If college football buffs could only choose one week to watch, they would choose Week 13: Rivalry Week. Not only is it the most anticipated and hyped-up week of the season, even more so than Conference Championship Week and the week leading up to the National Championship, it is truly the point where your team either makes it or breaks it into the college football playoffs.
And boy-oh-boy did Week 13 live up to the hype. There were some duds, but there were a lot more amazing, memorable games (Oklahoma-West Virginia, LSU-Texas A&M) to counteract those lopsided affairs.
Now that Rivalry Week is over, let’s digest what just happened and answer some remaining questions.
Who gets that final CFP spot: Oklahoma or Ohio State?
Both Alabama and Clemson solidified their spot in the College Football Playoffs. They are undeniably the two best teams in the FBS right now. Unless upsets concur next week during the conference championships, both teams will get in without hesitation. Notre Dame ended their undefeated campaign with a sloppy win over a struggling 5-6 USC team, but they still deserve the #3 spot in the CFP bracket due to their 12-0 record. Now the question is: who gets that final spot?
After #6 Oklahoma beat #13 West Virginia in a shoot-out on Friday, #10 Ohio State delivered a statement win over #4 Michigan in Columbus during the Big Game. Who deserves it more? While both teams have strong victories over ranked teams (Oklahoma has beaten Iowa State and West Virginia while OSU has beaten Penn State and Michigan), both have also struggled against lesser teams. Ohio State had been struggling over the stretch since losing to Purdue, barely winning against a 4-8 Nebraska team and going to overtime with a 5-7 Maryland team while Oklahoma had close games against a 5-7 Texas Tech team and a 6-6 Oklahoma State team. Right now, Oklahoma seems to have more credentials than Ohio State starting with the fact that Oklahoma only loss came from a good Texas team while Ohio State got blown out by a 6-6 Purdue team. Also, according to ESPN, Oklahoma also sports a better strength of schedule than the Buckeyes.
However, who gets in will be clarified next week during the Big 12 and Big 10 championships. If Oklahoma wins against Texas, it will serve as redemption for their close loss during the Red River Showdown in October and solidify their superiority over Ohio State. Ohio State must not only defeat Northwestern to get in, but also hope that Oklahoma loses again to Texas.
One final thought: why not 11-1 Georgia? Well, if Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship, Georgia would get in automatically. However, that seems like a longshot with how Alabama has been playing this year. Therefore, the scenario in which Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, and Oklahoma all have one loss should not be entertained because frankly, it is unlikely to occur.
Is UCF still the best Group of 5 team even after star quarterback McKenzie Milton went down?
Even after Milton’s gruesome leg injury, UCF should still be considered the premier Group of 5 team. Look no further than their game against USF. After Milton went down, UCF still delivered a thrashing as the game ended 38-10. Of course, Milton’s loss cannot be overlooked as he was the heart of UCF’s prolific offense. He accounted for 79 offensive touchdowns for the team. However, no other Group of 5 team compares to UCF even after Milton’s injury. The next highly ranked Group of 5 team on the CFP rankings was #21 Utah State who just lost to a 2-loss Boise State. Boise State’s 10-2 record just doesn’t compare with UCF’s 12-0 record. If UCF loses to Memphis in the AAC Championship Game, there is a chance that an 11-2 BSU might overtake UCF in the CFP ranking systems, but it would take a monstrous effort in order for Memphis to upset UCF. UCF still looks like the best Group of 5 team and will contend in their New Year’s Six Bowl game.
Who is in line to play in the New Year’s Six Bowls? Will LSU be in it?
LSU went into College Station looking destined for a New Year’s Six Bowl, but after falling to Texas A&M in 74-72 burnout, LSU’s hopes for those prestigious games may have dissipated.
Here are the bowl projections for the New Year’s Six Bowls:
Cotton Bowl (CFP Semi-final): #1 Alabama vs. #4 Oklahoma
Orange Bowl (CFP Semi-final): #2 Clemson vs. #3 Notre Dame
Peach Bowl: #12 Washington State vs. #12 LSU
Sugar Bowl: #5 Georgia vs. #9 Texas
Rose Bowl: #6 Ohio State vs. #10 Washington
Fiesta Bowl: #7 UCF vs. #8 Michigan
While Florida after Week 13 is ranked higher than LSU by one spot in the AP poll, LSU should have the advantage as they beat a higher ranked opponent in #5 Georgia while losing to 3 ranked teams. Florida lost to an 8-4 Missouri team that is not ranked while also losing to Georgia (a team that only lost to LSU) and Kentucky. In the end, it might be a toss-up on who gets selected and who won’t between Florida and LSU.
Image Source: Marvin Fong / The Plain Dealer