NCAA Football: Last Minute Thoughts On Gameday

By Zach Pugh

– Throw out the record books when these two teams meet. Ok, now that we got the cliché out-of-the-way, we can debunk what many would have you believe. People love the underdog, oops, there’s another cliché, and every year we bear witness to one of the best weekends of the year, rivalry weekend. HSAC analyzed 328 rivalry games from 2003-2011 and found that a slight majority of underdogs underperformed expectations going into the game and not many even exceeded expectations. To summarize, the team that is expected to win in rivalries, usually does.

– We’ve already witnessed a great start to the week with the TCU Horned Frogs making history in Austin. Regardless of the history between the Texas Longhorns and Frogs from the days of the Southwest Conference the game on Thanksgiving night was nothing close to the annual meeting in the Lone Star Showdown. Longhorns fans are being forced to already consider TCU as a bitter in state rival, but you can’t replace a tradition that spans over 100 years and just expect fans to embrace the new direction.

– Things just keep getting worse for the Auburn Tigers. Not only is head coach Gene Chizik on the hot seat, but now his future with the program is also tied to an NCAA investigation that includes a fudged academic transcript and a recruiting practice dubbed Tiger Prowl, a limo turned bus that was driven to different high schools in Alabama to attract recruits, according to This years’ version of the Iron Bowl could get ugly as well. The Tigers’ offense isn’t a threat in the air and their ground game ranks in the bottom half of the Southeastern Conference and their defense has surrendered over 31 points a game within conference. The Alabama Crimson Tide defense still ranks No. 2 nationally in total defense and offensively they’ve put up 38 points a game. War Eagle might be in for a long day.

– So what the Ohio State Buckeyes are having an undefeated season not many are paying attention to due to bowl ineligibility. Who cares the Big 10 has been criticized all season for poor performance on the field. The Game has relevance! Urban Meyer knows the importance of this rivalry and so do eight assistants on his staff with Ohio and/or Ohio State ties. The Michigan Wolverines were able notch their first victory over the Buckeyes since 2003 last season, but Meyer knows all to well what this game means to both programs and he wants to own the Wolverines every year. The battle between Meyer and Brady Hoke could be the start of a great heated era.

– The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in position many teams within the top 10 of the BCS standings would probably trade a failing grade to be in. The Fighting Irish haven’t won a national championship since the year I was born, 1988, and should be able to shut down the USC Trojans‘ offense without Matt Barkley. The ND formula for success this season has been a punishing ground game, mixed with dominant defense with just enough solid play from the quarterback position. The Trojans had absolutely no success on the ground in their loss to the Stanford Cardinal earlier this season and Notre Dame’s front seven is even better than Stanford’s. 2012 just might be the year the Fighting Irish rise to the top once again.  

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