This is it, the final week of college football's regular season and the last chance for contending teams to impress the College Football Playoff Committee in advance of Sunday's final vote.
The guess here is that Alabama advances into the top four with an SEC championship game win and Florida State squeezes in if it defeats Georgia Tech for the ACC title.
But what about the Texas Christian-Baylor debate and how Ohio State's fate will be decided if the Buckeyes can defeat Wisconsin with their backup quarterback? It should be an interesting Saturday. (Note: Friday night's Pac-12 championship game involving Oregon ended too late for this edition.)
The SEC has a sense of entitlement when it comes to competing for a national championship, and why not? The league captured seven of the last eight BCS titles and participated in 11 of the 16 BCS championship games.
However, should Alabama lose to two-touchdown underdog Missouri, the CFP committee could shut the SEC completely out of the final four, a scenario that would leave the college football world - not to mention the entire state of Alabama - reeling.
If this happens, blame the strength of teams in the SEC West, which bludgeoned each other regularly during the season.
On the spot
Hey, Cardale Jones, you have thrown 17 passes this entire season in seven games of mostly mop-up duty, and now you must lead Ohio State into the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin trying to get your team into the CFP.
Jones, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound redshirt sophomore, takes over for All-Big Ten quarterback J.T. Barrett, who fractured his ankle last week against Michigan. The pressure on Jones multiplies when you consider that the Buckeyes' senior class hasn't lost a conference game the last three regular seasons and has captured three division titles, but never has won a Big Ten championship.
Long way from Kent
Coaches Nick Saban of Alabama and Gary Pinkel of Missouri were teammates on Kent State's 1972 Mid-American Conference title team, then worked long hours there as graduate assistants for lousy pay and priceless experience. The two, making a lot more money these days, will renew acquaintances at the Georgia Dome in the SEC championship game.
Their teams are perceived differently - Alabama a perennial national title contender, Missouri overlooked almost annually - but they still employ lessons learned from their mentor, the late Hall of Fame coach Don James, whom Pinkel called "an organizational genius."
Truth, justice, and . . .
Baylor coach Art Briles appears to be getting more and more offended thinking that Texas Christian will take one of the four precious spots in the CFP even though his Bears defeated the Horned Frogs during the season.
Here's what he said on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" show: "That's kind of always been the American way," he said. "If there's a conflict or a doubt, you put two people in the ring and they fight. There's a winner. If there's a question who's the fastest guy, you put them on the track and the fastest guy is the guy you pick. That's how I see it. It's a democratic society."
Baylor hosts Kansas State to close its season while TCU is home with Iowa State.
Sting of the Yellow Jacket
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has taken much heat for continuing to utilize the triple-option offense by those who feel that style is out of touch with modern football.
But the Yellow Jackets closed their regular season with wins over a pair of nationally ranked teams, Clemson and Georgia, and now have a chance to knock off Florida State, the last unbeaten team in FBS, in the ACC title game. And who's to say they don't have a shot? Georgia Tech is first in the nation in third-down conversions (57.4 percent) and third in time of possession (34:02) while plus-11 on turnovers (Florida State is minus-4).
If Boise State can defeat Fresno State, the Broncs will likely grab a guaranteed berth in a New Year's Day bowl as the best champion from the "Group of Five" conferences (Mountain West, American Athletic, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American).
But AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is going to bat for Memphis (9-3), which owns a share of the conference crown. He points out the Tigers lost both at UCLA and at Mississippi while Boise State was defeated by the Rebels at a neutral site.
"What troubles me is . . . we're almost paying the price for playing really tough schedules, which we've all been asked to do," he told the Associated Press.
Expatriate of the Week
Senior defensive end Cody Muller, who starred at Souderton High School, has been a big-play performer for New Hampshire, the No. 1 team in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Telford resident leads the Wildcats with 7.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss and has recovered four fumbles. Muller, who made All-CAA second team, was seventh on UNH in tackles with 33.
New Hampshire hosts Fordham Saturday in the second round of the FCS playoffs.