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Ranking The 10 Best Games Of 2015 College Football Rivalry Week

Curtis Samuel running for a touchdown against Michigam.

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Curtis Samuel #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes rushes the ball to the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Heated rivalries are one of the main factors that make college football great and unique, and this weekend, there are three straight days of fantastic rivalry games. Kicking off with Texas-Texas Tech and UCF-USF on Thursday night through Bedlam at prime time on Saturday, we'll be knee deep in rivalry games through the entire Thanksgiving weekend. Many of these games take on extra importance, as they may impact various conference races, and the ever-important College Football Playoff field. 

Get ready, college football fans, we have some great football coming our way. Here are the ten best rivalry games that will be played this weekend.

10. South Carolina (3-8) vs. Clemson (11-0)
Series Record: 66-42-4 Clemson

The Palmetto Bowl often flies under the radar because it falls on the same day as games like the Iron Bowl and The Game, but the hate shared by Clemson and South Carolina fans is real and palpable. This year's game loses some serious luster because of the woeful season that has befallen the 3-8 Gamecocks, but Clemson's national championship aspirations give it some buzz. The Tigers are looking for a second straight win over the 'Cocks after dropping five in a row from 2009-2013, which would also move them one win away from an almost-certain College Football Playoff berth.

On the South Carolina side, a win over Clemson would probably be better than any middling bowl could ever be. With interim coach Shawn Elliott coaching what is likely his last game at the helm of USC, we expect the Gamecocks will have as much motivation as they have all year.

On paper, Clemson should take home the easy win, but we would be surprised if South Carolina just totally laid down to the Tigers.

Next: The Egg Bowl >>>

9. Mississippi State (8-3) vs. Ole Miss (8-3)
Series Record: 62–43–6 Ole Miss

The Mississippi schools have flown under the radar a bit, at least since Ole Miss knocked off Alabama for a second straight year, but both have battled to respectable 8-3 records. Ole Miss has probably had the harder path, dropping games to SEC East champion Florida, upstart Memphis, and an Arkansas team that always tends to get hot towards the middle of the season. The Bulldogs toppled the Razorbacks 51-50 last weekend, but lost handily to Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M, all teams that Ole Miss beat this season. Ole Miss is still technically playing for an SEC West title as well. A Rebels win and an Alabama loss to Auburn would send them to Atlanta.

While results against common opponents, and general strength of schedule, give an edge to Ole Miss. For whatever its worth, Las Vegas agrees, as Ole Miss opened as a two-point favorite on the road. Mississippi State still has Dak Prescott, maybe the best quarterback in the SEC. He and De'Runnya Wilson make one of the most underrated quarterback-wide receiver tandems in college football, and the famed Ole Miss "Landsharks" defense is not quite what it has been in years past. Ole Miss ranks No. 100 in pass defense, allowing over 255 yards per game this season. The Egg Bowl could get very interesting this year, if Prescott and Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly get hot.

Next: Florida vs. FSU >>>

8. Florida (10-1) vs. Florida State (9-2)
Series Record: 34–23–2 Florida

The last few years, Florida has looked to knock Florida State from its undefeated throne, but the Will Muschamp-led Gators proved to be mostly toothless. After a six-game losing streak in the series from 2004-2009, the Seminoles have won four of five, including the last two en route to the 2013 BCS National Championship and 2014 College Football Playoff. 

This year, the 'Noles will look to play the role of spoiler, although Florida's only chance of making the playoff is by beating Alabama in the SEC Championship—a tall order for a team that struggled with Florida Atlantic last weekend. FSU has taken a step back from the Jameis Winston years, but Dalvin Cook is a legitimate Heisman-level running back, and the defense is talented enough to give Treon Harris and company fits. 

Next: MSU vs. PSU >>>

7. Michigan State (10-1) vs. Penn State (7-4)
Series Record: 14-14-1

The Big Ten is a conference of many, many rivalry games and trophies, and in the East division, the battle for the Land Grant Trophy is never going to be the headliner of this week. However, after Michigan State's upset of Ohio State, the Spartans have a ton to gain with a win here. A win sends the Spartans to Indianapolis for a date with Iowa, in what could very well be a College Football Playoff play-in game. 

The Spartans have some questions surrounding starter Connor Cook, who was questionable leading up to the Ohio State game before eventually missing the game. Tyler O'Connor was able to lead the Spartans to a huge win in Columbus, but Mark Dantonio would obviously love to have his highly-touted starter available to clinch the division. 

Penn State has been a bit of a mystery team this season. After losing a shocking season opener to Temple, the Nittany Lions ripped off five straight wins, and currently sit at 7-4. The path to get there has been far from pretty, however, and Christian Hackenberg, often cited as a top NFL prospect, is still only completing 52.9-percent of his passes for under seven yards per attempt. Penn State was handled fairly easily by Ohio State, 38-10, and Michigan, 28-16, two teams that the Spartans have wins against, but as we've seen in the Big Ten East this year, literally anything can happen. Michigan State knows that all too well.

Next: Stanford vs. ND >>>

6. Stanford (9-2) vs. Notre Dame (10-1)
Series Record: 19-10 Notre Dame

Notre Dame had been included in the College Football Playoff top four for a few weeks, but was jumped by Oklahoma, Iowa and Michigan State in the newest rankings, released earlier this evening. While the Fighting Irish are at a disadvantage due to their lack of a conference championship opportunity, they are helped out by this late game against a very strong Stanford team. The Cardinal, which has already clinched its Pac-12 North championship, have an outside shot at a playoff run as well, if there is some serious chaos at the top, over the next two weekends. Before tonight's rankings ESPN's FiveThirtyEight gave Stanford an 11-percent chance to grab a playoff bid. Notre Dame sits at 31-percent by the same metric. 

With a win, Notre Dame would potentially have victories over both Pac-12 division champions, if USC clinches the South with a win over UCLA, as well as Navy, perhaps the top Group of 5 team, one of the best Temple teams ever, and very solid Pitt. The concept of a "good loss" may be a bit silly, but Notre Dame falling at Clemson in a storm is about as "good" as a loss gets. It is hard to know how the lack of a 13th game will hurt Notre Dame, if it beats Stanford, but the Irish will definitely make it hard for the committee to keep them out with a big win in Palo Alto.

Next: Nebraska vs. Iowa >>>

5. Nebraska (5-6) vs. Iowa (11-0)
Series Record: 29–13–3 Nebraska

While 5-6 Nebraska isn't a huge draw, is there anyone outside of Lincoln that doesn't want to see Iowa run the table at this point? Well...there are probably some fans in South Bend, and Big 12 country that would prefer the Hawkeyes to drop one, but for most of us, Iowa is an incredible story. If Iowa wins out, it will be basically impossible for the selection committee to keep them out. 

Nebraska doesn't come without its own storylines, though. Few teams have been on a roller coaster like the Huskers, who have six losses by an average of 3.83 points. With an upset here, which plenty of people are predicting, Mike Riley's team would clinch a bowl after looking pretty much dead at 3-6, after losing by 10 to lowly Purdue, with Michigan State coming to town. Nebraska can amazingly clinch wins over both Big Ten division champions, and have a major impact on the College Football Playoff picture. 

Next: The Iron Bowl >>>

4. Auburn (6-5) vs. Alabama (10-1)
Series Record: 43–35–1 Alabama

It is rare that the Iron Bowl isn't one of the two or three most anticipated Rivalry Week games, but with Auburn at 6-5, this one has lost some juice this season. The Tigers have had a mess of a season, and while many will bring up what happened last time Alabama traveled to Jordan-Hare Stadium as a national championship favorite, 2015 Auburn is nowhere near as dangerous as 2013 Auburn, at least on paper. 

Still, this game has major SEC and College Football Playoff ramifications, even with Alabama expected to roll Auburn. A Crimson Tide loss would likely knock them from the Playoff top four, and paired with an Ole Miss Egg Bowl win, would cost Alabama an SEC West title as well.

We fully expect Alabama to win this game based on everything that we've seen this season, but after 2013, if you think we're ever ignoring the Iron Bowl, you're crazy.

Next: TCU vs. Baylor >>>

3. TCU vs. Baylor
Series Record: 52–51–7 Baylor

After last year's epic 61-58 Baylor win in Waco, this is the game that everyone circled when the 2015 Big 12 schedule was released. Many anticipated the rematch between these two schools, which clearly have some serious animosity for one another, would decide the Big 12 Championship. The game isn't quite living up to that early billing, as TCU is out of Big 12 contention with two losses, but the Horned Frogs would like nothing more than to get revenge over the Bears, who cost them a chance to play in last year's playoff.

Both teams are dealing with major injuries to top players, including their starting quarterbacks. Baylor gutted out a win at previously undefeated Oklahoma State with third stringer Chris Johnson filling in for the injured Jarrett Stidham, while TCU was a failed two-point conversion from beating Oklahoma. These two teams have explosive offenses, some struggles on defense, and plenty of history behind them. If you like offense, this is the Rivalry Week game for you. 

Next: Bedlam >>>

2. Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma
Series Record: 84-18-7 Oklahoma

Bedlam has it all this year. Two one-loss teams battling for the Big 12 Championship and College Football Playoff possibilities. A huge revenge spot for Oklahoma after the Cowboys stole last year's Bedlam game in a ridiculous finish. The drama surrounding who will get to dance after the game: Baker Mayfield or Mike Gundy. 

If Oklahoma wins Saturday night's big game, the Sooners win the Big 12. They were just named No. 3in this week's selection committee poll. Another quality win against the Pokes would only help OU's case. Oklahoma State is down at 11, but it can also still win the conference with a Bedlam win, and a Baylor loss to either TCU or Texas. 

At 8 p.m., with The Game, the Iron Bowl, and everything else settled, America will be tuning in to Stillwater for this one. We're pretty pumped for it.

Next: ??? >>>

1. Michigan (9-2) vs. Ohio State (10-1)
Series Record: 58–45–6 Michigan

Even when Michigan was down in the Brady Hoke years, the Wolverines seemed to give Ohio State a game every single season. The Buckeyes won fairly handily last season, topping UM 42-28, but in the three years before, the games were decided by an average of just four points. Even when one team isn't elite, this is one to watch. Fortunately for us, both of these teams are very, very good this season. Ohio State is looking to rebound from its loss to Michigan State, and position itself to win the Big Ten East if Michigan State falls to Penn State. If Michigan wins, and gets the same help from the Nittany Lions, it will win the division and play Iowa. 

Throw in the first Jim Harbaugh-Urban Meyer coaching match-up, and the controversy surrounding Ohio State star Ezekiel Elliott, and there are plenty of enticing story lines for the next edition of The Game. Before tonight's ranking release, in which Ohio State is eighth and Michigan 10th, FiveThirtyEight gave the Buckeyes a 33-percent chance to still make the playoff, while Michigan sits at six-percent. The post-season possibilities definitely add to the rivalry this year, but even without them, this would be one of the most anticipated games of the entire season.

Next: 5 Most Overrated Teams In Coaches Poll >>>