Division titles on the line as season winds down
Brad Curnow | Sports Writer | @jojocornrow
With the first release of the College Football Playoff Polls, it was thought that certain teams were ranked higher than they should have been, while others were ranked too low. My feeling is that the polls will sort themselves out, starting with last weekend. Alabama took down LSU, Oklahoma State dropped TCU, and Navy knocked off Memphis. This year is shaping up to be one where we could have two or three undefeated teams in the playoff, which will make for three fantastic games.
This weekend we are spoiled with top-25 matchups and contests with division title implications. Baylor takes on Oklahoma in a battle for the Big 12. Memphis and Houston continue to fight for the AAC West. Alabama looks to take control of the SEC West in a trip to Mississippi State. Let’s take a look at some games to watch this weekend.
Oklahoma Sooners at Baylor Bears
Oklahoma will visit Baylor in a crucial matchup for conference positioning. The Sooners can knock the Bears out of contention for a conference title and a chance at the College Football Playoff with a win. Oklahoma has not allowed more than three touchdowns in a game since losing to Texas on October 10.
Baylor can setup a winner-take-all contest next week against Oklahoma State with a win over Oklahoma. The Bears lost starting quarterback Seth Russell for the season, but backup Jarrett Stidham stepped in nicely last week leading Baylor to a 31-24 win over Kansas State.
Memphis Tigers at Houston Cougars
Houston will host Memphis in a matchup critical to the life of the AAC in the New Year’s Six bowls or even the CFP. The Tigers look to bounce back after a crushing home loss to Navy last weekend. Memphis has not scored less than 20 points in any game this season.
Houston has an opportunity to bolster their bowl resume with a win against a strong Memphis team. The Cougars narrowly escaped an upset against Cincinnati last week with a three-point win at home.
BYU Cougars at Missouri Tigers
Missouri will be home to BYU at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO in “the game that almost wasn’t.” Amid racial tensions on the Missouri campus, 30 football players took to protesting the school president by threatening to sit out this week’s game.
BYU comes into the contest after escaping San Jose State by knocking down a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game. The Cougars mustered just 36 rushing yards against the Spartans and will need more in seeking a win over an SEC opponent.
Oregon Ducks at Stanford Cardinal
Oregon travels to Stanford in an attempt to stay alive in the Pac-12 North. Stanford can clinch the division with a win and a Washington State loss. The Cardinal have turned into an offensive juggernaut averaging 41 points per game since an anemic six-point outing against Northwestern.
The Ducks have warmed up since the beginning of October, winning four of their last five games. Quarterback Vernon Adams has thrown for 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions while playing in three of the five games.
Utah Utes at Arizona Wildcats
Arizona hosts Utah in a Pac-12 matchup with major division implications for the Utes. A win in Tucson, AZ would put Utah in the driver seat headed into their contest with UCLA next week. Running back Devontae Booker will look for another 150-plus yard game against a weak Arizona defense.
The Wildcats have lost three in a row coming into the weekend, but have won their last three against the Utes. After starting the season 3-0 and reaching 16th in the polls, Arizona is in the bottom half of the Pac-12 at 5-5.
Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Alabama will travel to Starkville, MS to take on Mississippi State in an SEC contest. The Crimson Tide look to take control of the SEC West with a win against the Bulldogs. Alabama is 6-0 after losing to Ole Miss in early October with wins against Georgia, Texas A&M, and LSU.
The Bulldogs are looking to stay alive in the conference race with a win over the Crimson Tide. Quarterback Dak Prescott has joined elite company this season by joining Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel as the only SEC quarterbacks to ever throw for over 50 touchdowns and rush for an additional 30 touchdowns.
With just three weeks left in the season, each game grows in importance. Pay close attention because we’re going to see who is the cream of the college football crop as the season comes to a close.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.