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August 23, 2007

Teams circle the date for revenge games


Hangovers are prevalent on college campuses.

Ones caused by the bitter tonic of defeat last a little bit longer as in a full year for some.

We mention a few teams below that have had plenty of time to stew over last year's most devastating or embarrassing losses.

A win in 2007 won't erase the results of previous fourth-quarter collapse, but teams may get a little comfort if they avenge a 2006 loss.

Here, we take a chronological look at the top revenge games for 2007:

The Revenge Games
Tennessee at Cal, Sept. 1
Last year: Tennessee won 35-18
The stage was set for Cal to prove itself as a rising national power. The Bears took their No. 9 ranking, high-powered offense and star-studded defense into one of the SEC's most intimidating venues. Cal squandered its opportunity, falling behind 35-0 in the third quarter as Tennessee rolled up 514 yards of offense. The chance for a major statement on the road is gone with the game moving to Berkeley this year, but the Bears need to show they can beat the Volunteers to prove USC isn't the only Pac-10 team that can go toe-to-toe with the SEC.
Arizona at Cal, Sept. 22
Last year: Arizona won 24-20
Here's item No. 2 on Cal's revenge to-do list. The Bears rebounded from the loss to Tennessee to put themselves in Pac-10 contention. If not for the loss at Arizona, Cal would have won the Pac-10 outright and would have gone to its first Rose Bowl since 1959. The Bears coughed up 21 consecutive points in the second half to lose a 17-3 lead. Nate Longshore threw two fourth-quarter interceptions (one was returned by Antoine Cason for the game-winning touchdown) to seal Cal's fate.
West Virginia at South Florida, Sept. 29
Last year: South Florida won 24-19
West Virginia's loss cost the Mountaineers a share of the Big East title and possibly a second consecutive BCS bowl bid. South Florida smothered West Virginia's rushing attack in front of the Morgantown crowd. Steve Slaton was held to 43 rushing yards and Pat White to 17. Stakes could be even higher in 2007. West Virginia is a favorite to win the league, while a veteran South Florida team is poised for a breakout year. The winner will have the early edge in the Big East race.
Auburn at Florida, Sept. 29
Last year: Auburn won 27-17
A second-half collapse against the Tigers was the only blemish on the Gators' 2006 record. Trailing 17-11 at halftime, Auburn responded with a blocked punt, a fumble returned for a touchdown and an interception for the win over the eventual national champions. Adding to the revenge factor was a critical fourth-quarter fumble by quarterback Chris Leak. Florida believed the play should have been ruled an incomplete pass not a fumble. The Gators challenged the call, but to no avail.
Kansas State at Texas, Sept. 29
Last year: Kansas State won 45-42
The last in a trio of revenge games on Sept. 29, this game will pit Texas against the team that derailed the Longhorns season. Kansas State handed Texas its first Big 12 loss and ended UT's hopes of repeating as national champions. The loss to K-State carried over to the next week as well. Freshman sensation Colt McCoy was knocked out of the K-State game early with a shoulder injury. McCoy's injury appeared to affect his play the following week in a 12-7 loss to rival Texas A&M. After trying to exact revenge on the Wildcats this season, Texas will face Oklahoma the following week.
Florida State at Wake Forest, Oct. 11
Last year: Wake Forest won 30-0
Florida State's disappointing season bottomed out with this home debacle. Florida State was shut out in Tallahassee for the first time in Bobby Bowden's career, and FSU lost to the Demon Deacons for the first time in 33 years. Wake Forest went on to win the ACC championship, a title Florida State has captured 12 times since joining in the league in 1992. The Seminoles will try to reassert their ACC dominance in Winston-Salem this year.
Auburn at LSU, Oct. 20
Last year: Auburn won 7-3
A judgment call by an official may have cost LSU a chance to compete for the SEC (and possibly national) championship. LSU also dropped a game to Florida later in the year, but its yearly grudge match with Auburn had to be frustrating for the Bayou Bengals. LSU was facing a fourth-and-8 at Auburn's 31 with 2:43 left. Auburn was initially called for pass interference, but the penalty was overturned and Auburn gained possession. It was the first of two conference losses for LSU, which left the Tigers one game out of the SEC title game. Auburn comes to Baton Rouge this season, and the home team has won each game of this series since 2000.
Oregon State at USC, Nov. 3
Last year: Oregon State won 33-31
Oregon State, the same team that lost to Boise State by four touchdowns earlier last season, took the luster off USC. The game launched Sammie Stroughter (127 receiving yards, punt return for touchdown) to stardom. The Beavers ended the Trojans' 38-game regular-season winning streak and 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. USC regained some of its aura in the postseason with a convincing Rose Bowl win over Michigan, followed by another recruiting title. USC's homecoming game will also be its chance at some revenge.
Michigan at Wisconsin, Nov. 10
Last year: Michigan won 27-13
Bowl Championship Series bids for Ohio State and Michigan kept Wisconsin out of a top-tier bowl, but so did the Badgers' loss to the Wolverines. Against the best opponent it faced all year, Wisconsin lost in Ann Arbor despite three Chad Henne interceptions. Meanwhile, Badgers running back P.J. Hill was held to only 2.7 yards per carry. This year, the matchup in Madison could decide the Big Ten championship - and perhaps a spot in the national title game.
Rutgers at Louisville, Nov. 29
Last year: Rutgers won 28-25
Louisville had a front-row seat the day Rutgers solidified its belonging on the national scene. In a matchup between two unbeatens, the Scarlet Knights claimed a program-defining win on a last-minute field goal. Rutgers rallied from a 25-7 deficit to defeat the Cardinals. Louisville went on to win the Big East title, but it missed out on an undefeated season. The game could have similar stakes this season. The two Big East contenders meet in the regular season finale.
The Rivals Five: Revenge Rivalry Games
Michigan State at Notre Dame, Sept. 22
Last year: Notre Dame won 40-37
The Spartans collapsed in the fourth quarter against the Fighting Irish last season. A 17-point lead evaporated in less than six minutes when Notre Dame scored 19 unanswered points. The Michigan State meltdown kicked off a 1-8 slide to end the season. The loss and subsequent hard spell are cited as the main reasons John L. Smith's tenure as coach ended. Michigan State has this going for it this year: The Spartans have won five consecutive games in South Bend. Meanwhile, Notre Dame will be coming off back-to-back road games against Penn State and Michigan.
Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 17
Last year: Ohio State won 42-39
The frustration has been building for three years for the Wolverines. Chad Henne likely will leave Michigan as the school's all-time leading passer. Mike Hart could leave as the school's all-time leading rusher. But this duo is 0-3 against Ohio State. For the second consecutive year, Michigan could go into this game with a national championship game berth on the line.
Texas at Texas A&M, Nov. 23
Last year: Texas A&M won 12-7
It was bad enough Texas lost its spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with a loss in the regular season finale. Making it worse was that the loss came to Texas A&M the Longhorns' first loss to the Aggies in six years. Colt McCoy, still stinging from his shoulder injury against Kansas State, was beat up again against A&M. He was carted off with a pinched nerve in his neck after taking a hit from an Aggie defender that drew a chorus of boos from the Austin crowd.
Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 24
Last year: Auburn won 22-15
Alabama and Michigan could argue for who has the most frustration against its rival. This isn't necessarily a revenge game for last year's outcome. Auburn got "one for the thumb" in last year's game, signifying its fifth consecutive win over the Crimson Tide. Alabama fans would love to start a streak of their own. The arrival of Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa may make the Iron Bowl rivalry more intense if that is possible. Alabama fans are expecting the power in the state to shift back to the Crimson Tide, starting in November.
UCLA at USC, Dec. 1
Last year: UCLA won 13-9
The rival Bruins kept the Trojans from competing for the national championship. It's one thing to lose in the middle of the season to Oregon State, an eventual 10-win team. It's another to lose in the finale against a 7-6 UCLA team that had dropped seven games in a row to USC. The Trojans have national championship aspirations again in 2007, but UCLA returns a veteran-laden team that has a victory over its rival under its belt. The series returns this year to the Coliseum, where USC has a 33-game winning streak.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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