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Sport The biggest games in the month of November that will decide the College Football Playoff

15:30  01 november  2019
15:30  01 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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November is here. Finally. And with the final month of college football’s regular season comes the brass tacks: November is when the best of the best of the Bowl Subdivision separate themselves from the pack. (If that hasn’t happened already.)

For the next four weekends, teams such as Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State and others will look to cement a seat as national semifinalists in the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. But it won’t be easy. Alabama has two key games, as do the Buckeyes. Clemson has … well, Clemson closes in on another ACC championship with Wofford, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and rival South Carolina.

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Here are the key games in the FBS across November, starting with the winner-take-all meeting between the Crimson Tide and LSU. (All rankings are as of the current Amway Coaches Poll.)

No. 2 LSU at No. 1 Alabama, Nov. 9

The impact is obvious. The winner will take the SEC West, barring two significant upsets. The loser will plead its case to the selection committee but will have a hard time finishing in the top four should four Power Five champions have one or zero losses. The big question: Will Tua Tagovailoa be healthy? He has a week-plus to work his ankle back into shape before leading the Crimson Tide against LSU.

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler breaks free from the Ohio State defense to score a touchdown during their game in 2018 at Beaver Stadium.© James Lang, USA TODAY Sports Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler breaks free from the Ohio State defense to score a touchdown during their game in 2018 at Beaver Stadium.

No. 5 Penn State at No. 4 Ohio State, Nov. 23

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Given the acclaim heaped on Ohio State, it’s strange to consider the scenario where Penn State beats the Buckeyes and wins the Big Ten East — not because Penn State isn’t capable, but because OSU has essentially been anointed as the league’s best. The Nittany Lions may have something to say about that.

No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 11 Baylor, Nov. 16

It’s an elimination game for Oklahoma’s playoff hopes, as well as a potential preview of the Big 12 title game in early December. For Baylor, it’s an opportunity to prove there’s something to the team’s unbeaten push through September and October.

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No. 1 Alabama at No. 12 Auburn, Nov. 30

It’s the Iron Bowl, for one, which always has a captivated national audience. What’s at stake? It takes on slightly less meaning should Alabama fall to LSU, but even in that case the Tide would still be playing for the shot at making the top four without winning the SEC West. (Not to mention yearlong bragging rights.)

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No. 4 Ohio State at No. 15 Michigan, Nov. 30

Ohio State will very likely be the road favorite, though the events of the next few weeks might change the perception of how this rivalry will shake out — and how this game is seen might have already shifted somewhat given how the Wolverines looked in dismantling Notre Dame last Saturday. While Michigan is not going to win the East, it has the chance to develop some major momentum coming off games against Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana.

No. 8 Oregon at Southern California, Nov. 2

Oregon is lingering on the edges of the playoff race, sneakily waiting to pounce upon any open spot in the top four that might develop between now and the first Saturday of December. While a road trip to Arizona State on Nov. 23 could be dangerous, this Saturday’s trip to USC seemingly presents the biggest regular-season hurdle as the Ducks look to win 12 in a row after losing to Auburn to open the year.

No. 14 SMU at No. 23 Memphis, Nov. 2

A win for Memphis would muddle the AAC West, leaving the Tigers, Mustangs and Navy with one just conference loss heading into the second week of November. (Memphis owns the tiebreaker against Navy, while the Midshipmen and SMU meet on Nov. 23.) Strangely, while a Memphis win would knock SMU from the short list of unbeaten teams it might also speak to the depth in the AAC — highlighting the idea that this conference champion, if with only one loss, might warrant a New Year’s Six bowl over an undefeated Appalachian State team from the Sun Belt.

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No. 7 Georgia vs. No. 6 Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.), Nov. 2

The winner stays alive for another day and takes firm control of the SEC East. Georgia has won the past two meetings by a combined 54 points; Florida won the previous three. This year’s matchup might be the biggest in this series since 2012, when underdog Georgia beat then-No. 2 Florida to sew up the East before losing to Alabama in one the most memorable SEC championships in recent memory.

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No. 5 Penn State at No. 13 Minnesota, Nov. 9

The Golden Gophers have risen in the Amway Coaches Poll despite holding just one win against an opponent with a winning record (Georgia Southern). While it's easy to connect Minnesota with Baylor, another fast-rising program with an unbeaten record, the Bears have wins against Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State to their credit. Obviously, the home game next Saturday against Penn State represents a major opportunity for P.J. Fleck and Minnesota to make a statement. The Nittany Lions could lose to Minnesota but win out otherwise, notably beating the Buckeyes, and still have a strong case for the national semifinals.

No. 7 Georgia at No. 12 Auburn, Nov. 16

A win against Florida would give Georgia the SEC East tiebreaker, so a loss to Auburn two weeks later wouldn’t derail the Bulldogs’ berth in the conference championship game. But beating the Gators and Tigers would keep Kirby Smart and Georgia on track to meet Alabama or LSU for the SEC crown and a spot in the playoffs.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The biggest games in the month of November that will decide the College Football Playoff

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