Ten critical games in the season's second half
Because we are roughly at the midway point of the 2013 college football campaign, let's take a look at the most intriguing games left on the regular-season slate.
Saturday, October 19 - Florida State at Clemson: There have been snickers about this being one of the biggest games in ACC history, but the winning team truly does have a chance to play for a BCS national championship in Pasadena with a little help by the end of the year. Quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Tajh Boyd also have their Heisman Trophy hopes at stake in this Atlantic division high-profile matchup. The Seminoles have not been able to earn a win in Death Valley since 2001, but they are coming off of a bye week.
US PRESSWIREBrett Hundley and the Bruins will have a chance to make noise in the national race.
Saturday, October 26 - UCLA at Oregon: Are the Bruins the biggest threat to the Ducks now that Stanford fell to Utah? I still believe that the Cardinal are the top competition for Mark Helfrich's squad, but Jim L. Mora's team has a chance to take a big step in the national conversation with a win in Eugene. This is the second of two major contests for UCLA, which plays Stanford this week in Palo Alto. So we'll know a lot more about the Bruins (and the Cardinal) by the time this game takes place.
Saturday, November 2 - Miami at Florida State: Will the Seminoles still be unbeaten when they host the in-state rival Hurricanes? If they best Clemson this weekend on the road, this game could have enormous implications at Doak Campbell Stadium. Miami (FL) has a good chance to be unbeaten heading into this one as well because its games at North Carolina and at home against Wake Forest are winnable. A great rivalry and great for the ACC.
Thursday, November 7 - Oregon at Stanford: If the Ducks and the Cardinal are able to survive games against UCLA, this game still carries a ton of weight. Although the shine is off of it a bit due to Stanford's loss to Utah last week. The Ducks are trying to avenge last year's loss at Autzen Stadium. Can Cardinal defensive coordinator Derek Mason cook up another strong game plan against the high-powered Ducks offense, which did not get a great game from Marcus Mariota last year?
Thursday, November 7 - Oklahoma at Baylor: This game was supposed to have huge Big 12 and national implications until the Sooners were blown out by Texas. Still, this game could be a huge spot for the Bears if they enter unbeaten. They will face an OU team that has suffered some serious hits to its defensive depth the last few weeks, especially up front.
Saturday, November 9 - LSU at Alabama: These two teams seemingly always meet when the stakes are high, and they should be once again if both teams continue to take care of business the next few weeks. The Tigers have just that thrilling loss to Georgia on their list of defeats, so they are still alive for a possible BCS title game spot if they run the table. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide are looking to remain unbeaten for a shot at their third straight crystal football. Zach Mettenberger and the Tigers' balanced offense will be a chore for the Tide to defend. And that John Chavis-led defense is getting better each week.
Saturday, November 16 - Texas Tech at Baylor: Could the Bears still be unbeaten after their clash with Oklahoma? And will the Red Raiders still have an unblemished mark? Kliff Kingsbury and Art Briles will match wits in what should be an absolute Big 12 shootout in Arlington. The Red Raiders will be coming off of their battles with OU and Oklahoma State, so it will be tough to be unbeaten coming into this one. But both teams have surprised a bit thus far, so don't be shocked if this game takes on even greater significance.
Saturday, November 23 - Texas A&M at LSU: I mentioned above that the Tigers remain in the BCS title game race. Well, so do the Aggies. And this is a rematch from a year ago when the Tigers were able to contain Johnny Manziel and force him to toss three interceptions. It's a younger LSU defense and a more experienced Johnny Football this time around, but the game will be in Death Valley. If LSU is able to beat Alabama a few weeks before this game, this contest could be for the SEC West crown and a spot in Atlanta.
Saturday, November 23 - Clemson at South Carolina: Not only does LSU and Texas A&M still have a chance to be a national player the rest of the year, but so do the Gamecocks. If they take care of business up until this point, they could be facing an unbeaten Tigers squad, which has lost four straight to Steve Spurrier's club and saw Tajh Boyd struggle in this in-state rivalry game last fall.
Saturday, November 30 - Ohio State at Michigan: The Buckeyes should enter their matchup with the Wolverines at the Big House undefeated after passing their biggest test yet at Northwestern. The Wolverines have not looked very crisp or consistent all season, so it will be interesting to see if they clean up their game by the end of the year. It is arguably the best rivalry in college football, though, so expect a competitive contest.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.