Big Ten Championship
Wisconsin vs Ohio State
Jonathan Taylor and the Badgers can punch Wisconsin’s first ticket to the CFB Playoff with a win against Ohio State in the conference championship. A Wisconsin loss would certainly make things interesting for the Playoff Selection Committee. Taylor has 1806 yards rushing on the year, with an outside shot at cracking 2000 yards if he can have a big day against the Buckeyes. This situation is similar to where the Badgers found themselves in 2014, led by running back Melvin Gordon heading into the Big Ten Championship game with a shot at making the playoff. In that case, however, the Badgers were blown out in that game 59-0. Meanwhile for the Buckeyes, they seemed to have been eliminated from playoff contention after their loss to Iowa, but they’ve remained in the conversation and winning the Big Ten would certainly help their cause. It’s also worth mentioning that this week is the last opportunity to make an impression on Heisman voters and the handful of players on teams vying for a conference title have a chance for a strong final statement.
Notre Dame vs Stanford
This is a classic rivalry game featuring two of the nation’s top running backs in Notre Dame’s Josh Adams and Stanford’s Bryce Love. Both have been in the Heisman discussion over the course of the year and both have a shot at making it to New York as Heisman finalists this year. Notre Dame had their hopes of making the College Football Playoff for the first time dashed after getting blown out by Miami two weeks ago in a game where Adams was neutralized, being held to 40 rushing yards and just 2.5 yards per carry (interestingly, the only other game in which Adams was held below 3 yards per carry was Notre Dame’s loss to Georgia). Bryce Love, meanwhile, is leading the nation in rushing yards per game at 172.3, and is averaging over 8 yards per carry. This is a match-up of running backs worth tuning in to. Happy Thanksgiving!
Michigan vs Wisconsin
Wisconsin bolstered their resume by defeating Iowa last week, earning their first win over a ranked opponent this season. This was a strong Iowa team who took Penn State to the wire earlier this year and had beaten Ohio State the previous week.
Wisconsin’s freshman running back Jonathan Taylor is averaging 152 rushing yards per game and is still in the Heisman discussion. If he can continue his strong performances and Wisconsin can win their last 3 games (Michigan, Minnesota and the Big Ten Championship) then Wisconsin will make their first appearance in the CFB Playoff and Taylor should find himself in New York for the Heisman Ceremony.
TCU vs Oklahoma
Another week, another big game in the Big 12 with major implications. Both TCU and Oklahoma have a single loss, both coming to Iowa State. Both have a shot at the Big 12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. The winner of this game will be in good position on both fronts. The loser would still have a chance to make it to the Big 12 Championship game, but with two losses would be eliminated from playoff contention.
Baker Mayfield had a huge game against Oklahoma State last week, throwing for an eye-popping 598 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with a rushing touchdown. That has put him in the driver’s seat for the Heisman, and another performance of that caliber could very well seal the deal for him. For TCU, Kenny Hill has been inconsistent, failing to log a passing touchdown over the last two games. For those who enjoy high-scoring contests, this should be a fun game to watch.
#8 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State
It’s Bedlam. A top 15 matchup of in-state rivals with major Big 12 implications. Three ranked teams from the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU) each have one loss, all to conference opponents. All three teams still have a shot to win the Big 12 and this game factor heavily into the final outcome. In addition to a Big 12 title, the winner of this game has a good chance of making the CFB Playoff.
Outside of the team implications, both teams’ quarterbacks have been in Heisman contention, with Baker Mayfield having made the stronger case up to this point in the season. A big game from Mason Rudolph and a Cowboys win could help him back into the thick of the Heisman race as the season winds down.
#2 Penn State at #6 Ohio State
Penn State handled Michigan in Happy Valley last week, now they’re headed to the Horseshoe to contend with Penn State. Both teams are undefeated in Big Ten play and along with Michigan State (who Penn State plays next week) are vying for the top spot in the Big Ten East to likely meet an also undefeated Wisconsin for the Big Ten title and a likely shot at the College Football Playoff.
Penn State has steadily moved through their schedule led by Saqoun Barkley and Trace McSorely, while Ohio State has trounced all of their opponents by an average of 42 points following their loss to Oklahoma. This is a game you don’t want to miss.
#19 Michigan vs #2 Penn State
This game is a major test for the Nittany Lions as it kicks off a stretch in which they play Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State in consecutive weeks. These upcoming games will go a long way I’m clearing up the picture in the Big Ten and also could have a big impact on the College Football Playoff race. The Michigan game will be a major opportunity for Saquon Barkley to strengthen his Heisman case. On Michigan’s end, they suffered a tough loss to Michigan State which knocked them out of the AP top 10. A win for the Wolverines keeps their playoff hopes alive.
Utah at USC
Sam Darnold and the Trojans Recovered from their upset loss to Washington State two weeks ago to handle Oregon State. Suffered their first loss of the season to a fast-charging Stanford team. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South and have the inside track to the Pac-12 Championship game. For USC, this game also would help keep hopes of making the College Football Playoff alive as well as helping Sam Darnold stay in Heisman contention.
#17 Louisville at #24 NC State
The reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson has been lurking in the Heisman discussion this year, not dominating it. He had a chance to reclaim the spotlight against Clemson a few weeks ago, but couldn’t pull out a win and didn’t perform particularly well. North Carolina State has played well this year, beating Florida State in Tallahassee. In a conference game against a strong team on the road, Lamar Jackson could help his case to make it back to New York with a strong game tonight.
#5 USC vs #16 Washington State
Here’s a top 25 matchup of undefeated Pac-12 teams with outstanding quarterbacks. USC’s Sam Darnold has been living up to the hype so far this season, keeping USC on track for a potential spot in the College Football Playoff while remaining a favorite in the Heisman race. Washington State’s Luke Falk has continued to move up the all-time list for Pac-12 quarterbacks, on pace to set the conference records for career passing yards and passing TDs. An upset by Washington State would certainly shake up the College Football landscape, while a solid performance from Darnold and USC on the road would be a strong point on the team’s resume as well as Darnold’s Heisman resume.
In the ACC, #2 Clemson vs #12 Virginia Tech is an intriguing matchup. With Florida State sitting at 0-2, Clemson appears to have established itself as the dominant team in the ACC for the time being, but Virginia Tech is sitting at 4-0 and could make a major statement by knocking off the Tigers in Blacksburg.