We have made it to the end! The last few weeks of the college football season. As per usual, the last week (American Thanksgiving week) and the third last week will be great weeks of college football. The second-to-last week is always a shitshow with some terrible matchups which drive many college football fans (myself included) completely insane (yeah thanks SEC). Alright enough jibber-jabber let’s get to the games.
Baylor at Oklahoma – This is either going to be a candidate for most hyped game of the season or it will be a flop because Baylor has been such a disaster. Honestly, either way it will get its fair share of hype. This could be the win that propels the Sooners to the Big XII title and possibly another shot at the national title. And good timing since next year they will actually have a Big XII Championship Game of some sort (and it will probably be sponsored by either Dr Pepper or Golden Corral). (3:30, specialty pack)
Michigan at Iowa – I do sincerely believe Wisconsin is the favourite in the Big Ten West but not by much. Iowa is still a good team and this will be one of their tests. Same goes for Michigan. I still can’t think of them as the best team in the Big Ten East but they are getting awfully close. A couple of plays go their way this season and we could see Jim Harbaugh going all Jim Harbaugh in the Big Ten Championship. (8:00, ABC)
Stanford at Oregon – This may not be shaping up as the Pac-12 North championship game but more like an elimination game of sorts. With Washington looking like a front-runner, the loser here probably has no hope of making it to the Pac-12 Championship. (7:30, FOX)
Mississippi State at Alabama – A couple years ago this had a lot of hype. MSU was #1 and Bama had already lost but was still considered a possibility to get into the first ever College Football Playoff. We all know what happened that day. Since then the Bulldogs have been pretty good but not great and the Tide has been pants-shittingly terrifying to play against for opposing teams. If, for some reason, the Bulldogs are either undefeated or a one-loss team at this point, this could rocket up to the top of the rankings (which would make CBS very happy). (3:30, CBS)
LSU at Arkansas – I remember when this used to be an American Thanksgiving Friday game. I wonder why it was changed. Anyway…both teams will have to play out of their minds coming into this game for this to be a huge game. Then again, you never know if this could be a game that gives one of these teams a reasonable shot at a New Year’s Six bowl game. (7:15, TSN1/TSN4)
Pittsburgh at Clemson – With James Conner back, Pitt looks like a much better team no matter what else happens with the program. This is one of those landmine games that the Tigers have to get through to keep their dreams alive of repeating last season’s performance (well, at least the performance through the regular season, ACC Championship, and CFP semi-final). (Noon, TSN2)
Honourable mention: Ole Miss at Texas A&M (Noon, TSN1), North Carolina at Duke (Thursday, 7:30, specialty pack), Texas Tech at Oklahoma State (3:30, TSN1), USC at Washington (10:00, FOX Sports One), Northern Illinois vs. Toledo (in Chicago) (Wednesday, 8:00, specialty pack)
Ohio State at Michigan State – Funny how the worst week of the college football season has one of the best games of the season. For the past few years, this has been the most important game of the Big Ten regular season and I see that continuing this season. The game is in East Lansing which means absolutely nothing if the last two years has told us anything. This truly could be a CFP elimination game. (3:30, ABC/TSN4)
Oklahoma State at TCU – The contenders to the throne meet in yet another “important” Big XII game. Hey, at least they aren’t all backloaded like they were in ridiculous fashion last season. Same story as always: loser is pretty much done in the Big XII unless chaos happens which would mean no Big XII team would then make the College Football Playoff. Ya dig? (3:30, specialty pack)
Oregon at Utah – Not saying this isn’t a great game but we have kind of fallen off a cliff now. Only week 2 rivals the craptastic week this is. The only hope here is that one of (or both of) these teams are in the top 20 and have a legitimate shot at the Pac-12 North or South, the New Year’s Six, or even the CFP. Otherwise, it will be a good game but not that important in the grand scheme of things. (3:30, FOX)
Louisville at Houston – Ah we see our friends from Houston again. The chic pick to grab the Group of Five spot at the least (again). The team who should be picked up by the Big XII. This is their other huge non-conference tilt. Not exactly Oklahoma here but if the Cougs are undefeated coming into this one, this becomes MASSIVE especially with less competition from other games in terms of hype. Louisville will be a tough out though as they consistently are an upper echelon ACC team (I know the Big XII is kicking themselves for not taking them a few years back). (Thursday, 7:30, TSN2)
Stanford at California – The Big Game! It’s amazing how with Jared Goff (The Goff!) leaving for the NFL, the Golden Bears have been reduced to also-rans in their predictions. He was a special talent for sure but I think some should give Sonny Dykes some credit for what he has done at Berkeley. Also, this could be an upset if the Cardinal doesn’t watch it. (7:30, FOX)
Oklahoma at West Virginia – If the Mountaineers don’t play up to par this season, this could be the death march game for Dana Holgorsen. I’m sure he will just take it out on his QB and then leave the field with dignity…and some Red Bulls and vodka. (Noon, FOX Sports One…ugh).
Honourable mention: USC at UCLA (8:00, ABC/TSN3), Arkansas at Mississippi State (3:30, CBS), Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (3:30, NBC), Indiana at Michigan (Noon, ABC/TSN4), Kansas State at Baylor (Noon, FSN….ah, foiled again!)
Michigan at Ohio State – It has been a looooooooooooong time since The Game has meant as much as it might mean this season. Michigan, if they continue their trend under Jimmy Football, could be a serious contender for the New Year’s Six and an outside contender for the CFP. Even last season we all had this inkling that the Wolverines couldn’t hang with tOSU (and we were right). I think college football needs this game to be close after last season’s lunchbox letdown of a Week 13. (Noon, ABC/TSN4)
Florida at Florida State – Jim Bob McElwain has the Gators back…or so it seems. I still believe there is a quarterback issue in Gainesville. If that is resolved then the Gators could be a tough team to beat throughout 2016. Florida State is Florida State. Jimbo will have his team rolling as per usual. But he will not have as easy a time this season as he did last season when UF looked like a joke in this game. (3:30, ABC)
Notre Dame at USC – Last year, the Irish ended their regular season at The Farm against Stanford and their CFP hopes were crushed by a game-winning field goal as time ran out. This season, they may have the same possibility. They could very well be 11-0 or 10-1 coming into this game against the Trojans who almost certainly will not be 11-0 or 10-1. So for once, USC might have a chance to play spoiler. At least it will be an ND-USC game worth watching (as it has been a few years since that has been the case). (8:00, ABC/TSN1)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss – For once, the Egg Bowl seems like a bigger game than the Iron Bowl. I won’t hold my breath though as we have been through this story before. CBS also will not make that mistake again which led to a ratings bonanza for ESPN two seasons ago. Both teams should be bowling so this may very well be for a spot in the New Year’s Six. (7:30, TSN3)
Auburn at Alabama – Unless the Gus Bus rolls through most of their schedule, this may not have a whole lot of hype other than what seed will the Tide get in the College Football Playoff. Let’s not write off the Tigers just yet but I can’t envision any possibility of Bama being anything other than a double-digit favourite in this one. (3:30, CBS)
Houston at Memphis – With all the high-profile games during this week (and I count 15 good to great games in the week), it’s amazing that this game gets on the list. Memphis is such a huge reclamation project but it will be interesting to see if that was mostly Justin Fuente and Paxton Lynch or if the program truly is on the rise. This could also be the final hurdle for Houston to finish a 12-0 season and if they are undefeated and win the AAC Championship, they are probably going to be a #3 or #4 seed in the CFP. (7:15, TSN5)
Honourable mention: Michigan State at Penn State (3:30, TSN5), Baylor at Texas Tech (Friday, 6:00, TSN1/TSN3/TSN5), LSU at Texas A&M (Thursday, 7:30, ESPN5), Nebraska at Iowa (Friday, 3:30, ABC), Washington at Washington State (Friday, 3:30, FOX)
Conference Championship Week. Let’s be frank (or Joe), this is the biggest week of the season and with the way the CFP and NY6 is structured it means 90% of the bowl bids will be doled out no earlier than the Friday night (or the start of the MAC Championship). But there are other those few conferences that don’t have conference championships that will have big games. OK there’s two: the Sun Belt, which, for some reason, does not have any of the conference favourites playing each other that week (I don’t get it either) and the Big XII which will have a conference championship starting next year no matter how many teams they have.
Of the Big XII games that week, there’s the obvious big one (Bedlam) and a couple of potentially good ones other than that. Bedlam (or Oklahoma State at Oklahoma for those who don’t know about this rivalry game) is the obvious choice for most important non-conference championship game of the week, especially if one of these teams is, at worst, a one-loss squad. The other two games that could sneak into the limelight (what’s left of it) are Baylor traveling to Morgantown to face West Virginia and Kansas State meeting TCU in Fort Worth. Again, this all comes down to ranking at this point. The team with the highest ranking probably gets the plum spot on the schedule, which at this point would be either the Noon spot on FOX Sports One or the 4:30 timeslot on FOX.
Army and Navy play a week later. I didn’t realize how recently they moved Army-Navy to their own week (2009 was the first year they did this). I had always thought there were maybe one or two other games alongside this one at most. My how the times have changed.
Alright that’s it that’s all. Next up is network-specific posts on what I believe each network will show this season. I really have to do that study I said I would do (study sounds so much more professional than thing or timewaster) on how close I am to the actual choices that each network picks. I know I would be close to brutal with my ABC picks but I wouldn’t be surprised if my CBS picks were fairly close. Put that in the to-do pile. And then it’s conference prediction time where I basically do what all the other actual experts do and guess what will happen and pray to some sort of higher power that I am close to correct and don’t look like a fool. Basically if you are not Phil Steele then there’s a good chance that may happen.