West Virginia (6-4) -2.5 over No. 12 Kansas State (7-2)
4:00 P.M. Fox Sports 1
A win for the Mountaineers takes away any backdoor threat from Kansas State if they happen to knock off Baylor in a couple of weeks. Another Big 12 team dropping down in the rankings would also likely help devalue the league.
North Carolina (5-5) +6 over Duke (8-2)
4:30 P.M. ESPN
Mostly because Duke is eminently hateable in all sports, but this would also serve to make the ACC look even worse than it already does.
No. 25 Minnesota (7-3) +10.5 over No. 23 Nebraska (8-2)
9:00 A.M. ESPN
Minnesota will probably take its last loss against Wisconsin in the final game of the year next week, and Nebraska is unlikely to lose to Iowa in their final game, so we want each team to go 1-1 over the last two games to ensure that the Big Ten loses both of them as ranked teams, devaluing Ohio State’s resume.
Rutgers (6-4) +22.5 over No. 11 Michigan State (8-2)
9:00 A.M. Big Ten Network
The Fighting Brian Dohns don’t have much of a chance, but a victory for Rutgers would, first, take away one of the two-loss threats breathing down UCLA’s neck and, second, really devalue Ohio State, whose resume is built in large part on a win over the Spartans.
Kansas (3-7) +25 over No. 21 Oklahoma (7-3)
9:00 A.M. Fox Sports 1
Anything, even something wildly unreasonable, to make the Big 12 look worse.
Indiana (3-7) +34.5 over No. 6 Ohio State (9-1)
9:00 A.M. Big Ten Network
HEY, IF THEY CAN BEAT MIGHTY MISSOURI OUT OF THE SEC(!), THEY CAN BEAT ANYONE
Wake Forest (2-8) +15 over Virginia Tech (5-5)
9:30 A.M. GamePlan/ESPN3
Another loss for Virginia Tech would put them in danger of a losing season, which would make the Buckeyes early loss to the Hokies look significantly worse than it already does.
10:00 A.M. (weird) Pac-12 Network
At this point, for a variety of reasons, UCLA wants Arizona State to win out. The Sun Devils can still climb into the top ten by the end of the year if they do, which would look great for UCLA’s resume, and ASU winning out prevents a scenario where USC wins the conference. It’s a win-win.
No. 17 Utah (7-3) -4 over No. 15 Arizona (8-2)
12:30 P.M. ESPN
We don’t feel strongly about this one, but since we’re already rooting for ASU to beat Arizona in the final game of the season, we might as well have Utah knock them off and climb as high as possible on their own as well. The Utes could finish deep into the top 15 with two more wins, which would make UCLA’s losses to a top-15 Utah and top-5 Oregon that much more palatable.
REAL CHANCE OF AN UPSET: Arkansas (5-5) +3.5 over No. 8 Ole Miss (8-2)
12:30 P.M. CBS
This is probably the most significant game of the weekend for UCLA’s Playoff chances, aside from the game the Bruins are playing in. An Ole Miss loss to Arkansas would put at least another small chink in the armor of the SEC West, and it would drop another 2-loss team that’s currently ranked ahead of the Bruins. Arkansas showed some life last week in shutting out LSU, and there’s some real upset potential here. An Arkansas win keeps the SEC nuclear scenario completely alive as well.
Notre Dame (7-3) -3.5 over No. 24 Louisville (7-3)
12:30 P.M. NBC
While you might have to hold your nose rooting for Anger McRedface, it probably makes a little more sense than rooting for Louisville. Both teams lost to Florida State, so you could make a case for either losing for the reason. But a Notre Dame win makes ASU’s signature win over the Fighting Irish look better, and things that help ASU’s resume also help UCLA’s.
Boston College (6-4) +19 over No. 3 Florida State (10-0)
12:30 P.M. ABC/ESPN2
The Seminoles have played pretty much every stupid team they’ve played pretty close this year, and BC did knock off a pretty talented USC team earlier in the year. We could absolutely see Florida State crapping the bed in one of their final two games considering how inconsistently motivated they’ve been this year. Obviously, a win for Boston College would almost certainly eliminate the Seminoles from Playoff consideration, as the committee seems to be itching to drop them from the top four at the slightest sign of weakness.
No. 16 Wisconsin (8-2) -10 over Iowa (7-3)
12:30 P.M. ABC/ESPN2
This is subjective, but we think that the Badgers have the best shot of any team from the other division to beat Ohio State in the championship game, so we’ll want Wisconsin to win out. This would also set up the possibility of Wisconsin meeting UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl, which was our actual bowl game pick when we did the season prediction in August.
Memphis (7-3) -18.5 over South Florida (4-6)
1:00 P.M. ESPNews/WatchESPN
Memphis has quietly put together a very nice season, and is actually one of the few mid-major schools being looked at as a possible selection to a big bowl game (Peach, Cotton, or Fiesta). If the Tigers win out, and actually were selected to one of those bowls, that would do worlds for UCLA’s resume. If you remember, the Bruins were initially devalued a bit from their preseason high due to struggling against the Tigers, who have turned out to be stronger than anticipated (or their league is a lot weaker than anticipated, but whatever).
Stanford (5-5) -5.5 over California (5-5)
1:00 P.M. Fox Sports 1
This is more about strategically making sure that both Stanford and Cal have a chance at being .500 at the end of the year than anything. UCLA would like its last win of the season to come over 6-6 Stanford rather than 5-7.
No. 2 Oregon (9-1) -32.5 over Colorado (2-8)
1:30 P.M. Pac-12 Network
This should fall under “no duh” but UCLA needs the Ducks to win out heading into the Pac-12 Championship game. There’s a chance Oregon could rise to No. 1, since Alabama has a tough game against Auburn to end the year, and beating the No. 1 team in the championship game would do worlds for UCLA’s resume.
Virginia (4-6) +6 over Miami (6-4)
4:00 P.M. ESPN2
Virginia climbing back to .500 by the end of the year with a win over Miami and then a win over Virginia Tech would give UCLA a reasonable chance at having only played one opponent this year (Colorado) with a losing record. That’s a pretty good strength of schedule.
4:30 P.M. FOX
This is very pie-in-the-sky; Baylor might be the actual best team in the country, and Oklahoma State is so much worse than anyone thought at the beginning of the year. That said, crazier things have happened, and a win for the Cowboys would send Baylor reeling into the teens and knock off yet another opponent currently above UCLA.
SNEAKILY BIG GAME ALERT: No. 20 Missouri (8-2) +3 over Tennessee (5-5)
4:30 P.M. ESPN
We want Missouri to win the SEC East and beat whoever comes out of the SEC West because, first, it’d be awesome, and second, it would likely prevent Georgia from leaping UCLA en route to the Playoff. If Georgia were to win out, and Missouri were to falter, and then Georgia beat the representative from the SEC West in the championship game, we could easily see the Bulldogs leaping the Bruins in the ranking. If Missouri were to win the SEC, though, we don’t see them being able to jump all the way from No. 20 to the top four, not with a loss to Indiana weighing them down.
Vanderbilt (3-7) has no chance of beating No. 4 Mississippi State (9-1)
4:30 P.M. SEC Network, if you’re into that sort of thing
No. 9 UCLA (8-2) -3 over No. 19 USC (7-3)
5:00 P.M. ABC
Washington (6-5) -6.5 over Oregon State (5-5)
7:30 P.M. Pac-12 Network
UCLA played the Huskies; the Bruins didn’t play Oregon State. A win for the Huskies helps the Bruins’ resume.