From the The Game to the Iron Bowl to the Bayou Classic, Boardroom has your curated list of priorities for televised football as rivalries come to a head for Thanksgiving week.
When the college football campaign hits the Thanksgiving season, it means one thing, and one thing only: Rivalry Week. Whether you’re a Big Ten lifer who waits all year for The Game or a Yellowhammer adherent who pines for the Iron Bowl, there’s something for just about everyone each time this jam-packed week rolls around.
But with this absolute feeding frenzy of football comes a legit challenge: figuring out how to make the most out of your viewing time with literally dozens of games to choose from.
With that in mind, Boardroom is ready with a Rivalry Week guide to help you navigate the scheduled slate of college football games.
Because whi.e Thanksgiving is centered around turkey, but the beef is in abundance during Rivalry Week. Make sure your remote controls and mobile devices are charged.
TUESDAY, NOV. 23: Football on Tuesday? Football on Tuesday.
“A pre-holiday MAC snack”
There are two college football games on Tuesday. While neither is classified as a storied rivalry, but both matchups have been played at least a dozen times over the years, so this fits perfectly as a taste of the football to come later in the week.
At 7 p.m. ET, Buffalo and Ball State play on ESPN+ and Western Michigan and Northern Illinois play on ESPNU. If you’re looking for the more competitive game of the two, the betting odds favor the ESPNU contest (WMU-3.5), plus a higher over/under number (63) besides. Strange things happen on unconventional football days, so look for exciting plays and a wild fourth-quarter finish — epect nothing less from MACtion.
THURSDAY, NOV. 25: Feast Mode
“There’s always room for (more) football.”
The first storied rivalry of the week happens on Thursday — Thanksgiving Day — at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN: Ole Miss and Mississippi State battle in the Egg Bowl.
While the Golden Egg is no longer the official prize in this century-long rivalry, the current trophy has old football on it looks like an egg depending on the angle and lighting. Thus, as fueled by a 1927 headline from Jackson, Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger newspaper, the Egg Bowl got its name.
Thursday night SEC football between two ranked teams wrapped in a hatred hardened over decades makes for a nice dessert after a day of grazing.
Bonus game of interest: Fresno State vs. San Jose State at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Yes, it’s a canonical college football rivalry! Mountain West divisional foes Fresno Sate and SJSU duke it out each year in the Battle for the Valley Trophy. Over the last six meetings, the series is an even 3-3.
FRIDAY, NOV. 26: Sack Friday
“How you like them apples?”
Black Friday has closer to a full slate of games, so there are certainly more options throughout the day. As is true for most Thanksgivings, there are plenty of leftovers to be consumed over the next several days.
There’s the Rumble In the Rockies between Colorado and Utah and the intrastate contest between North Carolina and NC State, but the last game on the docket is where your channel-surfing should land: The Apple Cup between the Huskies of the University of Washington and the Cougars of Washington State at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
Conference foes in the same state only doubles the intensity already packed into Rivalry Week. Ending Friday night with college football just feels like an extra plate of decadent, glorious food you may not think you need, but you’d be crazy not to want.
Bonus game of interest: Cincinnati vs. Eastern Carolina at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. If you stopped keeping count, Cincy still hasn’t lost a game and refuses to be ruled out of the College Football Playoff race.
SATURDAY, NOV. 27: Rivalpalooza
“Get your fill while you still can.”
Around Saturday after Thanksgiving is when most of the leftovers are consumed. After that, there is typically either very little food left or it’s time to start discarding what’s left — not so different from the case of the 13th week of the college football regular season.
The two teams course with so much hatred for one another that they don’t refer to each other by their correct names, and this year’s contest loser eliminated from contention for the College Football Playoff. This is the game with the biggest shared stakes, so navigating the Saturday schedule must begin here.
Afterward, we shift our attention to the state of Alabama. The Iron Bowl, so rich in history that ESPN dedicated an episode to it as part of the 30 for 30 documentary series, will be played for the 84th time when Alabama meets Auburn. With hatred stronger than the steel the Yellowhammer State is known for producing, the Tigers would love nothing more than to hand the Crimson Tide a loss that all but removes them from College Playoff consideration for the second time in three years.
Are we due for magic similar to Cam Newton’s comeback in 2011 or the “Kick Six” in 2013? Tune into CBS at 3:30pm ET for the 2021 Iron Bowl between Auburn and Bama.
Bonus game of interest: “The Civil War” between Oregon vs. Oregon State at 3:30 p.m. ET ESPN. Oregon’s deflating loss to Utah derailed their hopes for a Playoff run, but expect Autzen Stadium to be absolutely mad when the Beavers come to visit the Ducks. It always is.
And while the national juggernauts once again dominate the TV schedule during Rivalry Week, take some time to check in on the Bayou Classic between Grambling State and Southern University.
College football is rooted in atmosphere and pageantry, and none compares to the weekend experience of the Bayou Classic between these two historic Louisiana rivals. The festivities begin the day before with a Battle of the Bands, a tradition so many HBCUs take great pride in during halftime intermissions. The two schools take turns playing a medley of music with their own unique twists; Southern’s Human Jukebox and Grambling State’s World-Famed Tiger Marching Band establish the celebratory and competitive vibes that last through the football game. When Grambling clashes with Southern at 5 p.m. Eastern on NBC Sports Network, come for The Classic game; stay for The Classic experience.
Other Saturday games with following: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (7:30 ET, ABC), Notre Dame vs. Stanford (8 p.m. ET, FOX), BYU vs. USC (10:30pm ET, ESPN).