College football is in the last week of the regular season. Storylines are forming and teams are making their pushes for the postseason. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 14.
1. The Game
Rivalry weekend has plenty of good matchups, but the biggest mainstay is “The Game” between Michigan and Ohio State. Michigan is much improved from the team that started the season. They were inefficient, not physical and not playing up to expectations. Since beating Notre Dame in a monsoon, the Wolverines have been on a roll. In their last four games, the most points in a game they have allowed is 14. Their offense has also been on fire, with their lowest output being 38 points against Maryland. If they can keep this up, they can give Ohio State a run for their money.
Ohio State was able to hold off a late comeback attempt by Penn State to pick up a good win this past Saturday. Now they know they will be in the Big Ten Championship Game, but still have a lot to play for, as a loss will hurt their CFP chances. Their offense has been great all season with quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins leading the way. They score 49.4 points per game and can beat teams in a variety of different ways. The defense is also only allowing 10.5 points per game too, which is among the best in the country. If Ohio State plays up to their potential, they’ll get another big win over their rival.
2. The Iron Bowl
Another game that is always worth watching is the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama. This time it will have a few added details though for Alabama. The Crimson Tide will be playing without their star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, which isn’t ideal against a great Auburn defense. Mac Jone will have to step in and play well, which is something he did last week, albeit against Western Carolina. They need to win and win big, as they currently sit at number five in the CFP rankings. They might need some help to reach the CFP for the sixth consecutive time.
Auburn will want to ruin Alabama’s chances at the CFP. The Tigers have three losses this season, but they have played a very tough schedule. Their defense allows just 16.2 points per game and has NFL-level players on all three levels of the defense. They’ll be hoping to prey on the inexperienced quarterback in Jones. Scoring may be difficult, as Bo Nix has been inconsistent at quarterback for the Tigers, but Alabama has been prone to giving up points. If the defense can slow down Jones, the offense has to go put up some points to win the game.
3. Minnesota’s Big Chance
Minnesota lost to Iowa two weeks ago, but beat Northwestern to set up a big matchup with their rival Wisconsin. The winner goes to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Golden Gophers still have an outside shot at the CFP if they win out. Minnesota has a lot of things going for them that could get them a win in this game. They have a 1,000 yard rusher in Rodney Smith and a 1,000 yard receiver in Tyler Johnson. Their defense has a few future pros including Antoine Winfield Jr. and Carter Coughlin. If they can slow down Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, they could take the game.
Wisconsin will not want their rival to make a Big Ten Championship Game or to keep their chances of making a CFP. They’ll be looking to run the ball in the cold weather up in Minnesota. Taylor will have to run well for them, as Jack Coan isn’t the greatest passer at quarterbacks for the Badgers. Their defense allows 14.4 points per game, but if they can’t establish the run they’ll likely lose on the road.
Bedlam features the battle for Oklahoma. The Sooners still have a chance to make the CFP, if they get some help, so they’ll want to make a statement against their in-state rival. Jalen Hurts has been operating the 11th-ranked scoring offense in the country, as he is passing and running the ball well. The defense is also improved over past years, as they give up just 25.9 points per game. They will want to get another ranked win under their belts to show the CFP Committee.
Oklahoma State has quietly already gotten to eight wins this season. That’s not bad for a team starting a freshman quarterback in Spencer Sanders. They have relied on running back Chuba Hubbard, who has 1,832 rushing yards on the season. He’ll have to have a big game for the Cowboys to win the game, but they also have an improved defense that allows 26.4 points per game.
5. AAC West Race
The AAC West has come down to two teams: Navy and Memphis. Memphis currently owns the tie-breaker over Navy, as they defeated the Midshipmen earlier in the season. Now, the Tigers have to win, or have Navy lose, to win the AAC West. Memphis plays the AAC East champions, the Cincinnati Bearcats this week. Their offense, which averaged 42.2 points per game will go up against a tough Cincinnati defense. The Bearcats have had some close games this season, but have won a lot of games. Memphis will have to bring their best.
Navy plays a four-win Houston team this week. Malcolm Perry leads the offense this season, which has been effective. He has a chance to throw for 1,000 yards and he has already eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing this season. The nation’s leading rushing attack should be able to beat a defense that gives up 32 points per game, so ultimately the Midshipmen will hope that Memphis falls to Cincinnati.