There is no better time of year as a college football fan than rivalry week, and the 2013 edition of the schedule features several top contenders in the BCS rankings going head-to-head with major bowl implications.
Led by the marquee Iron Bowl between No.1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Auburn, the entire schedule is adorned with conference play and in-state rivalries. Those long-standing feuds should spawn the best week of football imaginable.
Here are the BCS rankings heading into the bulk of the Week 14 action and three matchups with the most at stake.
|2013 BCS Week 14 Standings|
|2||Florida State (11-0)||.970|
|3||Ohio State (11-0)||.920|
|7||Oklahoma State (10-1)||.762|
|10||South Carolina (9-2)||.610|
|11||Michigan State (10-1)||.578|
|12||Arizona State (9-2)||.505|
|14||Northern Illinois (11-0)||.462|
|16||Fresno State (10-0)||.412|
|21||Texas A&M (8-3)||.224|
|25||Notre Dame (8-3)||.067|
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0, 7-0 SEC) vs. No. 4 Auburn Tigers (10-1, 6-1 SEC)
When Alabama squares off against Auburn in the 2013 edition of the Iron Bowl, the impact of this matchup will go much deeper than just another in-state battle between the two vaunted programs.
There is a potential BCS national championship berth hanging in the balance.
The victor in this rivalry game will have to go on to play in the SEC Championship Game, but a win in this battle between two top-five teams would indicate the powerhouse that walks out of Jordan-Hare Stadium victorious Saturday will be the No. 1 team in the nation.
Whether the eventual winner will be the Crimson Tide or the Tigers is the biggest question.
Auburn has outplayed expectations using a steady attack of rushing plays and its stout defense, but the Tigers haven’t played a team at the level of Alabama. The Crimson Tide will push the nation’s No. 4 team to its limit.
Led by senior quarterback AJ McCarron, Alabama has amassed an average of 39.7 points per game this season. As impressive as that is, it is the team’s top-ranked defensive unit that will ultimately be the breaking point for Auburn.
Expect this SEC battle to be close, but the Crimson Tide will win and secure the inside lane to another BCS National Championship.
Predicted Final Score: Alabama 38, Auburn 31
No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (11-0, 8-0 ACC) vs. Florida Gators (4-7, 3-5 SEC)
While this year’s Florida State vs. Florida in-state battle doesn’t have the same clout it once did, there is no doubt that the eyes of the college football world will be on the Seminoles and their quest to finish the regular season undefeated.
If Florida State beats Florida Saturday, the program will secure its spot in the national title game.
Controversy has swirled off the field, but Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston has been playing out of his mind. A matchup against a tough SEC defense will be the perfect chance for the freshman to prove to the world that he is the unquestioned top player in the sport.
While Florida’s defense has stepped up this season, allowing under 20 points per game, the offense ranks 113th in the nation with an average of just 19.9 points per game. The Seminoles are ranked No. 2 offensively with an average of 55.2 points per game.
That’s a big difference.
As long as Winston and the Florida State offense can live up to the standard the program has set through the first 13 weeks of the season, there is little doubt that the team will be able to win the game and ensure its place in the BCS National Championship Game.
Predicted Final Score: Florida State 41, Florida 20
No. 5 Missouri Tigers (10-1, 6-1 SEC) vs. No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies (8-3, 4-3 SEC)
The SEC battle between the Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies may not have the tradition or lineage of the other two games highlighted, but the implications of this matchup run just as deep.
Texas A&M is looking for redemption for its three losses this season, but the real focus is on Missouri. The program was not expected to be one of the top teams in the nation, let alone fighting for a title, but the Tigers are one win away from being in a great position.
Alabama or Auburn will lose this weekend in the Iron Bowl, Florida State is playing in a tough game against Florida and the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes are playing in a heated rivalry against Michigan. It could be Missouri that is the biggest beneficiary if any of those teams lose.
The Tigers would need a miracle to sneak into the BCS National Championship Game, but a win would ensure the biggest bowl berth in the program’s history. With some help from the teams in the top four, Missouri could be fighting for even more.
Johnny Manziel and the Aggies are nothing to scoff at, but Texas A&M is coming off its worst loss since the Heisman-winning quarterback took over. The Tigers have the talent on defense to stifle Johnny Football, and should be able to steal the win Saturday.
Predicted Final Score: Missouri 40, Texas A&M 30
*Stats via ESPN.com.