"Rivalry Week" Prequel - Sunflower Showdown, The Big Game, and The Victory Bell

November 17, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

Next week is "Rivalry Week" in major college football, but three of the sports' traditional games will be renewed this week. Here is a look at each one.

Kansas State (7-3, 5-2) at Kansas (7-3, 4-3) - Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET (FS1)

Sunflower Showdown - 121st meeting. Kansas leads 65-50-5. Kansas State has won 14 straight.
Computer Pick: Kansas State by 10.09 (Computer trend line: Kansas State by 15.01)

Kansas will have plenty of motivation when it hosts the 121st edition of the Sunflower Showdown.

The Jayhawks have lost 14 straight in the series, an excruciating level of futility versus an instate rival. A win would not only snap the nasty losing streak, but it would also likely end Kansas State’s bid for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Kansas will need to rebound from last week’s loss to Texas Tech while sorting out a quarterback situation that’s been hit hard all year by injuries. The Wildcats, conversely, have the wind at their backs. Spearheaded by the proven backfield tandem of QB Will Howard and RB DJ Giddens, K-State pummeled Baylor, 59-25, a week ago. The team currently sits in four-way tie behind Texas in the Big 12 Conference.

Cal (4-6, 2-5) at Stanford (3-7, 2-6) - Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET (P12N)

The Big Game - 126th meeting. Stanford leads 65-49-11. Cal has won 3 of last 4 after Stanford had won 9 straight.
Computer Pick: Cal by 13.69 (Computer trend line: Cal by 5.77)

This is Stanford's bowl game as they hope to sink their rival and cause the Golden Bears to join the Cardinal in the 'eliminated' category. Cal can get to the postseason by winning this week, and next week at UCLA.

Justin Wilcox is in jeopardy of a 4th straight losing season in Berkeley. However, his job may not be in jeopardy as he reportedly an offer to leave for his alma mater, Oregon, after the 2021 season and signed a 6-year extension to stay at Cal.

Stanford is its first season under former Sacramento State (30-8) head coach Troy Taylor. He inherited a bare cabinet and a team that was predicted to go 0-12 in the preseason forecast (Cal was picked to 5-7, 3-6). As a result, the Cardinal have lost 4 conference games by at least 35 points, but have also seen some success. There was that historic comeback at Colorado where his team rallied from 29 down to knock off Colorado in double-OT in Boulder, 46-43. After ending a 7-gaem PAC-12 losing streak, the Cardinal picked up another road win two weeks later in a defensive 10-7 performance at Washington State. (Cal just scored a 42-39 win at home over Wazzu).

UCLA (6-4, 3-4) at USC (7-4, 5-3) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)

Victory Bell - 91st meeting. USC leads 50-33-7 and has won 6 of last 8
Computer Pick:
USC by 10.44 (Computer trend line: USC by 5.99)

USC wraps its season a week ahead of most programs when the Trojans host the Crosstown rival Bruins. It has been an extremely disappointing season for USC which had preseason expectations of competing for a national championship, while helping QB Caleb Williams become just the second person to win back-to-back Heisman trophies. USC has lost 4 of its last 5 games, and it could have been worse. The lone win in the middle of the collapse was a 50-49 squeaker over Cal, and the preceding game to the downturn was a 43-41 escape of Arizona State.

It has been somewhat disappointed for UCLA, as well, as the Bruins were picked to go 9-3 over-all and 6-3 in the conference. That might have been a bit too much to ask for a program that lost RB Zach Charbonnet's 1,359 yards rushing and 14 TD's, as well as QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson's 3,169 passing yards and 645 rushing yards. Nonetheless, this was a squad that was winning the games it was suppose to win until stumbling the last two week's against Arizona and Arizona State. There is still time to right the ship and rescue an 8-4 season.

The good thing we can say about this rivalry is that it won't disappear with the breakup of the PAC-12 as both schools are moving to the B1G which has dedicated this game as a guaranteed annual protected matchup.