Welcome to the biggest weekend of the college football season. There’s a good chance we’re going to look back in December and find the first weekend of November was the most pivotal weekend of the season. We go through all the Week 10 games that matter to give you an idea of what’s at stake throughout the country.
Pitt at No. 25 Virginia, 7 p.m. ET Friday
What’s at stake: Believe it or not, the winner keeps a tie for first-place in the loss column in the ACC Coastal. Virginia is at 4-1 in the conference while Pitt is at 3-1. Pitt’s a bizarre team. The Panthers lost to a moribund North Carolina team but kept it close against Notre Dame and has beaten Syracuse and Duke.
Boston College at Virginia Tech, 3:45 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: The right to be called Clemson’s biggest challenger in the ACC. A Boston College win means next week’s game against the Tigers is for first place in the ACC Atlantic Division. A Virginia Tech win keeps the Hokies in a tie for first in the Coastal with the winner of UVA-Pitt and could set up a Coastal title match on the last weekend of the season against the Cavaliers.
Temple at No. 12 UCF, 7 p.m. ET Thursday
What’s at stake: First place in the American East. Both teams enter the game at 4-0 in the conference and, as you know, UCF is undefeated overall. A Temple win gives the Owls control of the division and means another Group of Five team closes in on UCF for the coveted New Year’s Six bowl berth. A UCF win pushes the winning streak to 21 games and puts us a step closer to a Houston-UCF AAC title game.
No. 13 West Virginia at No. 17 Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: A provisional Big 12 Championship Game berth. Three teams are tied atop the conference after Texas’ loss to Oklahoma State and just two (at most) will finish the weekend tied for first. Since this game is essentially worth two games in the conference standings, the loser is at a big disadvantage to get to Dallas.
No. 7 Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: More Big 12 title game positioning. Oklahoma stays in a tie for first with a win while Texas Tech isn’t completely out of the running just yet. The Red Raiders still have to play Texas and could have made the three-way tie atop the conference a four-way tie if it wasn’t for QB Alan Bowman’s late safety in Ames a week ago.
No. 14 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan, 3:45 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: The Big Ten’s best College Football Playoff hope. At the moment, anyway. Michigan is the presumed favorite in the Big Ten East but Penn State can still make things messy with a road win in Ann Arbor. A Nittany Lions win drops Michigan to two losses overall and brings Penn State to within a game of the East Division lead. A lot would have to happen for Penn State to get into first place, but crazier things have happened. A win keeps Michigan on the playoff path.
No. 4 Notre Dame at Northwestern, 7:15 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: Respectability for the Big Ten West. And Notre Dame’s playoff life. Northwestern is a weird team. The Wildcats have beaten Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Purdue while almost lost to Nebraska and lost to Akron and Duke. At 5-1 in the Big Ten, Northwestern controls its own destiny in the Big Ten West title race, though the Big Ten isn’t going to be a fan of an 8-4 team heading to the conference title game. A Notre Dame win probably moves the Irish up to No. 3 in next week’s CFP rankings. A loss may put the Irish out of the playoff.
No. 16 Iowa at Purdue, 3:30 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: Big Ten West title hopes. Iowa still has to play Northwestern. A Hawkeyes win turns that matchup into a de facto division title game. A Purdue win puts the Boilermakers in a likely tie with Wisconsin (who hosts Rutgers) for second in the division. But both teams lose out on the head-to-head tiebreaker against Northwestern.
Cal at No. 8 Washington State, 10:45 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: The Pac-12’s playoff hopes. That theme will stay with Washington State until or if the Huskies lose a second game. This game looks a lot scarier if the Cougars are heading to Cal, but the Bears are coming off a win against Washington.
No. 15 Utah at Arizona State, 4 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: Separation in the Pac-12 South. While Utah leads the division with two conference losses, everyone else has three. The South is the most crowded Power Five division and it’s not even close. An Arizona State win means that no team in the South has fewer than three conference losses and the division is even more of a mess.
Stanford at Washington, 9 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: Washington’s chances at a Pac-12 North title. Believe it or not, the Huskies still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North. Wins over Stanford and Washington State mean a three-loss Washington represents the North in the Pac-12 title game and also kills off the conference’s chances at sniffing the playoff.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 3 LSU, 8 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: By now, you know the answer to this. Alabama clinches the SEC West with a win as everyone else in the division will have two conference losses. An LSU win puts the Tigers in the driver’s seat in the division and sets up a possible repeat scenario of Alabama making the College Football Playoff without winning the division.
No. 6 Georgia at No. 9 Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: The SEC East. The winner clinches the division and keeps College Football Playoff dreams alive. The loser is out of the playoff race though hopes for a New Year’s Six Bowl game still remain. Georgia faces Auburn, UMass and Georgia Tech to end the season while Kentucky has Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State and Louisville.
Georgia Southern at UL Monroe, 3 p.m. ET
Louisiana at Troy, 3:30 p.m. ET
What’s at stake: Troy and Georgia Southern are tied atop the Sun Belt East. UL Monroe and Louisiana are tied atop the Sun Belt West. A sweep by either division keeps the status quo while a split decision benefits the winners. The East is a bit stronger than the West, however. Troy and Georgia Southern are 4-0 in the conference and also occupy the same division as Appalachian State. UL Monroe and Louisiana are tied at 2-2.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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