College football teams ranked one through four in the new College Football Playoff (CFP) poll this week all meet traditional rivals on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as they try to maintain their spots heading for the national championship.
Top-ranked Alabama takes on Auburn, currently number 15 in the CFP, in the annual 'Iron Bowl,' formerly played in Birmingham, Alabama, and named for the city's historically significant place in the US production of steel. The annual game is now played on campus and this year will be contested in Tuscaloosa, the home of the Crimson Tide.
The importance of this rivalry game is stated in this fact, as reported by Heavy.com's Craig Bennett: The winner of the last five editions of the 'Iron Bowl' has gone on to play in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game. Alabama won three national titles, while Auburn won one and lost last year to Florida State. Alabama would need to win Saturday, followed by a win in the Southeastern Conference championship game next weekend for a sixth consecutive 'Iron Bowl' winner to have a chance at playing for a national title.
You can watch Alabama-Auburn at 7:45 p.m. Eastern time Saturday on ESPN.
- Oregon coach John J. McEwan (1926-29) gets credit for officially naming the rivalry game. McEwan called the annual Beavers-Ducks clash "the great civil war" in 1928 while talking to reporters. Before that, it was called "The Oregon Classic" or "State Championship Game."
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has been getting some attention for the Heisman Trophy, annually awarded to the nation's best college football player. Mariota has thrown for 3,103 yards and 32 touchdowns this season.
But Oregon State also has a quarterback who can put the ball in the air successfully. Sean Mannion has also thrown for over 3,000 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Third-ranked Florida State also meets an in-state rival Saturday when the University of Florida comes to Tallahassee. No fancy nickname for this annual contest – just football, plain and simple.
The Seminoles are undefeated this season, with an 11-0 record. FSU went unbeaten last season on their way to the national championship. In fact, according to Bob Ferrante of bleacherreport.com, Florida was the last team to pin a loss on Florida State, back on November 22, 2012.
Another potential factor in Saturday's Sunshine State clash: It will be the final game for Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who has been relieved of his duties effective at the end of this season.
Florida State-Florida will be broadcast on ESPN, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Finally, fourth-ranked Mississippi State takes on No. 19 Mississippi Saturday in Oxford in what's known as the 'Egg Bowl.' The Bulldogs are 6-1 in the SEC West division and still have a shot at reaching the SEC championship game next weekend if they beat the Rebels and Auburn defeats Alabama.
Another pair of quarterbacks could put on an aerial show in this contest. Dak Prescott of Mississippi State has thrown for 2,714 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2014. Meanwhile, Mississippi's Bo Wallace has thrown for 2,789 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Mississippi State-Mississippi can be seen on CBS, starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Two other games of interest Saturday include teams that have an outside shot of reaching the national championship playoffs. No. 6 Ohio State hosts longtime Big Ten rival Michigan. That contest kicks off at noon Eastern on ABC. Seventh-ranked Baylor takes on Texas Tech at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on either ABC or ESPN2.