Rivalry Week is a bittersweet time in college football: It's the last full weekend of games of the regular season, but it's also one of the best weekends of the season, with bonus football on Black Friday and a long list of high-profile games with high stakes attached.
From the playoff race to conference championships to bowl eligibility to rivalry bragging rights and trophies, something important is on the line in most Week 13 games. Here's everything to know about what's at stake this weekend.
If you'd like to cast a wide net with two weeks left, an argument can be made for perhaps 10 teams that have a chance to still make the playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State, USC and TCU. Those 10 teams all have a 9 percent chance or better of making the playoff, according to FiveThirtyEight's playoff predictor (although USC, which doesn't play this week, in particular is a massive reach, given its blowout loss to 9-2 Notre Dame, which possibly still has a tiny bit of long shot hopes, too)
Alabama (11-0). The Crimson Tide play at Auburn on Saturday with the SEC West on the line. A loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium would cost Alabama a chance to win the SEC championship, but it wouldn't necessarily take it out of the playoff picture. It's undefeated right now, and an 11-1 Alabama, with a loss to a top-10 team, would still have an attractive playoff resume. It would take some help, probably in the form of a loss by one of the other current top five teams (Clemson, Miami, Oklahoma, Wisconsin) beyond the ACC title game.
Clemson (10-1). The selection committee has been forgiving of Clemson's loss to Syracuse in which QB Kelly Bryant was injured. If Clemson wins at South Carolina on Saturday and beats Miami in the ACC title game, it's a playoff lock. If it loses to South Carolina, a win over Miami would put it squarely on the bubble, in need of help.
Miami (10-0). The Hurricanes visit Pittsburgh, which has the same 4-7 record as the 2007 Pitt team that stunned No. 2 West Virginia, knocking the Mountaineers out of the BCS title hunt. A Miami loss is unlikely, of course, but it could possibly survive a loss, if it beats Clemson in the ACC championship game. The only way to leave no doubt is to win both.
Oklahoma (10-1). The Sooners won't start Heisman favorite Baker Mayfield after the Kansas controversy, but he's likely to play vs. West Virginia, which is missing starting QB Will Grier. Although Oklahoma already has locked up a spot in the Big 12 title game, its No. 4 ranking, entering Tuesday, means that a loss to the Mountaineers would be difficult to recover from.
Wisconsin (11-0). The Badgers are undefeated but were No. 5 in the top 25 last week. They probably can't afford a loss on Saturday to Minnesota, which is 5-6 and was just shut out by Northwestern. Given its weak schedule, the only way for Wisconsin to safely make the field is to go 13-0 with a Big Ten title, although it would still be in the mix if it lost to Minnesota and beat Ohio State.
Auburn (9-2). The top-two loss team, Auburn wins the SEC West if it upsets Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Its only possible playoff path is to beat Alabama, then beat Georgia in the SEC championship, so its playoff hopes are directly on the line in Rivalry Week.
Georgia (10-1). The Bulldogs lost to Auburn, but they're still guaranteed a spot in the SEC title game. A loss to Georgia Tech this week wouldn't completely eliminate them, but Georgia needs to beat the Yellow Jackets and beat either Alabama or Auburn in Atlanta to leave no doubt. It's hard to imagine a team losing two games in November and making the field.
Ohio State (9-2). After the Buckeyes were shut out in the playoff after not winning the Big Ten, there would be plenty of groaning if they become the first two-loss team to crash the playoff, especially given that they got blown out by both Oklahoma and Iowa. The path exists, though. It requires beating Michigan on Saturday, then beating Wisconsin in Indianapolis, with a little help plus some forgiveness for those ugly losses. They'll at least be in the conversation if they win out.
TCU (9-2). The Horned Frogs need to beat Baylor this week, and then they would need to win a rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. While all that happens, they would need to hope for a whole lot of help that's highly unlikely.
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Conference championship races
Nine of the 10 conferences (all but the Sun Belt) will stage a championship game next week. Of the 18 available spots, six are still open: the SEC West, Pac-12 North, AAC West, both MAC divisions and the second spot in the Big 12.
ACC. Clemson (Atlantic) and Miami (Coastal) have already clinched trips to Charlotte. For Miami, it will be its first in the game's 13th season.
Big 12. The first Big 12 title game since 2010 is guaranteed to feature a rematch with 10 teams and no divisions in the conference. Oklahoma (7-1) is a lock for a trip to Arlington. If TCU (6-2) beats Baylor, it will face the Sooners. If TCU loses, Iowa State (5-3) has a chance with several breaks. Oklahoma-TCU is a pretty safe bet.
Big Ten. Ohio State (East) and Wisconsin (West) already clinched spots in the conference title game in Indianapolis.
Pac-12. USC, which is off this week, will represent the South in Santa Clara. Stanford will represent the North if Washington beats Washington State on Saturday night. Washington State will represent the North if its beats Washington.
SEC. Georgia won the East for the first time since 2012 and will try to win the conference for the first time since 2005. Its opponent will be the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl on Saturday.
American. West champion Memphis will face the winner of Friday's UCF-South Florida game. Memphis needs a win over East Carolina and a South Florida win over UCF to likely host the AAC title game at the Liberty Bowl. If UCF wins, it will be in Orlando.
Conference USA. Florida Atlantic (East) and North Texas (West) have already clinched spots in the conference title game, which will be played on FAU's home field in Boca Raton. Lane Kiffin's Owls crushed the Mean Green 69-31 in October.
MAC. The MAC is the only conference with both championship game spots still open. Akron will win the East with a win over Kent State on Tuesday. If the Zips lose, Ohio advances with a win over Buffalo on Friday. In the West, Toledo is in with a win over Western Michigan on Friday. Northern Illinois needs a win at Central Michigan and a Rockets loss.
Mountain West. The two division winners will play twice in a row: Boise State (Mountain) visits Fresno State (West) to end the regular season on Saturday. Next week, they'll meet again, likely in Boise.
Sun Belt. The Sun Belt won't begin playing a conference championship game until 2018, and thus there are still two weeks of regular-season games left. There's currently a four-way tie for first at 5-1 between Troy, Arkansas State, Georgia State and Appalachian State. UL Lafayette is one game back at 4-2. The one matchup of the four first-place teams is Troy at Arkansas State on Dec. 2.
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There are 39 bowl games this season, meaning that there are 78 spots available for teams that win six games or more. Last year, a few sub-.500 teams were needed to fill out the 40 bowls, with the NCAA's APR metric used to send North Texas and Mississippi State. So far this season, there are 70 teams that have already reached bowl eligibility. The next two weeks -- there are few non-championship games on Dec. 2 that could have an impact -- are capable of filling out the remaining spots with no APR help. Twenty-one teams still have a chance to reach bowl eligibility, although some play each other.
Eligible (8): Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Louisville, Boston College, Virginia
On the bubble (3): Georgia Tech, Duke, Florida State
Clinched losing record (3): Syracuse, Pittsburgh, North Carolina
Florida State has the nation's longest bowl streak, having not missed the postseason since 1981. It rescheduled the canceled UL Monroe game for Dec. 2 and must beat Florida and the Warhawks the next two weeks to extend the streak. With bowl bids on the line Saturday, Georgia Tech hosts Georgia and Duke visits Wake Forest. Virginia already clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011.
Eligible (7): Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, Kansas State
On the bubble (1): Texas Tech
Clinched losing record (2): Baylor, Kansas
Iowa State will go bowling for the first time since 2012. Texas Tech needs to beat Texas on Friday to avoid missing the potseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 1991-92.
Eligible (7): Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa
On the bubble (3): Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota
Clinched losing record (4): Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, Illinois
Bowl eligibility will be on the line in the Indiana-Purdue rivalry showdown. Minnesota will have to beat undefeated Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 to go bowling in P.J. Fleck's debut.
Eligible (7): USC, Washington, Washington State, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State
On the bubble (4): California, UCLA, Colorado, Utah
Clinched losing record (1): Oregon State
Friday night's Cal-UCLA game and Saturday night's Colorado-Utah game are both play-ins for bowl season, so the Pac-12 will produce nine eligible teams.
Eligible (9): Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Missouri
On the bubble (0): None
Clinched losing record (5): Ole Miss, Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas
Ole Miss is the SEC's only five-win team entering Rivalry Week, but it is already banned from the postseason, so no bowl bids are at stake. Missouri recovered from a 1-5 start to win five in a row to clinch eligibility.
Eligible (6): UCF, Memphis, South Florida, Houston, Navy, SMU
On the bubble (2): Temple, Tulane
Clinched losing record (4): East Carolina, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Tulsa
Temple (at Tulsa) and Tulane (at SMU) will both have to win on the road to get to six wins. Tulane is seeking only its third bowl trip since going 12-0 in 1998.
Eligible (8): Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Marshall, UAB, Southern Miss, Florida International, UTSA, Western Kentucky
On the bubble (3): Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion
Clinched losing record (3): Charlotte, Rice, UTEP
Old Dominion and Middle Tennessee meet with six wins on the line in Murfreesboro. Louisiana Tech must beat UTSA. If there aren't enough bowl spots for the open teams, there's a good chance Conference USA teams would be left out, with at least nine teams guaranteed to be eligible.
Eligible (6): Toledo, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Central Michigan, Akron, Western Michigan
On the bubble (1): Buffalo
Clinched losing record (5): Miami (OH), Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Kent State, Ball State
Buffalo hosts MAC East heavyweight Ohio on Friday, needing a win as it searches for its third bowl trip ever.
Eligible (6): Boise State, San Diego State, Fresno State, Wyoming, Colorado State, Utah State
On the bubble (1): UNLV
Clinched losing record (5): Air Force, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada, San Jose State
UNLV has played in a bowl only once (2013) in the past 16 seasons. It will be playing for both the Fremont Cannon and bowl eligibility when it visits rival Nevada.
Eligible (4): Troy, Arkansas State, Georgia State, Appalachian State
On the bubble (3): UL Lafayette, New Mexico State, UL Monroe
Clinched losing record (5): South Alabama, Idaho, Georgia Southern, Texas State, Coastal Carolina
New Mexico State is 4-6 with remaining homes games against Idaho and South Alabama. It is trying to go to a bowl for the first time since 1960. UL Monroe is also 4-6 with two games left, but it would have to beat both Sun Belt heavyweight Arkansas State and Florida State. UL Lafayette would become bowl-eligible with a win over Georgia Southern this week or Appalachian State next week.
Eligible (2): Notre Dame, Army
On the bubble (0): None
Clinched losing record (2): Massachusetts, BYU
Army already accepted an invitation to the Armed Forces Bowl, which means it will play in the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 1984-85.
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For some rivalries, bragging rights are enough. A trophy won't be on the line when Ohio State plays Michigan, Florida plays Florida State, Tennessee plays Vanderbilt, N.C. State plays North Carolina or Oregon plays Oregon State. But many college football rivalries do award trophies to the winner, many of which are fun, historic and/or strange.
Rivalry trophies have been on the line throughout the season; these are all the trophies that are on the line this week:
Apple Cup. Washington has won seven of the past eight, but only Washington State can get into the Pac-12 title game with a win this year.
Battle Line Trophy. This is only the ninth time that Missouri and Arkansas have met, but they have become permanent cross-division rivals in the SEC.
Chancellor's Spurs. Texas-Texas A&M is sadly no longer a Thanksgiving weekend tradition, so Friday features Texas and Texas Tech fighting for the Chancellor's Spurs, which date back to 1996.
Commonwealth Cup. Virginia hasn't won the trophy from Virginia Tech since 2003.
Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy. It's a lot easier to refer to Alabama-Auburn as the Iron Bowl.
Fremont Cannon. UNLV has won the Cannon from Nevada in only two of the past 12 years … but those two wins came in its past two trips to Reno.
Fremont Cannon rolled out onto the court at halftime with the Wolf Pack football team's seniors class. pic.twitter.com/aZ9NQUsSUn- Chris Murray (@MurrayRGJ) December 15, 2016
Golden Egg. Ole Miss-Mississippi State returns to Thanksgiving for the 22nd time in the Egg Bowl.
Governor's Cup (GA). The name of the trophy isn't nearly as good as the name of the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry: Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.
Governor's Cup (KY). Kentucky broke Louisville's five-game rivalry winning streak last year.
Heroes Trophy. Iowa has replaced Colorado as Nebraska's Black Friday opponent since the Cornhuskers moved to the Big Ten.
Legends Trophy. Notre Dame and Stanford have met regularly only since 1988.
Milk Can. Yes, the Mountain West championship will be on the line next week when Boise State and Fresno State meet again. First, they play for the immortal Milk Can.
Boise State and Fresno State are going to play a football game for a milk can tonight. Who's excited? pic.twitter.com/txQsMdGYmg- Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) October 17, 2014
Old Oaken Bucket. The trophy awarded to the winner of Indiana-Purdue dates back to 1925. The Hoosiers have won four straight, and the winner this time goes bowling.
Palmetto Bowl Trophy. Clemson and South Carolina have been playing each other since 1896, but this is only the third year of this trophy.
Paul Bunyan's Axe. Wisconsin hasn't lost the Axe, undoubtedly one of the best rivalry trophies, to Minnesota since 2003.
Red Bird Rivalry Trophy. Ball State and Miami (OH) have met only three times since 2008, but they've been made permanent cross-division opponents in the MAC and will start playing for a trophy.
Wagon Wheel. Akron will win the MAC East and take home the Wagon Wheel for the fourth time in five years if it beats Kent State.
War On 1-4 Trophy. Friday features the biggest South Florida-Central Florida game ever … but they've actually met only eight times. Now, they're AAC East rivals.