The College Football Agenda

Nelson Chenault/US Presswire Joe Adams

Your viewer’s guide for the final full weekend of the college football season, parsed into dual categories: The (relative) mainstream (The Cannon) and the indie (The JaMarcus).

Act I

The Cannon: No. 3 Arkansas (10-1) at no. 1 LSU (11-0), 2:30 p.m. EST, Friday, CBS

Appeals To: Bill Clinton, James Carville

A meaningful clash for those intractable Southerners who steadfastly believe the BCS Championship game should be replaced every year by a three-team SEC round-robin. Last year, the Friday after Thanksgiving gifted us with one of the greatest Iron Bowls in our nation’s history. Unfortunately, this year’s post-Galliformes marquee rivalry has a nickname straight out of a Percy Jackson sequel.

Grantland Rating: 9.2

The JaMarcus: No. 8 Houston (11-0) at Tulsa (8-3), noon, Friday, FSN

Appeals To: Those Who Believe The Heisman Trophy Vote Should Be Reduced To A Statistical Home Run Derby, Jack Pardee

The Cougars look to wrap up the least meaningful undefeated regular season since the 1998 Tulane Green Wave (insert gratuitous Shaun King reference here), and quarterback Case Keenum seeks to wrest the Heisman away based on the sheer weight of several meaningless numbers. I should confess that I am carrying excess baggage here, because I still believe Major Harris got shafted.

Grantland Rating: 7.5

Act II

The Cannon: No. 2 Alabama (10-1) at no. 24 Auburn (7-4), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS

Appeals To: Atomic Number 26

Let us not delude ourselves: Nothing can possibly match last year’s Iron Bowl, unless Bo Jackson still has eligibility remaining. But there is always the possibility that Nick Saban will get publicly frustrated, and that is an enjoyable interlude.

Grantland Rating: 7.7

The JaMarcus: No. 19 Penn State (9-2) at no. 16 Wisconsin (9-2), 3:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN

Appeals To: Post-it Notes

The game behind the game, as the winner will take on Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten championship contest in Indianapolis. There is no reason at all that Penn State should be competitive here, but despite the fact that the Nittany Lions have a quarterback with moxie and no real talent, and despite the complete and utter collapse of all their program has stood for since the mid-20th century, they somehow continue to exist.

Grantland Rating: 8.5


The Cannon: Washington State (4-7) at Washington (6-5), 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Versus

Appeals To: Germanic Paganists

West Coast football rivalries are so quaint. Has there ever been a more lovely name for a clash between in-state enemies than the Apple Cup? It’s like something Martha Stewart conjured as an excuse for a dinner party.

Grantland Rating: 6.7

The JaMarcus: Texas Tech (5-6) at no. 18 Baylor (7-3), 7 p.m., Saturday, FSN

Appeals To: Heisman Purists

The presumption is that Robert Griffin III is the most purely exciting college quarterback in America, but what if he’s actually the best quarterback? That may be mere provocation, I realize, but all Griffin needs is one or two more signature throws, and he’s got a shot of becoming one of the two best players with his own surname ever to win the Heisman.

Grantland Rating: 8.0

Previously by Michael Weinreb:
Living in State College
The Culture of Unrest at Penn State
Growing Up Penn State

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Filed Under: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, College Football, LSU, Michael Weinreb, Penn State, Wisconsin