Rivalry week has extra meaning this year

There are eight critical rivalry games in Week 13 involving 13 teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. What makes this week so important is that most of these games involve all the possible BCS Championship contenders.

No. 1 Notre Dame plays its final regular season game of the season against USC. A victory guarantees the Fighting Irish a spot in the BCS Championship Game They come into this contest off one of their better performances of the year - a 38-0 shut out of Wake Forest, a game the defense held the Demon Deacons to just 209 total yards.

Brian Kelly's club is now above the .500 mark against-the-spread despite failing to cover four of its last six games. More importantly to the folks who play over/unders, the Irish went under the total for the 12th time in their last 14 contests.

Two teams - Alabama and Georgia - are primed to nail down the second spot in the BCS title game. The winner of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 1 will more than likely be one of the participants in Miami on Jan. 7. However, these clubs have a game coming up this Saturday.

The Crimson Tide has beaten Auburn three of the last four meetings and it's doubtful a 3-8 Tigers' team has enough punch to upset heavily-favored Alabama. In addition, the Tide is 4-0 ATS versus Auburn in the last four meetings when the Tigers finished the season with a sub .500 record.

Georgia has a much tougher test against a surging Georgia Tech team. Still, the Bulldogs have owned the Yellow Jackets, winning nine of the last 10 meetings, and the loser has covered only two of those games.

The two BCS Championship participants will not be decided until the SEC title game is complete. Nevertheless, following some of the trends listed above can help gamblers be in the black just in time for postseason play.


Ohio State, the only other unbeaten Football Bowl Subdivision team besides Notre Dame, has its annual game against Michigan.

The Buckeyes, who are ineligible for postseason play, have beaten the Wolverines the last five meetings in Columbus and have covered four of them. Overall, they are 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 matchups.

Oregon saw its dreams of a National Title go out the window with a home loss to Stanford. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks regroup against in-state rival Oregon State. They have won the last four meetings but with just two covers along the way. On the other hand, the last time the Beavers pulled out an ATS home win in the series was all the way back in 2004.

Florida takes on Florida State in Tallahassee in a series that used to be dominated by the Gators. In fact, they had won six straight matchups between 2004 and 2009 while going 5-1 ATS.

However, the Seminoles have rebounded with a pair of easy wins (and covers) outscoring Florida 52-14 over the last two years. On a side note, seven of the last nine meetings have gone under the total.

Clemson hosts South Carolina as it tries to snap a three-game losing streak to its arch-rival. Neither one of these teams has a chance to be in the BCS Championship Game, but the two squads are a combined 19-3 on the season.

Despite its usually prolific offense, Clemson has been stifled by the Gamecocks averaging only 13 points per game in their last three losses. Could this year's game have a different ending?

South Carolina's defense has been average the last month allowing 122 points in its last four FBS games. Meanwhile, the Tigers are fourth nationally in scoring offense.

Finally, Oklahoma State travels to Norman to take on Oklahoma. The Cowboys are one spot ahead of Clemson in scoring offense, third, while the Sooners are ninth.

Oklahoma has had its way with Oklahoma State of late with eight SU wins and seven ATS victories since 2003. The Sooners were crushed in last year's contest, 44-10, so there might be some revenge on the minds of the Oklahoma players and coaching staff.

More importantly, the Sooners still have a chance to win the Big 12 title if they come out on top in their last two games and Texas can upset Kansas State in Manhattan on Dec. 1.


My overall record through Week 11 is 87-74-3 after a 6-7-1 week. The five-star plays are 10-8-1, the three-star selections are 19-20, the two-star picks stand at 32-28-1 and the one-star plays are 26-18-1.

As a reminder, the five-star plays are when my personal plays coincide with my power rating plays (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line). The three-star choices are my personal picks, the two-star plays are the games the power rating system picks and the one-star plays are my personal secondary selections.


1) Oregon, 107; 2) Alabama, 106; 3) Florida State, 103.5; 4) Texas A&M, 103; 5) Georgia, 102.5; 6) Clemson, 100.5; 7) Oklahoma State, 99.5; 8-T) Notre Dame and Kansas State; 98; 10-T) LSU, Oklahoma and Stanford, 97.5

(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 124 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)