The Watch Guide wasn’t exactly 100% accurate last week. We guessed wrong on then Interim HC Ed Orgeron getting the full-time HC job at LSU (no doubt his dream job.. wouldn’t you hire him too?!). We guessed wrong that Michigan wouldn’t be close at Ohio State. And the Apple Cup wasn’t really much of a contest. Oh, and the College Football Playoff is still confusing as ever!
Friday, 7:00PM – #17 Western Michigan vs Ohio (at Ford Field in Detroit, MI) (ESPN2) – This Mid-American Conference Championship game features those Western Michigan Broncos (12-0, 8-0 MAC) who have a golden opportunity to be the Group of Five representative in the New Years Six bowl games and play in the Cotton Bowl. All that the Broncos need to do is defeat the Ohio Bobcats (8-4, 6-2 MAC). WMU HC PJ Fleck and his seniors have a chance to go full-circle. In Year One the Broncos went 1-11, then progressed with consecutive 8-5 campaigns to now peak at 12-0. A MAC Championship and a New Years Six bowl game would certainly be the cherry on top as Power Five programs look to lure the energetic dynamo of a coach. Ohio is looking for their first MAC title since 1968. Ohio is also 0-3 in MAC Championship games under long-time HC Frank Solich. Look out for the Bobcats, they are sneaky and there’s a chance that WMU comes out tight with all that’s at stake.
Friday, 9:00PM – #8 Colorado vs #4 Washington (at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA) (FOX); Must Watch – Colorado (10-2, 8-1 PAC12) is looking for their first conference title since 2004 while Washington (11-1, 8-1 PAC12) is looking for their first conference crown since 2000. Washington also has that College Football Playoff to worry about. The Huskies currently sit at #4 with three BigTen teams breathing down their neck. There are multiple scenarios of potential havoc in the playoff this week, but winning this game for the Huskies is really their only option. Losing would certainly mean missing out on the Playoff and potentially missing out on a New Years Six bowl. As for the Buffaloes of Colorado, they probably can’t wait for their first bowl bid in some nine years, let alone an opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl if they win. A lot is at stake, and this game represents the first domino in what could be many that fall on Saturday.
Saturday, Noon – Temple at #19 Navy (ABC) – Navy (9-2, 7-1 American) could really create some serious headaches by winning the American Championship game on Saturday. The Midshipman still have their annual contest with rival Army next Saturday that could force the college football committee from holding out for that final game to determine who from the Group of Five get the at-large bid. Since that at-large bid goes to the top ranked non-Power-Five conference champion, Navy in theory could jump Western Michigan to claim that spot in the prized Cotton Bowl. But before Navy can have that opportunity, they’ll need to contend with a tough Temple (9-3, 7-1 American) team. Temple HC Matt Rhule is trying to lead the team to their second consecutive 10-win season for the first time in school history and the third time all-time for the program. Look out, this one could be sneaky good.
Saturday, 12:30PM – #10 Oklahoma State at #9 Oklahoma (FOX); Must Watch – This is the de facto Big XII championship game. Oklahoma (9-2, 8-0 BigXII) leads the series vs the Oklahoma State (9-2, 7-1 BigXII) Cowboys 85-18-7 and won last year’s meeting in Stillwater, which also determined the Big XII title. The last time the game was played in Norman, however, the Sooners lost to the hated Cowboys. The Sooners have a very slim chance of making the CFB Playoff, but winning this game would secure a spot in the Sugar Bowl against either Auburn or Florida. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield has been electric, along with WR Bebe Westbrook. The same can be said for OSU QB Mason Rudolph. This game usually has a ton of fireworks.. definitely a good one!
Saturday, 3:30PM – (Do something, ANYTHING other than watch Alabama pummel the hopelessly overmatched Florida Gators for 3+ hours)
Saturday, 8:00PM – #3 Clemson vs #23 Virginia Tech (at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC) (ABC) – Clemson (11-1, 7-1 ACC) is looking to solidify it’s place in the #3 spot in the College football Playoff by winning this game. The Tigers are also looking to win back-to-back ACC titles for the first time since 1986-87. Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2 ACC), on the other hand, makes its return to the ACC championship game for the first time in five years. The Hokies were ACC Championship game regulars when the game was first played in 2005, representing the Coastal Division in five of the first seven games and winning three of them. It’s been a gradual slide for the Hokies, but first year HC Justin Fuente seems to have them rolling again. Could be a dangerous game for Clemson, who has made a habit of playing down to opponents all year.
Saturday, 8:00PM – #6 Wisconsin vs #7 Penn State (at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN) (FOX); Must Watch – Both of these teams are looking to make a statement and join conference rival Ohio State in the CFB Playoff. Both teams lost to Michigan in Ann Arbor, who happens to sit at #5 but is idle this week (due to not winning their division). Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 BigTen) has featured in three of the previous five BigTen Title games, while this will be Penn State’s (10-2, 8-1 BigTen) first appearance. Unlike many of the conference titles games that will be played, Lucas Oil Stadium will be packed to the gills, and if any slip-ups occur between the Clemson-Virginia Tech and/or Colorado-Washington games, then the intensity of this game will be even more magnified.
Be sure to watch the College Football Playoff Selection show (Championship Drive Who’s In) on ESPN 8:30-11PM EST. This is the last Watch Guide until Bowl Season!