The race to the BCS Championship heats up in November. So does the rest of the college football world. Photo: Getty Images/Zimbio
Welcome to November, college football's best month.
Now that baseball has wrapped up their October postseason, it is time for college football to once again take center stage in the month of November. Sure, if you are reading this you are probably thinking "When did college football step out of the spotlight," but the truth is November is when college football may be at it's best.
September can be great as a new season gets underway but too many games with mammoth mismatches can make for some lackluster afternoons from conference to conference. For every Clemson-Georgia we get there are three or four Ohio State-Florida A&M games. October sees conference battles start to hit their stride but it is in November when those races come down the final stretch. November is when Heisman candidates have their Heisman moments. November is when championship dreams continue or are crushed. November packs more rivalry games than any other month in the season. November is when teams scratch and claw for bowl eligibility or begin turning the page to next season. A lot happens in the month of November, making it college football's best month.
Here's what to pay attention to this month...
Florida State or Oregon?
The battle for second place in the BCS standings will be one that likely captivates the college football world from coast to coast, and we'll get a sense of where it may be heading right at the start of the month. Florida State hosts Miami this weekend in a match-up of top ten teams and Oregon visits Stanford next Thursday night.
Not only are we paying attention to these teams in pursuit of a shot at Alabama, but they also have two of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Whichever player comes up with the most Heisman magic will likely be leading his team to Pasadena for the final BCS Championship Game, and that would mean leading their team to a conference championship game victory as well.
BCS Busters on the prowl
Derek Carr and Fresno State are in the driver's seat of the BCS Busting Bus heading in to November. Photo: USA Today Sports
November can make or break a BCS buster. Just ask Boise State. As we start the month we have two teams to pay attention to within striking distance of clinching an automatic BCS berth with Fresno State and Northern Illinois. Fresno State has the inside track as the higher ranked team and currently in position to grab an automatic spot the way the rankings currently sit, but Northern Illinois is just one spot behind Fresno State and they may have the better path to an undefeated season. The Huskies were in the Orange Bowl last year and will be looking to redeem themselves this season if they can get by Fresno State. The Bulldogs, once considered the top dog among the smaller schools, looks to make their first BCS appearance before the format changes next season.
Ohio State is going to Pasadena, but for which game?
The Buckeyes have won 20 straight games but the perception of the Big Ten appears to be holding them back the most in the BCS standings. Whatever happens with the BCS standings, the question becomes if there is anyone in the Big Ten capable of topping the Buckeyes. The biggest threat remaining may be a road game at Michigan, or perhaps Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game but the Buckeyes appear to be capable of playing on a different level from anyone in the conference. 24-0 gets Ohio State to Indianapolis and 25-0 gets them to Pasadena. The only question is whether or not Ohio State is playing in the Rose Bowl or the BCS Championship.
Coach of the Year candidates and the opposite end of the spectrum
This season has seen some good coach of the year candidates emerge. November could see these candidates continue to push forward or experience a bit of an eye opener as the pressure rises. Some of the candidates that should be in the discussion right now include Missouri's Gary Pinkell, Auburn's Gus Malzahn, and Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury. All three are entering the first weekend in November with a realistic shot at winning their respective conference championships. How these teams finish could weigh heavily on their coaching profiles when it comes time to determine which had the best season.
Then there are the coaches who may be coaching for their jobs. Mack Brown at Texas may have coached his way out of immediate trouble but a strong finish in Big 12 play would surely help his cause. Other coaches may not be so lucky. Could Bo Pelini soon be joining his brother in the unemployed coaches club if Nebraska limps to the finish line? Charlie Weis at Kansas? Mike London at Virginia?
Rivalries and rivalries galore
The end of the season brings us plenty of rivalry games to stay glued to. It is the rivalry game that makes college football truly special, with a year's worth of bragging rights always on the line and the best come with simple yet distinguished nicknames. The Iron Bowl. The Civil War. The Egg Bowl. The Game. The Big Game. The list goes on and I have yet to even mention any of the great trophies out there. It all happens at the end of November and leads right in to championship weekend and the bowl season. The best part is some of these great rivalry games look as though they will be carrying some heavy BCS implications, which is pretty much like adding fuel to the fire.
The Iron Bowl could determine the SEC West champion and send Alabama or Auburn to Atlanta to get one step closer to a BCS title shot. The Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State could determine who wins the Pac 12 North and whether or not the Ducks remain in the hunt. The Game between Ohio State and Michigan will likely put Ohio State's undefeated record under Urban Meyer on the line and determine if the Buckeyes still have a shot to slide in to the BCS championship game or not.
We have a bunch of games to play though before knowing what the championship picture will look like, and we will address that when needed. The point is, November is going to be a great month for college football.
Bring it on.