With the final week of the regular season upon us, it should come as no surprise there’s a ton on the line. From spots in conference title games to College Football Playoff positioning, this weekend’s slate will define the postseason.
This weekend’s top matchups include No. 2 Ohio State at No. 5 Michigan (12 p.m. on FOX), No. 3 Alabama at Auburn (3:30 p.m. on CBS), Oregon State at No. 11 Oregon (3:30 p.m. on ESPN), No. 14 Wisconsin at Minnesota (4 p.m. on FOX) and No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 7 Oklahoma State (7:30 p.m. on ABC).
The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Buckeyes and Wolverines, as the winner will head to Indianapolis as the winner of the Big Ten East Division and control their own playoff destiny. The loser, meanwhile, will likely have to settle for a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is considered by many to be the favorite for the Heisman Trophy, will face his stiffest test of the season in Michigan defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, who have combined for 77 tackles, 19 sacks, seven forced fumbles, six pass break ups and 1.5 tackles for loss this season.
The game between the Crimson Tide and Tigers, meanwhile, has lost some of its luster with the former already locking themselves into the SEC Championship Game and the latter losing their last three games.
However, Auburn has won two in a row in the series at home and three of the last four meetings on the Plains, including a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown on the game’s final play in 2013 and a pair of pick-sixes in an upset in 2019. Do the Tigers have any more magic?
The Ducks saw their College Football Playoff hopes go up in flames with a blowout loss at Utah last Saturday and now must beat the rival Beavers in order to make it back to the Pac-12 Championship Game for the third year in a row.
Oregon State still has a slim chance of making it to Las Vegas, needing a win and a Washington loss against Washington State to represent the Pac-12 North. Quarterback Chance Nolan, who scored the game-winner in last year’s meeting, has a chance to add to his legacy in this rivalry.
The Badgers have won 16 of their last 17 games against the Golden Gophers, so the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe isn’t typically must-see television. This year’s matchup will decide the Big Ten West Division, though.
If Wisconsin wins, they’ll take on either Ohio State or Michigan in Indianapolis. If Minnesota wins, they’ll need some help from Nebraska against Iowa and Purdue against Indiana to force a four-way tie and send the Gophers to Lucas Oil Stadium instead.
Lastly, the Cowboys have already clinched a spot in the Big XII Championship Game but will determine their opponent by the result of Saturday’s game against the Sooners. Win and they’ll take on Baylor, provided the Bears beat Texas Tech. Lose and they’ll play Oklahoma again.
Oklahoma State could also find itself in the race for the final spot in the College Football Playoff if it wins out. The Cowboys have lost six straight to the Sooners, though, so that’s no easy task.
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