What To Expect On Saturday: CFB Week 14 Preview

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What To Expect On Saturday: CFB Week 14 Preview

Joey Goodsir, Staff Writer

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Although it doesn’t say it yet on your calendars, it’s December in the world of College Football. From now on, these previews will divert from the normal structure as the Saturdays being previewed will as well.

The coming of December brings the first of these weeks: a Saturday filled with games that decide who sits atop the conference mountains for 2018, all at the very boring neutral sites of quarter to half-empty indoor NFL Stadiums (Yes, I am an eightist, but a very specific type of eightist. You can check out the details of my ideal playoff system in my comment below colleague Stephen Young’s Forest Scout Article on this very topic).

Although year to year the slate doesn’t really change, the matchups and circumstances do, and these circumstances will certainly be the focus of this week’s edition of What To Expect on Saturday.

Before we begin, let’s look back into the final normal week of CFB for 2018…

About Last Week…

I went 8-1 (88.9%) for Week 13, which puts me at 97-33 (74.6%) overall.

Although my record was pretty solid for Rivalry/Thanksgiving Saturday, my emotions don’t really match it as that happened to start the day in Columbus. This annual period of depression is getting old for me and I’m seriously starting to wonder if this whole thing I write about is just an illusion from the depths of hell.

Without taking another second to talk about that, I will move on to the only other breach from script, a seven overtime showdown between LSU and Texas A&M, culminating in an Aggie upset for the ages. This game didn’t do much of anything in regards to the Southeastern Conference, but will do some slight shakeup to the playoff rankings, considering that is another top ten team to bite the dust this week.

Playoff and New Year’s Six Bowl conversations now go to a more interesting place with that one result on Saturday, as now the hypothetical of Ohio State’s playoff argument loses its hypothetical nature, as well as the Alabama/Georgia matchup we’ve all been waiting for coming to fruition this coming Saturday.

Here are the current College Football Playoff rankings, and be on the lookout for the next episode of It Matters Now – The Postseason Football Podcast to hear my thoughts on them relative to this weekend’s final results and bowl placements alongside Michael Raupp (check out our most recent episode as well, in which we react to Rivalry Week (sigh) and look at how the rankings stand.

College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 27

  1. Alabama (12-0)
  2. Clemson (12-0)
  3. Notre Dame (12-0)
  4. Georgia (11-1)
  5. Oklahoma (11-1)
  6. Ohio State (11-1)
  7. Michigan (10-2)
  8. UCF (11-0)
  9. Florida (9-3)
  10. LSU (9-3)
  11. Washington (9-3)
  12. Penn State (9-3)
  13. Washington State (10-2)
  14. Texas (9-3)
  15. Kentucky (9-3)
  16. West Virginia (8-3)
  17. Utah (9-3)
  18. Mississippi State (8-4)
  19. Texas A&M (8-4)
  20. Syracuse (9-3)
  21. Northwestern (8-4)
  22. Boise State (10-2)
  23. Iowa State (7-4)
  24. Missouri (8-4)
  25. Fresno State (10-2)

That leads us into the preview, so let’s begin…

 

Noon Game of The Week:

Big XII Championship Game: #14 Texas vs. #5 Oklahoma

Quick Essentials

When: 11:00 CT

TV: ABC

Rain (Above 40%)? It’s Indoors!

Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)

Series History: Texas 48-45 in Week 6 (Texas leads 62-5-46)

The day starts with potentially the most enticing matchup of the day, with Red River Rivals meeting at Jerryworld for a redux matchup – this time to decide conference bragging rights.

Oklahoma got the nod from the committee on Tuesday in the newfound debate with themselves and the Ohio State Buckeyes, as their 59-56 shootout against West Virginia kept them consistent and gave them a simple slide up following Michigan’s fall behind within the top ten race.

That above score should not be ignored, as the story of the Sooners this year has been a team that needs all of 50+ points to get a chance at wins, which has been done the majority of the time by an unstoppable OU offense to combat their gaping defensive deficiencies.

The Sooners take on a Texas team that bested them in their annual regular season shootout at the Cotton Bowl, in what was another high scoring affair for the Sooners that happened to fall short. The Longhorns boast some great receiving targets, which is the source of offensive productivity of their own. This game holds the characteristics of Big XII football for this year, as Texas does not have notable defensive strengths either.

This game is completely set up to be a high-scoring battle that the south has seen all year, with football games that have killed defense (see last week with Oklahoma-West Virginia and LSU-Texas A&M). It has gotten to even the extent that the coaches have conceded to the inevitable high-scoring shootout that will take place this coming Saturday in this one.

Texas has shown in past games that they can beat Oklahoma if they have even the slightest defensive edge, but they don’t seem to definitively have that currently, and considering the awful quality of the Oklahoma defense, that is a trouble spot for the Longhorns as well. There is no defensive edge at all, and while Texas has a fantastic offense, the Sooners are nearly unstoppable with the ball. Revenge will be on the menu in what will be an exciting addition to a great rivalry.

Oklahoma Wins, 55484930223984-55484930223980

 

Afternoon Game of The Week:

SEC Championship Game: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Georgia

Quick Essentials

When: 3:00 CT

TV: CBS

Rain (Above 40%)? Also Indoors (Retractable Roof will be closed with rain in forecast).

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)

Series History: Bama 26-23 in 2018 CFP NC (Bama leads 39-4-25 all-time)

As usual, the game that takes center stage in the afternoon slot of this Saturday of conference championships is typically located in Atlanta, as the topping teams of the Southeastern Conference clash, with playoff implications frequently at stake.

This is more true than ever in this 2018 chapter, as 2018 National Championship Game foes meet again to create a result that will surely reverberate into the 2019 National Championship Game.

The tide is still rolling, Bama is still Bama, and all is looking good for what could be Nick Saban’s most explosive team. Tua exists. He has receivers. I don’t think there needs to be much discussion on this team’s quality. We all know the drill, and the Iron Bowl only added a data point to support that.

Georgia comes into this game trying to defy the norm, and they have all the means to believe it could happen. From their perspective, they are out for blood that they didn’t harvest on in January, and they have kept their eye closely on this matchup ever since it was secured to do just that. The Bulldogs boast a decently solid defense, and an offense that has not been catching eyes, but simply winning.

This game is going to depend on Georgia’s management of the offense, especially when responding to adverse circumstances the Alabama defense may throw at them. If they can use what they are given and respond to it in a productive and open-minded way, they may have a chance at victory. Additionally, they must capitalize on all mistakes the Crimson Tide make.  If Alabama plays their best game, they will win, but some mistakes and a below-perfect version of them may give the Bulldogs a foundation to build an upset – that is, if they are able to utilize that foundation.

This game is going to be primed as a potential upset because the mainstream media wants chaos to erupt upon the CFB landscape (which is what an Alabama loss would do), but I think we all know what we will end up seeing when we turn on the TV. While there is a route for Georgia to create that upset, Alabama shows no signs that they will make their needed contribution to that route to an extent in which Georgia can use it. Some early scares will be settled down by the machine (unfortunately for lovers of chaos).

Alabama Wins, 48-24

 

Other Afternoon Games of Note:

2:00 CT:

“The Big Game”: Stanford @ California (PAC 12)

2:30 CT:

American Championship Game: Memphis @ #8 UCF (ABC)

 

Night Game of The Week:

B1G Championship Game: #21 Northwestern vs. #6 Ohio State

Quick Essentials

When: 7:00 CT

TV: FOX

Rain (Above 40%)? Nope. Also Indoors!

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

Series History: OSU 24-20 in 2016 (OSU leads 61-1-14 all-time)

Ohio State claimed the tiebreaker over Big Ten East Co-Champion Michigan when that happened. Suddenly, the Buckeyes look amazing.

Now, that team calms down for a championship game against the champions of the peak-“BIG TEN!” West division, the 8-4 Northwestern Wildcats.

Yes, it is very exciting that “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” is having a shiny year, and is an upset away from an undeniable Rose Bowl bid. Pat Fitzgerald is living upon the success of a solid system he has built over a long steady coaching career in Evanston, and the rewards are coming in some great moments for this team.

However, remember the thing I said about Georgia’s route to victory involving Bama miscues? Yeah, that and alot more will be needed for the impossible to become possible for the Wildcats.

They are going to need the “The Game” version of Ohio State to be nowhere to be found, probably resting for future matchups in a potentially elite playoff showdown. They are going to have to find refuge in the one-dimensional Buckeye team that stressed out against Maryland and lost to Purdue. Dwayne Haskins is a very dangerous player and has serious Heisman chatter surrounding his season, and a slightly-underwhelming performance from him is needed.

That is a lot of things Ohio State will have to accomplish in order for Northwestern to win. They will need to take the rest of it themselves, and an 8-4 record with losses to Akron and Duke certainly doesn’t guarantee they will do that (I know, those are non-conference losses, but they did lose to the Michigan team their opponent this week rose to beat last week).

The real difference maker is Urban Meyer. Morality aside, this man is one of the greatest college football head coaches in the game, with his worst luck coming from the fact that he is a part of the Nick Saban era. Meyer will be 100% aware of any possibility of this game being a trap for OSU, and will mitigate that possibility by keeping his team on target. If results play out in a way that requires the Bucks to prove themselves, they will with style points. Regardless, we have the result.

Ohio State Wins, 51-28

 

Other Night Games of Note:

6:45 CT:

Mountain West Championship Game: #25 Fresno State @ Boise State (ESPN)

7:00 CT:

ACC Championship Game: #2 Clemson vs. Pittsburgh (ABC)

 

Enjoy Conference Championship Saturday, everyone!

Photo Courtesy: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports