Rivalry week is upon us but in order to get to the vile, dark pit in our stomach each one of us owns for that bitter foe we must first endure a week of thankfulness and smokescreens of pleasantry to all mankind.  I say pshaw to that and am just thankful its rivalry week.  I’m in a hurry this short holiday week, so let me shove this pesky ref out of my way and give you my Shocks, Shanks, Chafes and Predictions of the week.

Biggest shock:  Give a cheer.  Rah!  Rah!  Never fear.  Rah!  Rah!  Arkansas will never yield!

Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors.  And boy, was I a donkey when I gave up on The Hogs a few weeks ago.  I even suggested that this game against Ole Miss was a “bye week” for The Rebs and I sure do look like quite the buffoon at this moment.

Arky’s over LSU last week was a nice way to kick that SEC losing streak to the curb, and doing it in shutout fashion was the BBQ sauce on the pork.  Following it up with a shut out of Ole Miss 30-0 was the pickles on top of that sauce and pork, and recording consecutive shutouts against ranked opponents while unranked was something unseen since 1942 by North Carolina Pre-Flight.  The Cloudbusters had some gent named Bear Bryant as an assistant coach in 1944.  He would never be heard of again.

This win solidifies the notion that Arkansas may have been the best “bad” team in the country.  It also gives justice to those cockamamie beliefs that the SEC West is overrated with Ole Miss laying an egg to an unranked team a week before eggs should even be discussed. 

For me, though, this just reinforces the beauty of college football in that everything we think we know dies each Saturday only to be reborn on Sundays with a new set of outlandish beliefs.  For the moment, I’m going to have to consider that Arkansas would give everyone in the Top 10 a scare and probably beat half of them.

Biggest Shank: Clearly there was a spectacle of shankery in Fayetteville on Saturday, but my nod goes to Vanderbilt for failing to show up (again) against Mississippi State in their 51-0 humiliation.  It’s the largest shutout in SEC play for The Bulldogs in 78 years when they spanked Sewanee 68-0 as part of it’s legendary 37 game losing streak.

It’s been an abysmal year for The Commodores, winless thus far in the SEC this season and most likely finishing that way this week at Tennessee.  I really thought Derek Mason’s hiring was a good thing in Nashville following the spark lit by James Franklin. But this season has really gotten off the rails and leaves me wondering if the magic that was so hard to build can rise back up.

Maybe year two will go better for the Head Coach, and there’s only one way to go at this point sporting the 121st scoring offense and 106th points in the nation.  If not, Vandy may be heading back to the lulls of the Bobby Johnson days.  Or Woody Widenhofer days. Or Ron Dowhower days.  Or Gerry DiNardo days.  Or….geez Louise you, have to go back in time to find the success seen from James Franklin.  And those Vandy fans other than Jay Cutler and Willie Geist don’t want to do that.

Biggest Chafes:  In the 4th grade this scum bucket of a b-hole kid named Frank moved to Bradenton, FL from Flint, MI and into my elementary school.  My memory may be a little dusty, but I believe he looked like a miniature Biff Tannen and smoked a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes every day during recess. 

This kid tormented me by boxing my ears and vice gripping my fat boy boobs each chance he got and quickly became the first rival I can remember. I hate Flint, MI to this day because of him, and I don’t care if he’s adopted 16 special needs children and cuts the hair for the homeless in his spare time – if I ran into him now I’d still want to throat punch him.

As mentioned at the onset, it’s rivalry week and my only request is that we all do what any civilized human being is supposed to do and despise the person who dare claim allegiance to your adversary.

I get that maybe you’re Katherine Webb from Auburn and fell in love with that beauty queen AJ McCarron who has a penchant for shrieking “ROW TIDE”.  I get that you find it utterly adorable to adorn your home with a “House Divided” flag split with Florida and Florida State blowing blissfully in the breeze on your front porch.  I get that you spend countless hours explaining to your kids why mommy wears a South Carolina shirt and dad has a Clemson tattoo, and that all of these things are seemingly fine for 51 weeks a year.

But when its time for rivalry week, its time to tell sweetie-pie shmoopie knuckles you love him or her, but get the hell out of my way on game day.  I’m not asking people to stop loving or liking one another in totality, but a weeklong hiatus with four hours of concentrated detestation isn’t unreasonable.

Personally I don’t understand this charade.  When I met my wife to be, she was a Florida State fan.  I didn’t like it but I surely liked her and thought it was something I could live with.  As things got more serious the burning question for me regarded our children.  Could I stomach raising a child that possibly, maybe had a desire to do a tomahawk chop?

I couldn’t, and quite frankly I don’t know how anyone could.  Conversely, she is from Pittsburgh and by birth is required to drink Iron City Beer, put Heinz ketchup on everything, refer to a group of people as “yinz” and worship The Steelers.   I’ve been a Bears fan all of my life, and for her, she dreaded the potential of our kids cheering on ‘da Bears. 

So we made a trade – Steelers for Gators.  Sure there’s times she may want to belt a “whoa-ohhhh-oh-oh-oh” and there’s times I want to do my bad Bill Swerski impersonation, but when it comes to the kids – it’s all about The Gators and Steelers. 

I’m not sure the trade route will work in every household, but it at least deserves a discussion at minimum if the conundrum presents itself.  Until then, with rivalry week upon us, do your duty and hate your adversary and those that endorse them with every fiber of your being.  I don’t care if it’s your husband, wife, boss or best friend.  If it’s your kids, that blame rests squarely on your shoulders for shoddy parenting and team loyalty. 

My Lousy Predictions:  It was another .500 week with the flip so I’m still just stuck in a traffic jam and gaining nothing on my pursuit of improvement.  My made up over/under of 200 points scored in the SEC FCS showcase paid off with my choosing of the under.  And that of course means absolutely nothing. 

I’m 34-43-1 and need to go 9-0 this week to finish the regular season even at mediocrity, and for that I’m mortally ashamed of myself.  Like most gamblers, I don’t truly know when to fold them and I’ll press on.  But since the flip has faded, I’m going back to my heart and brain for the final regular season week.

Games of the Week:

Mississippi State (-1) @ Ole Miss: One of two marquee SEC only rivalries, The Egg Bowl is up first on Saturday with Hail State winning four of the last 5.  This game meant a ton more a month ago as it was looking at an all-timer status for it’s rich history.  There’s still much at stake for Clanga here with playoff implications and you know Ole Miss wants to put those dreams to bed.  The Rebels are reeling with three straight SEC losses, and I think this week’s to Arkansas may have hurt the most.  Something tells me they salvage it here.  My Prediction: Ole Miss 24, State 21

Auburn @ Alabama (-9.5):  There’s not much I need to tell everyone about this other than it’s the freaking Iron Bowl.  This could be a trap game pending the outcome of The Egg Bowl.  An MSU win would certainly inspire Bama, but a loss and Auburn could catch them napping.  The Tigers’ best game was a month ago, and the wheels seem to be deflating in Gus Malzahn’s Ferrari.  Bama owns the all-time series by seven games and should push that to eight here. My Prediction: Row Tide 38, War Eagle 28

Games of the Weak:

Tennessee (-16.5) @ Vandy: I mentioned earlier how horrible I think The Commodores are this season, and I thoroughly expect The Vols to be locked and loaded to end their two game skid in this series.  Despite that two game streak for Vandy, Tennessee leads all time by 44 games. Yowsa!  My Prediction: UT 41, Vandy 13

Other games happening:

LSU (-2.5) @ TAMU: It’s a battle for .500 in-conference bragging rights to end an uneven season for both in the brutal SEC West.  Regardless of the conference mediocrity, both are going bowling and are still much better than the vast majority of the other Power 5 teams riding .500 or worse in their conference.  This one is a pickle of a pick.  My Prediction: LSU 20, Swagcopter 17

Arkansas @ Missouri (PK): Other than Vanderbilt I’ve given the most grief to these two teams all season long.  Regardless of the angst this is a rather interesting matchup of two teams playing incredibly well, although the rivalry status is lacking.  Arky is smoking hot right now coming off the consecutive shutouts and near misses, and Mizzou is quietly on the verge of representing the East for the second straight year in the conference championship in just year three in the league.  It’s fitting to give both some credit at this point in what should be a fun battle.  My Prediction: Tigers 35, Razorbacks 33

South Carolina @ Clemson (-4.5): It’s the 112th meeting and while Clemson owns a 65-42-4 edge Cackalacky has won five straight.  The Tigers own the all-time streak at seven and I’m certain Steve Spurrier would love to push that closer to a tie with a win this season.  SoCar is definitely more talented than their record indicates.  Likewise, Clemson may be worse than theirs.  I give the nod to USC in The Battle of the Palmetto State.  My Prediction: Gamecocks 33, Tigers 27

Georgia Tech @ Georgia (-12.5): Clean, old-fashioned hate.  The Dawgs have owned this series including winners of the past five and 12 of 13.  Expect a ton of rushing as The Rambling Wreck is 4th in the nation to UGA’s 13.  The Bulldogs’ defense is slightly better and that means much more to me in the SEC than ACC.  Missouri’s final on Friday could impact this game but probably won’t since a loss to The Yellow Jackets won’t affect the SEC status one bit.  But there will probably be more bite from the Dawgs if Mizzou should fall.  My Prediction: UGA 35, GT 24

Kentucky @ Louisville (-14):  The Cards have won the last three in a series nestled near .500 with Kentucky edging 14-12.  A 5-1 start for UK flipped to a 0-5 skid and what seemed like bowl trippin’ certainty for Mark Stoops early in October now is a must win in the season’s final week.  At least it’s basketball season, Wildcat fans, and your team on the hard-court is really, really good.  These guys?  Not so much.  My Prediction: Cards 27, Cats 21

Florida @ FSU (-10):  It’s Will Muschamp’s last regular season hurrah, and FSU’s 27-game winning streak is on the line with that last loss coming at home to The Gators in 2012.  In spite of Florida’s below par season, a win for FSU here should garner more respect than some of the others on its schedule because – hey – it’s the SEC and it’s a rival.  Will FSU put a full game together, or continue to “find ways to win” in the 4th quarter?  It’s the 20th anniversary of The Choke at Doak, so anything can always happen, and the visiting team has won three straight by double digits.  My Prediction: Noles 31, Gators 30

Follow me on Twitter @thenassar and tell me how much you dislike your rivals or if your house is divided and how you live with yourself.