Previewing College Football’s Pivotal November Matchups

The final month of college football’s regular season is often filled with twists, turns, and controversy, with little decided in the hunt for conference and national honors until the end and contenders exiting, entering, and perhaps even re-entering the picture even when hope seems to have been dashed. So, for Oregon fans, all hope isn’t lost, even after Thursday night’s loss at Stanford.

The move to a playoff system starting next season may help to eliminate some of the controversy and disappointment that’s far too often occurred in the BCS era, but anyone who thinks that the late-season chaos we know and love will disappear need not fret. As for the last season of the BCS era, college football betting odds have Alabama penciled in as a favorite to claim an astonishing third straight national championship and fourth in five seasons, but if they weren’t immune to the November upset bug last season, they might not be this season either. The defending champs have a few potentially tricky games down the stretch, and so do the other contenders. Here’s a look at a handful of the biggest of the bunch.

Nov. 23: Baylor at Oklahoma State

It’s going to take a lot for Baylor to be a serious player in the national title race, but it would certainly be intriguing to see their prolific offense–talk about an understatement–take on Alabama or Florida State’s athletic defenses. But to this point, they’ve won the games on their schedule, and continuing to do so, especially in a convincing manner, will keep them hanging around, ready to pounce if the dominoes fall everywhere. Arguably the toughest remaining game on their slate is their road tilt with the Cowboys, who look to be kicking it into high gear at just the right time and control their conference title destiny with games remaining against conference co-leaders Baylor and Texas. If the over/under for that showdown isn’t at least 90, it’ll be a surprise.

Nov. 30: Alabama at Auburn

The Iron Bowl is always one of the most highly-anticipated matchups on the college football schedule, but it’s all the more exciting when more than just bragging rights are at stake, as will be the case this season. If Auburn, a surprising 8-1 in their first year under Gus Malzahn, beat both Tennessee and Georgia in their next two games, they’ll host their archrivals with a chance to not only snatch the SEC West title but also catapult themselves into the thick of the national title picture.

Nov. 30: Florida State at Florida

With how Jameis Winston and the Seminoles stomped top-10 ACC rivals Clemson and Miami, many might expect the same to occur when they visit the Swamp. However, nothing can be taken for granted when these fierce rivals meet, and the Gators, who looked like a contender themselves before being wrecked by key injuries, would love nothing more than to spoil FSU’s national title hopes.

Nov. 30: Ohio State at Michigan

Oregon’s loss has put the Buckeyes in position to potentially capitalize if Alabama and Florida State stumble, but with the present gap between themselves and the top three and Stanford’s ever-improving resume, Urban Meyer might need help from his former employers and more to be able to book a berth in the title bout. As such, their margin for error is nil, and defeat at Michigan would be a crusher. Devin Gardner and the Wolverines have been wildly inconsistent this season, but this could be the occasion where they decided to put together the four quarters they’re certainly capable of, especially on offense.

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