It's the final Saturday of the college football season, which is equal parts thrilling and awful for fans of the sport. For the Syracuse faithful, it's also a pretty huge day despite the fact that our team's not on the field.
As we've covered multiple times, the ACC has 11 bowl-eligible teams and nine spots to put them in, which likely sends Pitt and Syracuse into a "free agent" pool to fill open spots in other conference's bowl lineups. It's not impossible at all to imagine the Orange in a bowl, but there are a few things that would certainly help their case. One -- Bowling Green upsetting Northern Illinois -- already happened last night. The others? Root against SUNJ and SMU, both of whom are 5-6 and need a win to get to the postseason. Syracuse.com has an extensive list of circumstances you should be cheering for beyond those simple outcomes as well.
But on to the actual games. Most of these hold national importance. Some hold SU-specific importance. All are worth a watch today, and we hope you'll do that with us here in the comments. Your Saturday viewing guide...
#17 Oklahoma Sooners at #6 Oklahoma State Cowboys, noon ET, ABC
Bedlam could've been so much more this year, had Oklahoma State just taken care of business against a hapless West Virginia squad. Still plenty on the line here though, as the Cowboys can wrap up the Big 12 with a victory. Oklahoma is also playing for something themselves -- a potential BCS at-large bid. Due to NIU's loss last night, the Big 12's ability to grab two BCS bids goes up exponentially, which also helps SU's bowl chances.
#16 UCF Knights at SMU Mustangs, noon ET, ESPN
Why would you watch this game when the game above is on at the same time? I already explained: Syracuse should be rooting for the Mustangs to lose, increasing the amount of open bowl spots due to the AAC being awful and not even coming close to meeting numbers. UCF's already wrapped up a BCS bid following Louisville's win over Cincinnati on Thursday, but it's not as if they're going to rest the starters in this one as a result.
#25 Texas Longhorns at #9 Baylor Bears, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Backtracking to my point from the OU/OK State game, Baylor will either be playing to solidify their selection as a BCS at-large (should the Cowboys win) or attempting to win the Big 12 outright (should OU pull the upset). Should Texas beat Baylor, you'll be shocked because it will be due to a GERG-coached defense. They could also manage to win the Big 12 themselves should OK State lose earlier in the day. It's highly unlikely you want that to happen, unless you dream of GERG getting a head coaching job next season and ruining another program like he ruined ours. Moving on...
#5 Missouri Tigers vs. #3 Auburn Tigers, 4 p.m. ET, CBS
No Syracuse impact here, really. Just a very exciting and surprising SEC Championship Game between two very exciting and surprising teams. Whoever wins this game will be politicking for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game until the cows come home, so prep yourself for that. Predicted angle for Mizzou: "Undefeated in Regulation" (a la Les Miles in 2007). For Auburn: "We have more wins over top 5 teams than anyone else. Oh and we're in the SEC."
USF Bulls at
Rutgers SUNJ Scarlet Knights, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Neither of these teams deserve to play in the postseason this year, and with a USF win tonight, that's an assured outcome. Just like SMU, a loss by SUNJ keeps spots open for the likes of Syracuse, Pitt, Oregon State and Washington State (among others). Shouldn't be too hard for you to cheer for the Bulls at all, as you were likely doing that anyway.
#7 Stanford Cardinal at #11 Arizona State Sun Devils, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here's the game you should actually be watching during this timeslot. Just keep track of the SUNJ game on your phone or flip over to ESPN2 during commercials. ASU's fun as hell to watch, and Stanford plays a brand of football which I openly endorse (and you should too). Winner gets themselves a trip to the Rose Bowl, though if the winner is Stanford, that could open the door for Oregon to grab a BCS at-large bid. If it's Arizona State, Stanford won't drop out of the top 14, but could get passed up for the likes of Oregon/Clemson/Baylor/Oklahoma, etc.
#20 Duke Blue Devils at #1 Florida State Seminoles, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Why does the ACC Championship Game kick off later than the Pac-12 Championship Game? Regardless, there's not a whole lot of intrigue in this one. Win, and FSU's ticket to Pasadena is punched. Of course, a lot of people have underestimated Duke this season, but that's also because the Coastal Division is a sham. As mentioned above, Clemson's likely grabbing a bid to the Orange Bowl should FSU win. And if they don't by some mind-blowing series of events, Duke will go to the Orange and Florida State will be selected for a spot in the Sugar Bowl. So still, two teams from the ACC, which pushes every bowl-eligible team up one line.
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #10 Michigan State Spartans, 8:17 p.m. ET, FOX
Don't get why this game kicks off so late either... if the Spartans win, they'll kill off Ohio State's shot at playing for a National Championship and open the door for the winner of Auburn/Mizzou. They'll also assure the Big Ten two BCS bids, which could be beneficial for Syracuse as it frees up spots in lower bowls. If Ohio State wins, MSU would need some help to stay in the top 14. You don't need much motivation to root against the Buckeyes, but consider this another one.
And there you go. Plenty to pay attention to despite the Orange not playing today. Stop by all day to chat any of these games, Syracuse's possible bowl destination and more. Go USF!
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