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November 21, 2006

A weekend for close friends and rivals

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Prepare to get your fill of turkey and familiar foes.

Rivalry games highlight Thanksgiving week, and one contest could determine who plays Ohio State for the national championship.

The Notre Dame-USC game will have the most impact on the national picture with the Trojans and Irish both hoping for a trip to Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8.

Florida and Arkansas have both clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game but will have to go through Florida State and LSU, respectively, to preserve their one-loss status going into the showdown in Atlanta.

Along with the Gators and Seminoles, in-state rivalries will dominate the Thanksgiving weekend in Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, Oregon, Arizona and Mississippi.

Here's your quick guide to the top five games of the week and other rivalry games that highlight the holiday weekend:

Top Five Games in Week 13:
1. The showdown for the Jeweled Shillelagh: No. 6 Notre Dame (10-1) at No. 3 USC (9-1), 8 p.m. on Saturday, ABC
Who says there isn't a playoff? The game between the Irish and Trojans could essentially be a national semifinal - if the pollsters and BCS computers say so. Allowing 19 points in three games, USC has made a strong comeback since the loss to Oregon State. Notre Dame will face its first ranked opponent since losing to then-No. 11 Michigan 47-21 on Sept. 16.
Series trend: USC has won the last four.
2. The Golden Boot game: No. 9 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. No. 5 Arkansas (10-1, 7-0 SEC), 2:30 p.m. in Little Rock on Friday, CBS
The Razorbacks have clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but could still make a case for a spot in the national championship game by defeating LSU and Florida. Darren McFadden will wrap up his season against one of the SEC's most formidable defenses. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, linebacker Ali Highsmith and safety LaRon Landry will all be focused on stopping him.
Series trend: LSU has won four of the last five. Arkansas has won three of the last four in Little Rock.
3. The Governor's Cup: No. 4 Florida (10-1) at Florida State (6-5), noon on Saturday, ABC
The Seminoles have long been eliminated from the ACC race, but a win over Miami in the opener and Florida in the finale would give Florida State in-state bragging rights. It would also spoil the season for the hated Gators. Florida is looking to sweep rivals Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State for the second consecutive year.
Series trend: Florida has won the last two meetings.
4. The Lone Star Showdown: Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 Big 12) at No. 11 Texas (9-2, 6-1 Big 12), noon on Friday, ABC
Texas, who will get freshman quarterback Colt McCoy back from a shoulder and neck injury, still needs to beat the Aggies to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Texas A&M could ease the pain of losing nailbiters to Oklahoma and Nebraska with a win over the Longhorns.
Series trend: Texas has won the last six.
5. No. 20 Wake Forest (9-2, 5-2 ACC) at Maryland (8-3, 5-2 ACC), 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, ESPN
It's not a rivalry game, but it will decide a trip to Jacksonville, Fla. Despite a loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, Wake Forest will still be in the ACC Championship Game with a win over Maryland. The Terrapins remain in contention for a spot in the ACC title game with a win over Wake and a Boston College loss to Miami on Thursday.
Series trend: Maryland has won seven in a row
Other Top Rivalry Games this weekend:
Palmetto State Showdown: South Carolina (6-5) at No. 24 Clemson (8-3), noon on Saturday, ESPN
Clemson went into the season with BCS aspirations but will aim for its ninth win of the season against rival South Carolina.
Series trend: Clemson has won nine of the last 10.
The Bedlam Series: No. 13 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-1 Big 12) at Oklahoma State (6-5, 3-4 Big 12), 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Fox Sports Net
The Sooners are faring well without Adrian Peterson and could be playing for a spot in the Big 12 title game if Texas loses on Friday.
Series trend: Oklahoma has won three in a row.
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate: No. 16 Georgia Tech (9-2, 7-1 ACC) at Georgia (7-4, 4-4 ACC), 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, CBS
The Yellow Jackets enter the game with their best chance to defeat the Bulldogs since Mark Richt arrived in Athens.
Series trend: Georgia has won the last five.
The Civil War: Oregon (7-4, 4-4 Pac-10) at Oregon State (7-4, 5-3 Pac-10), 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Fox Sports Net
Once considered a contender for the Pac-10 title, the Ducks now need to beat Oregon State to finish over .500 in the conference.
Series trend: The home team has won the last nine meetings.
The Territorial Cup: Arizona State (6-5, 3-5 Pac-10) at Arizona (6-5, 4-4 Pac-10), 6 p.m. on Saturday, Fox Sports Net
The Wildcats have consecutive wins over Washington State, Cal and Oregon. Can Arizona end the season on a four-game win streak with a win over the Sun Devils?
Series trend: Arizona State has won three of the last four.
Colorado (2-9, 2-5 Big 12) at No. 23 Nebraska (8-3, 5-2 Big 12), 3:30 p.m. on Friday, ABC
Dan Hawkins ends his rocky first season with Colorado against a Nebraska team that has already secured a spot in the Big 12 title game.
Series trend: The Buffaloes are 3-2 in the last five.
The Border Showdown for the Indian War Drum: Kansas (6-5, 3-4 Big 12) at Missouri (7-4, 3-4 Big 12), noon on Saturday, ABC
After the season started with such promise for Missouri, the Tigers have lost three in a row. The Jayhawks have won their last three.
Series trend: Kansas has won the last three.
The Holy War: No. 21 BYU (9-2, 7-0 Mountain West) at Utah (7-4, 5-2 Mountain West) on Saturday
Take a look at the two best players outside of a BCS conference: BYU quarterback John Beck and Utah defensive back Eric Weddle.
Series trend: Utah has won the last four.
The Commonwealth Cup: Virginia (5-6, 4-3 ACC) at No. 17 Virginia Tech (9-2, 5-2) on Saturday
The Cavaliers will try to gain bowl eligibility over a Hokies team playing without star running back Branden Ore, who is doubtful with an ankle injury.
Series trend: Virginia Tech has won six of the last seven.
The Egg Bowl: Mississippi State (3-8, 1-6 SEC) at Ole Miss (3-8, 1-6 SEC), 2 p.m. on Saturday
The Bulldogs and Rebels will play to avoid last place in the SEC West.
Series trend: Ole Miss has won three of four.
The Battle of the Bricks: Ohio (8-3, 6-1 MAC) at Miami (Ohio) (2-9, 2-5 MAC), noon, ESPNU
The Bobcats, under coach Frank Solich, are headed to their first bowl game since 1968. Miami has its worst record since 1989 (2-8-1).
Series trend: Miami has won the last six meetings.
The Bayou Classic: Southern (4-6, 3-5 SWAC) at Grambling State (3-6, 3-4 SWAC), 2 p.m. at New Orleans on Saturday, NBC
Series trend: Grambling has won the last two meetings.
The Turkey Day Classic: Tuskegee (7-3) at Alabama State (5-5), 2 p.m. on Thursday
Series trend: Tuskegee has won six of the last seven.

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