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Original Issue

The Play-in Games


These 11 matchups will decide who makes the final four


Alabama at Mississippi State / With one loss Bama is vulnerable, and the Bulldogs (7--2) would love to get revenge after the Tide ended their undefeated season last year.

Oklahoma at Baylor / Baylor freshman QB Jarrett Stidham(below) looked good in a 31--24 win over Kansas State, but the Sooners' defense is tied for third nationally in yards allowed per pass attempt.


Baylor at Oklahoma State The Big 12 has no championship, so this could be for the league title and a playoff berth. Both offenses rank in the top seven in scoring, and both defenses are in the top eight in turnovers forced.

Michigan State at Ohio State / A win in Columbus could help Sparty snatch the East Division title. Last year a Big Ten champ with a bad loss sneaked into the Playoff.

UCLA at Utah / The one-loss Utes could still work their way into the top four by winning out. The Bruins (7--2) have Pac-12 title aspirations of their own.


Iowa at Nebraska / The Hawkeyes' road to 12--0 goes through Huskers QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., whose arm could challenge an Iowa secondary that's tied for seventh in yards allowed per pass.

Baylor at TCU / TCU's 49--29 loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday saps some of the anticipation, but if the Frogs beat Oklahoma and Baylor, they could still crash the playoff.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State / Oklahoma's perplexing 24--17 loss to Texas in Week 6 is the only black mark on its résumé, but wins over Baylor, TCU and the Cowboys to close the season could erase that.

Ohio State at Michigan

The Buckeyes could be zeroing in on the Big Ten East title and a playoff berth. The Wolverines (7--2) might be in position to steal the crown. Urban Meyer vs. Jim Harbaugh, Round 1.

Florida State at Florida

The Gators have clinched the SEC East, but FSU, which is out of the ACC title race, could stun its rival if sophomore back Dalvin Cook finds room to run.

Notre Dame at Stanford

If both teams are 10--1, this could be a playoff play-in (though Stanford would have to win the Pac-12 title game too). The Irish's 24--22 loss at Clemson won't keep them out, especially after victories over Navy, USC and Temple.