Break out the chips and cold drinks, but let Mike Hiserman handle the remote. The Times’ deputy sports editor handicaps what’s worth watching, and skipping, on this weekend’s menu of college football games.
No. 17 Western Michigan (12-0) vs. Ohio (8-4) at Ford Field, Detroit, 4 p.m., ESPN 2
There are two undefeated major college football teams: Western Michigan and Alabama. Western Michigan is 13th in the nation in average rushing yards per game at 247.3, and Ohio is fifth against the run, giving up an average of 105.1. The Bobcats, guided by former Nebraska coach Frank Solich, will seek to stuff the run and then come after Broncos quarterback Zach Terrell. Good luck with that. Terrell has completed 71.7% of his passes for 3,086 yards and 30 touchdowns, with one interception.
No. 8 Colorado (10-2) vs. No. 4 Washington (11-1) at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., 6 p.m., Channel 11
USC fans are rooting for a Washington win — a big Washington win. A lopsided victory by the Huskies would not only put Washington in a College Football Playoff semifinal. It could also push USC past Colorado in the CFP rankings, which could result in the Trojans being invited to the Rose Bowl. Yes, that’s a lot of “coulds.”
USC currently sits at No. 11 but is on an eight-game winning streak, which includes a win over Colorado. Washington also lost to the Trojans. Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau’s production could be the determining factor. When he’s on, so are the Buffaloes.
Temple (9-3) at No. 19 Navy (9-2), 9 a.m., Channel 7
This game offers the always popular irresistible force vs. immovable object. Navy’s running game, in this case, is the force. The Midshipmen are second in the nation in rushing, averaging 342 yards a game. Temple puts up the third-rated defense, giving up an average of 273.4 yards. Navy has won 15 consecutive games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, tied with Houston for the nation’s longest home winning streak.
No. 10 Oklahoma State (9-2) at No. 9 Oklahoma (9-2), 9:30 a.m., Channel 11
This annual rivalry game, known as “Bedlam,” will determine the champion of the Big 12 Conference for the sixth time in nine seasons. The winner is headed to a major bowl game; the loser plays in the Alamo Bowl, probably against USC. Neither of these two-loss teams has been defeated since September. Oklahoma State is coming off what was probably its best all-around game, a 31-6 win over Texas Christian two weeks ago.
9 a.m.: Kansas State at Texas Christian, FS1; Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky, ESPN; Troy at Georgia Southern, ESPN2.
No. 1 Alabama (12-0) vs. No. 15 Florida (8-3) at Georgia Dome, Atlanta, 1 p.m., Channel 2
Florida was routed by rival Florida State last week and is a 24-point underdog against the Crimson Tide. Can this Alabama team be beat by any team from the college ranks? Consider this: The Tide defense leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 68.7, total yards per game at 246.8 and points allowed per game at 11.4 — numbers all better than what the team posted last year in a national championship season. What’s more, the Alabama defense has given up only 12 touchdowns while scoring nine on fumble and interception returns.
San Diego State (9-3) at Wyoming (8-4), 4:45 p.m., ESPN
On the surface, it would seem that San Diego State has the advantage in the Mountain West Conference championship game. The Aztecs nearly swept the conference major awards: running back Donnel Pumphrey was offensive player of the year, defensive back Damontae Kazee was defensive player of the year and return specialist Rashaad Penny won for special teams. But Wyoming has coach of the year Craig Bohl. Oh, and a 34-33 win over San Diego State on Nov. 19 at Laramie, Wy.
12:30 p.m.: Baylor at No. 16 West Virginia, FS1.
4 p.m.: Arkansas State at Texas State, ESPN2.
No. 3 Clemson (11-1) vs. No. 23 Virginia Tech (9-3) at Camping World Stadium, Orlando, 5 p.m., Channel 7
A loss by Clemson could allow a second Big Ten Conference team into the national semifinals, and it’s quite possible. Clemson not only lost to Pittsburgh. It was lucky to defeat North Carolina State, which blew a field-goal try at the end of regulation that gave the Tigers the chance to win in overtime. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a dual threat who tends to run more against tougher competition. That could be bad news for Virginia Tech because in each of their three losses the Hokies have seen the opposing quarterback run for more than 100 yards.
No. 6 Wisconsin (10-2) vs. No. 7 Penn State (10-2) at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, 5 p.m., Channel 11
The winner probably is headed to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 2 while one conference team, No. 2 Ohio State, is already a lock for a spot in the national semifinals and another, No. 5 Michigan, is poised to pounce depending on what happens in other conference title games. Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin’s starting quarterback, is questionable because of a head injury, but the Badgers still have Bart Houston, who began the season as the starter and, as a reserve in the last four games has completed 17 of 24 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.