The winner of the Iron Bowl will have the inside track to get to the BCS National Championship game. Then again, if Alabama loses to Auburn, the Tide could still be in the title picture. The key to the game will be Auburn's rushing offense against Alabama's ferocious defense. War Eagle averages 320.3 yards per game, second in the nation. Meanwhile, Alabama is yielding just 9.3 points per contest, first in the country. Something has got to give in what could be the biggest Iron Bowl in history.
Let's look at the rest of the college football landscape as the regular season draws to a close.
Clint Chelf, QB, Oklahoma State: The Baylor defense felt it wasn't getting enough respect leading into Saturday's tilt with Chelf's Cowboys, but the senior quarterback proved there was likely a reason for the lack of props given to the Bears. Chelf torched Baylor for 370 yards and three touchdowns through the air, while adding a rushing touchdown as well. Over his last four games, Chelf has 15 total touchdowns and just three interceptions. Chelf will lead the Cowboys into Saturday's season finale at home against rival Oklahoma; the Sooners have allowed at least 30 points in three of their last four games. As a result, Chelf should continue his hot play in this intrastate matchup.
James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin is back under center for the Tigers after missing four games with a shoulder injury. Franklin was having an exceptional senior campaign before getting hurt, totaling 17 touchdowns as compared to just three interceptions in six games. He performed just adequately at Ole Miss in his return to action, but has a tasty matchup against Texas A&M on Saturday. The Aggies allow 31.2 points per game and have been involved in a bevy of shootouts this season. With a stellar running game and huge wide receivers at his disposal, Franklin is primed for a big game as the Tigers attempt to secure their berth in the SEC title game.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke: Don't look now, but the Blue Devils hold the ACC Coastal Division in the palm of their collective hands. A win over in-state rival North Carolina would clinch the division, give Duke a 10-win season as well as a shot at Florida State in the ACC championship. Crowder topped 1,000 yards receiving for the second straight season with 121 yards at Wake Forest on Saturday. It was the sixth time in 2013 that Crowder posted 100-plus yards in a game. The 5-foot-9 junior also scored twice, giving him five receiving touchdowns on the year. The Tar Heels are on a five-game winning streak, but have been mediocre on defense, allowing 25.9 points per game to opposing offenses. Crowder should continue to get open and put up big numbers for Duke on Saturday.
B.J. Denker, QB, Arizona: Running back Ka'Deem Carey gets the pub for the Wildcats, and rightly so. Carey carried an outrageous 48 times Saturday against Oregon, parlaying those touches into 206 yards and four touchdowns in the 42-16 rout of the Ducks. However, Denker was extremely efficient in the passing game, completing 19-of-22 throws for 178 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Denker also surpassed 100 yards rushing on his own, rushing 14 times for 102 yards. The Wildcats travel to Arizona State on Saturday for a grudge match, and while the Sun Devils are highly ranked this season, they are just 53rd in the nation in points allowed. Denker should add to his total of 25 touchdowns from scrimmage at ASU.
Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU: Gilbert injured his knee against South Florida on Saturday, and his status is uncertain heading into Friday's tilt at Houston. Gilbert flamed out at Texas but got a second chance at Southern Methodist and has been the pilot of a high-octane, spread passing attack the last two seasons. This year, the senior has passed for 3,528 yards and 21 touchdowns, while rushing for 267 yards and six more scores. The Mustangs hope the injury is just a sprain, but check during the week to see if Gilbert can suit up against the Cougars. Freshman Neal Burcham would get the nod if Gilbert can't go.
Zach Zwinak, RB, Penn State: Zwinak has been a beast lately, breaking 100 yards rushing in each of the last three games for the Nittany Lions. Zwinak has rushed for an outstanding 448 yards and four touchdowns over that span. He has also scored 12 times in 2013. However, Zwinak will go up against a Wisconsin Badgers defense that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. The Badgers are fifth in the nation with just 13.4 points allowed per contest. As such, Zwinak may find much more resistance this Saturday in the regular-season finale for Penn State.
Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida: Taylor has been one of the few bright spots for the Gators since his redshirt was burned. The son of former NFL star Fred Taylor has rushed 105 times for 483 yards and four touchdowns in about half a season of action. Taylor has been even better lately, rushing for at least 92 yards in each of the last two games for Florida. However, Taylor and the struggling Gators, who will finish the season with a losing record for the first time since 1979, get the undefeated Florida State Seminoles in the final game of the year. This game should not be pretty from a Gators perspective, and Taylor likely will struggle to find any room to roam against an FSU squad that is likely headed to the BCS National Championship.
Byron Marshall, RB, Oregon: Marshall left Saturday's stunning loss to Arizona after just three carries due to a right ankle injury, and his status for Friday's Civil War with Oregon State is up in the air. Marshall has been the bell cow for the Ducks this season, carrying 115 times for 995 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, Marshall has hit a bit of a cold spell recently, failing to break the 100-yard rushing plateau in three straight contests. Prior to that span, Marshall had five consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing. De'Anthony Thomas and Thomas Tyner would see more touches if Marshall is deemed unfit to play.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Murray's decorated collegiate career came to an abrupt end Saturday, as he tore his left ACL against Kentucky. Murray will require surgery, and the injury will almost certainly impact his stock in the 2014 NFL Draft. Murray is the all-time SEC leader in passing touchdowns and passing yards and had tossed four touchdowns against the lowly Wildcats before the injury. Junior Hutson Mason, who has played sparingly behind the durable Murray, will start the season finale at Georgia Tech this weekend, as well as the bowl game for the Bulldogs.
David Cobb, RB, Minnesota: Cobb's downgrade has less to do with his own production and more to do with his opponents. He was held to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time in five games against Wisconsin on Saturday. Cobb's task will not get any easier at Michigan State in the regular-season finale for the Gophers. The Spartans are fourth in the nation in total defense, surrendering just 12.5 points per contest. Cobb has 1,010 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this season for Minnesota, but success is far from a guarantee for the junior running back this weekend.
Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh: An ankle injury forced Street out of Saturday's 17-16 win at Syracuse, and he may be unable to play against Miami this weekend in Pitt's final tilt of the 2013 campaign. The senior wideout caught two passes for just seven yards before getting hurt. Street has been an extremely productive receiver for the Panthers this season, hauling in 51 passes for 854 yards and seven touchdowns. Street had been surging recently as well, catching nine balls for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the previous two games for Pitt. If Street can't suit up, expect freshman Tyler Boyd to get even more targets and add to his already stellar numbers.
Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame: Rees has five touchdowns in his last three games, but has also tossed five interceptions over that span. Notre Dame's opponents over that span were Navy, Pittsburgh and Brigham Young. Rees and the Irish will face a much more high-profile defense Saturday when they travel to Stanford. The Cardinal allow just 18.9 points per game, good for 13th in the nation. As a result, Rees may not be the best option as he finishes the last regular season game in his collegiate career.