Week 13 preview: Huge stakes at Horseshoe and in Apple Cup
Bragging rights are nice. Championships are better.
This rivalry weekend several of college football's most-celebrated and tradition-rich series also have major implications in conference championship races and the College Football Playoff. The stakes are highest in Columbus, Ohio, where No. 2 Ohio State faces No. 3 Michigan, with the loser likely eliminated from the playoff race.
Spread out over about 60 hours from Thanksgiving night through Saturday, one could argue this is the best weekend of the season.
Five things to know as you prepare for the college football feast that is Week 13.
So much goodness from which to choose. From Tallahassee, Florida, to Pullman, Washington.
But the choice is obvious: Buckeyes vs. Wolverines. Urban Meyer vs. Jim Harbaugh, Part II.
The last time Ohio State and Michigan met with so much on the line was 10 years ago. No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan 42-39 at the Horseshoe and went on to play in the BCS national championship.
It would be surprising if these Buckeyes and Wolverines combine for 42 on Saturday with two of the nation's best defenses on patrol. And Michigan might be without its No. 1 quarterback as Wilton Speight is still recovering from an injury to his non-throwing (left) shoulder.
The Buckeyes have won 11 of the last 12 meetings.
With so much attention on Ohio State-Michigan, one of the stars in that game has a chance to make a big move up Heisman board. Especially if Michigan decides to make versatile linebacker Jabrill Peppers a big part of its offense.
The Apple Cup could also be a Heisman hot spot. Washington quarterback Jake Browning was in the thick of the race before he and the sixth-ranked Huskies fell flat against Southern California a couple weeks ago. He could re-emerge with a big performance against No. 23 Washington State in a game that will decide the Pac-12 North.
Cougars quarterback Luke Falk did not quite seize his opportunity in the national spotlight last week against Colorado, but he has a second chance and could get a third if he leads Washington State to a victory.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
6-0 – Bobby Pertino's record against Kentucky as coach of Louisville. The 11th-ranked Cardinals host the Wildcats on Saturday.
18 – Numbers of times No. 13 Florida and No. 14 Florida State have played when both teams are ranked in the AP top 15. The Seminoles are 10-7-1 in those games.
19 – Yards receiving needed by Western Michigan star Corey Davis to become the FBS career leader. Trevor Insley of Nevada holds the record with 5,005. The 14th-ranked Broncos face Toledo on Friday. With a victory, Western Michigan earns a spot in the Mid-American conference title game.
30 – Number of years ago when Notre Dame last played at Southern California with a losing record. The Fighting Irish are 4-8. The 12th-ranked Trojans have won seven straight games.
OFF THE RADAR
In some rivalry games, pride is just about all that's on the line.
In the Territorial Cup on Friday night, Arizona (2-9) is trying to avoid its first winless Pac-12 season against Arizona State (5-6), which needs a victory to get bowl eligible. That last time neither Arizona school made a bowl game was 2003.
The Egg Bowl matches Ole Miss (5-6), trying to get bowl eligible, against Mississippi State (4-7), which will sit out this postseason. The last time neither Magnolia state school made it to the postseason was 2006.
COACH IN NEED OF A WIN
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is in Year Four at his alma mater and heading toward a second season with no bowl game. A $9 million buyout means it is highly unlikely that he will be fired, but ending the season with a victory Friday night against fading Baylor (6-4) in Lubbock, Texas, would provide a little hope for a fanbase that is growing weary of the defenseless Red Raiders. Texas Tech has lost six of seven and allowed at least 40 points in each loss.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP