No. 2 Ohio State has gotten past its injury issues, dominated two straight overmatched opponents and is uber-motivated for The Game after two straight lopsided losses to Michigan.
The third-ranked Wolverines narrowly escaped Maryland last week and are still dealing with the fallout of the sign-stealing scandal, including the firing of an assistant coach and the sideline suspension of coach Jim Harbaugh that runs through Saturday's meeting in Ann Arbor.
The winner represents the East in the Big Ten championship game and is all but assured a spot in the College Football Playoff if it beats Iowa as a heavy favorite next week.
There's no shortage of drama in the Pac-12 with No. 6 Oregon looking for a win over No. 15 Oregon State at home Friday night to lock up a matchup with No. 4 Washington in the conference title game.
The Big 12 is a mess with four teams still vying for the two spots in the title game. No. 7 Texas gets in with a win over Texas Tech in Austin. No. 21 Oklahoma State is in if it beats BYU in Stillwater and Texas wins. If those two things don’t happen, a convoluted tiebreaker system comes into play with No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 19 Kansas State possibly in the mix.
The fun starts Thanksgiving night with No. 12 Mississippi visiting Mississippi State. Besides Ohio State-Michigan, Saturday's big rivalry games are No. 8 Alabama at Auburn, Washington State at Washington and No. 5 Florida State at Florida. Washington State and Florida are trying to become bowl eligible. Florida State will be without injured quarterback Jordan Travis.
No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) at No. 3 Michigan (11-0, 8-0), Saturday, noon ET (Fox)
How big is The Game? Ryan Day is 40-2 against Big Ten opponents. The two losses were to Michigan in 2021 and ‘22 by a combined 37 points. Ohio State defensive end Jack Sawyer said those humiliations have provided more than enough "fuel" for the Buckeyes.
The key to the game is whether Michigan's defense, after looking mortal against Maryland, can slow down an offense that has its big playmakers back and scored at least 35 points in three straight games.
Oregon's Bo Nix gets one more chance to impress Heisman voters. If the betting line reflects what voters are thinking, Nix would be the second choice behind LSU's Jayden Daniels. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Daniels at minus-120 on the money line; Nix is plus-140 and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. is plus-650. No one else is close.
Nix has the biggest stage this week with a prime-time home game against Oregon State. He comes in off a 404-yard, six-touchdown passing performance against Arizona State. He also has payback in mind after the Beavers rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 38-34 last year.
Numbers to know
3 — Consecutive games Iowa has had a touchdown pass, its longest streak since October 2021.
9 — Consecutive games UNLV has scored at least 25 points, longest streak since program moved to Division I in 1978.
10 — Yards needed by Kentucky's Ray Davis for a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He had 1,042 for Vanderbilt last year.
26.5% — Third-down conversion rate by Texas opponents, lowest in the nation.
306 — Receptions by Louisiana Tech's Smoke Harris since 2019, most in the FBS.
Under the radar
No. 16 Arizona (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) at Arizona State (3-8, 2-6), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Nothing would brighten Arizona State's dismal season more than knocking off surging Arizona for the Territorial Cup — especially if a spot in the Pac-12 championship game is at stake.
If Oregon State beats Oregon in Eugene on Friday night, and Arizona beats ASU, the Wildcats would play Washington in Las Vegas on Dec. 1.
The Wildcats won a wild one against ASU in Tucson last year, but they haven't won in Tempe since 2011.
Nevada's Ken Wilson is 4-19 in two seasons, and that includes a 16-game losing streak that ended last month with a 6-0 road win over San Diego State. The Wolf Pack have lost to an FCS opponent each season.
Wilson, a longtime Nevada assistant under Jay Norvell, is in the third year of a five-year contract. His buyout would be $1 million if he's fired Dec. 1 or after.