With Thanksgiving upon us, we should all take some time to think about what we are thankful for. This includes college football fans, who have plenty to be thankful for this week. Not only do we have some terrific rivalry games being played this week, with regular seasons wrapping up for most conferences, but we also get some big division titles decided.
Last year’s Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn served up one of the best endings to a game of all time. It was not just the fact that Chris Davis returned a missed field goal the length of the field for a game-winning touchdown to let Auburn beat in-state rival Alabama. The SEC West was decided with it, and the national championship picture was changed dramatically. The great thing about college football is we never know when a moment like this could happen. We may or may not see something as memorable this week, but we could be ready to see some memorable editions of various rivalry games.
For starters, this year’s Iron Bowl may not be as monumental as it was one year ago, but Alabama is still playing for a shot at competing in the College Football Playoff. One more loss could knock the Crimson Tide out of the top four in the playoff rankings with a handful of one-loss teams and undefeated Florida State still in the running. The timing of the game could take away from the overall importance of the match-up as far as the SEC West is concerned. If Mississippi State loses to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, another great rivalry game kicking off hours before Alabama-Auburn, Alabama could already have the SEC West wrapped up before the end of the first quarter regardless of the outcome in the Iron Bowl.
In the Pac-12, the Pac-12 South remains up for grabs for Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. Thanks to UCLA’s victory over USC this past weekend, the Bruins can take care of the Pac-12 South with a win against Stanford this Friday. By coincidence, the Pac-12 has also scheduled Arizona and Arizona State to be playing in their traditional rivalry game at the same exact time on Friday afternoon. A UCLA loss will open the door to the Pac-12 Championship Game to the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game. As if the Wildcats and Sun Devils did not already play in one of the most underrated rivalries in college football, now there could be a shot at a division title riding on the outcome.
The Big Ten will also throw a classic and underrated rivalry into the spotlight this week. The prize to the winner of the Minnesota-Wisconsin game not only receives Paul Bunyan’s Ax, but they also go to the Big Ten Championship Game to take on Ohio State in Indianapolis. The Badgers are accustomed to this position in the Big Ten and they have won 10 straight meetings with the Gophers. But there seems to be something different about this Minnesota team. Minnesota has blown out Iowa, held strong against Ohio State in a losing effort and topped Nebraska in Lincoln to set up a winner-takes-the-division rivalry game.
There is plenty of drama to pay attention to this weekend, and that is something every college football fan can be thankful for.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.