The college football offseason is long and arduous, but its end is almost in sight. We’re going to take a look at five games you have to look forward to for every weekend of the season. (This is also a handy guide to decide how to RSVP for any autumn weddings.)
All times are Eastern and all games are played on Saturday unless otherwise noted.
These games take place the Thanksgiving weekend of November 29.
Previously: Week One (August 30) ~ Week Two (September 6) ~ Week Three (September 13) ~ Week Four (September 20) ~ Week Five (September 27) ~ Week Six (October 4) ~ Week Seven (October 11) ~ Week Eight (October 18) ~ Week Nine (October 25) ~ Week Ten (November 1) ~ Week Eleven (November 8) ~ Week Twelve (November 15) ~ Week Thirteen ( November 22)
There are so many awesome games this week, we’re going to approach it speed-round style. It’s a holiday weekend; try to catch a few minutes of each.
Auburn at Alabama (TBD)
Could easily be for the SEC West title again. It might seem wise to predict this will not match the theater of last year, but between Kick Six in 2013 and Cam Newton’s comeback in 2010, I wouldn’t bet against fireworks.
LSU at Texas A&M (7:30 p.m., Thursday)
Eschew your family and whatever the NFL game is for a good old-fashioned SEC West battle. Les Miles’ team has won the last two, as the Bayou Bengals stand as the only SEC puzzle Johnny Manziel and Kevin Sumlin couldn’t solve (0-2 with more picks than touchdowns in his Aggie career). Will Manziel’s heir at QB1 and Sumlin fare any better this time around?
Stanford at UCLA (3:30 p.m., Friday)
A potential PAC-12 title game preview, these two squads could also be looking to knock the other out of conference championship race and playoff contention. The Cardinal have defeated the Bruins three times over the last two seasons, including in the 2012 PAC-12 title game.
South Carolina at Clemson (TBD)
The Ol’ Ball Coach has flummoxed the Tigers for five consecutive years. Can Dabo Swinney get win number two against his in-state rival? If the Gamecocks are in the playoff hunt, Clemson could have the opportunity to play spoiler. Also, how incredible is this photo?
Michigan State at Penn State (TBD)
Welcome back, Land Grant Trophy! With the postseason ban still in effect, this is Penn State’s final game of the season regardless of record. Depending on how the rest of the season breaks, Sparty could be in a must-win situation here to clinch the Big Ten East.
Arizona State at Arizona (4:30 p.m., Friday)
Territorial Cup! This rivalry is almost always entertaining, although the Sun Devils smashed the Wildcats last year en route to the PAC-12 South title. Round three of Todd Graham versus Rich Rodriguez.
Ball State at Bowling Green (TBD, Friday)
Black Friday #MACtion! A potential preview of the following week’s conference title game and a rematch of last year’s MAC Championship, which the Falcons won 47-27.
Notre Dame at USC (TBD)
After spending most of the previous decade looking like they might never beat the Trojans, the Irish have won three of four, including two straight in the Coliseum. No conference title implications, but one of the old rivals might have the chance to deny the other a spot in the playoff.
Florida at Florida State (TBD)
Will Muschamp’s last game as the Gators’ head coach?
Georgia Tech at Georgia (TBD)
Paul Johnson’s last game as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach?
Michigan at Ohio State (TBD)
Probably not Brady Hoke’s last game as Michigan head coach unless 2014 is a disaster, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. A huge game in the Big Ten East either way.
Pittsburgh at Miami (FL) (TBD)
This could help decide the potentially wide-open Coastal Division. Also should be mentioned it’s terrible that the Panthers aren’t playing West Virginia, as Thanksgiving weekend was meant for the Backyard Brawl.
Kentucky at Louisville (TBD)
Governor’s Cup! It seems unlikely Mark Stoops will make much headway in the SEC in his second year as Big Blue’s head coach (it could happen, it’ll just be real tough), this could be a nice season-ending victory for his squad. Cardinals have won three straight in the series.
Nebraska at Iowa (TBD, Friday)
Minnesota at Wisconsin (TBD)
Illinois at Northwestern (TBD)
It’s very possible the Big Ten West is still undecided coming into this weekend and these are the six potential contenders (sorry, Purdue). Bonus “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” bragging rights for the winner of Illini/Wildcats.
Baylor at Texas Tech (TBD)
The score of this game the last four years: 63-34, 52-45 (OT), 66-42 and 45-38. If you like touchdowns, you will like this game.
Oregon at Oregon State (TBD)
Civil War! A 36-35 Ducks victory last year, the first competitive game in this series since 2009. Also a really nice quarterback match-up with Marcus Mariota versus Sean Mannion, who combined for over 70 touchdowns in 2013.
Washington at Washington State (TBD)
Apple Cup! Mike Leach stole this in 2012 in his first year as Cougars head coach, but the Huskies reestablished control last year. This is Chris Petersen’s first Apple Cup, a seminal moment in any head coach’s career.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (TBD)
Egg Bowl! The Rebels seemed to be on the verge of wresting control of this series away from their rivals in Starkville but the Bulldogs prevailed in overtime last year to gain bowl eligibility. This is also the last Grove tailgate of the year, which is always a somber moment for aficionados of sundresses and whiskey alike.