Buckeye fans better get ready. The season ends before we know it. Yes, a lot of that has to do with the postseason ban given to us by the NCAA, but it’s still crunch time. At 10-0, Ohio State has two more obstacles to clear before it can declare itself the real national champions. Elsewhere, programs like Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Oregon have just two to three more games to go before it can effectively freeze out the SEC (and Alabama, in particular) from this year’s national title game. Ohio State kicks off at 3:30, but since our season is almost over, Buckeye fans everywhere should probably settle into the national picture. Here’s a primer of what’s on the moving pictures box this weekend, for your consideration.
- Ohio @ Ball State (ESPNU, 8:00pm ET). Tuesday night #MACtion had to give way to the 24 hour college basketball tip-off marathon that ESPN likes to host every year. In its stead, we had a double header of MAC ball on Wednesday. The first game saw Ohio visit Ball State. Remember when Ohio quarterback Mickey Tettleton tweeted that his laments about not playing Ohio State this year? Well, Ohio is 1-3 since then, which culminated with being put on full blast by the Ball State Cardinals. Ball State won 52-27.
- Toledo @ Northern Illinois (ESPN2, 9:00pm ET). Northern Illinois wins MAC West with a win against Toledo on senior night. After a slow start, Northern Illinois roared from half with a game-tying touchdown. The Huskies eventually won 31-24.
- North Carolina @ Virginia (ESPN, 7:30pm ET). For the first time this year, NFL Thursday night football looks more appetizing than the college football offering. Well, it’s close. The Dolphins are playing the Bills.
- Hawaii @ Air Force (ESPN2, 9:30pm ET). Here’s a nice little change of pace for Friday night football. The move from the WAC to the Mountain West hasn’t gone well for the geographically stretched Hawaii Warriors. 6-7 last year in the WAC, Hawaii has just one win this season (against Lamar). Minus a decent effort at home against New Mexico, Hawaii hasn’t even been competitive. Air Force, meanwhile, is 5-5 and is two weeks removed from a head-scratching beatdown by Army. It was Army’s first win in the series since 2005, and only the second since 1996.
- Florida State @ Maryland (ESPNU, 12:00pm ET). Could Florida State crawl back into the national title picture? It would be an uphill climb (or crawl?). With just one loss on the season to NC State, a loss that gets worse every week, Florida State would need to put together a string of slashings the rest of the way. The voters may be forgiving of that loss, if Kansas State, Oregon, and/or Notre Dame also stumble along the way. The computers, however, are not forgiving. The computer element to the BCS absolutely hates Florida State right now.
- Iowa @ That Team Up North (ESPN, 12:00pm ET). Losers of four straight, the Hawkeyes are on dangerously thin ice. The next Iowa loss prevents the Hawkeyes from bowling this season, despite the opportunities being afforded to the conference by Ohio State and Penn State. Meanwhile, the Wolverines, who lost to Iowa (weirdly enough) last year in Iowa City, need to keep pace with Nebrasky. The Cornhuskers have the tie-breaker, but the Wolverines need to win out and pray for Nebrasky to do something stupid at home against Minnesota, or on the road against these same Iowa Hawkeyes to end the regular season.
- Nerdwestern @ Michigan State (ESPN2, 12:00pm ET). Someone’s gotta win this game. Both teams have gone out of their respective ways to lose games in hilarious fashion. Sparty is coming off a bye (along with Ohio State), but choked away its last game against Nebrasky. The Nerds, meanwhile, choked away its last game against the Wolverines in a manner that requires a fair bit of effort and diligence. As for this game? Well. Something’s gotta give.
- Western Carolina @ Alabama (“SEC Network”, 12:21pm ET). That’s enough, SEC. Seven SEC schools are playing FCS squads on Saturday. The remaining schedule is: ArKansas @ Mississippi State, Ole Miss @ Louisiana State, Tennessee @ Vanderbilt, and Syracuse @ Missouri. Yuck. Obviously, the SEC won’t feature very heavily in this weekend’s TV Guide.
- Washington @ Colorado (FX, 1:30pm ET). This game is inconsequential to the Pac-12 championship picture, but it does feature the flagship institutions of higher learning from the two states that just voted to legalize recreational marijuana usage in their respective states. So, there’s that.
- USC @ UCLA (FOX, 3:05pm ET). How’s this for a turn of events: UCLA is currently on top of USC in the Pac-12 South standings. If UCLA wins, it clinches a spot in the Pac 12 Championship Game. Contrast that with last year’s situation, where UCLA back-doored its way into the Pac 12 Championship Game because USC, which beat UCLA 50-0, was ineligible and Colorado beat Utah for some reason. That sent 6-6 UCLA to the slaughter in Eugene. Now, UCLA is 8-2 in Jim Mora’s first year as head coach and looking, dare I say, competent? USC, which could also clinch a spot in the Pac 12 Championship Game with a win, looks like a shell of last year’s squad. Matt Barkley is on pace to throw as many interceptions this year as he did his freshman year. He is going to be sacked more times too.
- Wake Forest @ Notre Dame (NBC, 3:30pm ET). Notre Dame is prepping with the Demon Deacons before traveling to Los Angeles next week for the annual clash with the Trojans. Will this game go to three overtimes, though?
- Ole Miss @ Louisiana State (CBS, 3:30pm ET). Yes, this is your SEC game of the week. It’s getting the full Verne and Gary treatment as well. Yuck.
- North Carolina State @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). You’re not watching this, don’t bother.
- Minnesota @ Nebrasky (Big Ten Network, 3:30pm ET). Nebrasky has the easiest schedule conceivable in order to clinch a spot in the B1G TEN Championship Game: at home against Minnesota, and at Iowa. You’re not watching this, though.
- Purdue @ Illinois (Big Ten Network, 3:30pm ET). CRIPPLE FIGHT!!! of the Week? CRIPPLE FIGHT!!! of the Week. Don’t watch this, though. I’ll think less of you if you do.
- Ohio State @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET). This is what you’re watching. More on this later.
- Oklahoma @ West Virginia (FOX, 7:00pm ET). Hey, remember when this was the 2008 Fiesta Bowl? Yeah, those were good times. Oh, remember when we thought, in the preseason, that these two teams would be relevant by this point in the season? Yeah, those were good times as well.
- Syracuse @ Missouri (ESPNU, 7:00pm ET). This is really your SEC Game of the Week, and what is that telling you? Credit Missouri, though, for using its late November snack on something other than an FCS school.
- Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (ESPN2, 7:00pm ET). Heh, oh man.
- Kansas State @ Baylor (ESPN, 8:00pm ET). I admit I’m strongly pulling for a Kansas State-Notre Dame national championship game, mostly because that’d piss off SEC folk beyond words. Plus, I’m fully behind the Collin Klein for Heisman bandwagon, if we assume Braxton Miller just isn’t winning it this year. Though he looks like he runs like an all-terrain vehicle, Collin Klein looks a lot like Craig Krenzel to me. Krenzel was a little bigger and Klein is an offense that Tressel couldn’t have fathomed ten years ago, but I swear they look like the same damn player at times. Kansas State’s entry into the national title game (and Klein’s Heisman) is contingent on this road test at 4-5 Baylor. After that, K-State has two weeks to prepare for the season finale, against Texas in the Little Apple.
- Stanford @ Oregon (ABC, 8:00pm ET). I think media analysts are giving too much credit to Stanford entering this game. Sure, Oregon’s defense is in such tatters that De’Anthony Thomas might be expected to play defense, but Oregon’s defense is a sieve under most circumstances. Over the past three years, Stanford has demonstrated zero awareness of how to stop Oregon’s offense. Oregon’s offense has scored 105 points in the past two games against Stanford. I doubt Stanford can keep pace.
- Arizona @ Utah (ESPNU, 10:00pm ET). Don’t say I don’t give you viewing options.
- Brigham Young @ San Jose State (ESPN2, 10:30pm ET). Again, don’t say I don’t give you viewing options.