Most years the weekend before Thanksgiving, is usually one of the least anticipated of the college football season. Many top ranked teams are often idle the week before facing their biggest rival or have a de-facto bye week with a cupcake opponent coming to town. That will be the case on Saturday for top ranked Alabama and number-two Florida State, who play host to UT-Chattanooga and Idaho respectively. While the Crimson Tide and Seminoles will have little trouble improving their records to 11-0, there are plenty of other matchups on schedule that will have major implications for the BCS standings. Five games will be played on Saturday between top-25 teams, the most for any weekend this season.
10. Kentucky at Georgia (-23.5) (7pm, ESPNU): The Bulldogs may be a three-touchdown favorite in Aaron Murray’s last game at Sanford Stadium, but their meetings with the Wildcats have been much closer than expected in recent years. Their last seven games against Kentucky have been decided by 11 or fewer points each time. Georgia won last year’s game in Lexington 29-24 and survived a 19-10 defensive slugfest, during their last matchup in Athens. Their only conference win this season, by more than three points, was a 41-30 victory against South Carolina.
9. #5 Oregon (-20.5) at Arizona (3:30pm, ESPN2): Oregon controls their own destiny once again in the Pac-12, after Stanford lost for a second time this season. The Ducks are the highest ranked one loss team in the country and will be playing in the Rose Bowl, if they win their remaining games. Their hopes of playing for a national title are done, unless three or more of the unbeaten teams ahead of them, lose a game over the next three weekends.
8. #20 Oklahoma at Kansas State (-3.5) (12pm, Fox Sports 1): The Sooners wont repeat as Big 12 champions, however Bob Stoops’ squad is still in the running for a potential Cotton Bowl matchup and the twelfth 10+ win season of his coaching tenure. They could have a closer call than expected on the road against a Wildcats team riding a four game winning streak.
7. Vanderbilt at Tennessee (-3) (7pm, ESPN2): Aside from their last second home win over South Carolina, the first year of the Butch Jones era has been a disappointment for the Volunteers. A loss to Vanderbilt would give them a seventh loss for a third consecutive season. The Commodores ended a six game losing streak in the series last year, in a 41-18 rout.
6. BYU (-1) at Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC): College football’s most well-known independents will meet in South Bend for a second straight year. The Fighting Irish survived a 17-14 nailbiter a year ago and are looking to make it three in a row against the Cougars.
5. #19 Wisconsin (-15.5) at #25 Minnesota (3:30pm, ESPN): A four game winning streak (their second of the season) has put Minnesota in the rankings for the first time in five years. The 8-2 Golden Gophers have been the biggest surprise in the Big Ten this season and their status as a contender will be tested in the next two weeks against Wisconsin and Michigan State. Winning one of those games would mark a great turnaround in Minneapolis for Jerry Kill’s squad and could get them in to a New Year’s Day bowl game.
4. #12 Texas A&M at #22 LSU (-4) (3:30pm, CBS): Johnny Manziel wont be playing for a national title in what is likely his final college football season, but he is still in the running for a second straight Heisman. A win in the bayou could put the Aggies back in to the top ten of the rankings and consideration for a BCS bowl. LSU has lost arguably their three biggest games this season and would get their signature win of 2013, by beating the Aggies for a second straight year.
3. #17 Arizona State (-2.5) at #14 UCLA (7pm, Fox): The Pac-12 South division could be decided in Pasadena this weekend. A win for the Sun Devils would clinch them a spot in the conference title game, while UCLA and USC’s hopes for winning the division would remain alive, with a Bruins win. Arizona State has not beaten UCLA on the road since 2007.
2. #8 Missouri (-2.5) at #24 Ole Miss (7:45pm, ESPN): Missouri is the SEC East leader heading in to the final two weekends of the regular season. The Tigers will have to survive a difficult two game stretch against Ole Miss and Texas A&M, to make it to Atlanta for a matchup in the SEC Championship Game, against Alabama or Auburn. The Rebels have been competitive at home against the upper echelon of the SEC this season, narrowly losing to the Aggies (41-38) and beating LSU (27-24). Another win at home against at top ten team, would put them in position for a ten win season and be another example of why some of the balance of power in the SEC West, could be shifting towards Oxford.
1. #4 Baylor (-10) at #10 Oklahoma State (8pm, ABC): Baylor is on the verge of their first conference title and double-digit win season since 1980. Last time the Bears were the top team in their league, Mike Singletary was a senior on campus and they were a member of the Southwest Conference. The nation’s highest scoring offense is ranked fourth in the BCS standings for the second straight week, but is gaining on Ohio State. A win in Stillwater would jump them to third nationally, but they would need convincing wins in their final three games to have any hope of catching up to unbeaten Florida State and Alabama. The Cowboys won’t be playing for a national title this season, but an upset win at home would put them in position for their second Big 12 title in three seasons. Oklahoma State has won six straight conference games, after losing their first Big 12 game to West Virginia.