College football heads into a riveting weekend with so much on the line for several teams and with the playoff qualifiers pending on the outcome of several games.
Auburn-Georgia, Oklahoma-TCU, Clemson-Miami and Ohio State-Wisconsin all have playoff implications on the line and will be determined by which team is victorious. There are also some other stellar matchups with the Memphis-Central Florida victor most likely headed to a New Year's Six Bowl. Playoff implications are enormous with the Alabama-Ohio State discussion at full throttle. If Ohio State defeats Wisconsin, will they overtake the Tide. That is a major debate for the committee. Alabama has a more impressive resume and a more impressive team, so I would take the Tide if it came down to those 2. Ohio State has lost 2 games to Michigan State and most noticeably to Iowa on the road, losing 55-24, in November no less. So that's highly relevant in the debate between those 2 teams. But it could end up that Clemson, Auburn, OU and Wisconsin are victorious and that would make the committee's decision an easy one. But if there is some chaos, this could get very interesting. Georgia can knock off the Tigers, Oklahoma can lose to TCU, and the Wisconsin-Ohio State game is a toss up. Wisconsin is better than some think.
Here's a look at this colossal weekend of college football with the entertainment value off the charts.
Last week: 17-7
Overall: 202-76, 73%
***All times CT, all games Saturday unless otherwise noted
No.2 Auburn (10-2) vs. No. 6 Georgia (11-1)
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA., 71,000
Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Allie LaForce
Auburn by 2
The Tigers have been more than impressive in the last month defeating two No.1 teams, Georgia and Alabama, handily. Now it's a rematch with the Dawgs in the title game with playoff hopes for both teams on the line. The key question for everyone in Orange and Blue is will Kerryon Johnson play. I don't think there is any doubt Kerryon will be playing. And I see the junior from Madison, AL playing well. I like the Tigers' momentum. While I see this as a much closer game than the first one on the Plains, I still like the Auburn Tigers to advance to the playoff and capture its second SEC championship under Gus Malzahn. Should be a riveting game, but I like Jarrett Stidham, Ryan Davis, Kerryon and the offense to just get over the hump over Chubb, Michel and the potent Georgia offense. Auburn advances to the playoff with a massive victory in Atlanta.
Auburn 34, Georgia 31
No.12 Stanford (9-3) vs. No. 10 USC (10-2)
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA., 68,500
Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
SC by 3 1/2
Stanford won impressively over Notre Dame last week at home, 38-20. USC lost in a landslide at Notre Dame in October. USC is a lot healthier now, but I'm going with the hot team. The great Bryce Love and now stellar quarterback K. J. Costello get the job done for the Cardinal.
Stanford 35, USC 31
Big 12 Championship
No. 11 TCU (10-2) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX., 100,000
Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman, Petros Papadakis, Mike Pereira
OU by 7
Baker Mayfield, despite being a head case, has put up some serious numbers this season, throwing for 4,097 yards, completing 247-of-346 passes, 71%, for 37 TDs against only 5 interceptions. He's superb. There is talk that TCU could upset Oklahoma. I'm not buying it. OU secures their spot in the playoff with a statement victory over the Horned Frogs.
Oklahoma 42, TCU 34
BIG 10 Championship
No.8 Ohio State (10-2) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indy, 70,000
Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
The Ohio State by 6
I'm impressed by the Buckeyes victory over Michigan in the Big House last Saturday, 31-20. Losing starter J.T. Barrett in the game could have been devastating, but backup Dwayne Haskins came in and was superb in relief. Barrett is healthy and starting against Wisconsin. I've watched 3 Wisconsin games and they're impressive, though their competition has not been elite. I like the Buckeyes to be victorious, but it'll be a challenge from the Badgers and the Buckeyes will get over the top barely and set up a very interesting debate for the committee late into Saturday Night and early Sunday morning.
Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 31
No.1 Clemson (11-1) vs. No.7 Miami (10-1, cancelled a game due to Hurricane Irma)
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC, 75,412
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor, Tom Rinaldi
Clemson by 9 1/2
I like the Clemson Tigers to take care of business in Charlotte and head into the playoff as the No.1 seed.
Clemson 45, Miami 17
American Conference Champiohship
No.20 Memphis (10-1) vs. No. 14 Central Florida (11-0, their first game was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma)
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, Florida, 45,301
Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
UCF by 7
These are 2 extremely exiting offenses. There's a very good chance that UCF coach Scott Frost will be named the Nebraska coach next week. But his team gets over the hump in a classic offensive shootout. Mike Norvell, the Memphis coach, is a candidate for some other openings as well, including Arkansas.
UCF, 49, Memphis 45
Mountain West Championship
No.25 Fresno State (9-3) vs. Boise State (9-3)
Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho, 36,387
Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath
Fresno State was impressive in defeating Boise State at home last week. I like them to win it on the road on the blue turf as a 9 point underdog.
Fresno State 42, Boise State 38
Conference USA Championship
Florida Atlantic (9-3) vs. North Texas (9-3)
FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL, 30,000
Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Kris Budden
Kiff gets'er done and leads his team to a very nice bowl game.
Florida Atlantic 52, North Texas 34
Akron (7-5) vs. Toledo (10-2)
Ford Field, Detroit, 65,000
Like the Rockets to take care of business in the Motor City and move on to an excellent bowl game.
Toledo 48, Akron 24
Troy (9-2) vs. Arkansas State (7-3)
Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, Ark., 30,964
Like the Trojans to cap off a stellar regular season by defeating the 1 point favorite on the road and setting up coach Neal Brown and his Trojans team for an excellent bowl game.
Troy 34, Arkansas State 30