There are two weeks left in the college football regular season for the conferences that have championship games on December 7, and that includes everyone except the Big 12 and the Sun Belt. The college football Week 13 TV schedule has some excellent games, although unfortunately the three best are all back-loaded into prime-time. Let’s take a look at how the day will unfold across our TV screens.
The two biggest games are Baylor-Oklahoma State and Arizona State-UCLA. Each of those have separate previews tied to TheSportsNotebook’s bowl projections in their respective conferences. Earlier this week, we also updated bowl projections in the SEC, Big Ten and ACC. Here are the links to all of those commentaries…
Michigan State-Northwestern (Noon, ESPN)
Duke-Wake Forest (Noon ESPN2)
Oklahoma-Kansas State (Noon, Fox Sports 1)
Comment: This the last-ditch effort for Northwestern, which is still winless in Big Ten play and seeming to manufacture a new heartbreaking way to lose very week. Northwestern has to upset Michigan State as a seven-point home underdog and then beat Illinois just to make a bowl game at 6-6.
Oklahoma still has a shot at a BCS at-large bid if they can win in Manhattan and then knock off Oklahoma State. That’s looking like an even bigger longshot now, with quarterback Blake Bell and running back Damien Williams suspended for Saturday. This is on top of the fact OU isn’t playing all that well, while a young Kansas State team seems to be growing together as the season winds down.
Duke is in command of the ACC Coastal Division, and while a road win won’t necessarily lock up first place (all the tiebreaker scenarios are convoluted for the moment), it would make it pretty tough to keep the Dookies out of the title game in Charlotte.
Texas A&M-LSU (3:30 PM ET, CBS)
Wisconsin-Minnesota (3:30 PM ET, ESPN)
BYU-Notre Dame (3:30 PM ET, NBC)
Indiana-Ohio State (3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
Oregon-Arizona (3:30 PM ET, ABC/ESPN2)
Comment: Texas A&M is pushing hard for an at-large bid to the BCS. The Aggies need to win the next two and have Auburn lose to Alabama on November 30, at which point A&M would become the favorite for a Sugar Bowl nod. Regardless of how that plays out, the winner of Texas A&M-LSU is in position to at least get a Cotton Bowl bid.
Johnny Manziel might be who draws viewers, but LSU’s Zach Mettenberg is having a good year himself, and coupled with that porous Aggie defense, the Tigers are a 5.5 point favorite, a spread big enough to suggest that it’s not just about homefield, oddsmakers genuinely feel LSU is the better team. I agree.
Wisconsin is pushing for its own at-large spot in the BCS, and has their last big test on the road at Minnesota. The Badgers are the better team, and the 16.5 point line bears witness to that. But this is a big rivalry game, the Gophers are playing well, and they haven’t beaten Wisconsin in ten years. Bucky better be ready to take Minnesota’s best shot.
Arizona State-UCLA (7 PM ET, Fox)
Vanderbilt-Tennessee (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
Missouri-Ole Miss (7:45 PM ET, ESPN)
Baylor-Oklahoma State (8 PM ET, ABC)
Comment: Missouri-Ole Miss is another big game, along with the Arizona State-UCLA & Baylor-Oklahoma State battles. It would have been nice if the SEC game could have been slotted as a noon kick and not force fans to choose, but in college, the networks and conferences all do their own thing.
The Tigers are a one-loss team, and need to win this game and beat Texas A&M next week to hold on and win the SEC East. That’s a tall order–Ole Miss is a solid, bowl-bound team playing at home and Mizzou is only favored by 2.5. But if the Tigers pull it off, win out and beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, do they have a case to play for the national title? I think so, given their conference’s overwhelming recent history.
Washington-Oregon State (10:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
Comment: Washington quarterback Keith Price looks to be out and there’s no line posted on this game. It’s two pretty good teams, but there’s not much in the way of stakes. Neither team is in position to make a BCS game, or even one of the Pac-12’s better bowl slots. They’re also both bowl-eligible, so there’s nothing to keep anyone outside the Pacific time zone up late.