NCAAF Top 5: Saturday's best rivalry games

Nov 28, 2009 |
NCAAF Top 5: Saturday's best rivalry games

Emotion plays a bigger role in college football than any other sport and the games don't get any more emotional than this weekend's.

Rivalry week features matchups in which the players grew up loving one side and hating the other - a lesson they likely learned at an early age from their parents and grandparents. The opposing rosters are filled former high school teammates and foes for added motivation.

With that said, don't read too much into the old ''You can throw out the records when these teams play'' adage. By now we have seen each team play at least 10 games this year and we know their track records. If anything, you can throw out the historical ATS records.

So with apologies to Alabama-Auburn and Texas-Texas A&M, which were played earlier in the week, we present Saturday's Top 5 college football rivalry games. The list is based on competitiveness this season with only a small splash of recent historical data.

Florida State Seminoles vs. Florida Gators (-24)

This line is pretty high to make the argument for a competitive game. But for all of Florida State's downfalls in recent years, the Seminoles still boast talented athletes who, when provided the right motivation, can rise to the occasion.

With Bobby Bowden possibly being forced into retirement and the Gators looking ahead to next week's SEC championship game, this rivalry could be closer than expected. It's also Tim Tebow final home game of his magical college career.

The Gators have dominated this series in recent years, winning SU and ATS the past five seasons. But expect them to get the Seminoles' best shot. If nothing else, bettors will get athletic play and high-spirited competition from both sides.

Arizona Wildcats vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (+3 .5)

So what if neither team is in the Rose Bowl hunt? This game is still thornier than a cactus. The Sun Devils had won three in a row over the Wildcats before last year's 31-10 rout. But this one is in Tempe, where the Devils have won three straight, the last two by a field goal.

The Sun Devils have little more to play for than pride and they may catch the Cats nursing a hangover from their hard-fought loss to Oregon. Arizona is 4-1 ATS in the past five games against the Devils and six of the past seven meetings have gone under the total.

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-8)

It doesn’t get any bigger than this in the state of “Jawja”, especially after the Yellow Jackets have surpassed the Bulldogs on the national screen this season. Georgia Tech snapped a seven-game losing streak to Georgia in Athens last year and is a heavy favorite this time.

Although the Dawgs are limping after some bad losses and big injuries (not to mention the death of UGA VII), they have the talent and motivation to go toe-to-toe with Tech's option offense. The Dawgs had covered three straight and four straight meetings went under before last year's 45-42 thriller.

Utah Utes vs. BYU Cougars (-7.5)

This matchup might have had no place in a Top-5 list a decade ago, but both programs have grown in national respectability and brought to light a hidden gem of a rivalry in the Bee Hive State. Over the past 10 years, eight games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

The Utes have slipped a little bit this season but still have plenty of firepower to challenge the Cougars (aka the Stormin' Mormons), who owe their archrivals a little payback from last year's 48-24 rout. Utah is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings and so is the over.

Clemson Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (+3)

The Palmetto State comes to a halt for this game, which used to be played during the state fair. Expect some high-flying theatrics as Steve Spurrier tries to get his second victory over the Tigers in five seasons while C.J. Spiller tries to audition for the Heisman against the Gamecocks' defense.

The Tigers have earned a spot in next week's ACC championship game against Georgia Tech and may lose sight of this rivalry, which it has dominated to the tune of 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings. The road team had covered three straight before the Tigers’ win last year.

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