A trip to the College Football Playoff in January, not just turkey and stuffing, will be on the minds of players from nine teams during Thanksgiving weekend, the final week of regular season action.
Only four teams will be invited to the mini championship tournament during bowl season, with nine teams still having a realistic shot at the ultimate goal: Winning a national title.
But a few of those teams, namely Ohio State and Notre Dame, can only control so much at this point, and will need some help to make the College Football Playoff.
Current CFP Rankings
1 Alabama (11-0)
2 Miami (11-0)
3 Clemson (10-1)
4 Oklahoma (10-1)
5 Wisconsin (11-0)
6 Auburn (9-2)
7 Georgia (10-1)
8 Notre Dame (9-2)
9 Ohio State (9-2)
10 Penn State (9-2)*
*Due to being eliminated from Big Ten title contention and its current position in the standings, Penn State has virtually no path to the College Football Playoff.
Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?
If the three remaining unbeaten teams (Alabama, Miami, and Wisconsin) win out, they’re in. In that scenario, that leaves one open spot which would go to Oklahoma if they win out. If not, Notre Dame would take that final spot if the Irish defeat Stanford on Saturday.
Clemson (loss to Miami), Ohio State (loss to Wisconsin), Auburn (loss to Alabama), and Georgia (loss to Alabama) would all most likely be eliminated should the current unbeaten teams win out.
However, despite its head-scratching 55-24 loss to Iowa three weeks ago, if Ohio State wins out, which would include victories over Michigan and then Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, and Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia to finish out the season, the Buckeyes will be a near lock to make the College Football Playoff.
Turkey, Gambling, and Football: Yes, Please
Many folks can only take so much passive-aggressive behavior from the in-laws at Thanksgiving dinner. So, after you’ve answered one too many questions about your gambling habit, leave the table to do exactly what they claim consumes your life: gamble.
There are plenty of exciting college football games worth getting down on this weekend, beginning on Thanksgiving evening at 4:30 PT in Starkville, Mississippi, when bitter in-state rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State battle for the Egg Bowl trophy.
The home team Bulldogs (7-3), seeking a second-straight win in this 116-year-old series, are 16.5-point favorites against the Rebels (5-6), desperate for a win to become bowl eligible.
Georgia (10-1) is an 11-point favorite in its annual rivalry matchup at Georgia Tech (5-5) at 9 am PT on Saturday. The Yellowjackets don’t have much to play for other than knocking the Bulldogs out of playoff contention. Georgia has locked up a spot in the SEC Championship Game next week and must win both upcoming games to get selected for the playoffs.
At the same time, Ohio State (9-2) and Michigan (8-3), kickoff in what is arguably the best rivalry in college sports. The Buckeyes, 12-point road favorites, seek a 15th win in the past 17 contests against “that team up north,” as former Ohio State coach famously referred to Michigan.
Will Muschamp, in his second season at South Carolina after being fired from Florida, has coached his team to an 8-3 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. But the former Texas defensive coordinator will need to devise a complex game plan to defeat the Gamecocks’ in-state rival, Clemson (10-1).
The defending national champion Tigers will enter Williams-Brice Stadium at 4:30 pm PT on Saturday as a 14-point road favorite, as it continues its run to a third consecutive College Football Playoff appearance.
Notre Dame (9-2) must beat Stanford (8-3) on the road on Saturday (kickoff set for 5 pm PT) and then get some help to keep its national title hopes alive. The Irish is a slim 2.5-point favorite and must find a way to contain explosive running Bryce Love, a task few teams this year have been able to solve.
If the college games don’t fill you up, a plate full of NFL contests this weekend will do the trick.