UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley struggled through one of his poorest efforts… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
FRIDAY :: AFTERNOON
No. 19 Northern Illinois (11-1) vs. No. 18 Kent State (11-1)
4 p.m. at Detroit, ESPN2
Can a team that lost to yucky Kentucky make it all the way to the Orange Bowl? The answer, incredibly, is yes. The biggest game in Mid-American Conference history threatens to upstage the Pac-12 Conference championship game three time zones to the west. Kent State, which has already clinched its first postseason bid since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl, can probably secure an automatic major bowl bid thanks to complicated Bowl Championship Series bylaws that offer smaller-conference champions certain access entries. Kent State, No. 17 in the BCS standings, must finish in the top 16 ahead of a major conference champion -- a possibility that became real when losses last weekend knocked Big East leaders Rutgers and Louisville out of the top 25.
FRIDAY :: EVENING
No. 17 UCLA (9-3) vs. No. 8 Stanford (10-2)
5 p.m. at Palo Alto, Channel 11
The second game of championship Friday is a rematch of Pac-12 schools meeting for the second time in six days, this time with a Rose Bowl bid at stake. UCLA Coach Jim Mora bristled at the suggestion he held his team back in last Saturday's loss to assure a rematch against Stanford (the other option was playing Oregon in Eugene). A cynic would note that the Bruins' dual-threat quarterback, Brett Hundley, had zero net yards rushing in eight carries, seven of which were sacks.
SATURDAY :: MORNING
No. 12 Oklahoma (9-2) at Texas Christian (7-4)
9 a.m., ESPN
Oklahoma's BCS mission is straightforward. To earn the Big 12 Conference's automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl, the Sooners must defeat TCU in Fort Worth and get out the pompoms and root for their old buddy ... Texas. Yep. A Longhorns win at Kansas State would put Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl in a likely matchup against Oregon.
9 a.m.: Central Florida at Tulsa, ESPN2; Oklahoma State at Baylor, FX.
SATURDAY :: MIDDAY
Nicholls State (1-9) at No. 16 Oregon State (8-3)
11:30 a.m., Pac-12 Networks
DirecTV, which has infuriated subscribers with its refusal to broadcast Commissioner Larry Scott's league, could mockingly bill this as the Pac-12 Networks "Game of the Year." How Oregon State snatched Football Championship Subdivision opponent Nicholls State -- put away your map, it's in Louisiana -- away from the Southeastern Conference is something that league will have to address in spring meetings. This game was scheduled for Sept. 1 but postponed by Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls' victory came against NAIA Evangel University of Missouri. Oregon State could use this "freebie" win after last week's six-turnover home loss to Oregon.
11:30 a.m.: Kansas at West Virginia, FS West.
SATURDAY :: AFTERNOON
No. 25 Boise State (9-2) at Nevada (7-4)
12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Psychologists working around the clock in Boise are encouraging fans to watch this game and confront the inner demons that linger from the gut-wrenching Friday night overtime loss in Reno two years ago that cost Boise State a trip to the BCS title game.
No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 3 Georgia (11-1)
1 p.m. at Atlanta, Channel 2
The annual Southeastern Conference title game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome is also commonly referred to as the national title "play-in" game. Five of the last six BCS champions have emerged from the SEC's grand finale. The exception was last year, when Alabama won the national crown as a non-division winner after bypassing Atlanta and going straight to New Orleans.
4 p.m.: Pittsburgh at South Florida, ESPN2.
SATURDAY :: EVENING
No. 23 Texas (8-3) at No. 7 Kansas State (10-1)
5 p.m., Channel 7
This is Kansas State's first game since the devastating loss at Baylor two weeks ago that knocked the Wildcats out of the national title race. It probably also ruined the Heisman Trophy chances for quarterback Collin Klein. Kansas State has dominated Texas in the Big 12 era, winning six of the eight meetings, and can still make this a great season by clinching a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
No. 14 Nebraska (10-2) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)
5:17 p.m. at Indianapolis, Channel 11
The start time, on an odd number, is actually a perfect way to cap an odd season for the Big Ten Conference, which is hoping Nebraska wins to avoid sending a five-loss team to the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin actually finished a distant third in the Leaders Division but gets the nod over Ohio State and Penn State because of NCAA sanctions against both schools that included a postseason ban for 2012.
5 p.m.: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech, at Charlotte, N.C., ESPN.