RJ’s Five Spot Best mid-November games

College football fans know that Thanksgiving weekend punctuates the regular season with such huge, playoff-impactful games such as Michigan-Ohio State and Auburn-Alabama, but the next three weeks also offer some great appetizers. Here are five key pre-Turkey Day games (College Football Playoff rankings used here):

1. No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State, Saturday: By falling 39-38 at Ohio State last week, the Nittany Lions lost control of their playoff destiny. They need an impressive victory over the Spartans because their last three opponents — Rutgers, Nebraska and Maryland — won’t move the needle.

2. No. 1 Georgia at No. 14 Auburn, Nov. 11: Steeled by their 20-19 victory at Notre Dame on Sept. 9, the Bulldogs have a clear path to the playoff, but they must navigate this tricky trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, where national title dreams have gone to die (see Iron Bowl, “Kick Six,” 2013).

3. No. 8 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma, Nov. 11: With apologies to Saturday’s Bedlam Game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, this Horned Frogs-Sooners matchup is a knockout game. Loser will have two losses, and almost certainly can’t recover in time to make the top four.

4. No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 10 Miami, Nov. 11: This Fighting Irish-Hurricanes matchup will wake the echoes of those intense 1980s grudge matches.

5. Unranked Michigan at No. 9 Wisconsin, Nov. 18: The Badgers’ only realistic path to the playoff is to remain undefeated and win the Big Ten Championship Game. They can’t afford to stub their toe against Michigan.

Randy Johnson