First of all, before we get into all the games on Saturday, the MAC Championship game is taking place on Friday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. So that's a good way to get your weekend started.
As for Saturday, well, what we seriously lack in quantity of games this week is made up for in quantity. Of the 10 games on television Saturday, only two feature games where there's more than a 10-point favorite. So, in other words, we should have our fair share of close games.
Of course that's the price we pay for this being the last Saturday of the season before bowl games start, but I'm not quite ready to contemplate that aspect of it all right now. Denial is a powerful thing, and sometimes it's for the best as well.
It's a role reversal from what we've seen throughout most of the history of Bedlam. This year it's Oklahoma playing the role of spoiler and not just trying to beat its rival, but keep its rival from winning a Big 12 title in the process. As for Oklahoma State, it can't get much better than clinching a conference title and a BCS bowl game against the team whose shadow you've spent most of your life in. This game will be a great way to start your Saturday.
This game could have been a lot more interesting before Thursday night, but now things have changed. You see, since Louisville beat Cincinnati, whether or not UCF wins this game it's going to a BCS bowl on account of its win over Louisville earlier this season. I'd have much preferred that this was a game that UCF needed to win, especially because SMU is also playing for bowl eligibility.
Our first official conference championship game of the day will be taking place in Conference USA. Now, odds are you don't know a whole lot about either Marshall or Rice, but what you need to know is that this Marshall offense averaged nearly 45 points per game this season. Only five other teams averaged more, so the key matchup here will be whether or not a Rice defense that wasn't magnificent, but wasn't bad either, can slow down the Thundering Herd attack.
The overall appeal of this game depends largely on the result of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before it. Because should the Sooners knock off the Cowboys the winner of this game is your Big 12 champions and is likely headed for the Fiesta Bowl. Should Oklahoma State have already won, well, I suppose there's an outside shot at Baylor getting a BCS bid with a win -- if it was based solely on record and ranking, they'd almost be a lock, but that's not the world we live in. No matter what's at stake, the one thing we know for sure is that this will be the last game at Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium.
So, yeah, this game is incredibly important. Basically, should Ohio State lose later in the day, the winner of this game is the most likely candidate to replace it in the BCS Championship Game. Of course, it's also important because no matter what happens with Ohio State, the winner of this game is also the SEC champion, and there was a time when that was more important to SEC fans than a national title.
Listen, I'm not trying to be mean, but the only reason you should be watching this game is because the SEC title game has ended and you're just trying to avoid getting off your butt before the Pac-12 Championship starts. Though Rutgers gets to six wins and bowl eligibility with a win. With a loss it starts painting a Big Ten logo on its home field.
When these two teams met earlier this season Stanford jumped out to a 39-7 lead after three quarters before Arizona State battled back in the fourth quarter to lose by a much more respectable score of 42-28. Now the teams meet again, but this time in Tempe and Arizona State is the favorite. Funny how things can change over the course of a few months. Anyway, neither of these teams has any title aspirations, but a Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl berth make for an excellent consolation prize.
I've known it was happening for a week now yet I still haven't been able to fully wrap my head around the fact that Duke is playing for an ACC title this weekend. Honestly, I'm not giving the Blue Devils much of a chance, but if you're looking for the only potential huge upset of the weekend, this is the game to be watching.
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Michigan State -- Fox, 8:17 p.m.
First of all, I love the fact that this game is starting at 8:17 p.m. Not 8, not 8:30, not even 8:15. 8:17. I have no idea what that's about but, whatever. All that matters is that this game is not only incredibly important as far as the national title is concerned -- though win or lose, Michigan State's going to Pasadena either way -- but it also features one of the better matchups we'll be seeing on Saturday. An offense that's been humming for the last month and a half against what is statistically the best defense in the country.
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Oh hell yeah late night Mountain West football on CBS. What were you going to watch? Another lame episode of Saturday Night Live? See, Fresno State is not a great team, even if it has a very good record. But the magic of Fresno State is that it doesn't matter who it plays, odds are it's going to be a close game. And Utah State isn't some kind of pushover. So this may be a wonderful way to end your evening.