By: Rajan Nanavati
After you’ve fully gorged yourself on all the delicious calorie-laden food associated with this upcoming weekend, and hopefully kicked the “great-to-see-you-no-more-than-once-every-year” family out of the house, you can look forward to putting on your stretchiest pair of pants available (since none of your regular pants will probably fit after Thanksgiving dinner + next day leftovers), and settle in for some fantastic college football this weekend.
If you look at this weekend’s games like a classic boxing pay-per-view, you’ve got your series of undercard bouts, followed by three matchups that serve as the main event(s). You’ve got “The Civil War” (Oregon vs. Oregon State), the Apple Cup (Washington vs. Washington State; the winner wins the Pac-12 North division), Notre Dame vs. USC, and a whole host of other intra-state rivalries.
But the real headliners of the weekend are definitely the following three games:
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (Friday, 8:00 PM ET) — With only one loss this season (in the Red River Shootout against arch-nemesis Texas), the University of Oklahoma is riding a five-game winning streak, and would not only clinch the Big 12 title with a win over West Virginia on Friday, but stake a large claim for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray will almost certainly garner an invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club this year, where the Heisman Trophy is annually awarded, and with a big game against West Virginia University, he could conceivably become a darkhorse to win it.
Michigan vs. Ohio State (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET) – It’s been quite some time since perhaps the fiercest rivalry in all of college football encompassed such stakes. In previous years, this game has been little more than Ohio State drubbing their biggest rivals. Even after head coach Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor in 2015, he’s still lost to the Buckeyes in each of the last three seasons. But for the first time in years, the Wolverines and Buckeyes are both ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, and the winner would secure the Big 10 East championship, along with the right to play Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship game. Given the hot seat on which Harbaugh entered this season (not to mention the subsequent results), and the turmoil that surrounded Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer this season, this game has even more pressure on both coaches, on top of the stakes already at hand.
Alabama vs. Auburn (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET) – The Auburn Tigers might be coming to Tuscaloosa as both 24-point underdogs and as someone who could be looking for a new head coach this offseason, but there’s no way you can talk about football on Thanksgiving weekend without mentioning the Iron Bowl. This is Alabama’s last regular season hurdle to clear, before they head to Atlanta to take on the University of Georgia in the SEC Championship game. The winner of said game will be guaranteed to wrap up one of the spots in the College Football Playoffs as well.