It is now November when the stakes get higher and conference championships are often decided. Here are the top five games of the weekend that will help determine the hierarchy in several conferences in college football with two honorable mentions.
(Based on the AP Rankings)
#4 LSU at #7 Alabama
This is the best matchup of the week in terms of rankings and prestige. The winner of this game often finds themselves at the top of the SEC West standings and National championship picture. Ole Miss is the only other team in the West with one SEC loss or fewer and they will get their shot at LSU in two weeks. This is a win or go home game for Alabama. A loss here would all but eliminate them from SEC West contention with two SEC losses and Ole Miss and LSU having the tie breakers over them. They will have to stop the best player in college football and navigate through one of the best defenses in the country in order to do so.
#17 Florida State at #3 Clemson
The Seminoles find themselves in unfamiliar territory. They are double digit underdogs in an ACC game for the first time since joining the league. They have question marks, including the status of running back Dalvin Cook and starting quarterback Everett Golson, who were not available in last week’s game against Syracuse. The Clemson Tigers are riding high and are the top ranked team in the country according to the college football playoff committee but they still have to get over the Florida State hurdle that has plagued them for the last three seasons.
#5 TCU at #12 Oklahoma State
A game that isn’t getting as much attention as the previous two games but probably should is TCU against Oklahoma State. The biggest reason it isn’t is because the Cowboys are still seen as the fourth best team in the Big 12 despite their 8-0 record so far this season. It is true that Oklahoma State achieved their high ranking against inferior competition but so have the other top three schools in the Big 12. This will be an interesting month in the conference, starting with this game as TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will play a round robin to determine the Big 12 champion.
Navy at #15 Memphis
The American Athletic Conference is quietly having an impressive season with Houston and Memphis undefeated and Temple and Navy only with one loss, which were both to Notre Dame. Temple all but has the East division of the American Athletic conference wrapped up but the West division is a three team race between Memphis, Houston and Navy. Everybody that follows college football now knows about Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, who has been putting up Big 12 numbers this season and may be the first pick in next year’s NFL draft. But Keenan Reynolds in now in his fourth season of running the Navy option attack and has an opportunity to break the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns in this game, previously set by Montee Ball.
Duke at #21 North Carolina
The ACC officials did to the Duke football team what they have done to many opponents of the Duke basketball team. Despite watching the replay for several minutes of the infamous kickoff return winning play by Miami last week that featured a runner down and several illegal blocks, the refs decided to let the play stand, which gave Miami a controversial win. Duke would be ranked in the top 25 and undefeated in ACC competition if the refs had ruled in their favor. The Blue Devils still control their own destiny in the coastal division however, with games against North Carolina and Pittsburgh in the next two weeks. The Tarheels are having a season that many have expected in the last few years but were never able to live up to the hype. If not for an opening season loss against South Carolina, which they mostly controlled, North Carolina would be undefeated with an opportunity to reach the college football playoff. They already have a win against Pittsburgh and a win over Duke would put North Carolina in good position to win the coastal division this season.
#8 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
Pitt is no slouch and will be playing at home.
#10 Iowa at Indiana
This game has real upset potential.