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      Smack Zone — Florida State

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      Noles-Canes: a Faded Rivalry?

      [caption id="attachment_1285" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Hey, everybody! It's FSU-Miami week! Um ... hello? Anyone? Hello? Hey, everybody! It's FSU-Miami week! Um ... hello? Anyone? Hello?[/caption] They say a contest can only be considered a true rivalry if both teams have a realistic chance to win any given year. Oh, the tide might shift in favor of one team or the other every decade or so, but in general, rivalries tend to balance out over time. It is with this truism in mind that we remind everyone that this is, in fact, Florida State-Miami week. Cue the crickets. [caption id="attachment_1268" align="alignleft" width="300"]Florida State Click to get the shirt, Noles fans![/caption] It used to mean something. It used to mean a hell of a lot, in fact. Now? Meh. The No. 12 Seminoles bring a five-game win streak against the Hurricanes into Saturday's meeting in Tallahassee. That's two shy of the longest win streak by either team in the 59-game history of the series (Florida State won seven in a row in 1963-72). The most newsworthy thing about the U these days is Al Golden's immediate future with the program. In fact, a victory at the Doak might be the only thing that saves Golden's job. Um ... yeah. Good luck with that. Still, the Hurricanes can claim with pride the all-time lead in the series at 31-28. And Miami's five national championships still make the Canes the Kings of the Sunshine State. Oh, and Noles fans, lest you get a little full of yourself heading into the weekend, here's a little reminder of one reason why the Canes have won those five national titles. Two words: Wide. Right. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYTp7IbZ2uY]  

      The Games are Getting Interesting (But not Texas-Oklahoma, because the Longhorns suck SO much)

      [caption id="attachment_1267" align="alignright" width="178"]Michigan Wolverines Michigan is rolling, but can the Wolverines overcome Northwestern's stingy D?[/caption] The mid-point of college football season is just about here. Some games this week mean something. Here is a breakdown of three of those games, with the Smack Zone fearless forecast. Read it, then register for the Smack Zone weekly football picks contest for a chance to win Smack Apparel merchandise (see link below). (Yes, we know Texas plays Oklahoma this week, but we figure anyone who picks the Longhorns in that one isn't qualified to be here or even watch sports.) No. 13 Northwestern (5-0, 3-0 BIG 10) vs. No. 18 Michigan (4-1, 1-0 BIG 10) Anyone who tells you that they predicted a 5-0 start for Northwestern is, quite simply, a liar. After a stunning upset of Stanford to open the season, the Wildcats have somewhat quietly climbed their way into the top 15. A win in Ann Arbor on Saturday afternoon would solidify Pat Fitzgerald’s squad as a team to be reckoned with in the second half of the season. While their offense is far from overwhelming, their defense has been stifling. Led by Senior DL Dean Lowry, Northwestern is allowing an FBS best seven points per game. Under first-year coach and Michigan man, Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines have wasted little time returning to national relevancy. With a victory this Saturday, Michigan will have already matched their win total from 2014. Although their passing game has left much to be desired, the Wolverines’ rushing attack has picked up the slack, averaging more than 230 yards per game during their four-game winning streak. Of course, like Northwestern, they have relied heavily on a defense that has posted back-to-back shutouts against BYU and Maryland, and is giving up just 7.6 points per game. Smack Zone’s Pick: If you’re a fan of defense and tough, old-school football, this game is definitely right up your alley. Barring Jim Harbaugh making a return to play quarterback for his alma mater, don’t expect many fireworks in the Big House Saturday afternoon. We like the Wolverines in a slugfest, 17-13. No. 23 California (5-0, 2-0 PAC 12) vs. No. 5 Utah (4-0, 1-0 PAC 12)  It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, the Golden Bears finished 1-11 and were one of college football’s worst teams. Now in their third season under head coach Sonny Dykes, Cal is seeking its first 6-0 start since 1950. Junior quarterback and NFL prospect Jared Goff has already thrown 15 touchdowns this year and is completing better than 70 percent of his passes for a Golden Bears’ offense that is averaging over 43 points per game. Not to be outdone, their defense leads the FBS with 18 takeaways through 5 games. Utah has climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the AP Poll after a 63-20 rout of Oregon in Eugene. Senior quarterback Travis Wilson picked a great time to play one of the best games of his career, accounting for nearly 330 yards of total offense and torching the Ducks’ secondary for four touchdown passes. Coming off a bye week, the Utes will look to keep that momentum going with another victory over a Top 25 team. Through five games, this is a team that certainly deserves much consideration as a legitimate playoff contender. Smack Zone’s Pick: College GameDay will be on campus in Salt Lake City for this matchup of the PAC 12’s lone remaining unbeatens. Both offenses will surely put up points, however, Utah’s defense, and a rowdy home crowd will seal this one in the fourth quarter. We’ll take the Utes in a good one, 38-31. [caption id="attachment_1268" align="alignleft" width="300"]Florida State Florida State will roll. Right? Oh, yeah. That's right.[/caption] Miami (3-1, 0-0 ACC) vs. No. 12 Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) We’re only a week into October and Miami fans are already calling for Al Golden’s job. (Again) If he loses to rival Florida State for the fifth time in five tries on Saturday night, the Hurricane faithful may not even welcome him back to South Florida. Miami’s offense has largely been led by two sophomores, quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Joseph Yearby, who have combined for nine touchdowns. They’ll certainly look to get the Hurricanes off to a fast start offensively, just as they did in last year’s matchup against Florida State, when they jumped out to a 16-0 lead. After suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter of a win over Wake Forest last weekend, ACC rushing leader, Dalvin Cook, is currently listed as day to day. Although Jimbo Fisher is confident that his star running back will be ready to go Saturday night, Johnathan Vickers and Jacques Patrick can be expected to see additional snaps with backup Mario Pender still hospitalized with complications due to a collapsed lung. Thankfully for Florida State, their defense has been stout thus far this year allowing just 11.5 points per game, good for sixth in the country. Smack Zone’s Pick: This has been a historically great rivalry, and that’s enough of a reason to tune in. Everett Golson hasn’t been lights out so far (he’s no Jameis Winston) but he has yet to throw an interception this year. Meanwhile, Miami ranks second-to-last in the FBS in third-down efficiency and Kaaya is just 2-6 on the road as a starter. Miami will make mistakes and Florida State will take advantage. We’ve got the Noles, 31-17. Think you can do better? Test your pigskin prognostication prowess in the Smack Zone weekly football picks contest. Register and pick at CONTEST.SMACKAPPAREL.COM. The weekly winner receives three Smack Apparel t-shirts and the runner-up gets one t-shirt. DO IT!  

      The 10 Greatest College Football Rivalries

      [caption id="attachment_914" align="aligncenter" width="474"]Smack Zone - Steve Hill After a newsy (and boozy) offseason, college football is finally back! Illustration: Steve Hill.[/caption] By Bob D’Angelo, Smack Zone Contributor You live and die for your college football team. You savor victories against your hated rival. Losing is unthinkable. “I’d rather have a Pap smear and a root canal, simultaneously, than have Alabama lose to Auburn,” said author and Tide fan Bonnie Bartel Latino. You get the idea. Some rivalries date to the early 1890s, and we LOVE the fact that we are on the verge of starting yet another season. Here’s hoping that this year brings even more fuel to the smack bonfires of history. And now, we present the Smack Zone top 10 college football rivalries of all time:

      1. Ohio State vs. Michigan.
      [caption id="attachment_898" align="alignright" width="296"]College Football Rivalries Ohio State and Michigan is No. 1 on our list. Where did your team's rivalry land? Who did we miss?[/caption] The third Saturday in November usually has Big Ten and national title implications. In fact, Ohio State was No. 1 and Michigan was No. 2 when the teams clashed in 2006. Ohio State won 42-39 in Columbus. Interestingly, the Ohio Lottery Pick 4 drawing that night was 4-2-3-9. Michigan owns a 56-46-6 lead in this border war that began in 1897, but this series has been defined by two coaches. Woody and Bo. Woody Hayes had a genuine hate for “that team up north.” Late in the 1968 game, a 50-14 OSU rout, the Buckeyes went for two. Hayes was asked why. “Because they wouldn’t let me go for three,” he said. Michigan’s Bo Schembechler was a former Hayes assistant who went 5-4-1 against his mentor from 1969 to 1978. We might have a modern-day coaching parallel: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh against Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Time will tell. The two fierce rivals have an equally loyal fan base. When 10-year-old Ivan Applin needed heart surgery in Michigan, the Toledo resident was afraid the doctors “were going to make his heart love Michigan instead of Ohio State.” Doctors assured the boy his heart would not be trifled with.
      1. Alabama-Auburn
      College Football RivalriesThe Iron Bowl hosts the country’s best in-state rivalry. The teams began play in 1893 and Alabama owns a 43-35-1 series lead. The two most memorable games were Auburn upsets. In 2013, top-ranked Alabama attempted a 57-yard field goal with one second left in a tie game. Auburn’s Chris Davis fielded it nine yards deep in the end zone, then sprinted past the lumbering Tide field goal unit for a shocking 34-28 victory. Then there was “Punt, ’Bama, Punt” in 1972. Leading 16-0 in the fourth quarter, Alabama lost the game when two of its blocked punts were returned for touchdowns in a 17-16 final.
      1. Army-Navy
      These two teams rarely contend for national honors, but don’t call this game irrelevant. Since 1890, the series has produced five Heisman Trophy winners and a slew of Hall of Famers. The teams have clashed 115 times; Navy leads the series, 59-49-7. For pure national pride, this rivalry is untouchable. Pride, competition and patriotism rule.
      1. Florida-Georgia
      College Football RivalriesAs dawn breaks in Jacksonville, Florida and Georgia fans break out the Bloody Marys to kick off “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Then the taunts begin. “Why does the St. Johns River flow north?” a Florida fan asks. “Because Georgia sucks.” Georgia fans counter with “Lindsay Scott.” The Bulldogs dominated this unpredictable series during the Vince Dooley era, but Steve Spurrier brought the Gators some swagger and victories in the 1990s. These rivals rarely agree. Georgia counts a 1904 game it won, while Florida claims its football program didn’t begin until 1906. It creates some lively debate over those Bloody Marys.
      1. Oklahoma-Texas
      For years, it was called the Red River Shootout, but 10 years ago it was renamed and is now called the more politically correct Red River Showdown. College Football RivalriesBy any name, this game has been bitterly contested since 1900 — seven years before Oklahoma was admitted to the Union. Sixty-seven times since The Associated Press poll began in 1936, at least one of the teams has come into the game ranked. The game has been played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas since 1932. Both teams’ locker rooms spill into a common corridor. Surprisingly, there have been no incidents; both teams prefer to settle their differences on the field.
      1. USC-Notre Dame
      Hands down, the nation’s top intersectional rivalry. It combines tradition, big names and the Jeweled Shillelagh. Each team can claim 11 national titles and seven Heisman Trophy winners. They have met 86 times since 1926; the Irish lead the series 45-36-5. In 1974 “the Comeback” showcased Anthony Davis, when USC overcame a 24-0 deficit late in the first half. Davis caught a touchdown pass with 10 seconds left before intermission, then opened the second half with a 102-yard kickoff return. That sparked a 35-point third quarter for USC and a 55-24 win. “That wasn’t very nice,” Notre Dame president Theodore Martin Hesburgh said afterward to USC coach John McKay, an Irish Catholic. “That’s what you get for hiring a Presbyterian,” McKay cracked, referring to Irish coach Ara Parseghian’s faith.
      1. Harvard-Yale
      It doesn’t have the sizzle of other rivalries, but this series crackles with tradition. The two teams have met 131 times since 1875 and have played annually since 1897. The most memorable game might have been Harvard’s 16-point rally in the game’s final 42 seconds to earn a tie in 1968. Smirked The Harvard Crimson the next day: “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29.”
      1. Florida-Florida State
      College Football RivalriesIt took an act of the Florida Legislature to sanction this series, which began in 1958. Florida dominated for years, but that changed with the arrival of Bobby Bowden at Florida State in 1976. In the 1994 “Choke at Doak,” the Gators blew a 31-3 fourth-quarter lead and the Seminoles scored four touchdowns in a 31-31 tie. In 1996, FSU beat No. 1 Florida 24-21, but thanks to some timely upsets, the two teams met several weeks later for the national title. Florida won 52-20 in the rematch. In 1993, Warrick Dunn’s momentum-changing 79-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown at Florida Field sent the Noles to the Orange Bowl, where they would win their first national title. After that play, Dunn said, “you could hear a pin drop in that place.”
      1. USC-UCLA
      The two Los Angeles schools met for the first time in 1929 and play for the Victory Bell. Since the Pacific Coast Conference (the ancestor of the Pac-12) was formed in 1916, USC has won or shared 37 conference titles, while UCLA has won or shared 17. “Beating ’SC is not a matter of life and death,” UCLA coach Red Sanders said during the 1950s. “It’s more important than that.”
      1. Georgia-Georgia Tech
      A most underrated rivalry. Author Bill Cromartie’s 2002 book, “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” is an appropriate title for this series, which began in 1893. The Bulldogs own a 64-40-5 series advantage against their nearby rival.

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      Did we miss any? Tell us who and why you think they deserve to be among the top 10 college football rivalries of all time. And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this season for a steady stream of sports rivalry news and smack talk!