7 Baylor (9-1) at 19 TCU (9-2) – Friday, 6:30, ESPN
Despite all the injuries, TCU put up quite the fight at Oklahoma last week. Baylor is down to its third-strong quarterback now, so they’re no stranger to the injury list either. Trevone Boykin is expected to return for TCU, so this should be a classic Big 12 shootout.
It’s hard to pick against Baylor after how good they looked at OSU last week. The Bears will be playing with a sense of urgency as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Prediction: 41-34 Baylor
8 Ohio State (10-1) at 10 Michigan (9-2) – Saturday, 11am, ABC
“The Game” is back! Leave it to Jim Harbaugh and his khakis to make this rivalry marquee again. Ohio State, like Michigan earlier in the year, just lost to Michigan State on the last play of the game, last week. I’m curious to see how the Buckeyes respond after their first loss.
Khakis will have something up his sleeve, but I like the Buckeyes to rebound and win this one on the road.
Prediction: 27-24 Ohio State
13 Florida State (9-2) at 12 Florida (10-1) – Saturday, 6:30, ESPN
Florida squeaked by Florida Atlantic in overtime last week. Were they looking ahead to this game, or are they just not as good as their record indicates? We’ll find out on Saturday when the Seminoles visit the Swamp.
Florida State (-2.5) is favored on the road here, which surprised me at first glance even after how shaky Florida has looked. I actually like the Gators in a low-scoring, run-heavy game here.
Prediction: 19-17 Florida
6 Notre Dame (10-1) at 9 Stanford (9-2) – Saturday, 6:30, FOX
How Notre Dame can win and fall two spots in the Playoff Poll is beyond me. Now I don’t think the Irish should’ve been No. 4 in the first place, and granted, they did look sloppy against Boston College, but dropping two spots after beating a Power 5 team? That doesn’t seem right. Stanford can make the playoff committee look smart (and avoid many Notre Dame vs. other 1-loss team debates).
Although Notre Dame has answered the bell pretty much every time I’ve doubted them this year, I still like Stanford at home here. Expect a big game from Kevin Hogan on senior night.
Prediction: 31-28 Stanford
3 Oklahoma (10-1) at 11 Oklahoma State (10-1) – Saturday, 7:00, ABC
Can the Big 12 stay out of its own way for a change? The committee seems to like Oklahoma (despite their horrible loss to Texas), so if the Sooners win here, you’d have to think they’re in. But this is Bedlam, and the fighting Mike Gundy’s aren’t going to roll over for OU.
My gut feeling is that OU wins here, but I’m rooting for chaos.
(Wishful) Prediction: 38-37 Oklahoma State
I’ll give more thoughts on the playoff next week, but can you imagine the debates if/when a lot of these teams finish with one loss? Notre Dame, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State, Baylor, Michigan State, Ohio State and so on. It’s going to be wild!
4 Iowa (11-0) at Nebraska (5-6) – Friday, 2:30, ABC
Rooting for the utmost chaos for the playoff, I want Iowa to win out. However, this is a major trap game. A) The Hawkeyes could be looking ahead to the conference championship next week. And B) Nebraska is fighting for bowl eligibility on senior day, and has proven they can pull an upset on a big stage (see Michigan State).
14 North Carolina (10-1) at NC State (7-4) – Saturday, 2:30, ESPN2
I had UNC on here last week and Virginia Tech nearly delivered. Nothing against the Tar Heels; I think they’re the best team nobody ever talks about (and I’ll probably have them on the other side of an upset alert next week vs. Clemson).
#16 Northwestern (9-2) vs. Illinois (5-6) – Saturday, 2:30, ESPNU
Another good team that no one talks about, Northwestern still has a shot at playing in a New Year’s six bowl. This will be a tough one though. It’s a neutral site game (Soldier Field in Chicago) and Illinois will be fighting for bowl eligibility.
Honorable mentions that probably won’t happen, but are worth noting because rivalry games can be whacky:
Oregon State (2-9) at #17 Oregon (8-3) – Friday, 3:00, Fox Sports 1
#1 Clemson (11-0) at South Carolina (3-8) – Saturday, 11am, ESPN
#2 Alabama (10-1) at Auburn (6-5) – Saturday, 2:30, CBS
Other Game To Watch
Navy at Houston – The winner could be looking at a New Year’s 6 bowl game. How about a Houston-Ohio State bowl game?
Penn State at Michigan State – Sparty advances to the B1G title game with a win and is on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff.
UCLA-USC – This game is awesome just because they both wear their home colors. Clay Helton lost some momentum in his hopes to become the Trojans next coach, a win here and he and the Trojans win the Pac -12 South.
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