Championship Week Viewing Guide: Buckeye Fans Can Cheer for Every Underdog, An All-Ohio MAC Title Game, and Could Tulane Finish the Season Ahead of LSU?

By George Eisner on December 3, 2022 at 9:05 am
Quarterback Cameron Rising of the Utah Utes Holding the Pac-12 Championship Trophy
Kirby Lee | USA TODAY Sports

With Ohio State awaiting the final CFP results, let's take a look at a host of college football matchups from around the country we’ll have our eyes on this Saturday.


The TCU Horned Frogs Football Team takes the field

Photo: Raymond Carlin III | USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Kansas State vs. No. 3 TCU, 12 p.m. on ABC

Ohio State fans have the rare privilege today of being able to enjoy all of the college football games available without needing to worry about any of the winners or losers. That said, the ultimate trajectory of the Buckeyes' potential College Football Playoff seeding will still ride with the result of the Big 12 Championship.

Kansas State led TCU by eleven points going into halftime of their first meeting this season, but the Horned Frogs shut out the Wildcats over the final 30 minutes to secure a 38-28 victory. This time, KSU will need to put on a more complete performance if the school aims to see its latest outright conference title since 2003, while TCU seeks to become unanimous Big 12 champions for the first time in Horned Frogs history.

Interestingly enough, Wildcats quarterback Will Howard has gotten the better of Max Duggan before. Howard led Kansas State in passing and rushing on his team's way to a 21-14 win over TCU in 2020 — a game that featured no passing touchdowns from QBs on either side. Since becoming the starter while Adrian Martinez remains sidelined with injury, Howard has thrown for multiple touchdowns in all five games while guiding KSU's offense to at least 31 points in each of their last four contests.

Even if Howard arrives prepared to duel Duggan once again, a bounce-back performance from the Wildcats' defense may be the more important factor for Kansas State winning the rematch. KSU gave up over 100 more total yards of offense in the initial matchup with the Horned Frogs this season while also failing to force any turnovers. The Wildcats cannot afford to let TCU running back Kendre Miller go for over 150 yards on the ground again if they want to become conference champions.

Toledo vs. Ohio, 12 p.m. on ESPN

W I L D C A R D of the W E E K

Need an Ohio football fix today with no Buckeyes on the slate? Those unconcerned with the winner in the Big 12 would enjoy watching former Ohio State walk-on receiver Sam Wiglusz attempt to guide his Bobcat brethren in Athens to the school's first MAC title since 1968. Meanwhile, a victory for the Toledo Rockets would give Ohio State a small boost to the non-conference section of its Playoff resume after a 77-21 win from earlier in September.

Wiglusz earned a spot on the All-MAC team earlier this week after completing the regular season with 66 catches for 884 yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving score total ties for the most in the MAC and more than twice as many as any other wideout for Ohio.

Toledo enters this game on a two-game losing streak after having to navigate absences from star quarterback Dequan Finn due to an ankle injury, and the Rockets have looked not quite as overall effective under backup Tucker Gleason as a result. Both men played in last week's loss on the road to Western Michigan, but Gleason finished the game after Finn threw two interceptions in the first half. It will be interesting to see which QB Toledo puts its faith behind while on the doorstep of a first conference championship since 2017.


Uga X, mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs

Photo: Dale Zanine | USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 LSU vs. No. 1 Georgia, 4 p.m. on CBS

The Bulldogs have come up big in all of their marquee matchups across their schedule, and after LSU tripped over its own feet at the regular season finish line against Texas A&M last weekend, its hard to imagine Georgia not coming out ahead once again today. This isn't even the Dawgs' first trip to Atlanta during the 2022 campaign, as UGA opened the year with a 49-3 walloping of Oregon in what was laughably considered a "neutral site game" for the in-state hosts.

That said, while Georgia may be the defending national champions, Kirby Smart's team did give away the SEC Championship a year ago to Alabama after a closing stretch in which the Bulldogs looked unstoppable. The Tigers may not carry with them the same momentum that the Crimson Tide did behind last season's eventual Heisman winner Bryce Young, but Jayden Daniels still has plenty of tools in his own arsenal to give Georgia a scare for a second-straight conference title game. However, Daniels will need to take better care of the football this week after his early second-half fumble ultimately doomed LSU against the Aggies.

Daniels hurt his ankle towards the end of the Tigers' comeback attempt last week, but head coach Brian Kelly indicated in the lead-up to the title game that LSU's star quarterback would be available to play. Kelly will need him if the first-year SEC coach wants to close out his debut season in the bayou with 10 wins and a conference championship.

No. 22 UCF vs. No. 18 Tulane, 4 p.m. on ABC

Should LSU lose today, there's a considerable chance that the Tigers enter bowl season no longer the top football school in the Pelican State. Tulane has quietly stormed through nearly the entirety of the AAC all year, and now the Green Wave will look to avenge their only conference loss on the schedule at home once again against UCF.

The Cincinnati Bearcats have had a rough last seven days not only in wake of Luke Fickell's departure for Wisconsin, but also after missing out on the conference championship last Saturday due to the ending of UCF's game with South Florida. "The War on I-4" saw USF take the lead late after falling behind by as many as 28 points, but the Knights went on to win the game thanks to an absurd one-handed touchdown catch with less than 30 seconds remaining.

If Tulane has had an Achilles heel this season, it's certainly been the team's run defense, which bodes poorly against a UCF rushing attack that owns one of the top-10 success rates on the ground in college football. The Green Wave will need a big performance from their own star rusher in Tyjae Spears if the team wants to secure its first conference title since claiming the C-USA throne in 1998.


Safety Sanoussi Kane of the Purdue Boilermakers

Photo: Rich Janzaruk | The Herald-Times, USA TODAY NETWORK

Purdue vs. No. 2 Michigan, 8 p.m. on FOX

☣ H A Z A R D  ☣  W A R N I N G ☣

Depending on what happens with TCU earlier in the day, Ohio State could face a potential immediate rematch with Michigan in the College Football Playoff. That creates a bit of an incentive for Buckeye fans to tune into the Big Ten Championship, but one could certainly be forgiven for opting not to witness Michigan likely go on to claim its second straight conference crown in Indianapolis.

Of course, as Ohio State fans are well-aware, the prospect of playing Purdue at night in the state of Indiana rarely presents itself as an appetizing opportunity. This may not be the traditional venue in which the Boilermakers tend to work their spoiler magic as an unranked team, but Aidan O'Connell and Charlie Jones still have their season-long connection going strong ahead of their meeting with the Wolverines. Jones caught four passes for 143 yards and a 60-yard touchdown to clinch the Big Ten West on the road against Indiana last week.

Purdue could certainly make this a weird game after Michigan nearly fell over themselves against Illinois just a week prior to facing the Buckeyes, but the Wolverines enter favored by the second-widest margin on the college football slate today for a reason. Proceed with caution if choosing to watch this one, and do not act surprised if a nauseating feeling follows.

No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 23 North Carolina, 8 p.m. on ABC

You know what sounds much less sickening than watching the team that just beat Ohio State try to cement itself at the top of the Big Ten? How about watching Buckeye nation's least-favorite head coach not named Jim Harbaugh potentially fumble away a conference title game after blowing its own rivalry game at home last week?

November was a hell of a time for Dabo Swinney. After starting the month with a loss on the road to Notre Dame that saw Clemson fall behind 28-0 at one point in the fourth quarter, the Tigers closed out Thanksgiving week with a heartbreaking loss to in-state rival South Carolina in the Palmetto Bowl. Had Clemson been able to hold off Spencer Rattler last week, it's likely the Tigers would have secured one of the final spots in the College Football Playoff with a win in the ACC title game tonight.

Instead, DJ Uiagalelei reverted to his form from last season with his worst passing performance of the year that saw him complete only eight of his 29 attempts. The loss marked Uiagalelei's first game throwing for less than 100 yards across the 2022 campaign.

Uiagalelei will have a solid opportunity to rebound against a North Carolina pass defense that allows the 10th-highest success rate to opponents' passing plays at the FBS level this season. However, if Clemson's defense allows Tarheels quarterback Drake Maye to put up another Rattler-esque performance by completing more than three times as many passes as Uiagalelei did last week, the Tigers could be looking at their third loss of the year in what's already been a disappointing campaign for Swinney's squad.

On the Radar for Next Season

  • Opening Week: North Carolina vs. South Carolina — Saturday, Sept. 2nd from Charlotte, NC
  • Buckeyes Non-Con: Ohio State vs. Notre Dame — Saturday, Sept. 23rd from South Bend, IN
  • The Game: Ohio State vs. Michigan — Saturday, November 25th from Ann Arbor, MI
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