Big showdowns ahead for college football playoff teams

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USA Today

Now that the college football playoffs have been revealed and played out as anticipated, we’re now deep into conference play. Going into the stretch run of the season, SportsRadioAmerica.com examines the toughest games left that could ruin the top four teams’ playoff connections.  

NO. 1 ALABAMA: AT NO. 3 LSU (NOV. 3)

It’s finally time for Alabama to play worthy competition. The Roll Tide haven’t been challenged thus far en route to an 8–0 record. They haven’t had quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throw a fourth-quarter pass as he seems like a lock for the Heisman. Looking at LSU’s defense, that’s surely to change. LSU has the playmakers at all three level of the defense, as safeties Grant Delpit and John Battle have combined for eight interceptions. They should make Tagovailoa’s life somewhat difficult. LSU is coming off impressive wins over Georgia and Mississippi State. Both teams have been preparing for this game for two weeks. It’ll be rocking in Death Valley under the primetime lights.

NO. 2 CLEMSON: AT NO. 22 BOSTON COLLEGE (NOV. 10)

The unbeaten Clemson Tigers haven’t been untouchable in 2018 as they’ve been in the past. The Crimson Tide’s lone win by fewer than four touchdowns was a 22-point victory over a Texas A&M team Clemson beat by two.  Clemson also narrowly escaped Syracuse at home on an afternoon when quarterback Trevor Lawrence left with an injury. The Boston College Eagles are in the College Football Playoff Rankings for the first time in the current era. They have a dominating defense that leads the league in sacks and interceptions. Boston College has a powerful running game highlighted by A.J. Dillon, the ACC’s leading rusher.

NO. 3 LSU: AT NO. 20 TEXAS A&M (NOV. 24)

Obviously, Alabama is LSU’s toughest opponent. We’ve already discussed LSU vs Alabama, so we turn to LSU’s second toughest game. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, the Tigers should have no problem with Arkansas and Rice. Texas A&M is 4–1 at home with that loss coming on a failed, two-point conversion against the Clemson Tigers. Quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Trayveon Williams are a potent duo for Jimbo Fisher. Also, Kellen Mond has Jace Sternberger, who might be the nation’s best tight end.

NO. 4 NOTRE DAME: AT NORTHWESTERN (NOV. 3)

The Fighting Irish must win to secure a playoff spot. They’re one slip-up away from likely being on the outside. Notre Dame has tough games coming up against Northwestern and USC. The Trojans have more talent than Northwestern, but aren’t living up to that talent. They’re reeling with two, straight losses and a play-calling change. Several factors make Northwestern the choice here. The Wildcats have won four in a row heading into Saturday, including wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin. This team, especially their defense, is improving as the year progresses, which bodes well for NU’s Big Ten West aspirations.

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