The 2006 Football Schedule Planner - Week 12

Aug. 4, 2006

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    By Brian Hardy


    Brian is an assistant editor for and contributes on a regular basis.
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    Over the summer, will be taking a look at the college football schedule, highlighting the top matchups, the can't-miss games and the storylines that make certain contests so intriguing. Check in every Friday for the heads-up on what games are shaping up to be the best each week, the worst each week and a few others that have piqued our interest.


    As the final weeks of the 2006 season unfold, Week 12 will mark the final Saturday of the Big Ten season, which means it's time for "The Big Game," as Michigan and Ohio State renew their longtime hostilities. Meanwhile, the weekend is full of other great rivalries, including West Virginia and Pittsburgh butting heads in the Big East and Alabama and Auburn locking up in the SEC.


    Game of the Week

    Sat., Nov. 18 - Michigan at Ohio State 

    How could this annual grudge match not be the Game of the Week? In what is referred to as "The Big Game," the two Big Ten rivals have met every year since 1918, an 88-year streak which ranks 10th in NCAA Division I-A history for the longest uninterrupted series. Also, more fans have attended this yearly rivalry than any other matchup in the country since 1922.


    While Michigan may hold a 57-39-6 overall advantage in the series, the last two meetings have been won by the Buckeyes, as OSU captured a 25-21 come-from-behind victory in Ann Arbor last season. After a 7-5 season and their third straight bowl loss, the Wolverines have something to prove and a road win against their rivals to the south would certainly be very satisfying for UM. But it won't be easy. The Buckeyes are being picked by some to win the national title, and with senior quarterback Troy Smith running the offense, who can blame them? Last year's passing efficiency leader, Smith got real hot toward the end of the season and all signs point toward him having an explosive season this year.


    Games to Watch 

    Sat., Nov. 18 - Auburn at Alabama  

    The "Iron Bowl" takes center stage on this Saturday in SEC play, as the Tigers visit the Crimson Tide in a game that very well could end up deciding who wins the SEC West and earns a bid to the SEC Championship game. Last season, Auburn came away with a 28-18 victory at home over the Tide and star tailback Kenny Irons and the rest of the Tigers would love `nothing more than to take down the Tide on `Bama's own home field in this heated rivalry.


    Sat., Nov. 18 - California at USC 

    Looking up at the Trojans these past several seasons, this might just be Cal's chance to finally dethrone USC as the kings of the Pac-10. With the Trojans facing some questions at key positions this year and Cal returning several stars on offense - including Heisman Trophy candidate tailback Marshawn Lynch, it appears that Cal may have the weapons this year to possibly knock off the Trojans. With the game at the Coliseum, though, you can expect a dogfight. The last two times these two teams met there, it went down to the wire and it'll probably be the same this time around.


    Sat., Nov. 18 - Tennessee at Vanderbilt

    Who can forget last season's dramatic win by Vanderbilt? Former Commodores quarterback Jay Cutler led Vandy to a 28-24 upset victory over the Vols in Knoxville, marking Vandy's first victory over the Vols since 1982. The scene shifts to Vanderbilt's home field for this one, but expect the Vols to be the ones fired up for this game, as Tennessee will try to return the favor and knock off the Commodores on their field. 


    Tues., Nov. 21 - Bowling Green at Toledo 

    This annual MAC grudge match could have some big implications as to who comes out on top in one or even both of the MAC divisions. Bowling Green will be looking to win the Eastern division title after losing a tiebreaker to Akron last season. Meanwhile, Toledo will be looking for its 13th straight winning season as it appears the Zips and Northern Illinois will be challenging for the Western division title all year long. The key for the Rockets will be whether they will be able to replace starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.


    Rivalry of the Week

    Thurs., Nov. 16 - West Virginia at Pittsburgh 

    The "Backyard Brawl" takes place this year in Pittsburgh in a prime-time matchup on Thursday night. While the Mountaineers are coming off an 11-1 season and a perfect 7-0 season in the Big East, the Panthers will be trying to improve upon a disappointing 5-6 mark from last year. And Pitt may just have the pieces put together this year to improve substantially. Senior quarterback Tyler Palko returns along with a highly touted recruiting class that coach Dave Wannstedt managed to bring in after just one season of helming the Panthers.


    Mismatch of the Week

    Sat., Nov. 18 - Western Carolina at Florida 

    It's another one of the D-I powerhouses taking on a Division I-AA school as the Gators host Western Carolina. This should prove to be a good break in the schedule for Florida. Why? Well, the week prior, UF will welcome back former head coach Steve Spurrier. South Carolina heads into the Swamp for an emotionally charged SEC matchup that will feature the announcement of the Gator Fans' Team of the Century. Against Western Carolina, Florida will want to work out any kinks they might be experiencing, because just one week later, they make the big trip up to Tallahassee to face Bobby Bowden's Seminoles. 



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