Love to hate: 5 must-watch games during rivalry week

Photo of Love to hate: 5 must-watch games during rivalry week

It's the last full week of the college football calendar, and while that's a sobering thought for any fan, the fact that it's rivalry week means the schedule goes out with a bang.

One of the best parts of college football is the hate that exists between local rivals, with each game providing bragging rights for the next 364 days.

Here are five matchups this week that will be must-see television:

Iron Bowl - No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Auburn

The Iron Bowl is annually one of the craziest rivalries on the college football calendar, but it doubles this season as the most significant. At stake is a berth in the SEC championship game and possible qualification into the CFP. A loss would eliminate No. 6 Auburn from contention, and could also mean No. 1 Alabama misses the final four for the first time in the format's history. It's easily the most pivotal meeting between these teams since Auburn hosted the contest in 2013, and everyone remembers how that ended:

All eyes in the college football world will be on Auburn to see what the Tigers can do for an encore in Saturday afternoon's matchup.

Egg Bowl - Ole Miss at No. 14 Mississippi State

This year's Egg Bowl might not have much significance on the field, but the off-field drama is as salacious as it gets. Ole Miss is being coached this year by Matt Luke after Hugh Freeze had to resign due to numerous calls made to escort services on his phone records. While that ended Freeze's tenure with the school, the Rebels are still facing sanctions for violations under his watch. One of those violations was Mississippi State linebacker Leo Lewis receiving money from an Ole Miss booster during recruiting, while Lewis and defensive end Kobe Jones also reportedly received merchandise from a store selling Ole Miss gear in Oxford. Lewis eventually testified to that matter in front of an NCAA committee. This is the first contest since any of the drama went down, so expect a rowdy atmosphere in Starkville on Thursday night.

"The Game" - No. 9 Ohio State at Michigan

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

The hate in this one is so real that Ohio State refuses to even say the word "Michigan," instead referring to its Big Ten rival as "The Team Up North." While this matchup is considered one of the best rivalries in college sports, it's actually been largely one-sided as of late; Ohio State has won 12 of the last 13 meetings. The Buckeyes look likely to add another victory, entering Saturday as 12-point favorites. While the Wolverines certainly don't need added incentive to beat the Buckeyes, a loss by Ohio State would end its chances at a spot in the CFP - an outcome that would be very sweet for Michigan.

Sunshine Showdown - Florida State at Florida

Like a car wreck you can't take your eyes off, Florida State will be facing the Gators in Gainesville. This matchup is annually one of the best in the country, but this year is the furthest thing from that. Both teams enter with 4-6 marks - the first time since 1959 that both have had losing records coming into the matchup. Saturday will also be the last game for the Gators under interim coach Randy Shannon, while the Seminoles need to win and then beat Louisiana-Monroe next week to keep their 40-year streak of seasons at .500 or better alive. It's going to be ugly, but sometimes that can be entertaining, right?

Apple Cup - No. 13 Washington State at No. 17 Washington

It may not have ramifications for the CFP, but the Apple Cup remains a massive fixture in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State enters the contest with a chance to claim the first Pac-12 North title in school history, while Washington is looking to run its winning streak to five in the series. With light rain in the forecast and the beautiful backdrop of Husky Stadium, the visuals will be pleasing for the casual fan on Saturday evening. The on-field play will suit the background, as both teams are averaging more that 33 points per contest this season. There's also always the chance that Mike Leach will say something hilarious in the postgame interview.

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