Week 13 Most Meaningful Matchups
It's Rivalry Week! Happy Thanksgiving.
We’ve reached the last full week of the 2021 College Football Season. It’s Rivalry Week! Some of the most bitter foes will clash in in-state and regional rivalries all across the country. I broke down the best ones a couple of years ago here. You can throw the records out…but we’ve got the ones that are the most meaningful with a lot on the line. I’ll try to hold back tears as the season is winding to a close - here are our Most Meaningful Matchups for Week 13>>>>>
10. #14 Wisconsin at Minnesota – 4:00 PM on FOX: Wisconsin has unexpectedly come all the way back from a dreadful start to sew up the B1G West but Minnesota seeks their second win in this rivalry in 15 years and a chance to cap off a good but uneven season. Snow is possible too!
9. Boise State at #21 San Diego State – Noon (Fri) on CBS: While there’s another G5 game that’s arguably more “meaningful” in the national sense, this game will help decided both sides of the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State wins and they are in the title game. Boise needs to win and get some additional help to make it but should be a tough, defensive game.
8. North Carolina at #20 N.C. State – 7:00 PM (Fri) on ESPN: N.C. State could – first – use a win in this rivalry to top off a 10 win season, an “over the hump” one for Dave Doeren. However, more importantly they are still in play for the ACC Atlantic…barely…they need B.C. to knock off Wake Forest which is certainly possible. Meanwhile the Tar Heels have had a lost season but could end it in a positive way with another win over the in-state, hated rival Wolfpack.
7. #4 Cincinnati at East Carolina – 3:30 PM (Fri) on ABC: This is the most meaningful G5 game of the day probably as the Bearcats go on the road on a short week to face a sneakily-decent Pirate squad that’s had a bit of a turnaround this year and is actually bowl eligible. Cincinnati is the better team, but had been playing down to their competition until the last couple weeks. The Bearcats could use a big win to keep the narrative going about the playoff. A close win could be problematic and a loss means they are out of discussion.
6. #3 Alabama at Auburn – 3:30 PM on CBS: Alabama is trying to launch into the SEC Championship game on a high and hasn’t won in Auburn since 2015. Auburn is on a three game skid and playing with backup QB (although he’s not much more inconsistent than Bo Nix). Still, there’s always a lot of weird magic and home cooking by refs at Jordan-Haire Stadium so anything could happen. If it’s an Alabama win by a close margin, the knives will be out for them in the week leading up to Georgia SEC Title game. The Tide probably has to win to have any realistic shot at playoff.
5. Texas Tech vs. #8 Baylor – Noon on FS1 (Dallas): Baylor needs to win over this feisty, interim-coached Tech team to keep Big 12 Championship game hopes alive. They need to win and have Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma. Should be a good, well-played rivalry game.
4. #18 Wake Forest at Boston College – Noon on ESPN2: Wake needs to win to clinch going to Charlotte for their first ACC Championship Game appearance since 2006. B.C. has their QB back and would like to end the year on a high note, though they are going bowling at least. Eagles would like to set up to be “next year’s” Wake Forest.
3. #9 Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 7:30 PM (Thurs) on ESPN: This is a battle for 2nd place in the SEC West in all likelihood but it’s so much more as anyone who knows “Egg Bowl” history will understand. It would be hard to find a more brutal, bitter rivalry between programs who rarely (never) win anything significant than this one. The two coaches (Kiffin and Leach) are tailor-made for this environment and I’d expect a high scoring game. This might be the best GAME of the weekend even if it isn’t technically as meaningful as the top two on the list.
2. #10 Oklahoma at #7 Oklahoma State – 7:30 PM on ABC: They call this game “Bedlam” and, despite the fact that the Sooners have won 14 of the last 16, it’s almost always a fantastic game. This year the game will determine
1. #2 Ohio State at #5 Michigan – Noon on ABC: Like so many times historically, this game will determine a conference title – or at least the Big 10 East. The Buckeyes are surging but the Wolverines have been playing well too outside their quirky loss against Michigan State. Where have we seen this movie before? I’m betting that Ohio State keeps rolling and beats the Maize and Blue by double digits BUT – if Michigan can hold them down in the first half and control the clock, a close game in the second half at home could go their way. Certainly this is the game of the weekend and an amazing rivalry.
Honorable Mention (Rivalries):
Penn State at #12 Michigan State – 3:30 PM on ABC: Both of these teams would love to end the year on a high note. For Michigan State, coming off a brutal blowout loss to Ohio State, this game is the chance to reassert themselves as a Top 10 team nationally and get into a NY6 Bowl. Otherwise, 9-3 (which every Spartan fan would’ve taken at start of the year) will feel a little disappointing.
#23 Clemson at South Carolina – 7:30 PM on SEC Network: This could be South Carolina’s best chance in a decade to break the Tigers hold on this bitter in-state rivalry but Clemson has really come on in recent weeks. Both teams trying to close out season on a high note.
Kentucky at Louisville – 7:30 PM on ESPN2: It has been a very good year for the Wildcats…just short of amazing but another win over their in-state rivals would be a great capper and likely get them into a really good Florida, January bowl. Meanwhile, Louisville has gone from having a possible lame duck coach to being really feisty. A win here would signal that things are starting to rise under Satterfield.
Oregon State at #11 Oregon – 3:30 PM on ESPN: While this lost a little luster with both teams losing last week, the Beavers are having their best year in…years…and could really muck up the Ducks season even more. Oregon is trying to get back on track before the PAC12 Championship Game in this “Civil War” which they’ve stupidly stopped calling it.
#1 Georgia at Georgia Tech – Noon on ABC: “Good Clean Ole’ Fashioned Hate” is going to be a massacre this year as the Dawgs are dominant and the Jackets…aren’t. But still a great Southern rivalry.
Florida State at Florida – Noon on ESPN: This game used to define the college football season in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Now it’s just another in-state rivalry…but it’s still very important. The Gators fired their coach but the Seminoles have a coach that looked like he was on hot seat but now has team improving. This is a battle for bowl eligibility between the two – I’d think FSU cares more but hard to say. Not very meaningful this year but always hard-hitting.
Week 13 is an amazing slate of games from Thanksgiving night through Saturday night. You always follow me the whole time on Twitter at @readycfb as the main part of the season comes to an end (sniff)…should be a great weekend – have a Happy Thanksgiving!