The final weekend of the college football season is here with a smattering of regular season finales and conference championship games. Through it all, there are still plenty of potential scenarios to shake up the College Football Playoff as well as New Year’s Six bowl games.
Starting with Friday night, there’s just one game that will have any impact on the New Year’s Six, and it involves the Pac-12 title game. Despite being undefeated at 5-0, the USC Trojans are ranked No. 13 and have no path to the Playoff and neither does their opponent with the Oregon Ducks, which have a 3-2 record this season. The winner of the Pac-12 will earn a spot in a New Year’s Six as a consolation prize.
In the early window on Saturday, there are three games worth paying attention to for New Year’s Six and College Football Playoff implications. This includes the Big Ten title between the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats, the Big 12 Championship between the 10th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones and a regular season finale between the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies and Tennessee Volunteers. Of those teams, only Ohio State can say it is in with a victory. Oklahoma, Iowa State and Texas A&M need to win and get help in front of them to have a shot in the Playoff.
In the afternoon slate, there’s one game that deserves your attention from a Playoff and New Year’s Six perspective, and it’s in the ACC Championship when the No. 3 Clemson Tigers take on the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The winner of this game will be a part of the Playoff, and Notre Dame has a better chance of getting in than Clemson would if the Tigers fell short here.
In the nightcap, pay attention to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide against the No. 7 Florida Gators in the SEC Championship. Alabama is the only team that can say it’s already in the Playoff no matter what it does this weekend. Meanwhile, Florida needs a win and plenty of help for Playoff spot, though it is likely to at least have a New Year’s Six bowl appearance. The other game to take notice of is when the No. 9 Cincinnati Bearcats play the No. 23 Tulsa Golden Hurricane at home in the AAC title game. There’s not a path for Cincinnati to jump all the way up into the top four, but a win on Saturday night would solidify the Group of 5 team’s bid to the New Year’s Six.
Oregon @ No. 13 USC
No. 14 Northwestern vs. No. 4 Ohio State
No. 5 Texas A&M @ Tennessee
No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Iowa State
No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 2 Notre Dame
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 7 Florida
No. 23 Tulsa @ No. 9 Cincinnati