It’s rivalry week with plenty at stake when it comes to determining those involved in the various conference championship game and, of course, the College Football Playoff.
Here are our previews and predictions (point spreads courtesy of DraftKings, current at the time of publication and subject to change) for this week’s games featuring teams included in the latest CFP rankings, as well as those in The Associated Press Top 25 and another intriguing matchup.
All times Eastern. Statistics in parentheses are from the 2022 season unless noted otherwise.
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Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4 in SEC) at No. 20 Mississippi (8-3, 4-3 in SEC), 7 p.m., Thursday, ESPN
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The story heading into this year’s installment of the Egg Bowl is whether Lane Kiffin’s future will be in Oxford, or if he’s ready to bolt for Auburn. Depending on the circumstances come kickoff on Thanksgiving night, the Rebels could be in more danger of dropping a third straight game than if it were any other week. That said, Ole Miss has won the last two in this rivalry, and Mississippi State’s lost all three of its SEC games this season by a combined 49 points.
Prediction: Ole Miss (-2)
2 of 23
No. 19 Tulane (9-2, 6-1 in AAC) at No. 24 Cincinnati (9-2, 6-1 in AAC), Noon, Friday, ABC
Cara Owsley/The Enquirer/USA TODAY NETWORK
The winner will host the American Athletic Conference Championship game next weekend. Meanwhile, the loser has to see what plays out with UCF and Houston. Cincinnati is a slight favorite, but after quarterback Ben Bryant (2,732 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, seven interceptions) suffered a foot injury against Temple last weekend, backup Evan Prater could get the start. This will be just the second-ranked team Tulane has faced, and it’s lost four in a row against the Bearcats.
Prediction: Cincinnati (-2)
3 of 23
Baylor (6-5, 4-4 in Big 12) at No. 23 Texas (7-4, 5-3 in Big 12), Noon, Friday, ESPN
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There is still a path for Texas to reach the Big 12 Championship game, but it must first record a fourth consecutive home victory over Baylor. Then, Kansas State needs to lose to Kansas on Saturday night. Longhorns star Bijan Robinson (1,401 yards, 16 touchdowns) is coming off a career-high 243 yards, with four touchdowns, against the Jayhawks — his second 200-yard rushing game in three weeks. However, he only totaled 98 yards in two games versus Baylor, which is looking to avoid going 0-5 against Top 25 teams this season after nearly taking down TCU last week.
Prediction: Texas (-9)
4 of 23
North Carolina State (7-4, 3-4 in ACC) at No. 17 North Carolina (9-2, 6-1 in ACC), 3:30 p.m., Friday, ABC
Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina is already headed to the ACC title game to face Clemson, but after being stunned by Georgia Tech last weekend, could use some momentum going forward. The Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels to a season-low 17 points and star quarterback Drake Mayo without a touchdown pass. N.C. State, meanwhile, has dropped two in a row, but only allowed more than 25 points once this season. The Wolfpack have won four of the last six against their local rival.
Prediction: North Carolina State (+6 1/2)
5 of 23
No. 18 UCLA (8-3, 5-3 in Pac-12) at California (4-7, 2-6 in Pac-12), 4:30 p.m., Friday, Fox
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports
The Bruins’ dream of a Pac-12 title has evaporated, and they’re 2-3 in their last five following a 6-0 start. Maybe because a defense that’s allowed an average of 34.3 points in the last seven contests is the problem. Meanwhile, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (2,694 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions; 544 rushing yards, nine TDs) took a beating against USC last weekend, so perhaps he’ll get a break as UCLA aims for a third consecutive win over Cal.
Prediction: Cal (+10)
6 of 23
Florida (6-5) at No. 16 Florida State (8-3), 7:30 p.m., Friday, ABC
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
Quite the regular-season bookend opportunity for the Seminoles. After starting 4-0, Florida State lost three straight but will try for a fifth consecutive victory this week. However, the Seminoles, who have outscored their last four opponents 173-39, need to halt a three-game skid to the Gators, who must find a way to rebound from that seven-point loss to Vanderbilt last week. Florida State’s Jordan Travis has thrown 12 touchdowns and one interception in the last five games. He threw for 202 with a TD and interception and ran for 102 with another score during last season’s 24-21 loss at Florida.
Prediction: Florida State (-9 1/2)
7 of 23
South Carolina (7-4) at No. 8 Clemson (10-1), Noon, Saturday, ABC
Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina’s impressive 63-28 rout of Tennessee has made this rivalry contest a little more enticing. At least when it comes to hype . Then there’s reality. Clemson has bounced back from that 21-point loss at Northwestern, and also won the last seven meetings against the Gamecock by an average margin of 26 points. Oh yeah, the Tigers are amid a 40-game home winning streak. After setting career highs with 438 passing yards and six touchdowns, Spencer Rattler faces a massive test against a Clemson defense that’s yielded an average of 16.5 points at home this season.
Prediction: Clemson (-14 1/2)
8 of 23
Georgia Tech (5-6) at No. 1 Georgia (11-0), Noon, Saturday, ESPN
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Since Georgia Tech beat the Bulldogs 28-27 at Athens in 2016, they’ve outscored their in-state rival 180-35 in winning four consecutive meetings. All signs point to another blowout, even as the Yellow Jackets look to build on an impressive, and rather stunning, 21-17 win at North Carolina from last week. Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh just ran for a career-high 143 yards at Kentucky. He ran twice for 66 yards and a touchdown last season against Tech, which is giving up 182.4 per game on the ground.
Prediction: Georgia (-35)
9 of 23
No. 3 Michigan (11-0, 8-0 in Big Ten) at No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 in Big Ten), Noon, Saturday, Fox
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK
Michigan needed a late Jake Moody field goal to beat Illinois and Ohio State trailed Maryland at halftime and didn’t pull away until the final minute of the fourth quarter, last weekend. So, maybe both were looking ahead to “The Game?” C.J. Stroud (2,991 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, four interceptions) and the returning Buckeyes have been thinking about this contest since their eight-game winning streak over Michigan ended with last season’s 42-27 loss at Ann Arbor. However, the Wolverines have dropped nine straight at the Horseshoe and the statuses of injured stars Blake Corum (1,457 rushing yards, 18 TDs), backup running back Donovan Edwards, and tight end Luke Schoonmaker (30 receptions) are uncertain. Michigan has allowed just seven receiving touchdowns this season, and two in the last five games, but is its defense ready for Marvin Harrison Jr. (65 receptions, 1.037 yards, 11 TDs)? Game on!
Prediction: Ohio State (-7 1/2)
10 of 23
No. 25 Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (6-5), 3 p.m., Saturday, 3 p.m., SEC Network
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It’s interesting that Louisville found its way into this week’s CFP rankings. Perhaps the committee was impressed with a Cardinals’ squad that’s won five of six and beat Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and N.C. State by double digits during that stretch. While fans should know about Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham, receiver Tyler Hudson has totaled 23 receptions for 390 yards in the last three games. Kentucky is 2-5 since that 4-0 start but has won the last three over Louisville by an average margin of 36.3 points.
Prediction: Kentucky (-2 1/2)
11 of 23
Auburn (5-6, 2-5 in SEC) at No. 7 Alabama (9-2, 5-2 in SEC), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS
Jake Crandall/USA TODAY NETWORK
In many ways, it has been a disappointing season for both participants of this game. Auburn is potentially at a crossroads as a program, amid those Lane Kiffin rumors, and has been outscored by 52 points while going 0-3 on the road in the SEC. Meanwhile, Alabama will not be challenging for the national title for just the second time in 12 seasons. The Tide have won the previous two Iron Bowls, and the five played in Tuscaloosa. Also, could this be junior Bryce Young’s final game at Alabama?
Prediction: Alabama (-22)
12 of 23
No. 9 Oregon (9-2, 7-1 in Pac-12) at No. 21 Oregon State (8-3, 5-3 in Pac-12), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports
13 of 23
No. 14 Utah (8-3, 6-1 in Pac-12) at Colorado (1-10, 1-7 in Pac-12), 4 p.m., Saturday, Pac-12 Network
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All of Utah’s losses have come on the road and by a total of 16 points. Now, we don’t see another road defeat in the cards for the Utes against a Colorado squad that ranks last in the nation when it comes to scoring defense (42.8 points allowed per game). Utah, which remains in the hunt for a spot in the Pac-12 title game, but needs some outside help, has won the last five meetings against the Buffaloes by an average margin of 21.2 points. The Utes’ Tavion Thomas (687 rushing yards, seven touchdowns) ran for 142 yards and a touchdown in last season’s 28-13 win over Colorado.
Prediction: Utah (-30)
14 of 23
Michigan State (5-6, 3-5 in Big Ten) at No. 11 Penn State (9-2, 6-2 in Big Ten), 4 p.m., Saturday, FS1
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The Nittany Lions are on the verge of their first 10-win season in three years, but it might be remembered most for their inability to beat good teams — losing to Michigan and Ohio State by 37 points. Yet, Penn State is in good shape to finish strong with a fourth straight win after outscoring its last three opponents 130-24. Though the Nittany Lions have lost six of the last nine against Michigan State, the Spartans just fell at home to lowly Indiana at home.
Prediction: Michigan State (+18 1/2)
15 of 23
Iowa State (4-7, 1-7 in Big 12) at No. 4 TCU (11-0, 8-0 in Big 12), 4 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Bryon Houlgrave/The Register/USA TODAY NETWORK
Griffin Kell‘s 40-yard field goal as time expired at Baylor last weekend kept TCU’s CFP hopes intact. Now, the Horned Frogs look to close out the regular season in style before the Big 12 title game. TCU has five wins by eight points or fewer, but the expectation is that this matchup won’t be another. Iowa State allows just 16.5 points per contest but has totaled 46 while going 0-3 in Big 12 road games this season. The Cyclones have won three straight in this series, but extending that run is a massively tall order.
Prediction: TCU (-10)
16 of 23
No. 5 LSU (9-2, 6-1 in SEC) at Texas A&M (4-7, 1-6 in SEC), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
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We expect the stands at Kyle Field to be a little more filled than they were last week when Texas A&M had some trouble beating UMass. It’s a matchup of two teams that could not be in more different spots. LSU is back to prominence under Brian Kelly, a winner of five straight and headed to the SEC Championship game. Meanwhile, the Aggies are perhaps the biggest disappointment in college football this season, mired in a six-game SEC skid and wondering if Jimbo Fisher really is the right guy to lead the program.
Prediction: LSU (-10)
17 of 23
No. 22 UCF (8-3, 5-2 in AAC) at South Florida (1-10, 0-7 in AAC), 7 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2
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Despite losing at home to a then-three-win Navy team last weekend, Central Florida remains in the Top 25, rounding out this week’s poll. The Knights also can earn a spot in the American Athletic Conference title game, depending on what happens with Tulane-Cincinnati and Houston. UCF’s last four games have each been decided by seven or fewer points. However, only three of South Florida’s 10 defeats came by six points or less. UCF, dealing with the health of quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, has won the last five meetings in this series.
Prediction: UCF (-19 1/2)
18 of 23
No. 15 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 6 USC (10-1), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, ABC
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports
USC is already in the Pac-12 title game, but they’ll need to halt a four-game losing streak against the Irish to keep its CFP hopes alive. However, the way Trojans quarterback Caleb Johnson (3,480 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, three interceptions; 316 rushing yards, seven TDs), who threw for 470 yards in the win at UCLA last weekend, is playing, that slide could be ready to end. Now, the Trojans allowed 45 points to the Bruins, and Notre Dame has averaged nearly 40 points during its current five-game winning streak. This could be a needed classic in this storied rivalry.
Prediction: Notre Dame (+5 1/2)
19 of 23
No. 10 Tennessee (9-2, 5-2 in SEC) at Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5 in SEC), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports
Hendon Hooker’s season is over, Tennessee is out of the CFP chase, and there’s a belief in certain parts of the college football world that the Volunteers can actually lose to Vanderbilt . After Hooker tore his ACL in the Vols’ 63-38 thrashing at the hands of South Carolina, Joe Milton (573 passing yards, six touchdowns) takes control of the offense. Tennessee has won the last three in this series, but Vandy just beat Kentucky and Florida in the last two weeks and could take advantage of the downtrodden Volunteers.
Prediction: Vanderbilt (+14)
20 of 23
Kansas (6-5, 3-5 in Big 12) at No. 12 Kansas State (8-3, 6-2 in Big 12), 8 p.m., Saturday, Fox
Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports
Kansas State needs only a 14th consecutive victory over the rival Jayhawks to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship game. Sure, Kansas has momentarily turned things around this season and is bowl eligible, but likely still not up to the level of the Wildcats. Meanwhile, K-State star running back Deuce Vaughn (1,148 rushing yards, six touchdowns) ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries and caught six passes for 70 during last season’s 35-10 rout at Lawrence.
Prediction: Kansas State (-11 1/2)
21 of 23
No. 13 Washington (9-2, 6-2 in Pac-12) at Washington State (7-4, 4-4 in Pac-12), 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
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It’s Apple Cup time, and there’s still a chance Washington can end up in the Pac-12 Championship game. That said, the Huskies might be riding a five-game winning streak at the moment, but their seven-game run against the rival Cougars ended last season, and Washington State looks for a fourth consecutive victory overall in this contest. This could very well end up being one of the most competitive and entertaining games on an intriguing weekend of action.
Prediction: Washington State (+2)
22 of 23
Nebraska (3-8, 2-6 in Big Ten) at Iowa (7-4, 5-3 in Big Ten), 4 p.m., Friday, Big Ten Network
Bryon Houlgrave/The Register via Imagn Content Services, LLC
For as maligned as the Hawkeyes have been this season, especially their offense, they are one win away from reaching the Big Ten Championship game for a second consecutive season. Now, the offense has been decent enough during Iowa’s four-game winning streak, during which it owns a 94-36 scoring advantage. Though Iowa has won seven in a row over Nebraska, the last four meetings have each been decided by seven or fewer points. The Cornhuskers, however, have dropped five straight overall and totaled 39 points in the last four.
Prediction: Iowa (-10 1/2)
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.