Preview Week 13: Rivalry Games to Watch (Showdown Saturday on ABC)

Showdown Saturday on ABC

12:00 pm #19 Michigan (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) at “#4” Ohio State (11-0) at Ohio Stadium.  The Buckeyes may be ineligible for post-season play (and BCS ranking, hence the “4” from the AP Poll is in quotes), yet they still remain one of just two teams in the nation that enter this weekend undefeated.  But as John Cooper might tell you, statistics really don’t matter in this game.  This is “the game,” a season in itself, a matchup that songs are written about and the best rivalry in all of sports.  So forget the pre-game analysis.  If you’re from Michigan, just make sure you call the Buckeyes as “Ohio”…and if you root for Ohio State just be sure to refer to the Wolverines as “that team up North.”

3:30 pm #4 Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC) at #10 Florida State (10-1, 7-1 ACC) at Doak Campbell Stadium.  Florida State is a little irritated that it’s ranked 10th when it has the same number of losses as all of the other teams in the top ten (with the exception of Notre Dame).  That lone blemish occurred in week at NC State with a one-point loss (17-16).  The fact that the Wolfpack barely has a winning record is probably what pushed FSU down (I can only guess as Brad Edwards is the only person knows for sure what really happens in the BCS rankings).  They have the #1 total defense, #1 rushing defense, #5 passing defense, #5 scoring defense (giving up just 13 points per game), #7 scoring offense (putting up just about 43 points per game) and #14 total offense.  Led by quarterback E.J. Manuel (21 TDs to just 6 INTs), this team is good.  As for Florida, they actually have a chance to play for the BCS Championship.  Their defense has been stifling (4th total, 3rd scoring); but offense hasn’t been as prolific.  Their offense is ranked 104th.

8:00pm #1 Notre Dame (11-0) at USC (7-4, 5-4 Pac-12) at the Coliseum.  These teams have both undergone significant changes since they took the field last week.  Through a fortunate turn of events, Notre Dame became number one.  And through an unfortunate turn, USC lost its starting QB Matt Barkley to a should sprain.  By now just about everyone knows that the USC freshman quarterback starting his first game (Max Wittek) has guaranteed a win. The kid (19 years old) has thrown just 9 passes in his college career.  However, to his credit, he completed 8 of the 9 passing attempts, including one TD.  The key for Notre Dame is to keep history in mind.  Even though they have a lot going for them, Brian Kelly better have the Irish football team well aware of what happened on November 20, 1993.  Some ND fans suggested putting the game film from the 1993 game against Boston College on a repeating loop in the locker room just so the team fully understands what can happen and do their best to make sure something else happens.