Rivalry week. It’s that special time of year where teams and fans push aside the thankful rhetoric that was celebrated just days before and indulge in good old-fashioned hatred. From the Apple Cup in the north-west, all the way down to the Iron Bowl in the south-east, the college football landscape becomes an exciting bloodbath, tinged in tradition, drama and unpredictability that only a week as special as this one can provide. With even the most meaningless of games providing must-see moments, you’re better off setting your DVR to record every moment of every game, but if that’s a little too much for you, enjoy this week’s guide to the most important games outside of the Pac-12.
After the Texas Longhorns defeated the Kansas Jayhawks earlier today, the Oklahoma vs West Virginia match-up is now a play-in game for the Big 12 Championship, with the winner taking on the Texas Longhorns next weekend and loser likely relegated to the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Either Oklahoma or Texas would then become a possible opponent if the Utah Utes end up with an Alamo Bowl bid to close out the season.
As one of the best rivalries across all sports, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines will look to keep their playoff dreams alive when they travel to enemy territory to take on the Buckeyes, who have dominated the series as of late, recording a 15-3 record over the Wolverines since the turn of the millennium. Michigan is currently favored by -4.5, and a victory would keep them in firm position to make their first ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. Utah fans should keep an eye on this game with both teams being possible opponents if a Rose Bowl bid becomes a reality.
As of now, the Washington State Cougars still has an outside chance of reaching the College Football Playoff. As the 8th ranked team in the nation, a series of upset losses (including the previously previewed Oklahoma vs WVU and Michigan vs OSU) could propel the Cougars towards a top five ranking. An Aggies upset over the Tigers would make Washington State’s odds of claiming a CFP spot even easier, as the Tigers are currently ranked one spot ahead of Mike Leach’s squad. While not the most desirable route, if WSU beats Utah in the PAC-12 Championship, the Utah Utes could still secure a Rose Bowl berth due to the Cougars earning a slot in the CFP. A Tigers victory could spoil a potentially massive shake-up in the CFP projections.