Game of the week
Michigan at Ohio State (11 a.m. Saturday on ABC)
All is right with the world, at least in the college football atmosphere, now that the Buckeyes and Wolverines are near the top. Starting quarterback for Michigan looks like a game-time decision with Wilton Speight practicing Tuesday as his injured shoulder recovers. The Wolverines go to the Big Ten title game with a victory. Ohio State needs to win and have Michigan State defeat Penn State to reach the conference championship. Could the Buckeyes advance to the College Football Playoff without a Big Ten title? Perhaps, but only league champions have advanced to the bracket in the first two years of the CFP.
Others to watch
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Washington at Washington State (2:30 p.m. Friday on Fox)
Biggest Apple Cup of ‘em all? The winner goes to the Pac-12 title game next Friday in Santa Clara, Calif., and the Huskies’ CFP hopes remain alive with the victory. Washington State lost its first two games before ripping off eight straight triumphs. The streak ended with last week’s loss to Colorado. These are two terrific offensive teams led by productive quarterbacks Jake Browning at Washington and Luke Falk of Washington State. Falk didn’t play in last year’s Apple Cup, a 45-10 loss in Seattle, because of a concussion.
Nebraska at Iowa (2:30 p.m. Friday on ABC)
Is this a rivalry yet? It’s starting to feel that way six years into the Cornhuskers’ Big Ten life, but the coaches don’t agree. “I think it’s perfect with these two states, the proximity ... it feels really, really natural to me,” Nebraska’s Mike Riley said. Not so fast, says Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. “We haven’t played that much,” he said. “Historically, we haven’t played that often. But I think it has the makings and the potential to be.”
Auburn at Alabama (2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS)
Some believe this could be the Crimson Tide’s most difficult challenge on the way to the national championship, including the College Football Playoff. The Tigers will try to establish the ground game, led by running back Kamryn Pettway, against the nation’s most ferocious defense, which leads the nation in rushing defense at 68.9 yards per game. Pettway averages 6.39 yards per carry and has keyed Auburn’s season turnaround, from a 1-2 start to six straight victories.