As you nurse your turkey hangover on Friday and Saturday, feel free to sit back, relax, and enjoy the final and most important weekend of the college football regular season. As far as the College Football Playoff is concerned, these are the games that matter most.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Wolverines
The top-ranked Buckeyes have cruised to this point in the season, but their toughest games are all coming at the end of the season. Ohio State survived a mini scare last week against Penn State, and now it has to hit the road for another rivalry game. The good news for the Buckeyes is they’ll play in next week’s Big Ten Championship Game whether they win or lose this game, and winning the conference should get them to the CFP. But taking a loss would surely complicate matters.
Alabama Crimson Tide at Auburn Tigers
There’s no margin for error for the Crimson Tide at this point in the season. If Alabama loses in the Iron Bowl, there’s no way they get to the top four. Even with a win, there are no guarantees. As hard as it is to believe, Alabama doesn’t have a win this season against a team that’s currently ranked.
The Tide could end up being 11-1 and still not getting to the CFP, especially since they know for certain that they won’t be playing in next week’s SEC Championship Game. A lopsided win over a quality Auburn team on the road would give Alabama’s playoff hopes a huge lift.
With Tua Tagovailoa out for the season, the Tide must prove that they’re just as good without him, so they need to win and win convincingly to force the committee to put them in the playoff.
Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Don’t sleep on Minnesota just yet. The Golden Gophers weren’t on anybody’s radar at the start of the season, but they still have a chance to reach the CFP. Ranked No. 8, Minnesota has a chance to beat Wisconsin this week and beat Ohio State next week.
The Gophers will surely be underdogs in both games, but wins in both could be enough to push them into the top four. Of course, they have to take things one game at a time.
However, if Minnesota beats Wisconsin, next week’s title game with Ohio State could essentially be a play-in for the CFP.
Texas A&M Aggies at LSU Tigers
The Tigers are so close to being in, but a slip-up against Texas A&M could cost them. If LSU is 12-0 but loses to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, they’ll likely retain a spot in the top four. However, things won’t be that simple with a loss to the Aggies on Saturday.
Texas A&M is battle-tested and capable of giving LSU some problems. If the Tigers lose, then the SEC title game becomes a must-win for them.
Colorado Buffaloes at Utah Utes
Don’t forget about Utah as a potential playoff team. The Utes still need to beat Colorado to lock up their spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, if Utah wins this week and knocks off Oregon next week, they’ll have a conference title and a compelling argument for a top-four spot.
It wouldn’t hurt for Alabama to lose, but it’s hard to say the Utes aren’t deserving if they end up 12-1 and champions of the Pac-12. If you haven’t seen Utah play this year, now is the time, because it’s for real.