We have reached the final week of the college football regular season and the biggest game of the year comes for many teams this weekend. It begins with maybe the most important game of the season with Michigan taking on Ohio State for a spot in the Big Ten Championship. But that isn’t the only game that will determine conference championships or the College Football Playoff. Let’s take a look into Rivalry Week 2021.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 5 Michigan Wolverines
- Date & Time: Saturday, Nov. 27, noon ET
- Channel: FOX
- Location: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Weather: 23 degrees and clear
- Betting Line: OSU -8.5 O/U: 64.5
In the last two meetings, Ohio State has a 118-66 advantage on the scoreboard. Luckily for Michigan, it had a one-year hiatus due to COVID last season where the Wolverines had their worst team in the Jim Harbaugh era that would have gone against one of OSU’s best.
Not only that, but the Buckeyes have won the last eight meetings and 14 of the last 15. In Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan, it has been a one-score game or less only one time, back in the double-overtime loss in 2016. This is the first time since that game both teams rank in the top five in the country heading into the matchup. Unlike that 2016 game, this one is played in the Big House.
This year, this game feels a little different. Usually Michigan comes in with a lot of hype, has a midseason letdown and falls into the shambles by the end of the year. But this season the Wolverines were unranked heading into the year and jumped off to a big start, going 7-0. After a 59-18 blowout over Maryland and a huge win on the road in Happy Valley the past two weeks, it seems like the Wolverines may be playing their best ball of the year heading into the Ohio State game instead of snowballing into despair like previous seasons.
For Ohio State, the exact same can be said in terms of its play. The Buckeyes have had several close calls of their own this season, and even a non-conference loss to Oregon back in Week 2. However, they have figured things out and rolled the past two weeks against two top 25 opponents, including a 56-7 beatdown of the Michigan State Spartans, the only team Michigan has lost to this season.
Frankly, this hasn’t seemed like much of a rivalry over the past decade and a half. It’s been a one-sided shellacking by a better team and a better program. But for the first time in what feels like a long time, this is a game that actually matters for both sides. The winner, a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship. The loser goes home with their dreams of a CFP destroyed. Michigan. Ohio State. It all comes down to this.
Oregon State Beavers vs No. 11 Oregon Ducks
- Date & Time: Saturday, Nov. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: ESPN
- Location: Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Orgeon
- Weather: 51 degrees and cloudy
- Betting Line: ORE -7 O/U: 61
The Pac-12 North is suddenly in danger for the Ducks, who took a massive loss to the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City last weekend. Now, the conference will not have a CFP representative for the fifth time in the seven seasons it has existed.
Just like last week for the Ducks, they line up almost identically with their opponent that is ranked much lower than they are. The Ducks average 427.9 yards per game while allowing 369.5. Meanwhile, the Beavers accrue 433.9 yards per contest, giving up 377. This matchup is a lot closer than it appears, and it has massive implications.
A win for the Beavers would briefly put them in a position to win the Pac-12 North. They would need a loss from Washington State against Washington to secure a spot in the championship game. But a win for Oregon State and a win for Washington State would put the 6-5 Cougars in a position to play in the Pac-12 Championship just over a month after firing its unvaccinated head coach.
If Oregon does prevail, it has to go right back to playing Utah again in the championship game only two weeks after the Utes completely dismantled the Ducks in a 38-7 drubbing.
The Pac-12 is just so weird.
Other top afternoon games: No. 3 Alabama at Auburn, Penn State at No. 12 Michigan State, No. 14 Wisconsin at Minnesota
No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys
- Date & Time: Saturday, Nov. 27, 7:30 ET
- Channel: ABC
- Location: Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma
- Weather: 68 degrees and sunny
- Betting Line: OKST -4 O/U: 49.5
The Oklahoma Sooners have been outcasts all season long thanks to some uninspiring performances against bad teams. Then they lost to the Baylor Bears and all hell broke loose, falling drastically down the rankings. Now their hopes seem squashed for the CFP despite only one loss.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State has slowly become the darling of the Big 12 by the committee despite not doing much. The Cowboys are 10-1 on the season with three wins over top 25 opponents: Baylor, Kansas State and Texas. The Longhorns and Wildcats have combined for a 4-7 record since they faced the Cowboys earlier this season. Let’s not pretend like the Cowboys have this stellar resume. But a win over Oklahoma would keep them in the hunt for the CFP.
Three teams can make the Big 12 Championship this season — one of these two teams or the aforementioned Baylor Bears, who would get in if they win against Texas Tech and Oklahoma loses. But Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would play again in the title game if the Sooners win this week. It’s convoluted and messy, as the two teams with the most conference wins move to the championship.
Coming in at No. 10 behind two-loss Ole Miss and two-loss Baylor in the CFP rankings is bad tidings for the Sooners’ chances despite only one loss themselves. They’ll need to win, and win big this week and in the Big 12 Championship, to even be considered at this point.
For the Cowboys, a win this week keeps them in the conversation. They will likely need some help if they want to squeeze into the CFP this season. But it may be hard to not put them in as one-loss Big 12 champions over say the No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats or the independent No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Other games in the evening slate: No. 17 Pittsburgh Panthers vs Syracuse, No. 23 Clemson vs South Carolina, Notre Dame vs Stanford