Every year between the holidays, rivalry weekend unites and divides college football fans across the nation. Through the intense competition for in-state bragging rights, along with the pageantry, storied history and tradition, the rivalry games showcase the best college football of the regular season.
Week 13 of the college football season did not disappoint in 2016, there was plenty of star power, some memorable performances and one all time classic game played.
LSU 54, Texas A&M 39
The Tigers ran all over the Aggies on Thanksgiving, with sophomore Derrius Guice amassing 285-yards and four touchdowns in Leonard Fournette’s stead. Malachi Dupree caught a touchdown, he is a smooth, lanky receiver in the A.J. Green mold who could declare early for the NFL draft.
LSU junior Davon Godchaux continued his disruptive season with another sack and Jamal Adams has been declared the best safety prospect from the college ranks in several years by some analysts. Corner Tre’Davious White capped off a fine regular season with three more pass breakups and has seemingly cemented a Day 2 draft selection at worst.
Texas A&M senior receiver Josh Reynolds was outproduced by sophomore Christian Kirk and junior Speedy Noil. On defense, Myles Garrett had a quiet game, but remains the most athletically gifted defender of the 2017 draft class.
Washington 45, Washington State 17
Washington dominated the Apple Cup, and safety Budda Baker was the best player on the field. Baker had an interception, two tackles for a loss and eight total tackles. Corner Sidney Jones, a junior, is projected as a borderline first round pick if he leaves school early.
Huskies junior wide receiver John Ross scored a touchdown, he is regarded by some as a top-20 draft prospect. Quarterback Luke Falk, Wazzu’s only notable draft prospect, tossed three interceptions.
Ohio State 30, Michigan 27
An epic double overtime thriller between a pair of arch rivals ranked in the top three. The Buckeyes earned a likely spot in the CFB Playoff with a ground and pound attack behind center Pat Elflien and guard Billy Price.
Standouts on defense included junior linebacker Raekwon McMillian and sophomore Jerome Baker, who combined for 31 tackles. Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker and corner Marshon Lattimore could declare for the draft early. Hooker had a momentum turning pick-six in this one.
Michigan center Mason Cole has turned in a strong junior season and senior Amara Darboh made the most of his final regular season game with a clutch touchdown. Darboh is a big bodied receiver and likely Day 2 draft pick.
Edge defender Taco Charleton was in the backfield all game long and fellow senior corner Jourdan Lewis did his part in coverage, both are on the first round bubble. Jabrill Peppers, a versatile talent comparable to Myles Jack, secured the first interception of his career in his penultimate college game.
Alabama 30, Auburn 12
The Tigers hung with the Crimson Tide until the power running of sophomore Bo Scarborough sealed the deal. Cam Robinson had a solid performance, he is in the mix to be the top tackle taken in the next draft. Senior O.J. Howard could develop into a Jordan Reed-esque tight end in the right offense.
Inside linebacker Reuben Foster led the ‘Bama defense with eight tackles and four hurries. Edge defender Jonathan Allen chipped in two tackles for a loss. It will be interesting to see how early these two high-floor, but probably close to their ceiling defensive prospects are taken in the first round.
Big defensive tackle Montravious Adams saved his best for last, playing his best ball in the final stretch of his senior season. Adams controlled the line of scrimmage and provided more pressure than junior pass rusher Carl Lawson on Saturday.
Southern California 45, Notre Dame 27
Playmaking corner Adoree Jackson scored on punt and kickoff returns and took a short pass for a 52-yard receiving touchdown. USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster added another touchdown grab, his ninth on the season. Both are projected to be chosen in the top-20 if they forego their senior season.
DeShone Kizer should go back to school, he turned it over twice against USC and regressed overall this season. Defensive tackle Jarron Jones was stout against the run and is currently projected as a second rounder.
Clemson 56, South Carolina 7
Mike Williams put on a show in this laugher. Williams caught three of DeShaun Watson’s six touchdown passes, and has legitimate Julio Jones potential. Senior tight end Jordan Leggett and junior receiver Artavis Scott each scored, both could be better professionals than college players if given bigger opportunities.
Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins has had a good season next to true freshman stud Dexter Lawrence on the interior, and will probably be drafted in the third round. Senior Cordrea Tankersley should develop into a quality cover corner in the league and safety Jadar Johnson has earned a look with a stellar senior season. Will Muschamp has a lot of work to do on the Gamecocks roster before they are competitive against top teams.
Florida State 31, Florida 13
The ‘Noles notched their fourth straight in the series and controlled the game throughout. Dalvin Cook continued his fantastic season with another 150-yard plus showing. His improved hands as a pass catcher and patience as a runner, combined with his world class elusiveness and speed, put him atop the running back draft class this year.
Senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker left his mark on the rivalry with two more sacks. Underclassmen edge rushers Josh Sweat and Brian Burns provided one and a half sacks each. Junior Derrick Nnadi also created a few sacks by flushing the pocket with early penetration. The Seminoles defensive line dominated.
The Gators might have the best tandem of starting college cornerbacks in recent history. Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor are excellent cover corners with ideal size and ball skills, both could end up as top-10 overall selections if they decide to forego their final season of college eligibility. They combined to break up six passes and shut down FSU’s passing game.