Washington vs. Washington State (Apple Cup)
- Friday — 2:30 p.m. — FS1
For the first time in the conference’s history, neither Stanford nor Oregon will play for the Pac-12 championship. Instead, the Apple Cup will determine the Pac-12 North winner.
Both teams are performing at their highest level in years and hold an opportunity to prove superiority on Friday afternoon. Chris Petersen’s team is guided by Heisman-candidate Jake Browning. The sophomore quarterback has kicked it into a new gear, playing spectacularly to keep Washington among the top four teams.
Mike Leach’s team is led by Luke Falk, a junior with a cannon arm. Coming off a loss to Colorado, the Cougars have a valuable opportunity to remedy mistakes against their rival and possibly prevent the Huskies from crashing the playoff.
- Michigan vs. Ohio State (The Game)
- Saturday — 11 a.m. — ABC
“The Game” is perhaps college football’s biggest rivalry. The bitter adversaries are fighting for more than school pride this season — a playoff spot hangs in the balance.
Both Ohio State and Michigan own one loss and are currently seeded in the country’s top four. But one will likely fall out with a loss in Columbus on Saturday.
With junior quarterback Wilton Speight’s status unknown, Jim Harbaugh may allocate more of the offense — struggling as of late — to star junior playmaker Jabrill Peppers.
Ohio State barely escaped a feisty Michigan State squad last Saturday but are looking to win 12 out of 13 games in the rivalry with junior quarterback J.T. Barrett at the helm.
- Auburn vs. Alabama (Iron Bowl)
- Saturday — 2:30 p.m. — CBS
The Iron Bowl is one of the most storied rivalries in college football. The two in-state foes clash in Tuscaloosa, with the Crimson Tide seeking their third-straight win in the series.
But the history of the game is full of miracles, as evidenced by Auburn’s momentous game-winning field goal return in 2013 that will be remembered for generations.
Once again, Nick Saban’s program is sitting atop the polls, throttling opponent after opponent with a relentless defense, led by senior defensive end Jonathan Allen.
Auburn’s junior defensive end Carl Lawson will lead the Tigers’ remarkable defensive unit. This may be a low-scoring game, but Auburn’s defense may have to force several turnovers in order to pull out an upset for the ages.
- Utah vs. Colorado (Rumble in the Rockies)
- Saturday — 6:30 p.m. — FOX
Six years ago, this would have been a battle between Big 12 and Mountain West foes. But in 2016, these programs have risen to prominence as Pac-12 members and Colorado is playing for a potential championship appearance.
The Buffaloes are coming off a statement win against a rolling Washington State team. Utah fell at home to Oregon in a heartbreaking, last-second defeat last week. This battle is in the hands of the running backs.
The Buffaloes’ junior running back Phillip Lindsay has caught fire lately, and Utah’s senior halfback Joe Williams, who briefly retired from football in September, has rushed for at least 140 yards in all five games since his return.
Nobody expected the Buffaloes to rise this high in 2016, but the Utes can quell all of the hype with a dominant offensive performance.