Rivalry week is here, and there's a lot that can happen in relation to the College Football Playoff. There are big games on the schedule for Thursday, Friday and Saturday to keep you in front of your TV.
Due to the number of high profile games, we will take a look at five that have huge implications on the national landscape. Several of these will set the stage for Championship Saturday next week, as every Power 5 division except the SEC West, SEC East and ACC Atlantic remains up for grabs. And a late nonconference game has the potential to impact two playoff contenders' chances, too.
Here are the six teams that have the most to gain in Week 13:
No. 3 Michigan: at No. 2 Ohio State, 12:00 p.m. (ABC)
This is one of the biggest regular season matchups between any two teams in the decade since these very same teams met ranked No. 1 and No. 2. It's hard to overstate how huge this game is for both teams. Win, and a spot in the playoff is just about locked up, especially for Ohio State. A Michigan win would send the Wolverines to the Big Ten title game, likely against Wisconsin. An Ohio State win would likely send Penn State to the Big Ten title game, as the Nittany Lions hold the tiebreaker over the Buckeyes. Penn State just needs to beat Michigan State on Saturday. Even without a conference championship game berth, a win over Michigan should send the Buckeyes into the playoff.
No. 9 Colorado: vs. No. 22 Utah, 7:30 p.m. (FOX)
Colorado can reach the Pac-12 championship game with a win. But despite its loss last week, Utah is still a very good team and will not be a pushover. The Buffaloes are the only Pac-12 team besides Washington with a chance to make the playoff, but they must win each of their next two games in order to get there. A Colorado loss on Saturday would put USC in the title game against the winner of Washington and Washington State.
No. 15 Florida: at No. 14 Florida State, 8:00 p.m. (ABC)
Florida still technically has an outside shot at the playoff. It would take a lot for that to happen, but a win at rival Florida State is where the journey needs to begin and could potentially get the Gators into the Sugar Bowl if they fall short of the top four. To really make noise in the playoff conversation, though, the Gators must beat Alabama in the SEC title game next week.
Saturday's game will also give us a better idea of how to judge Florida State. Clemson relies heavily on its wins over the Seminoles and Auburn, both of which could lose this weekend to weaken the Tigers' strength of schedule. That could be critical if the committee is weighing Clemson against a potential two-loss Big Ten or Pac-12 champion for the final spot in the playoff.
No. 5 Washington: at No. 23 Washington State, 3:30 p.m., Friday (FOX)
It all comes down to an in-state battle for the Pac-12 North title. Washington is still in prime position for a playoff spot and can move into the top four in place of the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game. The Huskies need to take care of business first, however, and it won't be an easy task. A win would set up a showdown with Colorado or USC in the conference championship.
No. 1 Alabama: vs. No. 13 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Alabama just needs one win in its final two games to lock up a playoff spot, but the Crimson Tide would prefer that win to come this weekend against rival Auburn. The reason Nick Saban's squad only needs to win once is simple: It would take two losses to put the Tide behind the likes of Washington and Clemson. If all three teams have one loss, Alabama still would get the nod.
This game is also an opportunity for Auburn to make its case for a New Year's Six bowl, as it would likely take a victory over Alabama to get the SEC's Sugar Bowl berth.
One other game that doesn't have playoff implications but does matter in regards to those New Year's Six bowls is when 9–2 Toledo travels to No. 21 Western Michigan on Friday. The winner will advance to the MAC championship game. More importantly, should Western Michigan win the next two games and Wyoming not slip up against New Mexico (thereby keeping No. 19 Boise State from winning the Mountain West), the Broncos will likely lock up a trip to the Cotton Bowl.