No. 4 LSU at No. 7 Alabama
Saturday — 7 p.m. — CBS
Once again, the SEC gives us the must-see game of the week. Since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007, this game has been a de facto SEC West title game nearly every year. But this year’s bout has wider implications than who plays in the SEC title game. This time around, an Alabama win could lead to the SEC missing out on the playoff. That scenario would put Ole Miss — a two-loss team — at the top of the division, meaning a Rebel win over the Tigers on Nov. 21 would see Ole Miss in the conference title game. And if the Rebels win the conference, there’s no way the playoff committee can include a two-loss team, right? So while one team will come away a winner, there’s a good chance the conference could come out a loser in the long run, which is fun for everyone outside of the Southeast.
Cincinnati at No. 18 Houston
Saturday — 2:30 p.m. — ESPN2
The Houston Cougars have quietly built one of Texas’ top programs this year. Tucked away in the American Conference, the Cougars are about to have their national breakthrough — but not quite yet. Houston faces No. 15 Memphis next week, but the Cougars host Cincinnati in a classic trap game Saturday. The Bearcats’ 5-3 record is deceiving. Those three losses came to previously undefeated Temple, undefeated Memphis and perennial mid-major power BYU. Plus, junior quarterback Gunner Kiel returned last week after a scary neck injury in the loss to Memphis. Houston’s been dominant this year, but this could easily turn into a loss if the Cougars overlook Cincinnati.
No. 5 TCU at No. 12 Oklahoma State
Saturday — 2:30 p.m. — FOX
The Big 12 offers an appetizer for the SEC’s main course Saturday afternoon with a battle of undefeated teams that still have question marks surrounding them. The Horned Frogs have managed to win all of their games so far, despite injuries on defense. TCU senior quarterback Trevone Boykin is stellar this year, throwing for 2,927 yards and 28 touchdowns with six more scores on the ground. But Oklahoma State also boasts of a high-flying offense. The Cowboys hung 70 on Texas Tech in Lubbock last week, but they also managed to give up 53 points to the Red Raiders. It might not be high-noon, but expect a shootout at the Stillwater, O.K. Corral come Saturday.
No. 17 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson
Saturday — 2:30 p.m. — ABC
This game lost some of its luster after Florida State’s last-second loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but the matchup still has playoff implications. The Seminoles only have that one fluky loss on their record and bounced back nicely with a blowout win over Syracuse last week. Clemson, on the other hand, looks almost unstoppable. The closest the Tigers have come to losing was a two-point win in the rain over Notre Dame. Other than that, Clemson has won by 15 or more points in all but one other game. Since Florida State has just one loss, this is the ACC Atlantic title game, and likely the ACC title game itself. This game is a must-watch in the 2:30 slate.