We've got a lot of big games this week but not really any huge games. And so this week's preview #Nuggets column will go rapid fire through all the games where teams will play their way into or out of conference title contention.
Let's dig in.
-- North Carolina at Pitt (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, ESPN): Pitt leads the ACC Atlantic, but it's a tenuous lead. The 4-1 Panthers still have 4-2 Virginia ahead, and their lone loss came against 3-2 Miami. So they'll need to beat a talented but underperforming Tar Heels squad that may or may not have found something in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest last week.
-- No. 6 Michigan at Penn State (noon ET, ABC): Michigan needs another Michigan State loss to win the Big Ten East, but they may not need another Sparty setback to win the national championship. That's the logic the CFP selection committee is going with, who put the Wolverines one spot ahead of the Spartans despite the 37-33 result a couple week ago.
-- No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor (noon ET, Fox): If Baylor is going to pull of a Big 12 Championship--2-7 season--Big 12 Championship trifecta from the 2019-21 seasons, it depends on winning this game. Lose, and the Bears will have to settle for merely being one of the best turnaround stories in the sport this season.
Oh, and we're going to find out how good Caleb Williams really is against a competent defense.
-- Northwestern at No. 18 Wisconsin (noon ET, ESPN2): With three weeks to play, here's how the B1G West standings look:
No. 18 Wisconsin: 4-2
No. 19 Purdue: 4-2
No. 20 Iowa: 4-2
Wisconsin and Minnesota control their respective destinies -- if you're going to lose, lose to teams from the other division or bad teams in your own division.
The clear favorite, though, is Wisconsin. The Badgers lead the nation in total defense and yards per play; the most yards they've allowed over their past three games were the 207 Rutgers gained in last week's 52-3 blowout.
-- UCF at SMU (noon ET, ESPNU): Neither of these teams' AAC title hopes are anywhere near realistic, but the loser of this game is officially eliminated from contention.
-- East Carolina at Memphis (noon ET, ESPN+): East Carolina is another AAC team that's eliminated with their next loss.
-- No. 24 Utah at Arizona (2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network): Utah clinches its third Pac-12 South title in four seasons with a win over Arizona and an Arizona State loss later in the evening.
-- No. 19 Purdue at No. 4 Ohio State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC): This is how you know the College Football Playoff selection committee is biased in favor of Ohio State. It's not that the Buckeyes are suspiciously close to Oregon or ahead of Cincinnati, it's that Purdue is ranked. Everyone knows the Boilermakers' voodoo doesn't work if they're ranked.
-- Miami at Florida State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Is this the least meaningful Miami-FSU game since the pre-Bobby Bowden days... or since 2019? That year, 4-4 Miami scored a 27-10 win over 4-4 FSU. This year, 5-4 Miami looks to continue its late rally and doom its rival to a 3-7 record.
-- Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN): Three more wins hands Minnesota its first B1G West title. Doing so would require snapping a 6-game losing streak to Iowa, defeating Indiana, and then beating Wisconsin in Minneapolis for the first time since 2013. Just do all that and they're in.
-- UAB at Marshall (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): Marshall gains control of the C-USA East with its 28-13 win at Florida Atlantic last week, and their reward is a rematch of last year's C-USA title game loss. The East will likely be decided when the Herd visits Western Kentucky on Nov. 27, but a win here gives you margin for error.
For UAB, extending your streak of three straight C-USA West titles depends on the next two weeks. At 4-1, the Blazers can win a fourth straight crown by beating Marshal on Saturday and No. 23 UTSA next week -- both on the road.
-- No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 15 Ole Miss (7 p.m. ET, ESPN): We're in a Twilight Zone with A&M once again. Just like 2012, the Aggies earned a program-validating win over Bama, they look like a legit top-10 team, but if Alabama doesn't lose again they won't head to the SEC Championship, and so we'll spend the next nine months arguing, "How good is A&M really?"
In the meantime, Texas A&M can remain in place to win the SEC West so long as they keep winning and Alabama drops another game.
-- Arizona State at Washington (7 p.m. ET, FS1): Arizona State can remain alive for the Pac-12 championship with a win, but a loss combined with a Utah victory extends the Pac-12 title drought in the desert to 14 years.
-- No. 16 NC State at No. 12 Wake Forest (7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network): The North Carolina loss killed Wake's Playoff dream, but it did nothing to their ACC title hopes. The Heels and Deacons played a non-conference game, so Dave Clawson's team is still 5-0 in ACC play heading into their date with 4-1 NC State. A victory doesn't clinch the division for Wake, but it does provide enough cushion to where the Deacons could lose to the Tigers and still claim their first ACC Coastal crown since 2006.
If NC State wins, the Pack would need to beat Syracuse and UNC to win their first ACC Championship trip in 17 seasons.
-- Nevada at No. 22 San Diego State (10:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network): Both teams are 4-1 in MW play; both losses came to West Division rival Fresno State. But Boise State did the Aztecs and the Wolfpack a massive favor by hammering the Bulldogs last week, dropping them to 4-2. The victor here is two wins away from a division title.
-- Utah State at San Jose State (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1): 4-1 Utah State leads the MW Mountain, but the lead depends on the Aggies continuing to outrun the 3-2 Broncos, thanks to Boise State's 27-3 win back in September.