Setting the table for Rivalry Saturday feast


There’s both good and bad news as we conclude Week 13 of the 2012 season.

The bad?  Saturday will serve as the last full schedule of weekend games until the 2013 season kicks off.  The good?  It’s easily the greatest weekend of football at any level, certainly saving the best for last.

From heated traditional rivalries to games rife with BcS implications — or both — the collective plates of college football fans all across the country will be overflowing from the noon kickoff of The Game all the way through the final gun sounding around midnight on a storied West Coast-Midwest rivalry, one that will determine one of the two spots in the BcS championship game.

For all the pomp and circumstance prior to kickoff, the weekend could be relatively quiet BcS-wise come day’s end.  If Notre Dame knocks off USC, and Alabama and Georgia take care of business against Auburn and Georgia Tech, respectively, the Fighting Irish will square off against the winner of the Tide/Bulldogs SEC title game for the BcS championship in Miami.  If the Golden Domers do stumble, however, all BChaoS will break loose and bring a handful of teams back into the title picture:

Oregon, Kansas State and the winner of the Florida-Florida State would find themselves on some level back in the title talk with an Irish loss.  The SEC, in particular, has become a collective Southern fan base for the Trojans in general and Lane Kiffin specifically; if USC topples Notre Dame, and Florida can manage to come out of Tallahassee with a win over FSU, there’s a very solid chance that, for the second straight year, it would be an all-SEC BcS championship game — the Gators vs. the winner of the conference title game.

Before the anti-SEC outrage commences in earnest, however, there are many steps that need taken and myriad games to play out.  From Michigan-Ohio State to Oregon-Oregon State to Alabama-Auburn to Oklahoma-Oklahoma State to Clemson-South Carolina to Mississippi State-Ole Miss and all rivalry points in between, it’s a day to celebrate the greatness of a sport whose leaders have done their best to screw it up.

So, sit back, put fresh batteries in the remote, grab your go-to beverages and bask in the glow of all that’s good about this game.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

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This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

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So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.

WATCH: Amazon releases trailer for ‘All or Nothing’ season following Michigan

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“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.

This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.

The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.

Report: Auburn WR Eli Stove undergoes surgery for torn ACL

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A significant development has gone under the radar at Auburn, until now. Junior wide receiver Eli Stove tore his ACL during Auburn’s first spring practice and underwent surgery last Tuesday, according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards and rushed 30 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns, which made him the Tigers’ third-leading rusher.

Stove was expected to increase his portfolio heading into 2018, but now he’ll spend the foreseeable future working simply to get back on the field. No timetable has been set for Stove’s return.

Though Stove is one of Auburn’s most talented pass-catchers, the Tigers aren’t hurting for depth even in his absence. Nine wideouts caught a pass for Auburn last season, and not one of them was a senior.