Do Bo Nix and Auburn have what it takes to topple Georgia? (Butch Dill/AP)

The College Football Playoff race to watch isn’t for the top three spots in the rankings: LSU, Ohio State and Clemson seem pointed to spots in the final four and even might get there with a loss. The real race to watch is at No. 4. This week, it’s Georgia. Next week, who knows?

Time Game TV
Noon Indiana at No. 9 Penn State ABC
Noon No. 11 Florida at Missouri CBS
Noon Michigan State at No. 15 Michigan Fox
Noon No. 5 Alabama at Mississippi State ESPN
Noon TCU at Texas Tech ESPN2
Noon Tulane at Temple ESPNU
Noon Kansas at No. 22 Oklahoma State Fox Sports 1
Noon No. 14 Wisconsin at Nebraska Big Ten Network
Noon Massachusetts at Northwestern Big Ten Network
Noon VMI at Army CBS Sports Network
Noon Alabama State at Florida State NBC Sports Washington Plus (in D.C. area)
2:30 No. 23 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame NBC
3:30 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech NBC Sports Washington (in D.C. area)
3:30 Richmond at James Madison MASN (in D.C. area)
3:30 Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson ABC
3:30 No. 4 Georgia at No. 12 Auburn CBS
3:30 West Virginia at No. 24 Kansas State ESPN
3:30 No. 18 Memphis at Houston ESPN2
3:30 No. 19 Texas at Iowa State Fox Sports 1
3:30 Kentucky at Vanderbilt SEC Network
3:30 No. 2 Ohio State at Rutgers Big Ten Network
3:30 Central Michigan at Ball State CBS Sports Network
4 No. 8 Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa Fox
4 Syracuse at Duke ACC Network
4 Wyoming at Utah State ESPNU
4:30 Stanford at Washington State Pac-12 Network
7 No. 1 LSU at Mississippi ESPN
7 Air Force at Colorado State ESPN2
7 No. 17 Cincinnati at South Florida CBS Sports Network
7:30 No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor ABC
7:30 No. 25 Appalachian State at Georgia State ESPNU
7:30 South Carolina at Texas A&M SEC Network
7:30 Louisville at North Carolina State ACC Network
7:30 Arizona State at Oregon State Fox Sports 1
8 UCLA at No. 7 Utah Fox
10:15 New Mexico at No. 21 Boise State ESPN2
10:30 Arizona at No. 6 Oregon ESPN
11 Southern Cal at California Fox Sports 1


Penn State still harbors College Football Playoff aspirations, even after last week’s loss at Minnesota dropped it from No. 4 to No. 9 in the rankings. Next week’s game at Ohio State is the true test, obviously, but it won’t mean much if the Nittany Lions can’t get past Indiana, which at No. 24 is ranked in the Associated Press poll for the first time in 25 years. (That was a one-week stay at No. 25 that abruptly ended after a 49-point loss at Wisconsin.) The Hoosiers have beaten Penn State only once in 22 tries, and Indiana will be without usual starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who’s out for the season after suffering a sternum injury against Northwestern on Nov. 2. Peyton Ramsey (three starts this season) will take his place. …

Michigan has never beaten Michigan State at home under Coach Jim Harbaugh, but that could change Saturday: The Spartans’ dreary season continued last weekend when they gave up a 25-point lead at home and lost to Illinois. Defense, once Michigan State’s hallmark, has been a letdown for the Spartans: They have allowed at least 28 points in five straight games, tied for the longest streak in program history.


Auburn will get three chances to ruin someone’s season. The first was Oct. 26, when it came up just short in a 23-20 loss at LSU. The second is Saturday’s home game against Georgia, the default No. 4 pick of the College Football Playoff selection committee. (The third is the Iron Bowl against visiting Alabama on Nov. 30.) Among SEC teams, only Mississippi is averaging more rushing yards per game than Auburn, but Georgia is fourth nationally in rushing yards allowed per game and is the only team in the country that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown. In fact, Georgia is the first team in at least 20 years not to allow a rushing touchdown through the first nine games of the season. No team has allowed fewer than three over a full season since 2009. …

The oddsmakers rewarded Minnesota for its big win over Penn State and its first 9-0 start since 1904 by … making the Golden Gophers three-point underdogs at three-loss Iowa? Those three Hawkeyes losses came against ranked teams, by seven, five and two points, so it’s not too out of the ordinary, and Minnesota kind of got lucky against the Nittany Lions: Penn State outgained Minnesota by 58 yards and had two more scoring opportunities (defined as drives that featured a first down inside the opponent’s 40-yard line) than the Golden Gophers.


Power Five teams sitting at 9-0 usually find themselves in the upper echelon of the CFP rankings. But then there’s Baylor: The 9-0 Bears are just 13th in the latest rankings, which isn’t as disrespectful as it seems. As noted this week by Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press, Baylor’s statistics — points scored and allowed per game, yards per play, various efficiency measurements — are similar to those put up by Iowa State, which is 5-4. The difference: The Cyclones have lost four one-score games by a total of 11 points, among them a 23-21 loss at Baylor on Sept. 28 in which the Bears needed a last-minute field goal. Baylor has won four one-score games by a total of 14 points, and regression could be in the forecast. This view obviously will change if the Bears beat Oklahoma and then Texas next Saturday, but until then, the low ranking seems apt. …

LSU might struggle to avoid a letdown after last week’s exhilarating win at Alabama, but the Tigers shouldn’t have much trouble with Ole Miss nonetheless. The Rebels’ three wins over Football Bowl Subdivision competition are against teams that are a combined 4-24. They did lead Alabama at the end of the first quarter Sept. 28, but the end result was a 59-31 loss. Only seven teams have given up more passing yards than Ole Miss, and LSU averages 379.3, second in the nation.

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