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Wayne Staats | | December 4, 2020

The college football fan's guide to Week 14 games

College Football Playoff rankings: Full breakdown of the top 25

It's time to clinch some more conference title bids — if they haven't been claimed already. More teams will secure spots in championship games this week, adding more intrigue and pressure to Week 14 action.

Here are what you should keep an eye on this week.

Week 14 preview: Top games to watch this week

No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) at Michigan State (2-3) | 12 p.m. Saturday | ABC

Ohio State will need to avoid cancelations if it's going to play in the Big Ten Championship Game. That starts with this weekend at Michigan State. The Spartans did upset then-undefeated Northwestern a week ago, but quieting Justin Fields and the hungry Buckeyes would be a shocker at a totally different level.

No. 5 Texas A&M (6-1) at Auburn (5-3) | 12 p.m. Saturday | ESPN

It must be said: Style points do matter. Or, put another way, the "eye test." With Texas A&M at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, two blowout wins at Auburn and at Tennessee could go a long way to maintaining its spot going into conference championship weekend. That home win against Florida helps elevate A&M's CFP ranking — but the Gators could end up jumping the Aggies if they upset Alabama in Atlanta. But take it one week at a time.

No. 12 Indiana (5-1) at No. 16 Wisconsin (2-1) | 3:30 p.m. Saturday | ABC

Ten. That's how many games Wisconsin has won in a row against the Hoosiers. Indiana hasn't beaten the Badgers since 2002. More often than not, the losses have been by wide margins — think 83-20 in 2010, 59-7 in 2011 and 45-17 just last year. Indiana will also be without QB Michael Penix Jr. for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.

No. 13 BYU (9-0) at No. 18 Coastal Carolina (9-0) | 5:30 p.m. Saturday | ESPNU

Welcome, College GameDay. The Chanticleers make program history by serving as hosts of the popular ESPN pregame show. Coastal was going to play Liberty for this, but COVID-19 issues forced out the Flames — and left room for the undefeated Cougars. This could be the most intriguing game of the weekend.

No. 3 Clemson (8-1) at Virginia Tech (4-5) | 7:30 p.m. Saturday | ABC

Win and you're in. If Clemson does what's expected and wins at Virginia Tech, the Tigers will officially lock in a rematch with Notre Dame for the ACC Championship. Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence looked good in his return last week, passing for 403 yards and two touchdowns against Pitt.

Week 14 preview: Big questions

What can we learn from the latest College Football Playoff rankings?

Well, the top 7 remained the same as last week. That's good news for No. 4 Ohio State, which has played one game since Nov. 7 — a notable 42-35 win against then-undefeated Indiana. At 4-0, the Buckeyes have played less than half the games that No. 3 Clemson (8-1) has played. And OSU may not play enough games to qualify for the Big Ten Championship game, which would add a major wrinkle and drama.

Things usually seem to work themselves out. Usually. But if Notre Dame (vs. Syracuse) wins this week, it's quite possible the Irish make the CFP even with a conference championship loss — especially if they lose to Clemson in a close game. As for the SEC, a Florida upset win against No. 1 Alabama could very well mean two SEC schools make it — even if it's undefeated at something like 6-0, Ohio State might have a tough fight if it's getting compared to 10-1 Notre Dame and/or 10-1 Florida.

But if the top-ranked Tide win out, look to another SEC team to be the biggest rival for Ohio State when it comes to comparisons for a final CFP spot: Texas A&M. The Aggies would have one loss with a big win against Florida. But could that decisive, 28-point loss to Alabama back in early October be the difference? Some may say, "We tried that already." But then again, this is 2020. Don't count out some more plot twists.

Is the Big 12 making a late CFP charge?

Quick answer — probably not. At first glance, it was a good week for the conference's top teams: Iowa State moved up four spots to No. 9 (three spots higher than in the AP), Oklahoma remained No. 11 (two spots higher than in the AP) and Oklahoma State moved up eight spots to No. 15 (four spots higher than in the AP). But unless things get really, really, really weird, the Big 12 won't seriously challenge for a top-four spot. Some of that is because no two-loss team has made the CFP semifinals since it started in 2014. An Iowa State vs. Oklahoma meeting for the Big 12 title could end up being a top-10 matchup, but the winner may top out around seven when all is done.

College Football Playoff rankings: Top 25 for Week 14

Alabama (8-0)

Notre Dame (9-0)

Clemson (8-1)

Ohio State (4-0)

Texas A&M (6-1)

Florida (7-1)

Cincinnati (8-0)
Georgia (6-2)
Iowa State (7-2)
Miami (7-1)
Oklahoma (6-2)
Indiana (5-1)
BYU (9-0)
Northwestern (5-1)
Oklahoma State (6-2)
Wisconsin (2-1)
North Carolina (6-3)
Coastal Carolina (9-0)
Iowa (4-2)
USC (3-0)
Marshall (7-0)

Washington (3-0)

Oregon (3-1)

Tulsa (5-1)

Louisiana (8-1)

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