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SEC: RIVALRY WEEK

Thanksgiving week is a time to enjoy family and friends.  A time to be thankful and put differences aside and give thanks for those in your life. After Thanksgiving dinner, it’s time to indulge in SEC Football.

If you love SEC College football, then you know what this week is.  No matter what you live in the Southeast- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and etc.- it’s the week you have been waiting for all year.  IT’S RIVALRY WEEK!!  

This week is about school pride, bragging rights for 365 days, and complete humiliation of your bitter rival.

The final weekend of the regular season in the SEC feature nine games- and each of the games has some interesting storylines.  We kick off rivalry week in the SEC on Thanksgiving night with the second oldest rivalry in the conference.

Thursday

Ole Miss at Mississippi State:  It’s the Battle of the Golden Egg. This rivalry is a lot nastier than many realize outside of the state of Mississippi.  I have an interest in this rivalry personally, because I am an alum of Mississippi State.  So, let give you a quick perspective on this rivalry.  It’s pure unaltered hate!  Ole Miss does not like Mississippi State and Mississippi State does not like Ole Miss.

I expect this year version of the Egg Bowl to be even more contemptuous because of Ole Miss impending NCAA sanctions and self-impose bowl ban.  Also, this could be the final game for interim coach Matt Luke, who is a former Ole Miss player and alum.  It would be huge getting a win over Mississippi State and mean everything to the Ole Miss fan base.

Mississippi State knows that a win will give it nine victories for the third time in four seasons and the fourth time in eight seasons. This is also big for Mississippi State in terms of bowl positioning.  Throw out each team records in this rivalry because it will not matter.

Friday

Mizzou at Arkansas: This could be the final game for Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.  Arkansas has already fired athletic director Jeff Long, who was the biggest supporter of Bielema.  If nothing else, the Razorbacks will be playing for pride and want to win the last game for him. Mizzou is looking to stop that from happening.  Mizzou QB Drew Lock has a total of 38 TD pass and need only three more to set the SEC-single record.

Saturday

Clemson at South Carolina: The Gamecocks are looking for their first nine-win season since 2013. This season has been surprisingly good for South Carolina. Clemson has won three in a row in the series and needs a win to remain a viable candidate for the College Football Playoff. But the Gamecocks could pose a threat because of their defense; South Carolina is plus-9 in turnover margin. The teams have met every year since 1909, making Saturday its 109th consecutive meeting.

Florida State at Florida:  There has not been a lot to celebrate in Gainesville this season.  Florida has a losing season and searching for a new coach.  But there is still a great deal of pride in making Florida State have its first losing season since 1976; if the Gators beat the Seminoles.  Florida is not bowl eligible and want to inflict that same kind of pain on Florida State.

Georgia at Georgia Tech: This rivalry is known as “clean old-fashioned hate”. Georgia is in the SEC championship game, that’s for certain. But to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive, the Bulldogs must win against Georgia Tech.   The Yellow Jackets have upset Georgia two of last three meetings. Georgia Tech’s option attack is always hard to defend, so the Yellow Jackets can be tricky. Each of the last four meetings have been decided by 7 points or less.

Louisville at Kentucky: Both teams are 7-4, and UK has not finished with a better record than Louisville since 2009. Kentucky got a win against Louisville last year so, to have another win over the Cardinals for the second year in a row would be huge.

Texas A&M at LSU: This could be the final game for A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, whose team has lost at least four games for the fifth season in a row. Reports are swirling that he is out after this game.  If there is any hope left for Sumlin returning; this is a must win game against LSU.  LSU has won five of its last six games and a win will give the Tigers a potential chance at a 10-win season.  Who thought this feat would be possible for LSU? After the early season turmoil, surrounding coach Ed Orgeron.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt: Both are 4-7 overall and 0-7 in league play. At stake for the Vols is trying to avoid the first winless league season in their history as well as trying to avoid the first eight-loss season in school history. This is a game of pride for which team who does not want to be winless in the SEC.

Alabama at Auburn: This the biggest rivalry game of the week.  It’s Iron Bowl Week!  And so much more is on the line beside bragging rights. The SEC West title is on the line, which means a trip to the SEC championship game and a potential berth in the College Football Playoff still within reach for both.

For the second time, the Iron Bowl decides the SEC West Champion.  The last time that happen was in 2013, known as the “Kick-Six game”.

The game features an Alabama defense that is a bit vulnerable due to injuries late in the season.  Can Auburn take advantage? The Tigers’ offensive is clicking at the right time.  Auburn has the league leading rusher Kerryon Johnson and QB Jarrett Stidham, who has developed a great offensive rhythm, at the right time.  Johnson will try to attack the Tide’s defense and Stidham will throw the deep ball when he needs to.

The only SEC quarterback who has looked better than Stidham in recent weeks has been Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. Stidham has some better stats, but the Tide depends on Hurts more than the Tigers depend on Stidham to win games against quality opponents.

The Tigers’ defensive front is one of the best in the country and the strongest part of their team. So, Jalen Hurts must come up big when needed to.

This year Iron Bowl is high-stake college football and will not disappoint.

Ahh, it’s the end of the regular season in the SEC and there is only a few more weeks left of the 2017 college football season.  Enjoy Rivalry Week!

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