The only bad thing about the college football season is that it’s coming to an end.
This is a week of rivalry in the last full week of the 2022 regular season, and while we still have army-navy matches, conference championship games and 43 bowl games, this rounds out our weekly showdown party.
The race for the college football playoffs continues, but more importantly, historic rivalries dot the map as deep-rooted hatred and good-natured fun collide to form the perfect combination that closes out the regular season.
Conference championship spots are up for grabs in the Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12, and the AAC has a de facto play game with Tulane and Cincinnati. Meanwhile, the Iron Bowl gives interim Cadillac coach Williams one last opportunity to impress his new bosses at Auburn.
Then comes the biggest game of the season: No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 2 Ohio State. Two of the nation’s top three teams compete for a spot in the Big Ten championship game. The loser may not qualify for the playoffs.
There are many games planned for this week, which will be shown on our TV screens from Tuesday until late Saturday evening. These are the 10 most interesting matches worth watching.
10. Washington in Washington State (10:30 pm ET, Saturday, ESPN)
Any other year Kalen DeBoer probably manager of the year, but this season has not been like most.
He already has the most wins by a freshman coach in program history, and has the Huskies in the Pac-12 Championship race on the last weekend of the regular season. They will need to beat Washington State in the Apple Cup and get some help on the competitive weekend (Oregon State instead of Oregon and UCLA) to secure the Las Vegas spot.
Wazzu has regained some momentum this season with a three-game winning streak and has proven difficult against favorites with close calls at home against top 15 Oregon and Utah. Cougars 8-3 against the spread. Washington and Wazzu are trying to achieve something they haven’t done since 2018: a four-game winning streak for the Cougars and a 10-win season for the Huskies.
The Huskies’ seven-game winning streak in the Apple Cup ended last season, but the program hasn’t lost to Pullman since 2002.
Line: Washington -2
9. Iowa State at TCU (4:00 pm, Saturday, FOX)
TCU plays with fire but never gets burned. It’s a special trait unlike anything we’ve seen in a playoff contender lately, especially at the end of the season. The undefeated Horned Frogs made their fifth comeback of the season with the most dramatic final ever: a field goal, a field goal when time expired on the road at Baylor. A field goal team ran across the field as the clock ticked in a game called bazooka and Griffin Kell hit a 40-yard hit, missing an extra point earlier in the game.
What’s next? Maybe another Iowa drama is on the way.
Seven of Iowa’s 11 games have been decided in single digits, including five by four points or less, but only one is a win. So, Iowa State is potentially much better than its 4-7 record? Maybe.
TCU owns the best Big 12 offense and Iowa State has the worst. However, the Cyclones have the best defense in the conference, averaging just 16.4 points per game. Something has to give.
TCU is admittedly a tired team after so many intense games, and Saturday marks the 10th game in a row with no open date. However, the protector Max Duggan continues to post big numbers: 26 touchdowns against just three interceptions, and the defense continues to work in critical situations.
“This league is really good” – TCU Coach Sonny Dykes told reporters this week. “Anyone who doesn’t understand this or who tries to downplay what these players have done just doesn’t know much about what they’re talking about.”
8. South Carolina in Clemson (noon, Saturday, ABC)
South Carolina is gaining momentum after beating No. 5 Tennessee State last week, but are the Gamecocks ready for a buzz saw like Clemson in Death Valley? South Carolina has lost seven games in a row in this series, with no game below 30 points.
Spencer Rattler was brilliant last week against a hapless Volunteer defense, throwing six touchdowns and 438 yards. Only one possession in South Carolina did not result in a touchdown in a 63-38 win. Clemson is certainly not Tennessee on defense. The Tigers are ranked eighth nationally in losses (7.8 per game), making them the highest-scoring defensive front South Carolina has faced this season.
Clemson and South Carolina are 6-5 this season so be careful as Clemson is listed as a 14.5 favorite at many bookmakers. The Tigers have the longest home winning streak in the country at 40, which also ranks as the fifth-highest home winning streak since 1936.
Clemson is still alive in the hunt for the playoffs and tripping this week is a no-no.
Line: Clemson -14.5
7. Tulane in Cincinnati (noon, Friday, ESPN)
The winner hosts the AAC Championship Game (while the loser is involved in a complex tie-break scenario). What more can you ask for if you’re an AAC, especially with Cincinnati en route to the Big 12 next season?
Tulane has been a terror to teams for most of the season. The Green Wave took the win in Kansas State, still in contention for a spot in the Big 12 championship, and swept SMU 59-24 last week to stay alive in the AAC title race. Cincinnati only tripped twice earlier in the season at Arkansas and recently on the road to UCF.
Tulane has played the last four games in a row in the series against Cincinnati, but this season comes out with a perfect 4-0 away record; The Bearcats have won 32 straight wins at home, the second longest streak in the country. Cincinnati is a slight 2-point favorite, but Tulane is 9-2 against spread, tying for the best record in college football. The Bearcats have won 50 games in a row as the favorite.
Line: Cincinnati -2
6. Oregon in Oregon (3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC)
All that stands in Oregon’s path to a trip to the Pac-12 championship game is rival state Oregon. Easy enough, right? Absolutely not.
Oregon State has won two of the last three games in Corvallis, and the Beavers have been a model of consistency over the past two years under the coach. Jonathan Smith.
The Beavers are one win away from a nine-win season for the first time in 10 years. They made it big thanks to an underrated quarterback (Chance Nolan) and strong protection. Oregon State hasn’t allowed more than seven points in the first half of its last five games. Their defense is particularly ferocious at home, holding off opponents by 12.6 points, and they narrowly missed USC in a 17-14 loss on September 24 at Beaver Stadium. They will be tested against Oregon, who has the highest scoring offense in road games (46 points per game).
Quarterback Might Oregon Bo Nicks land in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist? Last week, he played on a broken ankle and defeated Yuta to save the lives of the Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship race. He completed 72% of his passes for 3,062 yards and 25 touchdowns against six interceptions.
Line: Oregon -3
5. Auburn in Alabama (3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS)
Alabama is a huge favorite, but the Iron Bowl is still the top contender in the south (and possibly the country), and so much is at stake for interim coach Auburn. Cadillac Williamsmuch attention will be focused on Tuscaloosa.
No program has beaten Alabama more than Auburn during Nick Saban era (five times), but Auburn becomes the underdog with three touchdowns in a stadium he has not won since Cam Newton won the comeback in 2010. However, Auburn has covered four of the last five Iron Bowls and won it outright in 2019.
Alabama has only lost once in its last 112 games against unranked teams (2021 at Texas A&M), and as Tide aims for a 10-winning season for the 15th year in a row, Tide will certainly be focused on so much at stake. even if an SEC title is not available. Meanwhile, Auburn is battling for bowl rights under Williams, who won Texas A&M and Western Kentucky as interim coach and is battling for a permanent job as the fans have focused most of their energy on Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin.
4. Mississippi State at Ole Miss (4:00 pm, Thursday, ESPN)
Lane Kiffin got most of the attention heading for the egg bowl, but what about Mike Leach?
Leach has struggled in rivalry games throughout his career. He is 3-17 against his main state rivals as head coach at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State. Bulldogs 0-2 in the Egg Bowl under Lich. If he loses a third straight match as MSU coach, job security will become an issue when he travels to the off-season at Starkville.
Meanwhile, Kiffin has no such fears. Auburn and Ole Miss are looking for him, and…