When you looked at last week’s schedule of games, there wasn’t much that stood out. In fact, the slate looked pretty boring on paper. There were only two games between ranked teams and one of those games featured the Nos. 24 and 25 teams.
Again, it was not promising.
As we all know by now, appearances can be decieving, as an ordinary slate of games somehow ended up with three of the top four teams in the country losing. Well, this week’s slate is a bit more interesting, and it features games that will have a major impact on the College Football Playoff picture, upsets or no upsets.
There are quite a few key games this weekend that will help decide division titles, and division titles help settle conference titles, and conference champions tend to go to the playoff.
So let’s settle in and go over which games matter the most this weekend.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans — Noon, ESPN: Here’s the thing about Ohio State. I think too many people are putting too much stock in the fact the Buckeyes are currently ranked No. 2. I’ve heard so many opine that by simply winning out, even if they don’t win the Big Ten, being at No. 2 right now means Ohio State is destined for the playoff. I don’t buy that for a second. I’m of the opinion that Ohio State needs to win the Big Ten, and that if it doesn’t, it will need a lot of help elsewhere.
Well, first things first, Ohio State needs to win its remaining games, starting with a Michigan State team that’s down but would absolutely love to spoil the Buckeyes’ season. Let’s not forget last year’s game, in which Michigan State was missing Connor Cook and had to rely on backup quarterbacks. Nobody gave it a shot then, and it ended up winning the game. Nobody’s giving it a shot now. Could we see a repeat performance?
No. 23 Florida Gators at No. 16 LSU Tigers — 1 p.m., SEC Network: Ah yes, the game Tennessee Volunteers and LSU fans told you that Florida was scared to play, because canceling a game that would have involved over 90,000 people descending upon Gainesville, Florida, and sitting in a stadium during a hurricane is a sign of cowardice and nothing more. Well, Florida was so terrified that it not only rescheduled the game, but moved it from Gainesville to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Unfortunately for Florida, maybe it should have actually been scared, because now the Gators are down roughly a million starter, and need to beat the Tigers on the road to win the SEC East. If the Gators lose, they then have to hope the Vols lose to either Missouri Tigers or Vanderbilt Commodores . If Tennessee wins out, it’s your SEC East champ.
No. 22 Washington State Cougars at No. 10 Colorado Buffaloes — 3:30 p.m., Fox: Raise your hand if you thought this game was going to be so important before the season began. Now take that hand you’ve raised and slap yourself across the face with it, liar. Seriously, it’s mid-November, and Washington State and Colorado are squaring off in a conference game as their respective division leaders. There’s actually a chance that these two could meet again in the Pac-12 Championship. As Drake and Future might declare, what a time to be alive. Now, obviously, if there’s a potential of a rematch, that means either team can afford a loss when it comes to winning the Pac-12. The same cannot be said when it comes to a potential playoff berth. To have any shot at reaching the Final Four, both of these teams absolutely must win this game.
No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 14 West Virginia Mountaineers — 8 p.m., ABC: The Big 12 does not have a championship game, but the way the schedule has set up this year, it does seem to have its own mini-playoff here in November. If Oklahoma wants to win the Big 12, it just has to beat West Virginia this week and then beat Oklahoma State Cowboys next week. If West Virginia wants to win the Big 12, it needs to beat Oklahoma this week, and then hope Oklahoma State picks up another loss somewhere. Maybe next week against Oklahoma.
This is also a huge game for West Virginia simply because the committee might finally start showing it some respect if it picks up a win against the Sooners. Speaking of the playoff, this game took on even more significance following Louisville Cardinals ‘s loss on Thursday night. The Cardinals essentially being eliminated from the playoff opens the door a bit for the Big 12 champion to get through easier.
No. 13 Southern California Trojans at UCLA Bruins — 10:30 p.m., ESPN: All right, so maybe this game doesn’t have huge CFP implications, although USC is still alive in the Pac-12 race. That’s all secondary to me, however, because it has nothing to do with why I’m featuring this game in this week’s guide. No, the reason this game is here is simply that it’s one of the most beautiful games in college football. When USC wears its cardinal jerseys, and UCLA wears its blue jerseys, and you put them together on a field in the middle of the Rose Bowl at night … it’s just a glorious vision to behold. The game might be good, too, but even if it isn’t, it’ll still be easy on the eyes.
Best of the rest
Missouri at No. 19 Tennessee — 3:30 p.m., CBS
No. 4 Clemson Tigers at Wake Forest Demon Deacons — 7 p.m., ESPN
Arizona State Sun Devils at No. 6 Washington Huskies — 7:30 p.m., Fox