The gluttony starts early this November with Saturday’s all-you-can-gorge-yourself buffet of college football. We haven’t had a season-defining slate of games yet, but that’s only because it was all backlogged for Nov. 4. There are five top-25 matchups, and a litany of consequential games on top of that, so clear your schedule and digestive tract, because there’s a whole helluva lot of football and chili cheese fries incoming.
I’ll just go by chronological order because it’s easier, and will illustrate all the reasons to pace yourself this weekend.
No. 23 Kansas State at No. 7 Texas
Last season’s Big 12 champs are back in the top 25, and get a chance to send Longhorn faithful spiraling into despair one last time. Texas QB Quinn Ewers is still sidelined with a shoulder injury, so backup Maalik Murphy will make his second start.
A week ago, UT handled its midseason bowl game against BYU with ease, and recent history is not favorable to the Wildcats, but never underestimate Steve Sarkisian’s ability to play to the opponent.
Texas A&M at No. 10 Ole Miss
Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies aren’t very good, and they’ll look to prove that again in The Grove. The reason I’m highlighting this game is because it’ll be fun watching either of these coaches lose. Lane Kiffin’s group hasn’t played anyone other than Alabama, and the Rebels would love to go into Georgia next week after a resume-strengthening showing.
If Ole Miss can put it on Fisher, A&M will drop to 5-4 with a bevy of angry boosters nervously chattering about the direction of the program with their largest, most hated rival set to return to their lives for the 2024 season.
No. 15 Notre Dame at Clemson
The schadenfreude continues in the early window as both outcomes should provide levity. Dabo Swinney spent the week screaming at callers on Tiger Talk, and if they fall below .500 this late in the season, they’re going to need some heady producers to screen all the vitriol awaiting Swinney the next time the phone lines open.
For the Irish, they’re still looking for a path out of ruining Sam Hartman’s swan song, and a gut punch against the QB’s old ACC rival feels more likely than a College Football Playoff miracle.
No. 12 Missouri at No. 2 Georgia
God help any program playing a motivated Georgia. The reigning back-to-back champs opened up as the No. 2 team in the CFP rankings, and that should be more than enough bulletin board material for Kirby Smart. Mizzou’s only loss this season came against LSU in a shootout, and if they can get into the 30s — I know, it’s a tough ask — this game should go four quarters.
College football fans keep waiting for UGA to get tested by a team capable of hanging with them, but each time Carson Beck takes another step. He did it against Kentucky, and then again versus Florida but that time without Brock Bowers. The Tigers have put up points all year, and for the sake of variety, let’s hope that trend continues Saturday.
No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 22 Oklahoma State
The final in-conference meeting between these two in-state rivals is going to get ugly, and I’m not talking about a lopsided contest. Whatever happens — good game, or blowout — Okie State fans will be so venomous it’ll leak out of the TV screen. Mike Gundy is going to give Brent Venables the iciest postgame handshake on record, or straight-up slap him, with no in-between.
Big 12 titles and CFP berths will be secondary in the 118th iteration of Bedlam, and if you enjoy sports hatred in its purest form, this is a can’t-miss matchup. Seriously, Sooner fans debating attending this historic affair should say goodbye to their loved ones and take out a life insurance policy before stepping foot into Boone Pickens Stadium.
No. 5 Washington at No. 20 USC
The Trojans have been relegated to spoiler, and that should frighten the Huskies. It’s hard to play loose when your season is one slip-up away from going down the drain, and Michael Penix is learning what Caleb Williams figured out a year ago.
The Huskies followed their massive victory over Oregon with a couple of close wins over Pac-12 cellar dwellers Stanford and Arizona State, and can’t afford to mess around with the Trojans. U-Dub needs to get out in front early, and deflate the Colosseum crowd, or risk a shootout with the most terrifying quarterback in college football.
No. 14 LSU at No. 8 Alabama
Styles make fights, and Nick Saban better hope Jalen Milroe’s jab is working, because Jayden Daniels and LSU will score points. The Tide offense has only topped more than 30 points on one SEC opponent (Mississippi State), and cannot rely on defensive scores to bail them out against a team as talented as LSU.
Yes, Brian Kelly will inevitably cost the Tigers points, or an extra possession, but this ’Bama defense isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it unit like so many past Saban groups. While the LSU defense is by far leakier, limiting big plays will go a long way against an Alabama team that relies on them.
No. 16 Oregon State at Colorado, or No. 24 UCLA at Arizona
If you’re still conscious for Pac-12 After Dark action, both late starts feature intriguing matchups with a little to a lot on the line. Oregon State and UCLA are trying to keep their Pac-12 title game hopes alive, while Colorado and Arizona are eyeing bowl berths.
The Wildcats only need one more win to earn eligibility while Deion Sanders’ squad needs two to complete their turnaround. With only one Pac-12 win this season, the Buffs have four chances against schools ahead of them in the standings to avoid an unceremonious exit from the conference.
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