Games of the week
No. 2 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC) at No. 17 Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2), 2:30 p.m. Saturday, KTVT/11: Alabama is coming off a solid win against LSU that vaulted the Crimson Tide into national champion favorite status. But Mississippi State won’t go easily. While Alabama will end the season against rival Auburn, this game against the Bulldogs should be the Crimson Tide’s biggest test — possibly including an SEC Championship game against Florida — until the playoff. Alabama needs to continue its defensive dominance to prove it belongs ahead of other undefeated teams in the CFP rankings.
10 Touchdown plays of 50 yards or more for No. 4 Notre Dame, the most since the 1988 season when the Irish had 10 such plays on the way to winning the national championship.
No. 21 Memphis (8-1, 4-1 American) at No. 24 Houston (9-0, 5-0), 6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2: The American conference has lost a bit of steam with Temple falling short against Notre Dame and Navy beating Memphis last weekend, but this is still a huge game for the conference. This one will decide which team will take on Temple in the American Championship, which could be a play-in game for the guaranteed spot in the New Year’s Six lineup.
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Oregon (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) at No. 7 Stanford (8-0, 7-1), 6:30 p.m. Saturday, KDFW/4): Oregon is typically the hunted, trying to avoid an upset. The roles are reversed this year, and the Ducks have a chance to play spoiler. Stanford, on the other hand, has rebounded nicely from its season-opening loss to Northwestern. After that loss, the Cardinal didn’t look much like the team that was picked by some to make the College Football Playoff. But now Stanford is the Pac-12’s lone shot at the final four.
I’ve been voting us No. 1 for three weeks. Y’all are just catching up.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney after his top-ranked Tigers topped Florida State
Tweet of the week
Power 5 conference grades
ACC: C- Clemson is rolling and avoided a slip-up against Florida State. Next stop for the Tigers, barring an upset, will be the College Football Playoff. North Carolina has also been strong, giving the conference a bit more depth.
Big Ten: C Michigan State couldn’t hold on long enough to make its showdown against Ohio State a battle of undefeated teams. The Spartans lost to Nebraska, which had been beaten soundly by a bad Purdue team the week before. Still, Iowa remains unbeaten, and defending champion Ohio State will be safely in the playoff as long as it can win out.
Big 12: C+ The Big 12 had been in a holding pattern, waiting for the big games to come. That started last week with an Oklahoma State victory over TCU. Now we get to see Baylor play Oklahoma, as the big games keep coming. The conference isn’t locked out of the playoff even with no teams ranked in the committee’s top four. There is time, but one team might have to be a clear Big 12 champion.
Pac-12: D+ The Pac-12 has imploded, with no undefeated teams and both one-loss teams (Stanford, Utah) with ugly losses. But crazier things have happened. Just look at Ohio State last year, coming back from an early season loss at home to Virginia Tech to win it all.
SEC: B- LSU had the clear path to the playoff, but Alabama dominated the Tigers in a 30-16 victory. It doesn’t seem to matter much, though, since the Playoff Committee has the Crimson Tide at No. 2 and ahead of multiple undefeated teams. Without a meltdown, the SEC will have a shot at getting back on top after watching the ACC and Big Ten win national championships the past two seasons.
RB Derrick Henry, junior, Alabama: Last week, 38 carries 210 yards and three touchdowns in 30-16 win against LSU.
WR Corey Coleman, junior, Baylor: Last week, 11 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
QB Deshaun Watson, sophomore, Clemson: Last week, 28-for-42 passing for 297 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions; 16 carries for 107 yards in 23-13 win against Florida State.