#12 Baylor @ #15 Oklahoma FOX Sports 1 12:00 Noon Eastern
The Big XII gets things started early as the Bears and Sooners jockey for bowl position. The winner of the game will find themselves in position to scratch their way back into the conference race should front-running TCU falter. Baylor might also have an opportunity to keep its faint national title aspirations alive with a victory. Norman, Oklahoma is a tough place for other Big XII teams to win and Art Briles teams typically struggle in conference games played outside Waco. That combination of factors translates to the lower ranked Sooners being the favorite this weekend.
#10 Notre Dame @ #9 Arizona State ABC 3:30 PM Eastern
Notre Dame entered 2014 with what looked like one of the toughest schedules in the country, but due to the opponents on that schedule having underwhelming seasons, the Irish find themselves thankful to have a top-ranked Arizona State on the schedule. To claw their way into the national playoff picture, Notre Dame needs to add a signature win over a top-ten ranked squad. A win in the desert would add that to their resume; a loss would take them out of the picture. By a similar standard, if the Sun Devils can hold serve at home, they will solidify their own post season standings.
#7 Kansas State @ #6 Texas Christian FOX 7:30 PM Eastern
Back to the Big XII for another battle of highly ranked teams on the cusp of being contenders for the national championship. The Wildcats and Horned Frogs are the class of the conference this year, with Baylor and Oklahoma not far behind. The winner of the showdown in Ft. Worth will be in the drivers seat and likely deep in the national title hunt; the loser will join the Bears and Sooners in hoping for a break as the season winds down.
#5 Alabama @ #16 LSU CBS 8:00 PM Eastern
After some early disappointment, Les Miles' Tigers have fought their way back into a decent ranking. They won't win the conference this season, but LSU and Alabama have fought some great battles over the last few seasons and nothing would make the Bayou Bengals any happier than stemming the roll of the Tide. This game has all the makings to turn into a trap game for Nick Sabin's crew.
#14 Ohio State @ #8 Michigan State ABC 8:00 PM Eastern
Buckeyes fans have had this date circled on the calendar ever since the Spartans defeated the scarlet and gray for last year's Big Ten Championship. A win here would solidify Urban Meyer as the coach who can return OSU to the ranks expected of the program. Both squads see themselves as contenders for one of the four national playoff slots, but one team will see those hopes fade away when the final seconds tick off of the scoreboard in East Lansing.
#4 Oregon @ #17 Utah ESPN 10:00 PM Eastern
Oregon is the highest ranked team to face a ranked opponent this week. (#1 Mississippi State plays Tennessee Martin, # 2 Florida State faces ACC foe Virginia, and #3 Auburn will host a reeling Texas A&M.) Utah may be the last obstacle between the Ducks and a playoff slot. Like Alabama, they could be walking into a trap. Utah plays a penetrating style of defense that has given Oregon fits in the past. Both Stanford and Arizona have used a similar defensive philosophy to shoot down the Ducks in recent seasons.