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College football viewing guide: Championship Week edition

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Because our Auburn Tigers aren't the only ones playing for hardware this weekend...

Mark A. Cunningham

There's plenty of great football games to be watched this weekend, several of which may be of great interest to Auburn fans. Here's what to expect. All times listed are Central.

Thursday

(19) Louisville @ Cincinnati: 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Reason No. 482 why I am excited about the death of the BCS: Cincinnati, a team that doesn't have a single quality win under it's belt, still has a shot to go to a BCS game. A Bearcat upset paired with a UCF loss on Saturday could propel Tuberville's team into the BCS. This is a team that lost to South Florida, for crying out loud. Luckily, the odds of all of this occurring lie somewhere between "slim" and "none." Despite only being favored by 3.5 points, Louisville really should have its way with this team. Teddy Bridgewater has been unfairly removed from the Heisman discussion simply because his team lost a Friday night game to a UCF squad whose only loss was by a field goal to South Carolina. Bridgewater threw for 341 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in that loss. Maybe a huge prime time performance on Thursday will earn him a seat at the table once more.

Friday

Bowling Green @ (14) N. Illinois: 7 p.m., ESPN2
MAC Championship Game: Detroit

FRIDAY NIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MACTION! Northern Illinois can win and make a second straight BCS bowl. You may want to read the previous sentence again, just for effect. What Jordan Lynch has done this year with the Huskies offense is nothing short of amazing. The senior quarterback has 11 more passing touchdowns and almost 800 more yards through the air than Nick Marshall, to go along with 450 more rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns more than Tre Mason. How's that for perspective? He doesn't have a chance in the world of winning, but a kid like this deserves to go to New York. Having said all of that, Bowling Green has a great chance in this game. It's been an up-and-down season for the Falcons, with close losses to Mississippi State and Toledo. Bowling Green will bring in a balanced offense that could give the Huskies fits all night. This should be a typical, crazy MAC game.

Saturday

(17) Oklahoma @ (6) Oklahoma State: 11 a.m., ABC

Big 12 teams don't have a championship game because they are smart sissies, but the conference will still give us two pretty fun games this weekend. First up is the Bedlam game. The Sooners have won nine of the last 10 against their in-state rivals, but they'll be big underdogs when they travel to Stillwater to face the Cowboys on Saturday. Oklahoma has struggled to find it's identity on offense all season long, while Oklahoma State was last seen obliterating the Baylor offensive juggernaut -- the same Baylor team that had embarrassed the Sooners just two weeks earlier. If head coach Bob "Babyface" Stoops can pull the upset, it'll go a long way toward quieting down what has turned into an agitated fan base. If Oklahoma state wins as expected, it's the Fiesta Bowl for the Cowboys.

(25) Texas @ (9) Baylor: 2:30 p.m., Fox

Baylor fell back to earth with a painful thud after losing to Oklahoma State, but the Bears are still a formidable football team. The offense is still elite, and the defense is still serviceable. Although Baylor has looked like the better team all season, I'm far more interested in the Texas storylines here. For all the assumptions about Mack Brown losing his job, he's actually led the Longhorns to a pretty decent turnaround. After embarrassing losses to BYU and Ole Miss early in the season, Texas has gone on a 7-1 streak with only a loss to Oklahoma State lumped in there. It seems unlikely to happen, but if Texas defeats Baylor, it would be pretty difficult to fire a coach who went 9-3, won a share of the Big 12 and took his team to the Cotton Bowl. Hell, if Oklahoma upsets Oklahoma State, the Longhorns could end up in a BCS bowl. Either way, I'm sure Gus Malzahn will have one eye on this game to scout his team for next year.

(7) Stanford @ (11) Arizona State: 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Pac-12 Championship Game: Tempe, Ariz.

Stanford won this matchup earlier in the season, but Arizona State has been on a roll in the latter half of the year. The Cardinal were once contenders for the national title, but the unusually tough Pac12 has taken it's toll on their prospects. For Stanford, the Rose Bowl isn't a terrible consolation prize, and back-to-back conference championships would be incredibly impressive given the Pac-12's strength. The Cardinal have been looking sloppier as the season has gone one, and Arizona State seems to be peaking. The Sun Devils are going to be playing a home game, so be surprised to see this one swing their direction.

(20) Duke @ (1) Florida State: 7 p.m., ABC

ACC Championship Game: Charlotte, N.C.

The degree to which David Cutcliffe has turned around the Duke football program cannot be overstated, but this Seminoles team is on a completely different level than any opponent he has faced thus far. We'll be finding out for sure later Thursday, but it's hard to imagine Florida State losing this game so long as Jameis Winston is a part of the team. Actually, it's hard to imagine Florida State losing this game without Winston on the roster. Duke is a great story, but the Blue Devils shouldn't be able to contend with the Seminoles -- unless Florida State's weak schedule has made it into what it is today.

(2) Ohio State @ (10) Michigan State: 7:17 p.m., FOX
Big Ten Championship Game: Indianapolis, Ind.

OK, Auburn fans. This is the one that we all have our eyes on. By the time this one kicks off, we will know for certain if our Tigers are SEC champions and contenders for the title game. If Auburn takes care of business in Atlanta, a Spartans win would mean Pasadena and a shot at more crystal for our men. So, does Michigan State have a chance of upsetting undefeated Ohio State? The Spartans' defense would suggest that they absolutely do. They lead the nation in total D, and they rank fourth nationally in points allowed. If there is a team that can slow down the lethal Braxton Miller-Carlos Hyde combination from Ohio State, it's this Michigan State squad. On the flip side of this coin, if Ohio State shows up and makes a statement, Braxton Miller probably deserves a trip to New York. Like Teddy Bridgewater, he has been flying under the radar most of the season. War Damn Sparty.

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