College football Week 15: 4 sneaky-good games of the week

TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 05: Quarterback Sam Noyer #4 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 05: Quarterback Sam Noyer #4 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

With conference championships just a week away, Week 15 of college football will give some of these teams one last chance to grab fans’ attention in 2020.

The college football regular season mostly wraps up this weekend, with conference championships quickly approaching. While the College Football Playoff picture has largely taken shape, fourth-ranked Ohio State may face some scheduling complications after a rivalry game with Michigan was canceled due to COVID-19 problems in the Wolverines’ locker room.

Army faces off with Navy in Saturday’s most notable game, but some of these underrated Power Five and mid-major matchups should give fans some exciting football to get them through the weekend.

Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech (+6.5)

Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh both find themselves in the wrong half of the ACC standings late in the season, but both teams should be motivated to finish strong in a season that has presented its fair share of challenges. Contrasting offensive styles will make the game doubly entertaining, and fans should expect an abundance of both points and turnovers.

Panthers and Yellow Jackets quarterbacks Kenny Pickett and Jeff Sims have been equal parts electrifying and erratic this season, and Thursday night’s game should be no different. Pickett is a more traditional pocket passer, while Sims has continued the Georgia Tech tradition of dual-threat quarterbacks and kept defenses honest with both his arm and his legs. This one likely comes down to which teams can take better care of the ball, and Pittsburgh seems to have a slight edge there with the more experiences Pickett under center.

Nevada at San Jose State (EVEN)

Mountain West foes Nevada and San Jose State face off late Friday night in a matchup that could have dramatic implications in the conference standings. The Spartans sit atop the conference at 5-0, but a head-to-head win for the Wolf Pack would give head coach Jay Norvell’s team a shot at the conference championship game.

San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel has been solid if unspectacular en route to a 5-0 start, averaging just over 200 passing yards per game and sporting an 11-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. More impressive for the Spartans has been a defense that ranks 12th nationally in points allowed, surrendering just 17 per game. Keeping up that level of performance will be crucial on Friday, and effectiveness in stopping the Carson StrongRomeo Doubs passing game connection will likely dictate whether the Spartans can top the Wolf Pack.

Utah at No. 21 Colorado (-1.5)

The Friday night slate offers another chance for an undefeated team to prove itself, with the 4-0 Colorado Buffaloes hosting Utah. While the Utes enter the contest just 1-2, relatively close losses to No. 15 USC and Pac-12 North leader Washington cannot be ignored. Utah has the talent to make this a trap game for the Buffaloes, but if Colorado hopes to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive, it needs to find a way to win this one.

Look for the Buffaloes to continue to lean heavily on a ground attack that has outpaced the passing game offensively. Running back Jarek Broussard leads the team with 733 rushing yards but could run into trouble against a stingy Utah defense that has surrendered over 100 rushing yards in just one game this season. If the Utes can make this a defensive contest and force Colorado signal-caller, Sam Noyer, to take to the air, an upset could be in the cards.

Western Michigan at Ball State (-2.5)

Saturday’s tilt between Western Michigan and Ball State may be the regular-season finale for both squads, but the reality is that the Broncos and Cardinals find themselves in a virtual postseason matchup. With both teams deadlocked atop the MAC West at 4-1, Week 15 will decide who moves on to the conference championship to face Buffalo.

Western Michigan’s Kaleb Eleby and Ball State’s Drew Plitt have similar passing numbers through five games, but Eleby’s penchant for taking care of the ball could give the Broncos an edge. The sophomore has 16 touchdown passes to just one interception in 2020, compared to Plitt’s 10 scores and five picks. With both offenses able to light up the scoreboard, extra possessions could be the key here. Look for the team that wins the turnover battle to come out on top.

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