Teams I think still have a chance, but are farther down in the rankings:
- (7) Baylor: By virtue of a head to head win over TCU, can possibly jump the Horned Frogs provided the Bears get by Texas Tech and Kansas State.
- (8) UCLA: A win against Stanford and the Bruins will get a shot at Oregon in the Pac-12 championship.
- (9) Georgia: They need for Missouri to lose, then a non-conference win over rival Ga. Tech today would send the Bulldogs into the SEC title game against either Alabama or Mississippi State with momentum and a 10 - 2 record.
- (13) Arizona State or (11) Arizona: A UCLA loss puts the winner of this game in the Pac-12 championship versus Oregon.
(15) Auburn (8 - 3) 17 @ (1) Alabama (10 - 1) 27: Auburn just hasn't been the same team in recent weeks that they were earlier in the season. The defense isn't stopping anyone and their offense is sputtering. Not a good combination heading into Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide.
(2) Oregon (10 - 1) 38 @ Oregon State (5 - 6) 20: The Beavers have lost five of their last six games, the only won coming against then #6 Arizona State. That easily gets in my list of inexplicable results of the 2014 season. Can they muster the same kind of effort against their big rival, #2 Oregon? I seriously doubt it.
Florida (6 - 4) 24 @ (3) Florida State (11 - 0) 28: This will be the last game for Gators' coach Will Muschamp. The 'Noles are looking increasingly beatable as the weeks go on. Florida has another one of those games on my inexpicable list by virtue of their 38 - 20 win over Georgia earlier this season. Although I think Jameis Winston and company are vulnerable, they still haven't lost in over two years, so until they do I'll stay with the ability of their QB to rally the troops to victory.
(4) Mississippi State (10 - 1) 23 @ (19) Ole Miss (8 - 3) 20: To possibly continue a dream season in Starkville, the Bulldogs have to defeat Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. After getting totally dismantled by Arkansas a week ago. the host Rebels will need to quickly regroup to end Mississippi State's chances of playing for the national championship, or even the SEC title, which in recent years tend to be one and the same. Too bad this game wasn't played six weeks ago. I have to go with Mississippi State, as I think they're just a little better team right now.
Michigan (5 - 6) 17 @ (6) Ohio State (10 - 1) 28: I can't imagine that Michigan coach Brady Hoke will be back next season, so this is likely his last game at the helm of the Wolverines. This is a big rivalry game, among the biggest in the country, but the disparity in the quality of these teams makes it tough to think the visitors can rise up and end Ohio State's playoff chances.
(7) Baylor (9 - 1) 45 @ Texas Tech (4 - 7) 24: Baylor needs to make a statement in this game. The team they need worry about is TCU, who already defeated Texas this weekend and put up 82 points in defeating Texas Tech earlier this season. I don't expect the Bears to take their foot off the pedal until the final whistle blows.
(16) Georgia Tech (9 - 2) 34 @ (9) Georgia (9 - 2) 31: The Yellow Jackets head seventy miles up the road with a four game winning streak where they've averaged a 43 - 16 victory. No matter what happens in this game, they will take on Florida State in the ACC title game. Georgia's schedule will depend on how Missouri fares against Arkansas, where a Tiger loss sends the Bulldogs to Atlanta to take on either Mississippi State or Alabama. Both teams have good running games but neither defend it very well. This is a great matchup.
(10) Michigan State (9 - 2) 27 @ Penn State (6 - 5) 13: Michigan State can't make it to the Big Ten championship, but can still finish off a good season by winning in State College. The Nittany Lions play solid defense, but their offense has a lot of trouble generating points.
Kansas (3 - 8) 17 @ (12) Kansas State (8 - 2) 37: Kansas State is still mathematically alive in the Big 12 race, but it would take a huge upset by Iowa State over TCU next week and a Wildcat victory at Baylor to make that happen. And Kansas, well...
(18) Minnesota (8 - 3) 24 @ (14) Wisconsin (9 - 2) 27: I have to say that I'm very surprised by Minnesota's staying power in the Big Ten race. Now they have a chance to advance to the title game against Ohio State. Put this game in Minneapolis, and I would probably lean their way. But at Camp Randall and with the way Eric Gordon can run the ball, I have to go with the Badgers in a close game.
South Carolina (6 - 5) 24 @ (21) Clemson (8 - 3) 30 :Rumors abound that this might be the last hurrah for Gamecocks' head coach Steve Spurrier. I don't necessarily believe that, but I know that even if it's true, the old ball coach has always thrived in rivalry games. Clemson hasn't beaten South Carolina since 2008 after taking six of the prior seven from the Gamecocks. Forgetting the history for a moment, I think this game will clearly hinge on South Carolina's defense.
Kentucky (5 - 6) 27 @ (22) Louisville (8 - 3) 34: Bobby Petrino is looking to close out the first year of his second stint with the Cardinals by keeping the Wildcats out of the bowl mix. I doubt Kentucky can keep up.
Utah State (9 - 3) 27 @ (23) Boise State (9 - 2) 31: I haven't been covering the Mountain West, with Boise State making the first league appearance in the top 25 this season. I think this is a pretty even game, but I'll give the nod to the home team playing on the blue turf.
(25) Utah (7 - 4) 30 @ Colorado (2 - 9) 21: The Utes have had a terrific season and should be able to finish it off at the expense of the hapless Buffaloes.
West Virginia (6 - 5) 35 @ Iowa State (2 - 8) 24: West Virginia might be the best 6 -5 team in the country. The Cyclones can be tough at home, but the Mountaineers are battle tested and have a lot of offensive firepower.
Notre Dame (7 - 4) 34 @ USC (7 - 4) 37: At the beginning of this season it looked like this game might be for a spot in the playoffs. But both teams have had a bad loss or two, so now it's just for pride in a big rivalry game. The Irish defense has been very porous of late, so I'll stick with the Trojans in the Coliseum.