by Mike Mitchell
It's Rivalry Week with 46 games on the Thanksgiving Holiday schedule as the regular season ends for 73 more teams. Last week, 22 teams completed their regular season, including top-ranked Ohio State.
Headlining the schedule is Notre Dame at USC as the pair of one-loss teams will try to prove to the pollsters, and the computers, that they deserve a BCS title shot against the Buckeyes.
USC has taken four straight in the series.
Arkansas hopes to break a three-game losing streak to LSU in the "Battle For the Boot" trophy game. The Razorbacks will play Florida in the SEC title game next week.
As for Florida, the Gators play a Florida State team that barely became bowl eligible with a close home win over Western Michigan. But Florida hasn't had much success in Tallahassee where they are 1-7-1 in their last nine trips. The 2004 victory was their first since 1986.
Those, however, are just three of several meaningful games as others will determine divisional titles, and champions of conferences that don't have a two-division format.
Still up for grabs:
ACC Atlantic - Because it defeated Boston College on November 4, Wake Forest still controls its' own destiny and a win at Maryland this week will send the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship.
Boston College gets the Atlantic Division's conference title slot if the Eagles win at Miami on Thanksgiving Day, and Maryland beats Wake Forest on Saturday. And Maryland can get into the ACC Championship game if the Terps beat Wake, and the Hurricanes down the Eagles.
Miami has to beat Boston College just to become barely bowl eligible at 6-6.
Georgia Tech, which has already clinched the Coastal Division, plays at state rival Georgia on Saturday.
Big East - Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia all enter this week with identical records of 9-1 over-all, 4-1 in the conference. scenarios exist for all three teams to win the conference as each has two games remaining, including a head-to-head clash in Morgantown between the Scarlet Knights and Mountaineers on December 2. If all three should finish the season tied, the highest-ranked team in the BCS Standings would receive the Big East's automatic BCS bowl entry.
Rutgers will try to bounce back from a disastrous loss at Cincinnati this past Saturday when the Scarlet Knights host Syracuse. West Virginia is also at home against South Florida, a 31-8 loser at Louisville this past Saturday. Louisville hits the road to play a reeling Pitt team that has dropped four straight after a 6-1 start.
Big 12 South - Oklahoma's only chance at clinching a championship game berth rests on Texas losing at home to Texas A&M on Friday, and Oklahoma defeating state rival Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday. The Longhorns advance with a win over the Aggies.
Nebraska, which has already secured the Big 12 North's spot in the conference championship game, plays Colorado in Lincoln on Friday.
CUSA East -
Houston clinched the West Division with a 23-20 overtime win at Memphis this past Saturday. Because they are guaranteed to have the conference's best over-all record, the Cougars already know they are hosting the CUSA Championship game.
Southern Miss advances with a home win over Marshall on Saturday. East Carolina could have wrapped up the East Division last Saturday, but Rice plundered the Pirates 18-17 on a 40-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the game.
A Southern Miss loss to Marshall would create a three-way tie with East Carolina for the best East Division record in conference play. In that case, the Pirates would play in the title game since they beat the Golden Eagles and the Thundering Herd during the regular season.
Sun Belt - A Troy win at Middle Tennessee this week, followed by a victory at FIU, would send the Trojans to the New Orleans Bowl. A win by MTSU over Troy would guarantee an outright Sun Belt title for the Blue Raiders.
WAC - Boise State has already assured itself of at least a tie for the WAC title. A win at Nevada this Saturday would make them the outright WAC champions, and give the Broncos a perfect 12-0 season. A loss to the Wolf Pack would mean Boise State would have to share the title with Hawaii with identical 7-1 conference records, but the Broncos won the head-to-head match with the Warriors 41-34 back on September 23.
TOP RIVALRY GAMES THIS WEEK:
In no particular order:
Notre Dame at USC (Friday)
Colorado at Nebraska (Friday)
Texas A&M at Texas (Friday)
Arizona State at Arizona
Brigham Young at Utah
South Carolina at Clemson
Florida at Florida State
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Virginia at Virginia Tech
THE LEGENDS LIVES ON:
Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan that gave Boston College a win at Miami on the game's final play on October 23, 1984 continues to be one of "the plays" most talked-about in college football, often tied with Cal's five-lateral kick-off return to stun Stanford on a play that ended with a trombone player getting flattened in the endzone on November 20, 1982.
Boston College visits Miami this week with the Hurricanes in need of a win to become bowl eligible, and the Eagles hoping to secure an ACC Championship berth opposite Georgia Tech.
Miami is 14-0 against Boston College since the "Flutie Fling".
EARLY BOWL SELECTIONS
Some bowl slots have already been secured, well in advance of "Selection Sunday".
BYU - Las Vegas
Hawaii - Hawaii
Navy - Meineke Car Care
Minnesota - Insight
Purdue - Champs Sports
Iowa - Alamo
Penn State - Outback
Wisconsin - Capital One
Ohio State - BCS Championship Game
It is fully expected that Michigan will go to the Rose Bowl.
Only two unbeaten teams remain - Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten), and Boise State (11-0, 7-0 WAC).
Ohio State handed Michigan its first defeat, 42-39 on Saturday. And Rutgers lost for the first time when the Scarlet Knights were upset 30-11 at Cincinnati.
The Buckeyes' regular season is completed and they won't play again until the BCS title game in Glendale, Arizona on January 8.
Boise State visits dangerous Nevada this Saturday.
Last year, Texas and USC were the only two undefeated teams left at this point of the season.
Nine teams enter this week with just one loss. There were seven at this point last year.
Duke (0-11, 0-7 ACC Coastal) and FIU (0-10, 0-5 Sun Belt) are the only remaining winless teams.
There were also two winless teams at this point last year when New Mexico State and Temple were still searching for a victory that wouldn't come. Temple finished 0-11 and New Mexico State ended the year at 0-12.
1-A schools play a 1-AA team the rest of the season.
1-AA teams were 7-71 this year against their higher-classified brethren. Since the start of the 2003 campaign, 1-A teams hold the upper hand by a huge margin, 235-25 (.904).
77 schools took the opportunity of a 12th game to schedule a cupcake opponent and New Mexico State double-dipped for its' only two wins of the season, thus far.
Ohio State has won 19 straight games.
Boise State has won 13 straight regular season games, 11 straight over-all, and 36 consecutive regular season home games. The Broncos have never lost a home game to a WAC opponent (24-0).
USC has won a nation's-best 32 consecutive home games.
Duke has lost 19 games over-all, and 21 straight to 1-A teams.
UNLV has lost 10 straight games.
FIU has lost 10 straight games.
New Mexico State has lost 21 straight to 1-A teams.
The 2006 season introduces 11 coaching changes. We're tracking their progress throughout the season.
Boise State, 11-0 under Chris Petersen, visits Nevada.
Wisconsin, 11-1 under Bret Bielema, is finished (Bowl Game).
Middle Tennessee, 7-4 under Rick Stockstill, hosts Troy.
Kansas State, 7-5 under Ron Prince, is finished (Bowl Game).
Rice, 6-5 under Todd Graham, hosts SMU.
Idaho, 4-7 under Dennis Erickson, hosts San Jose State.
Northwestern, 4-8 under Pat Fitzgerald, is finished.
Buffalo, 2-9 with Turner Gill, hosts Central Michigan.
San Diego State, 2-8 under Chuck Long, visits New Mexico.
Colorado, 2-9 under Dan Hawkins, visits Nebraska.
Temple, 1-11 under Al Golden, is finished.