Though Week 14 is rivalry weekend and the final full weekend of the regular season, even more importantly it’s the final installment in a 14-chapter story that ends with 20 teams ascending to next weekend’s ten conference championship games.
And for those teams still in the hunt for a spot in the CFP bracket, it’s, in most cases, having to clear the hurdle of a hated rival – against which anything can happen – to take one giant step closer towards the biggest, cheesiest of all the enchiladas.
Yes friends, we have much to be thankful for. And that’s true even if your team is 4-7 and it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving.
The week kicks off early with two MAC games on Tuesday night. Though there are three NFL games spaced out evenly on Thanksgiving Day, don’t forget that Ole Miss visits Mississippi State at 7:30pm EST on ESPN that evening.
Friday offers 15 contests spread throughout the day. The most compelling matchup early is (24) Virginia Tech at Virginia (Noon EST, ABC), the winner earns the right to play (3) Clemson in next weekend’s ACC championship game. This pairs well with Texas Tech at Texas over on FOX, featuring two of the worst pass defenses in the FBS (the Longhorns are No. 124 vs. the pass while the Red Raiders are No. 126).
In the midafternoon it’s (19) Cincinnati at (18) Memphis (3:30pm EST, ABC), if the Tigers can manage a win these two will meet again in next Saturday’s American Athletic title game. Alternates include Washington State at Washington, which kicks off 30 minutes later on FOX.
Primetime features just one contest – South Florida at UCF a.k.a. “The War on I-4” – at 8pm EST on ESPN.
Saturday is basically the best day of your entire life. Tune in early to see (1) Ohio State at (13) Michigan at Noon EST on FOX. Keep your remote set on (3) Clemson at South Carolina on ESPN and (4) Georgia at Georgia Tech on ABC at the same time.
In the midafternoon it’s (5) Alabama at (15) Auburn on CBS and (12) Wisconsin at (8) Minnesota on ABC – both air at 3:30pm EST. While the Iron Bowl is the sexier of the two, the winner of the Wisconsin/Minnesota game earns the right to face (1) Ohio State in the Big Ten championship next weekend.
Primetime starts early – at 7pm EST – with Texas A&M at (2) LSU on ESPN. While this isn’t a ranked vs. ranked affair, the four-loss Aggies have fallen to teams ranked No. 1 (Clemson), No. 8 (Auburn), No. 1 (Alabama) and No. 4 (Georgia) at game time. Thirty-minutes later, tune in to Colorado at (6) Utah on ABC – a win for the Utes puts them in the Pac-12 championship vs. (14) Oregon next weekend. The final blockbuster – (7) Oklahoma at (21) Oklahoma State – airs at 8pm EST on FOX.
RANKED vs. RANKED (5)
- (19) Cincinnati at (18) Memphis – Friday, 3:30pm EST, ABC
- (1) Ohio State at (13) Michigan – Saturday, Noon EST, FOX
- (5) Alabama at (15) Auburn – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS
- (8) Wisconsin at (12) Minnesota – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, ABC
- (7) Oklahoma at (21) Oklahoma State – Saturday, 8pm EST, FOX
OFF THIS WEEK (2)
- Pac-12: (22) USC
- Independents: UMass
7: (1) Ohio State has won 7-straight over (13) Michigan (last loss in 2011)
7: (12) Wisconsin has won 7-straight AT (8) Minnesota (last loss there in 2003)
9: (9) Baylor has won 9-straight over Kansas (last loss in 2007)
9: Toledo has won 9-straight over Central Michigan (last loss in 2009)
9: (4) Georgia has won 9-straight AT Georgia Tech (last loss there in 1999)
12: (10) Penn State has won 12-straight over Rutgers (last loss in 1988)
15: (24) Virginia Tech has won 15-straight over Virginia (last loss in 2003)
- Colorado State has NEVER beaten (20) Boise State (0-8)
- Texas A&M has NEVER won AT (2) LSU in SEC play (0-3)
- UTSA has NEVER won AT Louisiana Tech (0-4)
Bowling Green at Buffalo (Friday, Noon EST, ESPN+)
Buffalo’s sophomore RB Jaret Patterson (#26) has quietly earned a No. 8 ranking – nationally – in rushing yards per game (120.73). It sandwiches him statistically between Clemson’s Travis Etienne at No. 7 and Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell at No. 9. Patterson has rushed for 140-plus in his last four consecutive outings including hanging up 192 yards and four scores in last week’s 49-30 win over Toledo. Cue up Bowling Green – the owner and operator of the No. 124 ranked rushing D in the Americas – and things look favorable for Patterson to finish the season uber strong. Only six teams in the nation have been more generous on the ground than the Falcons, who are fresh off letting Ohio scamper for 342 yards and six rushing TDs in last week’s 66-24 disaster.
ULM at Louisiana (Saturday, 7:30pm EST, ESPNU)
The biggest statistical mismatch in Week 14, tune in to this one to see Louisiana’s No. 5 ranked rushing attack take on ULM’s No. 127 ranked rush defense. Where the Ragin’ Cajuns are averaging a cool 276.18 rushing yards per game, the Warhawks are giving up 252.73, only three teams in the nation have been more generous. Check out Louisiana’s triple threat at running back – junior Elijah Mitchell (#15), junior Trey Ragas (#9) and senior Raymond Calais (#4), combined they’ve racked up 2,364 yards and 30 scores.
Arizona at Arizona State (Saturday, 10pm EST, ESPN)
This rivalry game features the No. 9 receiver in college football taking on the third-worst pass defense in the USA. On one side of the equation is Arizona State senior WR Brandon Aiyuk (#2) and on the other is Arizona’s No. 128 ranked secondary. Not only is Aiyuk one of only 12 receivers nationally averaging 100-plus receiving yards per game (102.3), he’s ranked No. 6 overall in total receiving yards (1,125). Look for him to finish the regular season with a bang vs. a Wildcat D that’s one of only five units nationally allowing 300-plus yards through the air this season (306.7).
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
The 100 Miles of Hate – Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky – series started in 1914 – Middle Tennessee leads 35-32-1, its win last season snapped a three-game losing skid.
Located precisely 100-miles apart, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee have shared conference membership at both the FCS (Ohio Valley) and FBS (Sun Belt and now C-USA) levels. They’ve played 68- times total and met consecutively from 1952 to 1985. The trophy itself is a whopper, a golden transportation-themed tribute to hating your nearest neighbor.
The Apple Cup – Washington State at Washington – series started in 1900 – Washington leads 73-32-6 and has won six-straight.
The Apple Cup wasn’t born until 1962, “in honor of Washington State’s delicious and iconic apples.” Originally, the Huskies and Cougars played for their version of a Governor’s Trophy. If you measure the rivalry in Apples only, Washington has won 41 vs. Washington State’s 16.
The Battle Line Trophy – Missouri at Arkansas – series started in 1906 – Missouri leads 7-3 and has won three-straight. Rematch of the 2007/08 Cotton Bowl and 2003 Independence Bowl.
Introduced in 2015, the Battle Line Trophy outlines the states of Arkansas and Missouri as they would appear on a map. Crafted primarily of silver, it weighs in at a hefty 180 pounds and is nearly seven feet tall. It’s also the natural continuation, geographically, of the Golden Boot, the traveling prize for the Arkansas-LSU series. Ironically, both trophies were designed by Arkansas student-athlete David Bazzel. The Razorbacks took possession of the first-ever Battle Line and the Tigers have won each game with the prize on the line since.
The Bedlam Bell – (7) Oklahoma at (21) Oklahoma State – series started in 1904 – Oklahoma leads 88-18-7 and has won four-straight.
The original traveling prize for Bedlam was the clapper from the bell that hung in Old Central on the Oklahoma State campus. The first time the Cowboys (originally the Oklahoma A&M Aggies) ever beat the Sooners, in 1917, the bell was rung all night. The clapper was eventually absconded, changing hands until 1966, when the two schools agreed to use it as a trophy. It has since been replaced by a crystal bell. Oklahoma has won the crystal clapper 43 times vs. OSU’s 9, the 1992 game ended in a tie.
The Chancellor’s Spurs – Texas Tech at Texas – series started in 1928 – Texas leads 51-17 but the two have split the last four, the visiting team winning on each occasion.
The Chancellor’s Spurs debuted in 1996 – the first-ever year of both the new Big 12 conference and Texas and Texas Tech each employing a university system chancellor. The Longhorns have worn the Spurs home 17 times vs. the Red Raiders’ six.
The Commonwealth Cup – (24) Virginia Tech at Virginia – series started in 1895 – Virginia Tech leads 58-37-5 and has won 15-straight.
Established in 1996, the Commonwealth Cup is a whopper – four feet high and weighing in at 100 pounds. It’s big enough for the scores of every previous game between the two programs to be listed on its base. Virginia Tech has won 20 Cups vs. Virginia’s three.
The Florida Cup – Florida State at (11) Florida – series started in 1958 – Florida leads 35-26-2, the Gators win last season snapped a five-game losing streak. Rematch of the 1996/97 and 1994/95 Sugar Bowls.
Awarded to the winner of the three-way battle between Florida/Florida State and Miami Fla., the Florida Cup (also known as the “state championship of Florida”) was established in 2002 by the Florida Sports Foundation. Though the Cup is 17-years old, it’s only been presented five times – from 2002-04 and in 2008 and 2013. While Florida State meets Florida (a non-conference fixture) and Miami Fla. (as permanent ACC cross-division rivals) annually, the three-way rivalry has been hampered by the limited number of times the Gators have squared off with the Hurricanes. The good news is, the two schools have just inked a deal for a series in 2024 and 2025.
Miami won the first three Cups (2002-2004) while Florida (2008) and Florida State (2013) have captured the two most recent. This season, the then No. 8 Gators beat the Hurricanes 24-20 in the opener in Orlando. Miami subsequently downed Florida State 27-10 on Nov. 2. If (11) Florida beats the Seminoles on Saturday night, the Gators will earn their second-ever Florida Cup.
The Fremont Cannon – UNLV at Nevada – series started in 1969 – Nevada leads 26-18, the two have split the last four.
Though perhaps less-well know than the mini cannon that Illinois and Purdue play for, the Fremont Cannon is a beast. Introduced in 1969, the weapon is a full-size reproduction of the howitzer used by John C. Fremont as he headed west to Nevada in 1843. Unlike many rivalry prizes, the Fremont dates all the way back to the beginning of the series.
The Golden Egg Trophy – Ole Miss at Mississippi State – series started in 1901 – Ole Miss leads 62-45-6, but the two have split the last four, the visiting team winning on each occasion.
Awarded to the winner of the Egg Bowl, the Golden Egg was introduced after the 1926 game in Starkville, when underdog Ole Miss scored an unexpected 7-6 win over then Mississippi A&M. Zealous Rebel fans stormed the field after the game, rushing towards the goal posts only to be beat back with cane chairs by State fans. The incident was so ugly that the student bodies decided to present a trophy after the next game “in a dignified ceremony designed to calm fans.” Ole Miss has collected 56 Eggs vs. Mississippi State’s 30.
The Governor’s Cup – (4) Georgia at Georgia Tech – series started in 1893 – Georgia leads 67-41-5 and has won the last two.
One of three Governor’s Cups played for at the FBS level, the state of Georgia’s version is awarded to the annual winner of the game that’s advertised as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.” Not only do both schools mention one another in their fight songs, each makes a sacrifice the week of the rivalry game – for Georgia Tech it’s the use of red pens and for Georgia it’s mustard.
The Governor’s Cup – Louisville at Kentucky – series started in 1912 – Kentucky leads 16-15, the two have split the last four, the visiting team winning on each occasion.
The Kentucky Governor’s Cup dates back to 1994, when the two schools renewed their rivalry after a 70-year break. The earlier games were all played between 1912 and 1924, six Kentucky wins by a combined score of 210-0. Since ’94 Louisville has earned a 15-10 advantage.
The Heroes Trophy – (17) Iowa at Nebraska – series started in 1891 – Nebraska leads 29-17-3, but Iowa has won four-straight.
The Heroes Trophy was introduced in 2011, Nebraska’s first season in the Big Ten. The name was chosen with the intent of honoring one citizen apiece from Iowa and Nebraska for “extraordinary acts”. Thus far, the Hawkeye’s have won the prize five times vs. the Cornhuskers’ three times.
The James E. Foy, V-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy – (5) Alabama at (15) Auburn – series started in 1893 – Alabama leads 46-36-1 and has won four of the last five.
Dating back to 1948, the trophy presented to the winner of the Iron Bowl was the brainchild of the Alabama and Auburn chapters of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society. In January 1978, it was dedicated to Dean James E. Foy V as he retired as the Dean of Student Affairs at Auburn. Prior to taking on that role in 1950, Foy had served as the Assistant Dean of Students at Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won 42 ODK’s vs. the Tigers’ 29.
The Land of Lincoln Trophy – Northwestern at Illinois – series started in 1892 – Illinois leads 55-52-5, but Northwestern has won four-straight.
First introduced in 2009, the Land of Lincoln, which depicts Abraham Lincoln’s iconic hat, was the result of an online contest for both schools’ fanbases. The two teams played for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk from 1945 to 2008 but it was retired “out of respect for Native American Nations.” Northwestern has won seven of the new awards vs. Illinois’ three.
The Legends Trophy – (16) Notre Dame at Stanford – series started in 1925 – Notre Dame leads 19-13 but Stanford has won three of the last four.
The Legends Trophy honors the first-ever game between the Cardinal and Irish – the 1925 Rose Bowl, a game Notre Dame won 27-10, earning it its second national title. Counted among the legendary that day were Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen, Pop Warner and Ernie Nevers.
The Old Oaken Bucket – Indiana at Purdue – series started in 1891 – Purdue leads 74-41-6 and has won the last two.
Dating all the way back to 1925, the Old Oaken Bucket was initiated by an alumnus of each school charged with finding a traveling trophy. The duo struck gold at an Indiana farm, where an old bucket, now the Old Oaken Bucket, hung from a well. The first game played for the prize ended in a 0-0 tie, which explains the bronze “IP” attached to the Bucket’s handle. This led to a bronze “I” or “P” being linked to the trophy for each team’s win ever since. So far, 60 “P’s” have been attached vs. 31 “I’s.”
Paul Bunyan’s Axe – (12) Wisconsin at (8) Minnesota – series started in 1890 – The series is tied at 60-60-8, Minnesota’s win last season snapped a 14-game losing skid.
Introduced in 1948, Paul Bunyan’s Axe was preceded by a wood-crafted Slab of Bacon, awarded to the winner of the game beginning in 1930. The tradition of “bringing home the bacon” was halted in the early 1940s when the slab went missing (it was found in 1994 in Madison). Recorded on the handle of Bunyan’s Axe are the winners of every game since the series began. Wisconsin has taken possession of the Axe 43 times vs. Minnesota’s 25.
The Platypus Trophy – Oregon State at (14) Oregon – series started 1894 – Oregon leads 65-47-10 and has won ten of the last eleven.
Awarded to the winner of the Civil War, the Platypus Trophy was sculpted (but never officially finished – it’s missing its feet) by an Oregon art student in 1959. Oregon State won the first-ever Trophy game and then retained the prize until 1961 when it disappeared, not to be uncovered again until 2006. It was reintroduced to the rivalry game in 2007. Since then, the Ducks have won the duck-billed mammal ten times vs. the Beavers’ two.
The Territorial Cup – Arizona at Arizona State – series started in 1899 – Arizona leads 49-42-1 but Arizona State has won the last two meetings.
The self-proclaimed “oldest trophy for a rivalry game in America” the Territorial Cup is unique because not only has it been in use for the entirety of the series, it’s over 100 years old. The name refers to the fact that the Cup was awarded before Arizona was even a state, remaining a territory until 1912.
The Valley Cup Trophy – Fresno State at San Jose State – series started in 1921 – Fresno State leads 42-37-3 and has won two-straight.
The Valley Trophy, quite literally a giant metallic “V”, was established in 2013 to “acknowledge the rivals that represent the Silicon Valley and San Joaquin Valley, respectively.” Each program has won the big “V” three times thus far.
The War on I-4 Trophy – South Florida at UCF – series started in 2005 – South Florida leads 6-4 but UCF has won two-straight.
Not to be confused with The Battle of I-75, the War on 4 is an “annual series of scored competitions across multiple sports programs” from USF and UCF. It kicked off in 2016-17, since then not only do the Knights hold a 2-1 advantage over the Bulls on the gridiron since then, they’ve won the overall competition each year since its inception. The two schools are located 100 miles apart on Interstate 4 in central Florida.
The Wooden Boot – Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana – series started in 1951 – Louisiana leads 28-25 and has won four of the last five.
Referred to as “The Battle of the Bayou,” ULM and Louisiana have played annually since 1997. They also met consecutively from 1953-71, under their previous names – in 1999, Northeastern Louisiana University (NLU) became ULM and the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) became Louisiana (Lafayette). The Wooden Boot trophy debuted in 2002 – the Ragin’ Cajuns have won the boot nine times vs. the Warhawks’ seven.
When you see the score of the New Mexico State/Liberty game flash across the bottom of your screen this Saturday, you may experience a sneaking feeling of deja vu. If so, you’ll be right – because not only have the Aggies and Flames already played once before this year, they met twice during the 2018 regular season.
Indeed – the two met on Oct. 6 and Nov. 24 last season and reunited Oct. 5 of this year in Las Cruces. That makes this Saturday’s meeting in Lynchburg the fourth regular-season game in just 421 days.
According to Eric Single of SI.com, it’s the “first time two Division I football teams have played twice in the regular season since 1998, when UMass met UConn on Oct. 24 and Nov. 21.” Read all of Single’s excellent piece to understand the complexities of how “desperation” contributed to Liberty and New Mexico State’s historic four-game series becoming a reality.