Play it forward: The week ahead in college football

Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch scores on a 37-yard touchdown run during a win over Western Michigan on Tuesday.
(Brian Kersey / Getty Images)

Five things to watch this week in college football:

1. Fresno State’s loss to San Jose State left Northern Illinois (12-0) as the only non-automatic qualifier school with a chance to snag a BCS bowl bid. Northern Illinois (12-0) must defeat Bowling Green in Friday’s Mid-American Conference title game and then hope to finish in the BCS top 12, or in the top 16 ahead of an AQ-conference champion.

2. Arizona State defeated Arizona to clinch home-field advantage for Saturday’s Pac-12 championship game against Stanford. Arizona State seeks its first Rose Bowl trip since a Jan. 1, 1997 loss to Ohio State that ended up costing ASU the national title. Stanford beat Arizona State, 42-28, at Palo Alto on Sept. 21.

3. Florida State has moved to No. 1 for the first time since 2000 and the Seminoles can reach their first BCS title game since that season with a Saturday win over Duke in the ACC title game at Charlotte, N.C. Duke defeated North Carolina on Saturday to reach the 10-win plateau for the first time.


4. Ohio State and Michigan State missed each other in the Big Ten regular season but face off Saturday at Indianapolis in a title game with huge BCS and Rose Bowl implications. Michigan State would earn a Rose Bowl bid with a win and probably would get one even with a defeat, so long as the Spartans remained in the top 14 of the final BCS standings.

5. Anyone have Auburn vs. Missouri in Saturday’s SEC title game in Atlanta? Um, didn’t think so. The two comeback stories of the year meet for a spot in no worse than the Sugar Bowl. Auburn was 0-8 in the SEC last year, and Missouri finished 2-6 in its first year as a SEC member.