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HomeSportsWhat college football fans learned from Week 13: Rivalry Week never disappoints

What college football fans learned from Week 13: Rivalry Week never disappoints

There simply is nothing better than college football.

If there was ever a doubt about that statement, Rivalry Week put the conversation to bed.

In towns across the country, fans packed stadiums to witness another edition of games between in-state rivals, border wars that have been fought over many decades, matchups that have split households since the 19th century.

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The rivalries just mean more in college football, and they almost always allow for seemingly uneven matchups to become competitive.

Week 13 of the college football season delivered at a high level. So, let’s look at what was learned from a phenomenal Rivalry Week.

The game of the year in college football arrived during a sign-stealing scandal that cost Michigan its head coach for three games. Ohio State entered Ann Arbor ranked ahead of Michigan with the belief it could snap a two-game losing streak against its hated rival and secure a trip to the Big Ten championship game with a shot at another College Football Playoff bid.

And then the Wolverines went on a soul-crushing drive against the Buckeyes, playing smash-mouth football to send Ryan Day home with another loss to Michigan.

The Wolverines went on a 13-play, seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter, finishing the drive with a field goal to take a six-point lead, which proved to be enough. Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord threw an interception with 25 seconds left in Michigan territory.

The drive was emblematic of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry the past few years. The Wolverines have proven to be the more physical team under Jim Harbaugh.

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In 2022, Michigan ran for 252 yards against Ohio State. In this year’s game, Michigan ran nine times in its final possession and left Ohio State just 1:05 remaining to get into the end zone.

“No. Definitely not,” Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson said when asked if Ohio State had grown tougher over the years. “I told the receivers this whole week: You’ve got guys back there — this is a thing I thought too — guys who you want to put on the Louis V, the thousand-dollar outfit. You want to act hard. But when we’re out there, they’re not hard. I see the film. You’re not tough.

“I don’t think I’m the toughest guy in the world. But I’m out there, I’m getting physical. I don’t think they wanted it like I wanted it.”

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The loss dropped Day to 1-3 against Michigan, the ultimate no-no for an Ohio State head coach.

Against all other opponents, Day has a record of 55-4. He’s been dominant in the Big Ten, going 40-0 in games against all conference opponents that don’t play in Ann Arbor.

And while the stellar overall record is appreciated, beating Michigan is all that matters in Columbus. A third straight loss to the Wolverines will leave the fan base more than restless.

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The Washington Huskies have lost some of their luster over the past few weeks, but winning is all that matters.

Washington avoided a disaster in the Apple Cup, beating Washington State on a walk-off field goal to head into the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon undefeated.

While it was the eighth straight conference game decided by 10 points or fewer for Washington, the Huskies became the first team in the 12-team Pac-12 era to finish the regular season undefeated.

And it happened with one of the gutsiest calls college football fans will ever see.

With the game tied and the Huskies facing a fourth-and-1 from their own 29-yard line with 1:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, head coach Kalen DeBoer sent his offense onto the field.

Wide receiver Rome Odunze took a pitch from quarterback Michael Penix Jr. for a gain of 23 yards that got the Huskies into Washington State territory.

“Man, what a play call. Got to give kudos to the offensive staff and coach DeBoer for believing in us on that,” Odunze said. “We just went out there and executed. It was perfect.”

The Huskies now have a rematch with Oregon in the Pac-12 title game with a trip to the CFP on the line, which will snap a six-year drought for the conference.

Count Washington out if you’d like, but the Huskies will be throwing haymakers the entire way.

Just one week removed from a three-touchdown loss to New Mexico State at home, Auburn was going to defeat Alabama, snapping its nine-game winning streak and ending Nick Saban’s run at another CFP berth.

And then Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe completed a pass on fourth-and-goal from the 31-yard line, throwing a touchdown to Isiah Bond in the corner of the end zone to send Jordan-Hare Stadium into a deafening silence.

It was a moment that will go down in Iron Bowl lore alongside the Kick Six in 2013 as Alabama kept its playoff hopes alive for one more week.

The game between the in-state rivals perfectly encapsulates Rivalry Week.

Hugh Freeze and his Tigers were coming off an embarrassing loss that cost the university $1.7 million, dropping Auburn to 6-5 on the year.

And still, Auburn took Alabama down to the wire, with the Crimson Tide needing a miracle to win the Iron Bowl a third straight year.

No matter the records, the game between Alabama and Auburn always delivers.

Rivalry Week, baby.

Texas A&M moved on from Jimbo Fisher two weeks ago after the national championship-winning coach underperformed for the third consecutive year. Despite the firing, the university owes Fisher roughly $77 million, paid out until 2031.

The expectations in College Station are so high that they don’t mind paying Fisher nearly $80 million not to coach.

That’s what made the search for a new coach so fascinating.

Most reports had the Aggies going big-name hunting, with names like Dabo Swinney, Dan Lanning and Ryan Day bandied about.

Late Saturday night, reports surfaced that Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops would be the next head coach at Texas A&M. And then he wasn’t. 

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Social media was on fire with many pushing back against the idea of Stoops taking over the program. It all led to Stoops releasing a statement shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, announcing he would remain at Kentucky despite being contacted “about a potential opportunity this weekend.” 

So, the search continued for the Aggies. 

On Monday, former Duke head coach Mike Elko was introduced to lead Texas A&M after two years in Durham. 

At Elko’s introductory press conference, Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork addressed the Stoops rumors. 

“Well, look, here’s the thing. Over the last two weeks, when we engage with up to 30 different coaches at varying different levels? Some were in person, some were Zoom, some were calls, some were through third parties, etc. There’s going to be a lot of moving parts,” Bjork explained, according to On3. 

“As President Welsh said, one of the things he learned going through this — it ain’t over ’til it’s over. We wanted to make sure we engaged with our final group of candidates as long as possible.

“I don’t know how all of that got out,” Bjork admitted. “I respect Coach Stoops. He has been in the SEC a long time. I appreciate his statement.”

It was an incredible 48 hours in College Station, but it looks like the Aggies have their man. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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