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Rivalry week not fun for home fans

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Home cooking was not being served during Rivalry Week 2015. No. 13 Florida State’s 27-2 victory over No. 12 Florida in the Swamp was one of several games where the road team came in and defeated their arch rivals on their home field.

Florida’s opponent in next week’s SEC Championship Game also won on the road. The second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide posted a solid, 29-13 victory over Auburn on the Tigers’ home turf at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

No. 8 Ohio State bounced back from their crushing home loss to Michigan State last week to throttle the No. 10 Michigan Wolverines at the Big House, 42-13. Ezekiel Elliot ran for 214 yards and a touchdown for the Buckeyes.

No. 3 Oklahoma earned their spot into the College Football Playoff by storming into No. 11 Oklahoma State’s T. Boone Pickens Stadium and routing the Cowboys, 58-23.

No. 18 Mississippi continued the trend with their 38-27 victory over No. 21 Mississippi State. The Rebels jumped on their hosts and led 21-0 after the first quarter before coasting to victory.

Top-ranked Clemson completed their perfect 12-0 season by beating the South Carolina Gamecocks 37-32 on South Carolina’s home field in Columbia. Tigers’ QB Deshaun Watson ran and passed for a touchdown for the seventh consecutive game.

No. 14 North Carolina defeated host North Carolina State 45-34. The Tar Heels face Clemson in next week’s ACC championship game.

Georgia barely got by arch rival Georgia Tech, 10-7 in Atlanta. Several wonder whether Bulldogs’ coach Mark Richt will be around next year when Georgia Tech travels to Athens for Rivalry Week.

Several other long time rivalry games continued with the script. Last week, Harvard defeated Yale, 38-19 at the Yale Bowl. Virginia Tech got their retiring coach, Frank Beamer, into a bowl game for the final time with at 23-20 win at Virginia.

Kansas State rolled over host Kansas, 45-14 while Texas Tech edged the Texas Longhorns, 48-45 in Austin. Indiana won the Old Oaken Bucket for the third consecutive year with a 54-36 win at Purdue.

There were a few exceptions to the rule. Tennessee routed Vanderbilt, 53-28 at Neyland Stadium while the Pac 12 held serve. USC pounded UCLA, 40-21 while Oregon used home cooking to defeat Oregon State, 52-42. Homestanding Washington throttled No. 20 Washington State, 45-10.

On Saturday, most victorious rivals were singing “the road is where the heart is.”

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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