The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports Columns

November 29, 2013

Rivalries dominate this weekend

You don't need your GPS to know the road to the BCS title game goes through the Iron Bowl.

It has lately, anyway, since the winners of the past four Alabama-Auburn meetings have ended up national champions.

It's rivalry week, with so much to prove, which means a crowded Tense 10. But it all starts with the No. 1 Tide vs. the No. 4 Tigers. Nobody is giving more thanks this week in the state of Alabama than the ticket scalpers.

Alabama at Auburn. Alabama has a perfect season, big BCS title plans, a chance to make history with a national championship threepeat — and Auburn could blowtorch it all, plus advance to the SEC championship game, a year after going 3-9. Of course, the trick is doing it. Alabama has allowed five touchdowns to its last nine opponents, and now aims the be the wall that Auburn's 320 yards-per-game rushing attack goes splat against. The Tide have beaten the Tigers by a combined score of 91-14 the past two years. This feels a lot closer.

Purdue at Indiana. Well, it's not exactly Alabama-Auburn. You could combine their winning totals — Indiana is 4-7, Purdue 1-10 — and not even be bowl eligible. But the only thing worse than having a lousy season is having a lousy season with an Old Oaken Bucket loss at the end. Defensive purists should turn away. Indiana is 115th in the nation in scoring defense, Purdue is 108th.

Ohio State at Michigan. What rivalry? Ohio State has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. If that wouldn't frost Bo Schembechler's glasses, this would: Michigan is 100th in the nation in rushing. No reason to think the wavering Wolverines — four losses in six games — can stop Ohio State's 23-game winning streak, except maybe old home movies. The Buckeyes' previous longest streak was 22, before it ended in Ann Arbor in 1969 against another Michigan team that wasn't supposed to win.

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