Hard to believe we are already at the final full week of the college football regular season, and just about everything remains up for grabs. Clemson should remain No. 1 in the new College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night, and the Tigers shouldn't have too much trouble winning at terrible South Carolina -- which somehow lost to The Citadel in Week 12 -- on Saturday. The Tigers might have their hands full the following week, however, against red-hot North Carolina in the ACC title game.
Alabama should stick at No. 2 following a predictable 56-6 win over Charleston Southern on Saturday. The Tide are nearly two-touchdown favorites this week in the Iron Bowl at Auburn. An Alabama win puts it in the SEC title game against Florida. A Tide loss (don't see that happening) and Ole Miss win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl sends the Rebels to Atlanta. If Alabama did somehow lose, I don't think we will see an SEC team in the playoff.
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The Nos. 3-4 teams in the playoff rankings? That's where things get interesting.
Iowa has won the Big Ten West Division and awaits its foe in the conference title game. It will be Michigan State if the Spartans don't suffer a huge letdown off their shocking win at former CFP No. 3 Ohio State and they take care of business against visiting Penn State on Saturday. Will Sparty have starting quarterback Connor Cook? He missed the OSU game -- making that Buckeyes upset even more unlikely -- with a shoulder injury, and it's not clear yet if he can go this week. Being as it's the senior's final home game, I'd be shocked if he doesn't play. If Sparty loses to the Nittany Lions, the winner of Ohio State at Michigan would face Iowa. MSU might now jump into the Top 4 of the rankings as well.
Notre Dame was the No. 4 team in the rankings but might fall out after an ugly win over Boston College at Fenway Park. Oklahoma might move into the Top 4 after beating TCU on Saturday and with No. 6 Oklahoma State's loss to Baylor. The Big 12 champion will be decided this weekend.
No Pac-12 team is going to the playoff. All that's left to be decided there is the South Division winner to face Stanford. The victor of this Saturday's USC-UCLA game will take on the Cardinal. The Bruins have won three straight in the series.
Here are a few Week 13 opening lines that caught my eye. Rankings from AP poll.
No. 8 Ohio State at No. 12 Michigan (-2): The Buckeyes' shot of repeating as national champions is obviously on life support now. They dropped from No. 2 in the AP poll to No. 8, and that's about where they should be in the new CFB rankings. OSU has to beat Michigan, have Michigan State lose and have Iowa win at Nebraska for any playoff hopes. Having the Hawkeyes unbeaten in the Big Ten title game would be a big boost to the playoff hopes of Michigan State or Ohio State as I'm assuming the East winner does beat Iowa in Indianapolis. If Michigan beats OSU and Sparty loses to Penn State, then UM wins the East. This is the first meeting between Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. That rivalry should be quite fun over the next decade or however long. Meyer hasn't disciplined star running back Ezekiel Elliott even though Elliott publicly ripped the play-calling from that MSU loss. Frankly, he was right. Elliott had just 12 carries -- expect double that amount at least against the Wolverines. The pick: Ohio State.
No. 4 Notre Dame at No. 13 Stanford (-3.5): Bit surprised at this line. The Irish were clearly caught looking ahead to this one as they escaped Boston College 19-16. Notre Dame turned it over five times, three times inside the BC 5-yard line. That win might have been costly, however, as top running back C.J. Prosise left in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He's doubtful for the Cardinal. Prosise has rushed 156 times for 1,032 yards and 11 scores. Out for Notre Dame is cornerback KeiVarae Russell as he has a right tibia fracture. Russell has started all 11 games this season and is second on the Irish in tackles with 60, including 3.5 for loss. He has two interceptions and two forced fumbles as well. Maybe this line makes sense after all. The pick: Stanford.
No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 9 Oklahoma State (+4): It's one of the biggest Bedlam games ever -- ESPN College GameDay will be there. It would have been even bigger had the Cowboys not lost to Baylor in Week 12. Oklahoma is your Big 12 champion with a win here. But it's not clear if starting quarterback and Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield can play. He was injured during Saturday's 30-29 win over TCU on a helmet-to-helmet hit from linebacker Ty Summers, who was ejected for targeting. Mayfield played the rest of the first half, but former starter Trevor Knight played in the second half. He completed just 5-for-16 for 76 yards with one interception. Mayfield has passed concussion tests and is likely to play. OU running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon also were hurt in the win over the Horned Frogs. Both did return from the injuries and both should also play. Oklahoma State clinches the Big 12 with a win against Oklahoma and Baylor losing one of its last two games (at TCU, against Texas). If the Pokes win this game, the Big 12 will be sitting out the playoff again. The pick: Oklahoma as long as Mayfield is in there.
No. 16 Navy at No. 21 Houston (+1): This game is on Friday, and the winner clinches the American Athletic Conference West Division and probably faces Temple in the conference title game. The Owls clinch the East with a win over UConn, which should happen, or a South Florida loss at Central Florida, which isn't likely. Then the AAC Championship Game winner probably gets the automatic Group of Five New Year's Six bowl bid. That is unless Navy wins that game and somehow loses to Army after. This should be a great matchup because Navy ranks No. 1 in the AAC in nearly every defensive category and Houston is one of the top offensive teams in the nation. Will the Cougars have star quarterback Greg Ward Jr.? He didn't start Saturday's upset loss to UConn but came in late when backup Kyle Postma injured his knee. I think the Cougars are favored by kickoff if Ward plays. Coach Tom Herman said whoever is healthiest by Thanksgiving Day will likely start. The pick: Houston if Ward goes.
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