Five games to watch during Week 14 of the college football season:
No. 19 Cincinnati at No. 18 Memphis, ABC, 12:30 p.m. Friday
This battle of 10-1 teams should decide the “Group of Five” berth for a New Year’s Six bowl game. Cincinnati’s only loss is to No. 1 Ohio State, but the Bearcats have struggled of late, having to gut out wins late against the likes of East Carolina and South Florida on the road. That isn’t a good sign for their potential for an upset at Memphis, which has been steadily improving all season and now has running back Patrick Taylor Jr. back to join stud freshman Kenneth Gainwell in an explosive backfield.
No. 1 Ohio State at No. 13 Michigan, Fox, 9 a.m. Saturday
Since falling behind 21-0 at Penn State, Michigan has been the team that many expected them to be in Year 5 of the Jim Harbaugh era. The Wolverines fought back in Happy Valley and were one routine pass that was dropped in the end zone from forcing overtime. A week later, they routed Notre Dame. They’ve held serve the last three weeks, and quarterback Shea Patterson has put up back-to-back 300-yard passing games. Will that be enough to knock off a transcendentally great Ohio State team and get Harbaugh into the win column against his rival?
No. 5 Alabama at No. 15 Auburn, CBS, 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Who is Mac Jones? We’re all about to find out. Tua Tagovailoa’s backup to this point has only had to play in mop-up duty against Tennessee and Mississippi State and manage starts against overmatched Arkansas and Western Carolina. The Iron Bowl should be a different story. While it would make sense to keep the game plan vanilla to protect Jones, Alabama needs to whitewash the Tigers to convince the College Football Playoff committee it is worthy of inclusion over potential one-loss conference champions Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor.
No. 12 Wisconsin at No. 8 Minnesota, ABC, 12:30 p.m. Saturday
As if winning Paul Bunyan’s Axe weren’t enough, this Big Ten West showdown has conference and national championship implications. If Minnesota wins, it will have a shot to play Ohio State for the Big Ten title and a spot in the playoff. Wisconsin, with two losses, would love another shot at the Buckeyes and a shot at the Rose Bowl.
No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 21 Oklahoma State, Fox, 5 p.m. Saturday
That Oregon loss to Arizona State last weekend benefited the Sooners more than any other team. Oklahoma now just needs to beat the Cowboys and Baylor in the Big 12 championship game and hope for the Ducks to knock Utah out of the way in the Pac-12 title game. This game is always pure Bedlam, and given the way Oklahoma has been letting opponents hang around late, this one should live up to the tradition.