The Christmas shopping can wait. Instead of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving should be called BCS Friday.
The top three teams in the country _ No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Auburn and No. 3 Boise State _ face ranked conference foes in a triple-header bursting with BCS implications.
Auburn starts the football feast when it takes on No. 9 Alabama in the biggest Iron Bowl in years. A rivalry that never lacks for intensity and is usually heavy on intrigue is loaded with high stakes and subplots this season.
On the field, it’s the first time since 1994 that the Iron Bowl features two top-10 teams.
The last two seasons, it was Alabama trying to stay undefeated and Auburn trying to play spoiler. Now, Auburn (11-0) is just a couple of wins away from playing in the BCS national championship game _ and this Tide (9-2) team is still hoping to land a major bowl bid.
Then there’s Camgate.
The NCAA is looking into the recruitment of Auburn star quarterback Cam Newton after allegations by Mississippi State boosters that his father asked for money to send his son to play for that school.
As of now, Newton is expected to play. He’s the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher, the nation’s second-most efficient passer and in just one year he’s made a case for being called the best quarterback in SEC history. Former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who coached Bo Jackson, has called Newton, “the best football player I ever saw.”
The Tide will provide his toughest test yet. Alabama has won 20 straight home games and leads the nation with 21 interceptions. Plus, coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart have some history of bottling up good running quarterbacks. Just ask Tim Tebow.
The SEC West race is already over. No matter what happens at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Auburn will play South Carolina in the league championship game the next week. A loss to Alabama, though, could open up a spot in the national championship game for another unbeaten team.
Not long after the Iron Bowl ends, Oregon (10-0) takes on No. 20 Arizona (7-3) in Eugene. The Ducks had a week off after their closest game of the season. Heisman contender LaMichael James and the high-scoring Ducks needed a little luck and some stellar defense to beat California 15-13.
The Wildcats’ defense looks just as good as the Bears’ on paper, and quarterback Nick Foles leads the top passing offense in the Pac-10.
By the time Boise State kicks off at No. 19 Nevada in the nightcap, the Broncos should know if they are still going to be stuck behind Oregon and Auburn in the BCS standings or if they have a real chance to put themselves in position to play for the national title on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
The Broncos are second in the nation in total defense and scoring defense and first against the run. Nevada, with versatile quarterback Colin Kaepernick, is third in total offense and fourth in scoring and rushing.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore also gets a chance to make one more high-profile push for the Heisman.