The majority of college football programs will wrap up their regular seasons this weekend, with the remaining schools concluding the following week. That next week will also coincide with the Power 5 Conference Championship games, split between Friday and Saturday, the 18th and 19th.
The Big 12, ACC, SEC, and Big Ten qualifiers have all been decided, with the only title-game participants yet to be determined in the PAC-12. The Big 12 will feature Oklahoma taking on Iowa State. The SEC pits Alabama against Florida, and the ACC Championship will be decided between Notre Dame and Clemson in a critical matchup that will go a long way in determining the top four in the College Football Playoff.
Big Ten Notes: Ohio State Qualifies; Indiana/Purdue Nixed
Before the season, Big Ten officials ruled that to qualify for the conference championship, a school had to play a minimum of six games, unless the average number of games played by every team in the conference was five or fewer. On Tuesday, Ohio State’s rivalry game with Michigan was canceled as COVID cases continued to rise within the Wolverines program. That cancellation meant that the undefeated Buckeyes would only play five games and be ineligible for the Big Ten crown.
However, the conference reversed their ruling on Wednesday, allowing Ohio State to qualify. They will face Northwestern on Dec. 19 in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes also maintained their Top 4 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, which likely means a win over the Wildcats next week advances them to the playoff.
Had Big Ten officials upheld their preseason ruling, the beneficiaries of Ohio State’s ineligibility would have been Indiana. The Hoosiers sit in second place in the Big Ten East and had met the minimum games played requirement, despite losing to the Buckeyes earlier in the year. And now, Indiana and Purdue mutually agreed to cancel this weekend’s rivalry for the Old Oaken Bucket because of increased COVID cases at both schools. The Hoosiers matched a program record for Big Ten wins and will now wait to see if they’ll play in a Bowl Game, and which one.
SEC Notes: No Bowling for LSU
Perhaps the most disappointing title defense got worse this week when the LSU Tigers self-imposed a one-year bowl ban for 2020. The ban, along with scholarship and recruiting reductions (self-imposed earlier this year), stems from the NCAA's investigation into improper booster payments to its football players.
LSU won the National Championship over Clemson last year but has struggled this season, sitting at 3-5 with two games remaining. Last week, the Tigers were installed as 30-point underdogs to Alabama, becoming the biggest underdog as a defending national champion ever, and ultimately fell, 55-17.
The Tigers would have been eligible for a bowl game even if they didn’t finish above .500, as the NCAA lifted that requirement this season due to the pandemic. LSU will close out their regular season with Florida and then Ole Miss.