College Football Rivalries Ruled Wild Weekend

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/http://www.nytimes.com/ Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

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For most college football fans, Saturdays in the fall are spent on the couch with a bag of potato chips or a plate of chicken wings enjoying whatever game your given team is playing during that week.  The intensity reaches a new level when national rankings enter the fold and we creep closer to the final week of the season.  Some teams will play any random team in their season finale, but for most, that is considered “Rivalry Week” where two hated rivals will step onto the field of battle together. Rivalries always seem to make for great games, but with what we witnessed this last Saturday between two of the most hated rivalries in all of college football, they took it to a different level.

 

Game 1: Ohio State vs. Michigan

 

The day started off with a bang as the Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines.  Going into the game, all of the “experts” said that Michigan didn’t stand a chance against the high-octane Ohio State offense and it wouldn’t even be close. I just couldn’t buy into that because every time that Ohio State and Michigan take the field, you can throw the records out the window.  It is always a giant dog fight and hardly ever goes as predicted, which was the case on Saturday as well.  Michigan struck first blood with a 1 yard Devin Gardner touchdown scamper and from that point on, it was a track meet.  Whether it was Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde running the ball up and down the field for the Buckeyes or it was Devin Gardner throwing all over the Ohio State defense, “The Game” went back and forth all day.

 

After the Buckeyes took a 42-35 lead on a Carlos Hyde touchdown run, the Wolverines didn’t go down without a fight.  In less than two minutes, Gardner and his weapons moved the ball 84 yards down the field resulting in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess.  If the 1,129 combined yards and 83 total points wasn’t enough to keep you interested, Brady Hoke showed his confidence by going for two and hoping to take the lead with just 32 seconds left in the game. In a play that had worked all day on the Buckeyes, Gardner went to the end zone for Drew Dileo and Ohio State’s Tyvis Powell crushed the Michigan dreams with an interception.

 

Michigan may have lost, but I have to give all the credit in the world to Hoke on going for two.  Many coaches would’ve played it safe and tied the game up, but the coach went for it in the biggest game of the season. After a lack-luster season for the Wolverines, Hoke had a chance to regain the respect of Ann Arbor on one gutsy move, and even though it didn’t pay off, he still deserves that respect either way.  It was one of the best Ohio State vs. Michigan games that I have ever witnessed and even after giving up over 600 yards of offense to the Wolverines, the Buckeyes were able to find a way to stay perfect and keep in the hunt for a National Title berth.

 

Game 2: Alabama vs. Auburn

Photo by John Reed/USA TODAY Sports/http://www.rantsports.com/

After the Buckeyes were able to escape from Michigan with a 42-41 victory, all eyes switched to Roll Tide & War Eagle as the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide looked to stay unbeaten against the #4 Auburn Tigers. The Tigers were god awful last year and got blanked by Alabama, 49-0.  This season has been a total turnaround for Auburn, in large part due to their new head coach in Gus Malzahn, and that new-found confidence was on display against the Crimson Tide.

 

With Auburn trailing 21-7 toward the end of the first half, Tre Mason made it a 21-14 game with his one-yard touchdown run.  As Alabama always does, they took the lead deep into the fourth quarter on a 99-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper.  With most of the world thinking that this one was over and McCarron would get to still be undefeated and get some TLC from his smoking hot girlfriend that night, the Tigers shook things up.   Nick Marshall faked everyone out on the run and chucked it to Sammie Coates for a 39-yard touchdown.

 

The score was tied at 28 and Alabama had the ball on the Auburn 39 with only one second remaining, thanks to the questioning of Nick Saban.  After Saban put in freshman Adam Griffith to kick a 57-yard game winning field goal, the football gods wouldn’t have it as the kick came up short, and Auburn’s Chris Davis returned it from the back of the end zone and went 109-yards the other way.  In one of the most thrilling and heart pounding college football games that I had ever watched, Auburn did the unthinkable and upset the #1 team in the country, 34-28.  Nothing can be taken away from the Alabama Crimson Tide as they are still one of the best teams in the nation and Nick Saban is still the best coach out there, but Auburn showed complete resilience and when the odds were against them, the Tigers showed up in the biggest way.

 

Two of the biggest games in college football on that given Saturday didn’t disappoint. Ohio State had a harder time against Michigan than we all anticipated and Auburn stopped the hearts of Tuscaloosa with a missed field goal, but isn’t that what rivalries are all about? It may have not went the way that you would’ve wanted or you may have jumped for joy, but all in all, college football received an extra treat on Saturday as two of the most heated rivalries stole the show.