So, Whats Really At Stake This Weekend In College Football?

We’re at that point in the college football season where, barring some real craziness, we pretty much know who the playoff contenders are.  There’s about seven or eight teams who have a chance at getting in.  We’re basically looking at…

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan
  4. Clemson
  5. Washington
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Penn State
  8. Oklahoma

Oklahoma is a conditional.  There’s a really good chance the Big 12 gets screwed out of a playoff spot again, due to them lacking a championship game (Which is coming back next year!).  However, its probably more about the fact that the Big Ten is ridiculously good right now, with four teams in the top seven.  It probably also has to do with the fact that Oklahoma really isn’t that good!  They had a cake-walk schedule, and their only good wins are against a West Virginia team that gave up and a barely-ranked TCU team that isn’t even in the top 25 anymore.

Above Oklahoma, its a mess.  Anything goes, and anyone could lose too, throwing a wrench in everything.

Those seven teams, as of right now, are the contenders.  But these next two weeks could provide some upsets, and re-shape the whole picture.

Lets preview this weekend’s games…

No.5 Washington vs. No.23 Washington State

The winner of this game wins the Pac-12 North.  For a team like Washington, who has their eyes set on the Playoff, getting to and winning the conference championship is necessary for a playoff berth.

The rise of Washington State this year has been very fun, but I think this is where the ride comes to a halt.  Washington has too powerful of an offense.  I expect them to attack the Cougars’ secondary by throwing it deep down field.  Washington State gives up a ton of passing yards compared to the Huskies.  I think Jake Browning has a huge game and leads the Huskies into the Pac-12 Championship.

But what if he doesn’t?

If Washington loses this game, I think we’re looking at the Pac-12 missing the Playoff.  USC or Colorado will win the South, and probably win the conference is the Cougars pull an upset.  But those two teams don’t have nearly the talent of others ahead of them.  Pit USC or Colorado against anyone ranked seven or higher and it won’t turn out well.  The only reason a USC or Colorado ends up conference champions is if Washington loses.  Those are low odds, my friends.

The only way the Cougars win today is if they get into a shootout and have the ball last.  However, Washington is just the better team.  It makes sense for them to win this game.

Prediction: Washington-42 Washington State-32

No.3 Michigan vs. No.2 Ohio State

Oooooh baby…

This is the game of the year, and no one can deny that.  The stakes are too massive, the rivalry is too great.  Its a perfect conundrum.

The only issue with this game is the uncertainty that comes along with it.  If Michigan wins, they outright win the Big Ten East, and go to the championship game.  If Ohio State wins, though, the road is more complicated.  Due to Penn State’s upset over Ohio State, the Buckeyes have to win this game and hope Michigan State beats Penn State.  “Yikes!” on those odds.

However, I really believe that if Ohio State misses the Big Ten championship game, they can still get into the playoff.  Its gonna be really hard for the committee, who had the Buckeyes in the playoff for most of the year, to leave them out at the end of the year.  Its not like the poor play of Ohio State cost them a shot at the championship.  Its simply that Penn State just had the better parameters.

Winning this game makes getting in much easier.

I’m starting to come around on Michigan.  I’ve been on the “overrated” train all year with them.  I still believe that, but yes, I do understand that they are really freaking good.  I think they’re gonna be able to stop Ohio State’s rushing attack, but containing J.T. Barrett is another issue.  The guy’s been on fire lately, and I think he can expose this Michigan secondary.

On top of all of this, its not clear whether Wilton Speight, who’s been hurt lately, is gonna start.  We saw what happened againist Indiana last week. The Wolverines started slow due to John O’Korn starting.  That can’t happen against the Buckeyes.  They’re gonna get blown out early if O’Korn can’t get anything going offensively.  Speight not starting tomorrow would be a worse case scenario for the Wolverines.

No matter what I see Ohio State winning.  Barrett is gonna torch the secondary, while Michigan struggles on offense (with or without Speight) against the Buckeyes defense.  I don’t see the Spartans beating Penn State, so the Buckeyes are gonna have to hope the committee believes in them as much as I do to make the Playoff.

Prediction: Ohio State-35  Michigan-24

No.22 Utah vs. No.9 Colorado

Colorado is another one of those teams I just haven’t been able to come around on yet.  I think the weak Pac-12 has helped them out this year, and the worst-to-first thing scares me a bit.  Thats why I have them on upset alert against Utah.

Utah is frisky.  They lose bad games but can play close, like they did with Washington.  They’re benefitted of an easy schedule, but have a dynamic offense featuring the Williams’.  I love that duo.  Colorado’s run defense is good, but isn’t quite up to what Utah’s is.  Thats the difference in this game.  The Utes can do whatever they want running the ball, and thats something I think can exploit Colorado.

I believe the Utes defense can keep it together.  In their losses, no one has scored over 31 points on them.  Thats good news.  They don’t get blown out, and keeping it close is going to be key if they want to pull this off.

A loss by Colorado would give USC the Southern crown.  That doesn’t exactly feel right either, but it doesn’t matter: I think neither Colorado or USC has a chance against Washington when the time comes.

This game is gonna be close and come down to the wire.  I think Joe Williams breaks a big run late to seal it for Utah, and they pull off a huge upset of Colorado.

Prediction: Utah-29 Colorado-24

Auburn-Alabama and Florida-Florida State will not be previewed due to a lack of stakes.