Rivalry weekend’s effect is long-reaching

Bobby Curran
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Friday - November 21, 2008
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The next two Saturdays are when college football’s huge rivalries are played, and none is bigger than Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech.

All right, all right, so it’s not a big rivalry, but none of the rivalry games will have as much influence on the national championship picture, with the exception of Alabama-Auburn. If Oklahoma wins this game at home, the Big 12 South will have a three-way tie at the top; the tiebreaker goes to the highest-rated team in the BCS standings.

Right now that would appear to be No. 3 Texas unless Oklahoma is impressive enough to leapfrog the Longhorns. A Sooner win might propel QB Sam Bradford to the Heisman trophy. If Texas Tech wins, only a date with Missouri in the Big 12 Championship game should stand between the Red Raiders and a national title game because their regular season finale is against an overmatched Baylor team. The Heisman trophy would not be a sure thing because QB Graham Harrell would face stiff competition from his favorite WR Michael Crabtree.

On paper, you’d say Alabama shouldn’t have much trouble with Auburn. The Tigers have trouble scoring even in practice, but this is one of those crazy rivalries where the best team doesn’t always win. Wouldn’t it be strange if the Crimson Tide stumbles here rather than against Florida in the SEC Championship game?


A couple of other rivalry games could affect Hawaii should the Warriors win two more games and receive an invite to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. While the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl has a contract that brings them the sixth-place team in the Pac 10, only five teams in that conference are bowl eligible.

The only others that have a chance are Arizona State, which needs to beat UCLA at home and then win its big game at Arizona, and Stanford, which needs to win at California. Both of those scenarios are possible; neither is likely. Which would mean Hawaii could end up playing someone like Buffalo on Christmas Eve. Great for Buffalo, not so hot for Hawaii football fans.

The NFL has some interesting developments. Nobody would have said the best team in the AFC would be the Tennessee Titans, but they’re 10-0 and doing it with journeyman QB Kerry Collins. The Arizona Cardinals may be the weakest team in NFL history to have a four-game lead in their division after 10 games. The NFC West is amazingly weak. Perhaps rivaled only by the AFC West, where an average Denver team is up two games on disappointing San Diego.


And maybe we’ve gone too far with the parity thing. Where the NFC North has Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota all at a perfectly mediocre 5-5. The old school New York Giants are showing that the verities still hold in football: Run the ball and be able to stop the run. Get a pass rush on the QB and keep your QB from making a lot of mistakes. Invest in your offensive line. Do these things, and you’ll be in every game. Ignore them and you could be in the Dire Derby, the contest to see which NFL head coach gets the ax first.

I’m voting for Detroit’s Rod Marinelli, who is 0-10 and beginning to get weird at press conferences to narrowly beat out Kansas City head coach Herm Edwards, who has been weird at press conferences for a long time.

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