The stage is set for the biggest weekend of the year. Every year it goes from Labor Day to Thanksgiving in the blink of an eye. There are so many intra-state battles and rivalry games with huge implications. The big winners this past weekend include Ohio State, Georgia, and Navy.
1. LSU – The Bayou Bengals bombed Arkansas 56-20 and now get a big test with a very talented Aggies bunch. LSU’s offense is really rolling. The Tigers should clinch a playoff berth if they beat Texas A&M.
2. Ohio State – It was a huge win for the Buckeyes over Penn State 28-17 in the Horseshoe. Ohio State jumped out 21-0 and then held on. Next up is Michigan in Ann Arbor, and then the Big Ten Championship Game.
3. Clemson – The Tigers are absolutely smoking hot. Since the scare against the Tar Heels, they have been annihilating teams. Clemson had this past week off and now heads to South Carolina for the big rivalry matchup Saturday.
4. Georgia – It was another knee-knocking victory for the Bulldogs, who held on to defeat Texas A&M 19-13 between the hedges. Georgia heads to The Flats Saturday to take on Tech, which will be eyeing the upset. This defense is playing great.
5. Alabama – Nick Saban usually holds back in games like these, but he did not this past week, as the Crimson Tide bombarded Western Carolina 66-3. Now comes the Iron Bowl on the Plains.
6. Oklahoma – It was another great escape for the Sooners, who edged TCU in a third straight win that certainly could have gone the other way. Oklahoma is living dangerously but still alive for one of the four spots.
7. Utah – They keep rolling along. Utah cruised past Arizona 35-7 and now hosts Colorado Saturday. A victory over the Buffaloes would put the Utes at 11-1 on the year, bound for the PAC-12 Championship Game alive for one of those four spots.
8. Minnesota – The Golden Gophers avoided the upset trap and took care of Northwestern. Now comes the game of the season, as Wisconsin heads to Minneapolis. If the Gophers win, they play for the Big Ten championship.
9. Florida – It’s been an outstanding season for the Gators, who have lost only to LSU and Georgia. If Florida beats Florida State this week in Gainesville, it’s 10-2 and a major bowl for the Gators. Florida was touched by fate at quarterback.
10. Baylor – Recovering from what has to be the most devastating loss in school history, Baylor took down Texas 24-10. The Bears go to Kansas Saturday, and the Jayhawks aren’t awful. Baylor is back amongst the Big XII’s best.
11. Penn State – It was backup quarterback to the rescue with the Buckeyes leading 21-0. But Penn State came up short. It will be easy with Rutgers Saturday and a 10-2 record into a major bowl.
12. Auburn – It was cruise control for the Tigers against Samford this past weekend. Now comes the Iron Bowl. Auburn’s three losses are to Florida, LSU and Georgia. Beating Bama at Jordan-Hare would make their season.
13. Wisconsin – The Badgers will battle for the Big Ten West title Saturday in Minneapolis against the Golden Gophers. If Wisconsin wins, it’s the Buckeyes the next week, if the Gophers win, Minnesota battles Ohio State.
14. Michigan – The Wolverines came through with one of their most impressive wins, avoiding the trap and handling Indiana. Now comes the showdown, the game they’ve been eyeing. The Buckeyes head to Ann Arbor.
15. Notre Dame – It was a cruise to victory over Boston College 40-7 in South Bend. Now comes the finale against Stanford on the farm. A Notre Dame win puts the Fighting Irish at 10-2 on the regular season.
16. Oregon – It was a crushing loss for the Ducks, who got upset in the desert 31-28 by Arizona State. Their playoff hopes were extinguished. Oregon will try and regain the focus, hosting the cross-state Beavers in the Civil War.
17. Boise State – These Broncos are explosive offensively. A 56-21 rout of Utah State moved them to 10-1 on the year. Friday night in Fort Collins, Boise State battles Colorado State. Then it’s the Mountain West Championship Game.
18. Appalachian State – The Mountaineers are in the midst of a tremendous season. They added North Texas to their hit list, which is proud to include North and South Carolina. It is off to Troy on Friday night. Defensive standout Scott Clegg is proud of his alma mater.
19. Navy – What a bounce-back win for the Midshipmen. Following a loss to Notre Dame, the Naval Academy put together all the pieces in a critical 35-28 win over SMU. Navy heads to Houston Saturday.
20. Iowa – The Hawkeyes won a classic Big Ten battle 19-10 over Illinois to go to 8-3 on the year. They play Nebraska Friday in their annual day after Thanksgiving battle. Iowa is one of those “what if” teams, so close to double digit wins.
21. Oklahoma State – It wasn’t their most electric win of the year, but Oklahoma State avoided the upset and took care of West Virginia 20-13. The Cowboys are 8-3 and host Oklahoma in a huge game Saturday.
22. Memphis – The Tigers ripped through South Florida 49-10 to make it 10-1 on the year. The Tigers are sniffing the American Championship Game and are a contender for a major bowl. It’s a big challenge at home with Cincinnati Friday.
23. Texas A&M – Facing the most difficult schedule in the nation, the Aggies have one of their toughest tests Saturday at LSU – the third No. 1 they’ve played this year. A&M lost a tough one at fourth-ranked Georgia last week.
24. SMU – The Mustangs fell to 9-2 with a 35-28 loss to Navy in Annapolis. This has been the best season for SMU since the Pony Express. They can finish the regular season 10-2 with a win over Tulane in Dallas.
25. Virginia Tech – The Hokies are smoking hot, disposing of Pitt last weekend. Now comes the Cavaliers with big stakes. Virginia Tech has dominated the series. The Hokies will be in Charlottesville Friday.