We’ve reached the proverbial halfway point of the college football season. While contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pack, much still needs to be settled to decide which four teams will go to the College Football Playoff.
LSU at Alabama (Nov. 7): Both had big wins over the weekend, boosting their resumes on their way to an SEC heavyweight showdown in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 7. LSU looks like they may have found a quarterback to go with Mr. Everything Leonard Fournette (we’ll see; one game does not make a QB). Alabama’s front-seven simply does not allow teams to run on it. Something’s gotta give.
Florida State at Clemson (Nov. 7): Both are undefeated but Clemson has the ACC’s best win so far (vs. Notre Dame). The Seminoles will be the only other ranked team that the Tigers face during the season, so they need to make hay while they can if they want playoff consideration. I don’t see Clemson losing any other game on their schedule.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State (Nov. 21) and at Michigan (Nov. 28): Take your pick, Buckeyes. You finish the season with two toughies. Many have compared this year’s Ohio State team to last year’s Florida State, since they have struggled (by their standards) over the last few weeks. The Spartans have been nothing short of resilient, pulling out a miracle at Michigan on Saturday. Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines playing fantastic, especially on D. Chances that Ohio State makes it through unscathed? Probably somewhere around 40 percent. I’ll say no, they won’t.
Stanford vs. Cal (Nov. 21) and vs. Notre Dame (Nov. 28): Since a slip-up at Northwestern on the first weekend of the season, the Cardinal have been a juggernaut in the Pac-12. “The Big Game” will certainly be that when Cal comes calling; the Bears have only lost to Utah. And you just knew that Notre Dame would still be hanging around at the end of the season to make things interesting.
Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27): Baylor has shown little vulnerability but hasn’t really played anyone yet either. TCU has had some incredible finishes to remain unbeaten and some have questioned their defense. Either way, this match-up looks like a de-facto Big 12 championship game. Ah, but the entire month of November looms large for the league, as OU and still undefeated Oklahoma State will face both contenders – games that will surely have a say in who will win the Big 12.
Other key games that will serve as everything from possible spoilers, dark horses and under-the-radar contests towards the final-four playoff contenders:
Clemson at Miami (Oct. 24): Canes gave Florida State a run
Utah at USC (Oct. 24): I’m not buying Utah
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (Oct. 24): Winner still alive in the SEC West
Cal vs. USC (Oct. 31): Trojans playing hard and are tough at home
Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Oct. 31): Bulldogs can pull even with Florida in the SEC East
LSU at Ole Miss (Nov. 21): Can Ole Miss simply outscore the Tigers? (no)
Texas A&M at LSU (Nov. 28): Possible for Aggies to enter this game 10-1 (gotta beat Ole Miss though)
Baylor at Oklahoma State (Nov. 21): Stillwater is not an easy place to play
TCU at OU (Nov. 21): Frogs are no stranger to dropping games in Norman.
Alabama at Auburn (Nov. 28): Don’t laugh. Did you see Texas vs. OU last weekend?