5 Rivalry games with biggest College Football Playoff implications
While the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday remain unchanged, Rivalry Week could produce different results for a few teams.
There is one week left in the 2016 regular season. It has been a wild season that has seen a lot of upsets as well as some unexpected College Football Playoff scenarios. With so much riding on the week for some teams, a victory could shake up the final scenario for all teams involved.
The Big Ten has two teams still in the College Football Playoff picture. With a matchup between Michigan and Ohio State looming, there’s a definite possibility a new playoff team could emerge. With Wisconsin and Penn State ranked sixth and seventh in the playoff rankings, there still remains a chance that two Big Ten teams make the final College Football Playoff.
As the Penn State Nittany Lions continue to climb in the playoff rankings, their game against Michigan State could boost their playoff hopes. Wisconsin takes a 12-game winning streak into their rivalry game with Minnesota this week as well.
5 Minnesota @ Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Badgers have an opportunity to clinch the Big Ten West title. A win clinches them an appearance in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State or Penn State. The Badgers rank sixth in the College Football Playoff and a win along with a Big Ten title could improve things.
After starting out 1-2 in conference play, Wisconsin has won six straight games. Sitting at 6-2, the Badgers have an opportunity to strengthen their playoff resume with a Big Ten West title with a chance to win the Big Ten Championship.
The Badgers have won Paul Bunyan’s Axe 12 straight seasons against Minnesota. A win sets up some good possibilities for Wisconsin going forward in the College Football Playoff picture.
4 Michigan State @ Penn State
The Penn State Nittany Lions are 9-2 this season and 7-1 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions have an upset victory over Ohio State that has catapulted them to the eighth ranking in the AP Poll.
They rank seventh in the College Football Playoff rankings. They’ll need Ohio State to beat Michigan. That victory would guarantee Penn State’s place in the Big Title game to possibly face Wisconsin. If the Nittany Lions can get a win in the Big Ten Championship and see the Washington Huskies lose, they could get a shot at a National Championship in this year’s College Football Playoff.
The Spartans are just 3-8 on the season but they played second-ranked Ohio State last week to a close 17-16 loss. Michigan State has won the last three meetings between the teams by an average of 23 points.
3 Utah @ Colorado
The Colorado Buffaloes are enjoying a successful season in Mike MacIntyre’s fourth year as head coach. They are 9-2 on the season and 7-1 in Big Ten play. They rank ninth in the AP Poll and eighth in the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Buffaloes haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2005 when they finished 7-5. This season, they’ve got an opportunity to win 10 games for the first time since 2001. A win over Utah puts Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship game to face Washington/Washington State.
The Utah Utes are a formidable opponent as well. They rank 21st in the AP Poll despite coming off their third loss of the season. Colorado has won five straight games since losing 21-17 to the USC Trojans back on October 8. However, the Buffaloes have lost the last four meetings against Utah.
If the Buffaloes can pull off those two victories, expect to see them leap frog a few teams and crash the College Football Playoff.
2 Washington @ Washington State
The Pac-12 North title is on the line when the Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars face each other for the Apple Cup. As the Huskies rank fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings, a Pac-12 North title and a Pac-12 title could boost their chances of getting back in the final four.
Washington face a tough road opponent in 23rd-ranked Washington State, they are 8-3 on the season. The Apple Cup takes on special meaning as both teams are at the top of the Pac-12 this season. A win gives the Huskies a good opportunity to get their fourth ranking back or higher. They ranked fourth before falling out of the ranking after a 26-13 to the USC Trojans.
The Huskies defeated Washington State 45-10 at home last season. They’ll look to draw on that in order to win these next two games and catapult themselves into the College Football Playoff.
1 Michigan @ Ohio State
The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes are both 10-1 this season. The winner of this game holds the keys to their own fate in the College Football Playoff. Each team has one-loss in Big Ten conference play.
“The Game” takes on special meaning this season as the Ohio State Buckeyes play host to the Michigan Wolverines. The winner of the game in the driver’s seat for a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff spot.
If Michigan wins, they’ll get their first victory at Ohio State since 2000 and seal a spot in the Big Ten title game.
If Ohio State wins, they’ll need a Penn State loss to seal the Big Ten East division and to earn a spot in the Big Ten title game.
The Buckeyes are 11-1 in the series against Michigan dating back to the 2004 season. The Wolverines look to snap a four-game losing streak this week in “The Game” of the year.
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