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The Best of Rivalry Week 2023 - Michigan wins "The Game" and conference championship games confirmed




Michigan beats Ohio State for third year in a row 


Blake Corum scored twice in Michigan's critical win over Ohio State (Image credit: Carlos Osorio/USA Today)

Everything was on the line in Ann Arbor as No.3 Michigan hosted No.2 Ohio State in "The Game", their 119th meeting and a rivalry so steeped it needs just the simplest of nicknames. The winner would guarantee their place in the Big Ten Conference Championship game, where a victory over Iowa would guarantee a spot in the College Football Playoff and a crack at the national championship. No pressure then.


The Wolverines, playing in front of 110,000 in the Big House, as in their previous two victories over Ohio State, were the more aggressive in play calling. Sherrone Moore, standing in once again for the banned Jim Harbaugh, went for it on three separate fourth-and-short plays and ran a brilliant trick play which saw prolific rusher Donovan Edwards show off his arm talent with a 34-yard pass from the backfield.


J.J. McCarthy had a cool head in the most intense of atmospheres, completing an effective 80% of his passes for 148 yards and a touchdown to Roman Wilson (below), the accuracy of which will have NFL scouts drooling. Blake Corum, who missed last year's game, ran in two touchdowns.



The six-point margin probably reflected the gap between two excellent and again showed why elite quarterbacks are so highly valued. Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord had a good game, throwing for 271 yards and two touchdowns. He is not, however, performing at the level of C.J. Stroud last year or, critically, his opposite number in this most critical of games. His time will come. Departing star receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr had 118 yards and a touchdown.


Ohio State have some work to do this off season, coming off the back of a third straight loss to their bitter rivals. Coach Ryan Day is under a little more pressure as a result.


Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is back for the championship game against Iowa this weekend. Interestingly, he has been linked to the Chicago Bears, his former team, who are likely to have two top-five picks in April's NFL Draft. Imagine a scenario where he picks McCarthy and Ohio State star receiver Harrison, Jr. It's not beyond the realms of possibility...




Last-gasp reception wins Iron Bowl for Alabama.


Isaiah Bond hauled in a spectacular catch to snatch Iron Bowl victory with seconds left (Image credit: AP/Vasha Hunt)

88,000 fans at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium witnessed the latest in a thrilling series of Iron Bowl rivalry games. The Tigers, as in their 2021 four-overtime loss to the Crimson Tide, ran No.8 Alabama desperately close to losing both this game, and potentially a spot in the College Football Playoff places.


Jalen Milroe's pass to Isaiah Bond with just 32 seconds left closed another extraordinary chapter in Iron Bowl history. After a bad snap left Milroe scrambling back to desperately recover the losse ball, Alabama were left with a fourth-and-goal play from Auburn's 31-yard line with the Tide trailing 24-20. Milroe, enjoying valuable time in the pocket, threw the ball to the back-left corner of the end zone, where Bond, leaning back in mid-air, reeled the ball in and whipped his feet down safely inbounds, breaking Auburn hearts.



The Alabama's quarterback's "Heisman moment" capped a 259-yard passing performance with 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The acceleration of his form over the season has been extremely impressive and Alabama are hitting form at an ominous time with the postseason approaching. Jermaine Burton had 107 receiving yards.


Auburn will lick their wounds with a 6-6 finish to the season, while Alabama head into their SEC title game against Georgia with their tails up.

“I guess if you are in this long enough, sometimes it goes against you in the last play of the game and sometimes you're fortunate and it goes for you” - Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Washington holds on in tense "Apple Cup" contest, 24-21.


Grady Gross kept the Huskies' Playoff hopes alive (Image credit: Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

The 115th meeting between No.4 Washington and Washington State, their last in the Pac-12, almost ended in a big shock in Seattle. Washington have pulled off a series of nailbiting wins in recent weeks and held on for a 24-21 to win "The Apple Cup" thanks to a last-gasp field goal from Huskies' kicker Grady Gross, who was surprised by Washington coach Kalen DeBoer with a scholarship after the game.



The two teams traded blows throughout the game, with Cougars' quarterback Cameron Ward completing 32 of 48 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns, but also, critically, three interceptions, while Josh Kelly had 106 receiving yards and a touchdown for the visitors.


Huskies quarterback Michael Penix, Jr was hustled by the Cougars' defense who sacked him twice. He threw for 204 yards, two touchdowns and an interception but found a way to keep Washington in the playoff hunt, although you do wonder if his Heisman stock has dropped a little in the face of some blistering performances from rival contenders. Rome Odunze was his main target again, hauling in seven receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns. A bold play call from DeBoer put the ball in Odunze's hands on a fourth-and-one play on the Huskies' own 29-yard-line with just 1:11 left in the fourth quarter. The star receiver caught a short pitch from Penix in the backfield and ran into Cougars'territory, a pivotal moment in setting up the game-winning kick from Gross.


Washington moves into a mouth-watering Pac-12 title game against Oregon this Friday night, a much-anticipated rematch after their 36-33 Week 7 win over the Ducks. Washington State moves into slightly unknown territory, one of just two remaining Pac-12 members, and will fight to hang on to their talented quarterback Ward, who is rumoured to have received numerous $1-$1.5million offers to transfer to other colleges hungry for an elite passer.


“Just being able to find a way to win in those tough moments I feel like it just shows this team’s character and our will to win. That’s what makes it so special,” - Michael Penix, Jr.

Bo Nix dazzles again as Oregon beat Oregon State, 31-7.


Oregon QB Bo Nix is in the form of his life and a Heisman favourite (Image credit: The Register-Guard)

No.6 Oregon have now won six straight games since their narrow loss to Washington in Week 7. Their average margin of victory since? 26 points. The 11-1 Ducks were in ruthless mood against their in-state rival, No.16 Oregon State at Autzen Stadium in Eugene,


If Oregon coach Dan Lanning is the mastermind behind the Ducks' relentless run of form, his field-general is quarterback Bo Nix. He continues to be unerringly accurate throwing the ball, completing 33 of 40 passes for 367 yards and accounting for three total touchdowns, the highlight of which was a cross-field throw across his body for a touchdown. This (see below) will be replayed countless times in the run-up to voting for the Heisman Trophy presentation on 9th December. It will be a huge surprise if this is lifted by anyone other than the Oregon quarterback on his current run of form. He is now the nation's leading passer, with 3,906 passing yards, just two interceptions and an exceptional 78.1% accuracy of passes completed.



Nix has an outstandig supporting cast. Receivers Troy Frankin (128 yards) and Tez Johnson (135 yards) combined for 263 receiving yards.


Opposing number DJ Uiagalelei threw for 220 yards and a touchdown to Silas Bolden. Uiagalelei has since announced his intention to enter the transfer portal, he could be playing for his third school in three years, an example of how ridiculous this system can be.


Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith was announced as the new coach of Michigan State next season before the game. Oregon, in classic rivalry spirit, trolled the Beavers' head coach by showing highlights of his new team's 42-0 trouncing by Penn State on the stadium big screen at half-time.


Oregon advances to the Pac-12 championship game, and will be tough to beat.

"This is a great example of a team controlling their own destiny" - Oregon coach Dan Lanning.

Georgia wins "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate", 31-23.


Kendall Milton ran for two touchdowns in Georgia's win over Georgia Tech (Image credit: aol.com)

In one of the best names rivalries in college football, No.1 Georgia won an unexpectedly tight game agains Georgia Tech in Atlanta. While Carson Beck had a season-low 175 passing yards, Georgia running back Kendall Milton had 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs warmed up for their SEC championship showdown vs. Alabama.


Ole Miss wins "Egg Bowl" vs. Mississippi State, 17-7.


Ole Miss won "The Battle For The Golden Egg" (Image credit: Barbara Gauntt/Clarion Ledger)

Rivalry Week had kicked off with "The Egg Bowl" at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville. Mississippi as Mississippi State hosted No.12 Ole Miss.


State quarterback Will Rogers, one of the most prolific passers in SEC history, completed 25 of 39 passes for 207 yards, but couldn't stop Ole Miss completing a close 17-7 win. Rogers announced he will be entering the transfer portal and will be highly sough after, He currently has 12,315 passing yards, the second-highest in SEC history behind former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.


Jaxson Dart, who will be returning to Ole Miss, had just 96 passing yards and a touchdown. Rebels running back Quinshon Judkins had 119 rushing yards and a touchdown, finishing a fine 10-2 season for Ole Miss.




Elsewhere in the Top 10...


No.5 Florida State faced a tough game in the Sunshine Showdown against Florida without star quarterback Jordan Travis, injured last week. Tate Rodemaker stepped in, throwing for 134 yards as the Seminoles stayed unbeaten with a 24-15 win over the Gators, thanks largely to three touchdowns from running back Trey Benson. Florida State will face Louisville in the ACC title game this weekend.


No.7 Texas have delivered emphatically in coach Steve Sarkisian's third year in Austin. The Longhorns moved to 11-1 and a place in the championship game in their last season in the Big 12, with a 57-7 trouncing of Texas Tech. This video clip brilliantly sums up the passion for college football in Austin...


Their Week 2 win over Alabama has given them the confidence to close off games they would have lost a year ago. Quinn Ewers completed 17 of 26 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown before Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium erupted with the introduction of Arch Manning for his debut, picking up a few minutes with the game secured. Manning showed some nice arm strength and mobility, giving Longhorns fans a glimpse of seasons ahead. He may need to wait a year longer to start as Ewers announced he will return to Texas for another season. The future looks bright in Austin and there is a lot still to play for in the present.


No.9 Missouri signed off an impressive regular season with a 48-14 thrashing of SEC rivals Arkansas. The Tigers, now 10-2, have been a great team to watch this year, running Georgia close and scoring 39 points against LSU in their only two losses this season. Cody Schrader ran for 217 yards and a touchdown in their win over the Razorbacks, after which coach Eli Drinkwitz handed out cigars to players running to the dressing room.


No.10 Louisville stuttered ahead of their ACC title match, losing The Governor's Cup, 38-31, to in-state rival Kentucky.



CFP Rankings



Michigan's win over Ohio State moves them up to No.2, knocking the Buckeyes down to No.6. Georgia remains No.1, while Washington's Apple Cup win moves them up to No.3 and Florida State move back in to the Playoff places at Ohio State's expense.


Oregon will be in if they beat Washngton this weekend, while the winner of Georgia and Alabama could see that team in the top four. Texas is hovering at No.7 and could get in if they win the Big 12 this weekend, but will hope that Georgia and Michigan both win, and that Louisville can beat Florida State. An upset loss for Michigan could see Ohio State sneak back in. All to play for.


Conference Championship Weekend - The Line Up


Power Five


Friday 1st December


Pac-12


Oregon vs. Washington - Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV.


Saturday 2nd December


ACC


Louisville vs. Florida State - Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC.


Big 12


Oklahoma State vs. Texas - AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX.


Big Ten


Iowa vs. Michigan - Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN.


SEC


Georgia vs. Alabama - Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA.


Group of Five


Friday 1st December


Conference-USA


New Mexico vs. Liberty - Williams Stadium, Lynchburg, VA.


Saturday 2nd December


MAC (Mid American Conference)


Miami (Ohio) vs. Toledo - Ford Field, Detroit, MI.


Mountain West


UNLV vs. Boise State - Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA.


Sun Belt


Appalachian State vs. Troy - Veterans Memorial Stadium, Troy, AL.


SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference)


Prairie View A&M vs. Florida A&M - Bragg Memorial Stadium, Tallahassee, FL.


Across The Pond College Football Podcast



Rebecca and I talk about "The Game", the dramatic Iron Bowl and Apple Cup, plus ''Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.'' We also look ahead to Conference Championship weekend. Have a listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.



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