2017 Week 14 NCAAF Weekend Preview

December 1, 2017

We’ve finally made it – the last full weekend of the 2017 college football regular season.

Championship Week, as it is also called, is the last hurdle for teams looking to make the College Football Playoff. And while we’re just several days away from the teams that will be in that group of four being chosen by the Committee, at the same time it feels so far away.

This weekend could easily get wild.

Most of the top conference title games mean something to the Playoff picture, and all of them are tough to predict what will happen. It should make the head-to-head prediction game quite interesting, since Zach helped the guests build a two game lead heading into the final full weekend. The overall standings look like this:

K. Becks – 44-21

Guests – 46-19

This week, my buddy Matt will look to slam the door on any chance of me winning overall.

This weekend, I’m rooting for chaos to ensue. I’d love for the decisions of the Committee to be considered hypocritical regardless of the actions taken. Let the playoff expansion conversation overshadow the one about this year’s Playoff. Sacrifice my alma mater’s chance to play for a national title for the greater good of progress. I don’t really care.

Let’s take a look at the slew of monster matchups taking place this weekend.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#12 Stanford vs. #10 Southern Cal [game in Santa Clara, CA] (Friday, 8 PM ET)

I’ve had fun puking all over the Trojans this season, and luckily Southern Cal survived itself to emerge from a weak Pac-12 South division and allow me one more literary crack at them. Since this game is the ugly redheaded stepchild of the Power 5 conference title games this year, it’s safe to say the only reason why anyone would truly care to watch this one is because there aren’t any other good games to watch on Friday night.

Neither of these teams have a real shot at the Playoff, which will be the undoing of Southern Cal in this one. The Cardinal aren’t the most talented squad in the country, but David Shaw gets the best out of his team near the end of the year regardless of where Stanford sits in the rankings. While Southern Cal’s players may not come into this one 100 percent focused, Stanford will treat it like any other game. That’s why the Cardinal come away with the victory.

My Pick: 34-28 Stanford

Matt’s Take: 34-21 Southern Cal

#11 TCU vs. #3 Oklahoma [game in Arlington, TX] (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)

Beating a team twice is never easy, but in the case of this rematch, the winner from Game 1 appears to have a significant edge. TCU’s defense was exposed against Oklahoma the first time around, and having Kenny Hill back isn’t going to solve the issue of slowing down Baker Mayfield and the Sooners offense. In a shootout, Oklahoma has the advantage. TCU may have a slight advantage in a defensive battle, but are we really going to make the assertion that the total scoring is this game is going to be fewer than 60? Good one.

The Sooners are a team on a mission with a really solid leader as their quarterback. I’m not going to say that Oklahoma is the team to beat in this season’s Playoff, but I do feel the most confident in this pick this weekend.

My Pick: 45-37 Oklahoma

Matt’s Take: 41-31 Oklahoma

#6 Georgia vs. #2 Auburn [game in Atlanta] (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

Thanks to the Alabama loss, a new team from the SEC has basically assured itself a spot in the Playoff. But if that team isn’t Auburn, then the potential for Alabama to slip back in despite not playing for its conference title remains a high possibility. At the expense of Georgia. We’ve seen a similar situation before (hello, Buckeyes).

That being said, I like the Iron Bowl champ’s chances of surviving the SEC title game. The Bulldogs are going to be motivated to avenge a 49-10 drubbing at the hands of the Tigers just a few weeks ago, but there is a reason that happened. Georgia’s defense is still a lesser version of Alabama’s even with Kirby Smart, and Auburn defeated both. The Tigers will punish Georgia with the running game once again.

My Pick: 34-24 Auburn

Matt’s Take: 31-30 Georgia

#7 Miami (FL) vs. #1 Clemson [game in Charlotte, NC] (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

After last weekend’s meltdown against always average Pitt, I think the majority of the country joined me on the ship that I had been sailing for weeks. Miami plays to its opponent, and thus rises to the challenge against the best competition on its schedule.

Assuming that Mark Richt doesn’t try to light a fire under Malik Rosier by pulling him at a crucial time in the fourth quarter, Miami’s offense should return to form this weekend. Yes, Clemson’s defense is better than Pittsburgh’s, but this is a game that the country doesn’t expect the Hurricanes to win anymore. It’s time for the turnover chain to regain its shine.

My Pick: 33-31 Miami

Matt’s Take: 31-17 Clemson

#8 Ohio State vs. #4 Wisconsin [game in Indianapolis] (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

Wisconsin will finally get its chance to prove to the country that the top five ranking isn’t just a result of a poor schedule. If the Badgers win, they’re pretty much assured a Playoff spot.

Nothing has been that simple for the Buckeyes this season. Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” could be the theme song for J.T. Barrett, and he will be coming off of minor surgery on his meniscus heading into this game. You almost wonder whether the 2014 campaign should serve as a roadmap for this year’s team – Dwayne Haskins does throw a pretty good spiral. However, if Ohio State gets after Alex Hornibrook like it did against Brian Lewerke a couple of weeks ago, it won’t matter all that much who is playing quarterback for the Buckeyes. The defensive play can mask a poor offensive performance for both teams.

My Pick: 42-16 Ohio State

Matt’s Take: 35-28 Ohio State

5 Games to Flip To

Akron vs. Toledo [game in Detroit] (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The MAC title game actually could have taken away viewership from the Pac-12 title game if it had been played on Friday evening, but alas, it’ll capture the attention of fans waiting for the Big 12 title game to start early Saturday afternoon.

#20 Memphis at #14 Central Florida (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Could have easily replaced one of the “5 Games to Watch” – the winner likely receives the automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

North Texas at Florida Atlantic (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Lane Kiffin has been even more a douchebag than normal leading up to this game, yet somehow I still find myself hoping the Owls win. Props to Mr. Freshwater for that.

Troy at Arkansas State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The Sun Belt won’t have an official title game until next season, but the winner of this game will earn at least a share of the conference title.

#25 Fresno State at Boise State (Saturday, 7:45 PM ET)

The Bulldogs took Leg 1 last weekend and also slipped into the top 25 at the expense of the Broncos, but the Mountain West title game will be played on the blue turf.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Matt did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

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