10 Most Important Remaining Games In College Football Playoff Race
What are the biggest battles left in the College Football Playoff race?
10 Most Important Games Left In College Football Playoff Race
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After the big upsets and all the craziness after this wild weekend, what’s left? What remaining games before the conference championships will decide the four teams in the College Football Playoff chase? Assuming Oklahoma won’t have a problem against Kansas, Ohio State will get by Illinois, and Georgia will bounce back with a win over Kentucky, here are the ten to watch for.
10. South Florida at UCF, Nov. 24
UCF still has a dangerous date with Temple coming up this week, and USF has to go through the motions against Tulsa, but the winner of this game is almost certainly going to the New Year’s Six game from the Group of Five conferences – unless Memphis rises up and rocks in the American Athletic Championship.
No, UCF won’t end up in the playoff, but if it destroys the Bulls and then rips up Memphis, at the very least nationally there will be some who’d like to see one of the only unbeatens left get a shot.
9. Virginia at Miami, Nov. 18
Just be really, reallllly careful here, Miami. Coming off the breakthrough performance against Notre Dame, there’s no time to come out flat.
Virginia is playing with house money with bowl eligibility already secured, and now it can turn it loose. Relatively okay when it comes to turnover margin, and with a team able to control the clock for long stretches, the pressure is all on the Hurricane side of the field.
8. Miami at Pitt, Nov. 24
If the Panthers beat Virginia Tech, they’ll be playing for their bowl lives. If they don’t, then this will be their bowl game – look out.
Pittsburgh in late November? What happens if the team that’s been out of Florida once – the road game at North Carolina – since September has to play in cold weather? A loss wouldn’t be a killer for the Canes if they get to the ACC Championship 10-1, but it would mean the ACC wouldn’t get two teams in the CFP.
7. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 25
Any and all possible scenarios of Ohio State getting into the College Football Playoff as a two-loss Big Ten champion ride on this. Assuming the Buckeyes beat Illinois without breathing hard, they need to win this thing in dominant fashion to look like the proverbial Peaking At The Right Time team.
6. Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 25
Losing to Auburn stunk, but at the end of the day, it probably didn’t matter as much as everyone thinks. It does take out the idea of the Bulldogs losing the SEC Championship and getting in, but they can still get the job done by winning their next three games.
Assuming there isn’t an issue against Kentucky, it would be an all-timer moment in the rivalry if Georgia Tech and its option attack went wild and stuck a fork in the Bulldog playoff dream.
5. Wisconsin at Minnesota, Nov. 25
The Paul Bunyan Axe hasn’t left Madison in a long, long time, but if the Badgers can get by Michigan – or even if they can’t, and if there’s still a hope of getting in as a 12-1 Big Ten conference champion – they can’t lose this and be the official kickstart to the 2018 Golden Gopher season under P.J. Fleck.
Suddenly, the Minnesota offense figured something out against Nebraska in a 54-21 win. If it can somehow get by Northwestern, this will be for a bowl game – and the chance for Fleck to take over the rivalry after one year.
4. West Virginia at Oklahoma, Nov. 25
West Virginia is already going bowling, and while there’s a desperate shot at getting into the Big 12 Championship by winning out and getting a ton of help … nah.
However, this is a big moment for the Dana Holgorsen program to really screw things up for the Big 12.
With Will Grier and the Mountaineer passing game as dangerous as any in the country, they’re going to come into this more than equipped to crank the offense to another level in a shootout.
3. Clemson at South Carolina, Nov. 25
The Big Ten will be really, really interested in this one.
If the B1G has any hope of getting a two-loss Ohio State in – or needs to secure a spot for a 12-1 Big Ten champion Wisconsin – it would be a huge help if the Gamecocks cranked the rivalry up a few notches with a win at home.
If Clemson loses, then either Miami wins the ACC title and goes to the College Football Playoff, or loses to the Tigers and probably gets left out. A USC win would end any thoughts about two ACC teams getting in.
2. Michigan at Wisconsin, Nov. 18
The reality might be that beating Iowa was even bigger than getting by Michigan might be, but in terms of national perception, this is what the Badgers need to get people to believe.
A 13-0 Big Ten champion Wisconsin is in no matter what, but a 12-1 champ? Now things get dicey. And what if the Badgers go 12-0 and lose to Ohio State? At the very least, they’d still be in the discussion depending on how things play out.
Rock the Wolverines, and then almost all questions and national arguments against Bucky would go away.
1. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 25
Alabama wins, everything is easy.
Auburn probably ends up in a New Year’s Six bowl, Alabama might be in the College Football Playoff no matter what happens in the SEC Championship, and it’s almost all tied up with a neat little bow.
Auburn wins, and then things get funky.
Then the Tigers go off to the SEC Championship to face Georgia in a rematch of last week’s 40-17 debacle.
If they win, then what? Does Auburn get in? What happens if Miami and Wisconsin are unbeaten and Oklahoma is 12-1? Will the CFP take the Tigers, or maybe even look back to what happened last year?
Would an 11-1 Crimson Tide team that didn’t win its own division and without a big-time non-conference win still have a shot?
There are big Iron Bowls, and this is going to be as much fun as any of them.