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Five Biggest Remaining Games in College Football

Rob Joyce
November 07, 2019 - 3:57 pm

The calendar flipping to November generally means it’s the start of insanity in college football, but the opening Saturday of the month was a bit of a dud. Four of the top five teams in the AP poll (including each of the top three) were all off, and Clemson played an FCS team in Wofford.

After an October that saw unbeaten top-10 teams lose to unranked foes on three straight Saturdays, it was a letdown, but it picks back up this Saturday with 1-vs-2 in LSU and Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Combined with the release of the initial College Football Playoff rankings this week, it signifies the fact that the playoff picture is finally starting to take shape. As you get settled for a wild final month, which five games will impact the playoff race the most?

5) Minnesota vs. Penn State (Nov. 9):

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While Bama-LSU will steal all the headlines, it’s not the only clash of unbeatens this weekend. Penn State is 8-0 and has bigger fish to fry later this month (more on that in a bit) but a loss here takes a lot of wind out of the Ohio State sails. This game is all about the Gophers.

Sitting at 8-0, PJ Fleck has everyone in Minneapolis rowing the boat – but is it for real? Minnesota has one-score victories over South Dakota State, Fresno State, Georgia Southern and Purdue on its resume. Although its margin of victory in October was 31.8 points, November will prove how legitimate the Gophers are, with Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin all still to come. Beating the Nittany Lions, though, would make their case a heck of a lot stronger.

4) Auburn vs. Georgia (Nov. 16):

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The Tigers are out of the playoff hunt with two losses, but can still play spoiler against both UGA and Alabama. Georgia right now is the bigger of those two games, given the Bulldogs already have one loss to a South Carolina team that may not go bowling. Though they got back on track against Florida last weekend in Jacksonville and will likely win the SEC East even with another loss, things won’t be peachy in Athens if the Dawgs are eliminated from the playoff race before we get to December.

3) Baylor vs. Oklahoma (Nov. 16):

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This is shaping up to be a preview of the Big 12 Championship Game next month. The Bears are quietly 8-0, albeit having playing a less-than-inspiring schedule. Still, being undefeated in November is no small task, and if the Bears can beat Oklahoma they’ll firmly be in the playoff conversation. Get blown out, and it’s likely they’ll fade into the distance.

Meanwhile, OU’s loss to Kansas State two weeks ago means there’s no margin for error in Norman. The remaining schedule sees Oklahoma play Iowa State, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, and then (likely) the Bears again in the Big 12 title game. One more loss knocks OU out of the playoff race.

2) Ohio State vs. Penn State (Nov. 23):

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Both teams are on a collision course that will have far more than just a Big Ten Championship berth at stake. The Buckeyes have a case to be the top-ranked team in the country, combining an explosive offense with a lockdown defense. Consider that quarterback Justin Fields and running back JK Dobbins are both in the Heisman conversation, and neither is the best player on that team – that would be pass rusher Chase Young.

The Nittany Lions haven’t been as flashy as OSU this year, but wins over Iowa and Michigan were gutty, and this weekend’s trip to unbeaten Minnesota will add to the resume. The last two years these two have gone down to the wire, both going the way of Ohio State. In all likelihood this season will be the biggest of all, as both could be 10-0 and ranked in the top-five.

1) Alabama vs. LSU (Nov. 9):

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We’ll learn Tuesday night whether it’s truly No. 1 against No. 2, but either way it brings the committee a question that someone is going to dislike. The winner of this one all but clinches a spot in the SEC Championship Game and is in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot. The loser, even if it’s a great game, must wait and see.

The Tide proved a few years ago that 11-1 and no conference title game appearance can still be enough to get you in, but there needs to be a lot of help. Even if you think these are the two best teams in the country, 11-1 against a 12-1 Power 5 conference champion doesn’t bode well for whoever is left on the losing side of things at Bryant-Denny.

As for actual on-field analysis, all eyes are on the ankle of Tua Tagovailoa. If he’s not healthy or effective, Heisman frontrunner Joe Burrow will finally end LSU’s skid against its SEC West rival.