Webster’s defines rivals as a person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another; competitor. I think Webster was being nice, and kept his definition mild. Rivals hate each other. They aren’t just trying to outdo one another they are trying to embarrass the other. They mock each other like a Gator doing the chop or a Seminole doing the chomp. They talk…a lot…and leave bulletin board material everywhere possible. And when the clock reads zeros one team celebrates and the other walks off disappointed and already looking forward to the matchup next season. So let’s take a look out over the CFSL landscape and glance at a couple of our big rivalries.
WISCONSIN at NOTRE DAME
Okay, so this isn’t a traditional rivalry. But the Irish have won the last two national titles and the Badgers are the only reason they haven’t won the last two B1G championships. And remember back to the end of season 12, both ND and Wisconsin finished the regular season unbeaten in B1G play. The two teams didn’t play that season and Wisconsin, to this day, says they would have beaten the Irish. We never got to find that out. Last season Wisconsin took it to ND in the regular season, Making sure that the Irish wouldn’t win back to back conference titles. But the Irish had the last laugh by knocking the Badgers out of the playoffs and eventually walking away with their second straight National Title. And while it is not just a two team race this season, this game will still go a long way in determining the B1G champion.
WASHINGTON at OREGON
The battle for the pacific northwest may not be a well known rivalry outside of the pacific northwest. But here inside the CFSL we better pay attention. Both teams will enter this game with identical records, 4-3 (3-2), and if it weren’t for the teams mentioned above…and Michigan…they may be playing for a lot more in this one. Although both teams are coming off of big wins against those teams above (Washington over ND and Oregon over Wisconsin). Emotions in games like these always become a factor. Which quarterback can settle down fastest and protects the ball best has the best shot to win. And when you look at the fact that Oregon QB Phil Camit has thrown 18 INTs on the season and the Washington defense has 16 INTs on the season Oregon better get their emotions in check quickly if they want to stay in this game.
OK STATE at OKLAHOMA and TEXAS at TEXAS A&M
Big 12 Tuesday sees two of the biggest rivalry games around in Bedlam and The Lonestar State Showdown. Not only do these teams hate each other, the fact that the results of these Tuesday games are going to determine the Big 12 makes it that much more interesting. With a win you would think Oklahoma would secure no worse than a Top 3 spot in the playoffs. But Oklahoma State could still win the conference with a win depending on how the Texas game shakes out. And while it may seem unlikely that the Longhorns drop this game to the Aggies just look at the last two weeks for A&M. The Aggies upset Oklahoma State in a big way and then rode the momentum through an overtime win over 15th ranked West Virginia. While those are their only 2 wins on the season, they may set the stage for a third consecutive upset.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Yes, this section is a bit of a cop out. However, there are so many great rivalry games this article could practically go on forever. But of course it would be doing an injustice to the other big rivalries if they weren’t at least mentioned. On Wednesday night we have the Sunshine State Showdown. Florida State is looking to stake their claim to the top spot not only in the SEC but in the CFSL playoffs. While a Gator victory would spoil that party and make the outcome of UK and Tennessee very very important in the Swamp. And we close the regular season with two great rivalries on Friday night. And while they appear to be one sided on paper you can always throw records out the window when these teams get going. I would expect both road teams to be heavy favorites Friday when Alabama rolls into Auburn and Michigan travels south to take on Ohio State. Both the Buckeyes and the Tigers come into their games at 1-6 with big uphill battles to climb. But when it comes to the Iron Bowl and The Game…anything can and usually does happen.