Unfortunately for college football fans, we’ve reached the halfway mark of yet another season. A compelling first half of 2015 has set up a frantic scramble to the finish in the remainder of the year.
In particular, keep an eye on the Big 12, where the league office backloaded the conference slate with showdowns between contenders Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU. A Black Friday showdown between two of the conference's bitterest rivals tops the list of games left to be played across college football.
1. Baylor at TCU, Nov. 27
The Bears and Horned Frogs staged a classic last year in Waco that eventually played a part in the One True Champion quagmire. There’s no confusion now, though, as the Big 12 determined in the offseason that a tie for the top spot would be broken by head-to-head results. In other words, it looks now as though the winner will have the inside track to the Big 12 title and a potential College Football Playoff bid. (And did we mention that Gary Patterson and Art Briles aren’t on the best of terms?)
2. Michigan State at Ohio State, Nov. 21
Speaking of playoff bids, the Spartan’s wild victory over Michigan last weekend adds some spice to Sparty’s trip to the Horseshoe. Whichever team comes out on top with more than likely be representing the Big Ten East in the conference title game and angling for a spot in the final four.
3. Florida State at Clemson, Nov. 7
Another match-up with likely Playoff implications — sensing a theme here? Although the Seminoles and Tigers are feasting on underwhelming ACC foes, winning out would give either a great chance at making the tournament. The loser, on the other hand, will likely spend December sulking over what could have been.
4. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 7
As of now, this annual grudge match feels like it will decide the SEC West. If any team is going to shut down bruising LSU running back Leonard Fournette, it’s the Crimson Tide.
5. Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 28
If both these teams keep winning, we could be talking about a Playoff elimination game when the Fighting Irish travel to Palo Alto.
6. Baylor at Oklahoma State, Nov. 21
Two years ago in Stillwater, the Cowboys derailed the Bears’ bid for an undefeated season. Might history repeat itself again in 2015?
7. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 28
The latest installment in this classic rivalry lost a little luster last weekend when the Wolverines botched that punt. It’s still our first taste of Urban Meyer versus Jim Harbaugh, though, and Michigan has a legitimate shot to knock the Buckeyes out of the Playoff chase.
8. Texas A&M at LSU, Nov. 28
Wow, Thanksgiving weekend really has a chance to be special this year. Aggies vs. Tigers might feature more NFL-caliber talent on the same field than any of the other high-profile games that weekend.
9. Florida State at Florida, Nov. 28
The Seminoles have turned the tables in this in-state rivalry recently. Now, though, Jim McElwain appears to have the Gators on the fast track to respectability. They’d take a big step forward with a win over FSU.
10. Oklahoma at Baylor, Nov. 14
The Bears have worked their longtime bullies in the last two seasons. Can the Sooners regain their stature atop the Big 12 by knocking off their newfound nemesis?
11. Utah at USC, Oct. 24
The chances of undefeated Utah getting bumped off are diminishing by the week. This trip to the Coliseum might be the Utes’ toughest remaining game. Get through this and Utah will have Stanford in the conference title game in its sights.
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12. Houston at Memphis, Nov. 14
This match-up of up-and-coming head coaches could determine which non-Power 5 squad finds itself in a New Year’s bowl game. Loser between Tom Hermann and Justin Fuente takes the South Carolina job?
13. TCU at Oklahoma State, Nov. 7
See: Every other Big 12 game on this list. Hell of a final month of the season in that league.
14. Iowa at Nebraska, Nov. 27
Iowa is another team running out of games to lose. The Hawkeyes will likely be favored in every remaining contest this season. The Cornhuskers could represent the final stumbling block on the way to an undefeated regular season and Big Ten West crown for Kirk Ferentz’s team.
15. TCU at Oklahoma, Nov. 21
OU is seeking revenge for last season’s loss to the Horned Frogs, the first of five frustrating defeats in 2014. The Sooners should hope Katy Perry doesn’t have Baker Mayfield’s digits.
Just missed: Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla.), Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Toledo at Bowling Green, Duke at North Carolina.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)