Games to Watch: Week 14

Jacob Martella

  • No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Iowa
  • Saturday — 7:17 p.m. — FOX

The only play-and-you’re-in conference title game comes from the Big Ten. Michigan State faces an Iowa team that some still can’t believe is undefeated. The Spartans dominated Penn State following a last-second win over Ohio State, and Iowa has scrapped its way to a 12-0 record so far. The Hawkeyes posted a 5-point win over Minnesota, a 3-point win over Pittsburgh, and an 8-point win over Nebraska — more than Michigan State can say. Expect this game to be a typical Big Ten game, which means lots of running and lots of punting. But the suspense of a playoff spot in the balance will make up for that.

  • No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 18 Florida
  • Saturday — 3 p.m. — CBS

This might be the most un-interesting conference game since Texas played Colorado in the Big 12 title game in 2005 — yes, there was such a thing. The difference between how these two teams are playing right now couldn’t be bigger. Alabama has rolled over each of its last nine opponents behind the power running of junior Derrick Henry, who’s put up 1,797 rushing yard and 22 touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, Florida was a safety away from getting shutout against Florida State a week after winning in overtime against Florida Atlantic. This game will likely end in a blowout, but stranger things have happened this college football season.

  • No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 8 North Carolina
  • Saturday — 7 p.m. — ABC

This game should be a simple play-and-you’re-in-game like the Big Ten, but the playoff committee isn’t exactly that bright. Clemson will certainly be in with a win. The Tigers had just two close games this season — a 2-point win over Notre Dame and a 5-point win last week at South Carolina. North Carolina, however, has a bad loss to South Carolina in Week 1, and the committee has punished the Tar Heels for it. Either way, this one will be a game to keep an eye on Saturday night.

  • No. 20 Temple vs. No. 17 Houston
  • Saturday — 11 a.m. — ABC

This game won’t determine a playoff spot (unless the committee gets crazy), but don’t discount the American Athletic Conference title game Saturday morning. Both teams at one point had a legitimate claim for a playoff spot before losses. Temple was within 4 points of knocking off Notre Dame and likely jumping into the playoff discussion. Meanwhile, Houston was making a lot of noise for a spot in the postseason before a 3-point loss to UConn two weeks ago. Still, the winner of this game will likely receive a spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowls, which is all the reason you need to watch this one.