It's 60% of Rivalry Week in the Pac-10! While the Big Game was last week and Civil War is next Thursday (by the way, did you hear the winner wins the league title and goes to the Rose Bowl?), the rivalry games in Washington, Arizona, and Los Angeles will provide Pac-10 fans with their football fix, arranged nicely throughout the Saturday.
I love rivalry weeks. Team records don't matter because if your team isn't good, a win in this games makes the whole season better. Players fight a little harder, they dig a little deeper, and they push a little longer - it's human nature. In each one of these games and through all the rivalry games I've watched over the years, I've found a common theme: in each game an unexpected player will step up and have an amazing game. This player will become part of the university's rivalry weekend lore forever, with fans who watched the game able to recall who he was and what he did in an instant.
This player may never have another great game in college. They may never go on to play at the next level. They may not even ever start another game. But for one game, for a little bit of time, they will be famous.
What, you mean to tell me you have never heard of Jake Cookus?
Time - Game - Channel
12:30 - #37 Arizona @ Arizona State - ABC
3:30 - Washington State @ Washington - Fox Sports Northwest
5 - Notre Dame @ #26 Stanford - ABC
7 - UCLA @ #24 USC - Fox Sports Northwest
Friday, 7 - Nevada @ #6 Boise State - ESPN2
(All rankings are AP.)
I'll Be Watching: First off, it's fantastic that every game is on TV this week. Finally. Of course, it's a smaller schedule with the Oregon schools and Cal off, but we'll take it - especially since the games are spread out so we can watch all three of the rivalry games back-to-back-to-back. I guess that pretty much details what I'm watching, doesn't it? I'll check in on the Stanford game periodically just to see how badly Toby Gerhart and Stanford are running over the weak Irish. Not a bad way to spend the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend at all.
Predictions: For the most part these rivalry games should be fairly well contested; rivalry games always are, no matter what the records. I'm going to go out on a limb and take the Sun Devils this week. Why? They are at home, Zona is coming off a very emotional loss to Oregon which ended their previously hot Rose Bowl hopes, and the Devils have been hot and cold this year and now have nothing left to play for but state bragging rights. It's going to give the Wildcats a horrible end to the season with USC still looming, but I'm going to go with ASU...Washington has weakened as the season has gone on, but no one in their right mind who didn't go to Wazzu could pick anyone but the Huskies...Notre Dame is horrible and shockingly still overrated, the media is hounding them like crazy to fire Charlie Weiss, and Stanford is at home. Oh, and how about a final Heisman push from Gerhart? I'll be surprised if he rushes for less than 200 yards as the Cardinal will roll...Some people will try and tell you the UCLA Bruins have a chance - those people are either Bruins fans, will pick against USC every single week no matter what the evidence, or just want to be contrarian. The Bruins have finished this season nicely with some solid play in the running game and decent defense while the Trojans have slumped a bit, but two wins over the Bruins and Zona still likely sends them to the Holiday Bowl. Plus, they should be focused enough in a rivalry game the talent will win out. I'll take SC...The Nevada and Boise State game should be thoroughly entertaing - tons of offense. However, as much as I'd love to see Nevada knock the Broncos out of a BCS bowl it's probably not likely. High scoring, but the Broncos will score more.