If you think Harvard and Yale have played a lot of times, they’ll still be 19 games behind college football’s most-played rivalry, which happens to be between these Keystone State universities. Saturday marks the 151st version of the Mountain Hawks (née Engineers) taking on the Leopards.
Standings-wise, there’s not much to play for, as Colgate and Fordham are fighting for the Patriot League title, but the setup for this game is still pretty dramatic. Lehigh sits at 5-5, looking for a winning season and hoping to achieve that feat at the expense of the Leopards. Lafayette, on the other hand, is having one of the worst seasons in its illustrious footballing history, as it only has one win to its credit in 2015. The Leopards, 1-9 on the season, have lost their nonet of games by an average of almost 26 points per game, and included in their current six-game losing skid are back-to-back 42-0 whitewashes at the hands of Harvard and Holy Cross.
And all of that will be forgiven if they were to clip the Mountain Hawks’ wings in Bethlehem on Saturday. Such is life in a rivalry.
It’s a shame that the seismic changes in the FBS in terms of realignment and the influence of television no longer allows for some of the traditional FBS rivalries to coincide with the two FCS rivalry games mentioned above. Not that it matters, as those games (e.g. Alabama-Auburn, Oregon State-Oregon) will be played next week, creating and FBS rivalry week of its own. Until then, it’s time to enjoy the traditional rivalry weekend, and I plan on doing so, even if that means taking an eye off of some of the big-money football games this week.
Oh, and with it being rivalry week, it’s my one time, as a Syracuse University alum, to utter “Your Mama’s a Hoya” to all Georgetown alumni and fans reading this right now. Just wait until we take you down in D.C. on the hardwood on Dec. 5!
Rivalries are events that the A Lot of Sports Talk College Football Poll panel are used to being a part of, no matter their allegiances in the world of sports. As always, here are the seven people who combine to bring you our insightful aggregate poll: T.J. Basalla (super fan, marketing professional based in Ohio), Evie Van Pelt (managing editor at The Rebel Walk Magazine), Basil Mitchell (former TCU and Green Bay Packers RB), Sandy Weintraub (super fan, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon), Nick Mancuso (patent attorney who attended USC as an undergrad and Oregon for law school), Adesina Koiki (Football Writers Association of America member/voter, A Lot Of Sports Talk editor-in-chief) and an anonymous football staff member at a Division II school who once coached at the FBS level.
Here is ALOST‘s 2015 College Football Top 25 for Week 12. If you have any comments and/or complaints, write them below on the Facebook window or email us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
It seems like every champion has at least one head-scratching performance where it struggles against a clearly inferior opponent, yet have enough to pull one out. Clemson’s win over Syracuse last week was just that. (T.J. Basalla)
Now we’re about to find out how good Ohio State really is. (T.J.)
Like the Tide, Charleston Southern – Alabama’s opponent on Saturday – also sports a 9-1 record. After this Saturday, the FCS’s Buccaneers will have two losses. Alabama’s defense has an SEC-best 29 sacks this season, and look for the sacks to come early and often in this one. (Evie Van Pelt)
Flashbacks to 2011, when a Cowboy team heading towards a national championship game appearance had its title dreams wrecked by a late-season loss in Ames, were flooding into many OSU fans’ minds last week when they saw their team face a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Cyclones. Instead of déjà vu, the Pokes pulled out an impressive come-from-behind win. Perfect season and national title hopes still intact. (Adesina Koiki)
No team has less control of its own destiny than Notre Dame. (T.J.)
A win over Purdue would give Iowa a share of its first Big Ten regular-season title since 2004. Oh, and they’ll remain undefeated and still in the mix for the Playoff. The team that emerges out of the Big Ten East will pray that the Hawkeyes stay undefeated by the time the Big Ten Championship Game rolls around. (Adesina)
You eliminate even one half of the head-scratching losses in his career and we’re talking about Bob Stoops as one of the greatest head coaches of all time. (T.J.)
With a victory against Florida Atlantic University, Gators head coach Jim McElwain will have the record for most wins by a first-year coach in Gators’ history. (Evie)
The Baylor football program may very well be allergic to Stillwater, Okla. Why? Oklahoma State has averaged 53.1 points per game in its eight wins at home over Baylor since 2000, and the Bears have lost all three road games against top-5 opponents since Art Briles was hired as head coach in 2008 – and have been outscored 149-55 in those games. (Evie)
As much as that Nebraska loss hurts, a win against the Buckeyes would give Sparty a home win against Oregon and road wins against Michigan and Ohio State. Not too shabby if they can pull that feat off. (T.J.)
With Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson, TCU is a serious national championship contender. With Doctson out of Saturday’s game (wrist) and Boykin questionable (ankle), the Horned Frogs might be roadkill when they head into Norman to play the Sooners. (Adesina)
Tom Herman is going to get paid this offseason. (T.J.)
During their nine-game winning streak, the Tar Heels have passed a few tough tests, but their last two games will really let us know how much they’re ready for primetime. Saturday’s game is in Blacksburg, in Frank Beamer’s final home game as head coach of Virginia Tech. The season finale is a road trip to Raleigh and rival NC State. (Adesina)
Michigan is as good as its record, but you have to admit that questionable (dubious?) late-game playcalling by both Minnesota and Indiana bailed out the Wolverines in both those games. I rarely make predictions on games in this space, but I’m calling for an upset in Happy Valley at high noon on Saturday. We’ll see much of a dunce I look like afterwards. (Adesina)
It might not be too much of a consolation given that their loss last week to Oregon extinguished any chances at reaching the Playoff, but the Cardinal can clinch the Pac-12 North title by beating blood rival Cal on Saturday. (Adesina)
The Seminoles, at 8-2, take on the Chattanooga Mocs, who also sport eight wins in 10 contests this season. Evenly-matched game then, right? Hey, I tried to drum up some interest for this game. Give me credit for trying at least! (Adesina)
On the heels of two straight losses (Alabama and Arkansas), the Bayou Bengals hope to get back on track when they head to Oxford, Miss. this weekend. Could Coach Miles be on the hot seat if he loses to the Rebels? Maybe not, but it might be getting warmer. (Evie)
The Midshipmen in the New Year’s Six? That possibility is becoming more and more realistic with every passing week. By the way, how much fun would a Power Five team’s defense have in preparing for Navy’s triple option for a bowl game? Answer: NO FUN AT ALL! (Adesina)
Add a road triumph in Camp Randall to their list of wins this season on Saturday and the Wildcats would have a 10-win regular win season in its sights. That definitely would be a good way to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Northwestern’s magical run to the Rose Bowl, a season which also saw the ‘Cats win 10 games. (Adesina)
Once the Utes fell in the second overtime in Tucson, commissioner Larry Scott must have commenced his bawling at the fact that the Pac-12 won’t have any of its teams in the College Football Playoff this year. (Adesina)
Unlike their opponent on Saturday (Northwestern), the Badgers have yet to defeat a ranked team this season, making their gaudy 8-2 record seem somewhat hollow. (Also, Iowa was not ranked at the time the Hawkeyes won in Madison on Oct. 3). They can change this writer’s sentiment with a win over the ‘Cats. (Adesina)
The task is simple for the Trojans: win their final two games and they’ll appear in their first Pac-12 Championship Game. All they have to do is win in Eugene, then defeat their crosstown rivals the week after to get it done. Did I say that the task was simple? Hmmm, I guess not then… (Adesina)
Mike Leach for Pac-12 Coach of the Year, hands down! Remember, if the Cougars actually made their last-second field goal against Stanford on Halloween, Wazzu would actually be in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 North right now. Spooky, indeed. (Adesina)
You think Vernon Adams Jr. had a good game through the air in the win on The Farm last week? How about these efficient numbers: 10-for-12, 205 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions. Ducks still have faint hopes at winning the Pac-12 North title. (Adesina)
The Rebels are the only SEC West team besides Alabama with a shot at winning the division. Though Ole Miss will be without leading tackler Denzel Nkemdiche, who has been hospitalized most of the week, look for the Rebels to play with passion and contain Leonard Fournette. Rebels win this one. (Evie)
Others receiving votes:
Western Kentucky (5 points), Pittsburgh (3), Marshall (2), Mississippi State (2), Arkansas State (1), Memphis (1), San Diego State (1)
* – To break ties, we used a three-step criteria; 1) higher number of first-place votes, 2) higher number of ballots (out of six) the teams appeared in, 3) highest single ranking by an individual pollster (e.g. if Team A and Team B are tied cumulatively and appeared in all six polls, but Team A’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 7 and Team B’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 9, Team A wins tiebreaker)
[Cover photo (Oklahoma State Cowboys players) courtesy of David Purdy/Getty Images]