On November 1, 2008, Michael Crabtree and Texas Tech took down undefeated Texas.
On November 2, 1935, Ohio State played Notre Dame for the first time, in front of 81,000 at the Horseshoe in one of college football's first Games of the Century. (The Buckeyes lost, because it was 1935 and it was Notre Dame.)
On November 3, 1990, Scott Sisson and Georgia Tech knocked off No. 1 Virginia in Charlottesville.
On November 4, 2000, Northwestern took down Michigan, 54-51, in a game that legitimized the spread offense like few others could. Eighteen years later, on November 4, 2018, Iowa used tight ends, fullbacks, and an old-school defense to deal an eventually fatal blow to Ohio State’s national title hopes, 55-24.
On November 5, 2011, LSU beat Alabama, 9-6, in a national title prequel.
The things that happen in November are the things that we remember, the things that determine title races.
On November 7, 1998, Nick Saban and Michigan State did the same to one of the best Ohio State teams in Buckeye history. It pre-empted John Cooper's best shot at the national title. And because college football is symmetrical, Michigan State would do almost the same thing to Urban Meyer's most talented Ohio State team 17 years and two weeks later. Then, on November 7, 2015, Hunter Henry's desperate lateral applied the death blow to Ole Miss' SEC chances and set the table for another Saban title.
On November 8, 1980, Lindsay Scott ran.
On November 10, 2007, Juice Williams and Illinois upset Ohio State in Columbus and knocked the BCS title race on its ear. (Well, it was already on its ear that year. Knocked it on its other ear.)
November gives you no bargaining period. Your team is what it is.
Alabama is a new Alabama, driven not by defense, but by the best offense Nick Saban has ever had. It’s almost like driving a new car — will Saban know how to handle the curves in higher-scoring games? (The Tide’s 45-40 win over Clemson in the 2015 national title game suggests the answer is probably “Yes.”)
Clemson is mean, having defeated its last three conference foes by a combined 163-20. The Tigers will be favored by at least two touchdowns in every game between now and the College Football Playoff.
Clemson is also trying to win it all with a true freshman starting at quarterback. That nearly worked out for Georgia in 2017 and Alabama in 2016 but didn’t, even if Bama was bailed out by a different true freshman last winter.
LSU is all duct tape and chicken wire. The Tigers are crafty and nasty on defense and are third in the CFP rankings because of it. But their offense is dreadfully inefficient and reliant on making just the right plays at just the right time. That might not be enough against Bama in Death Valley, but they are in contention until otherwise noted.
Notre Dame is back? Again? The unbeaten Irish are sixth in Def. S&P+ and have averaged 40 points per game since quarterback Ian Book took over. They will be significant favorites in every remaining regular season game, but their biggest enemy could be themselves — they got to 8-1 and third last season and 10-1 and fourth in 2015 but fell off the pace both years.
On November 12, 2016, Pitt’s Chris Blewitt ... didn’t. His 48-yard buzzer beater leads the Panthers to a 43-42 upset of No. 2 Clemson in Death Valley. Later that evening, Iowa freshman Keith Duncan made a 33-yarder at the buzzer to upset No. 3 Michigan in Iowa City.
November is a grind.
The Playoff committee made its initial proclamation on Tuesday. Unbeaten Bama and Clemson lead, but nine power conference unbeatens or one-loss teams trail directly behind. There are dark horses everywhere — Kentucky? Washington State? — and the battle royal is just beginning.
- No. 1 Alabama travels to No. 3 LSU this week. The winner likely gets a date with the winner of No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 9 Kentucky in the SEC title game, though LSU still plays at No. 20 Texas A&M, Bama still hosts No. 18 Mississippi State, and both UGA and Bama have to take on an increasingly desperate Auburn.
- No. 7 Oklahoma still has to play at No. 13 WVU, which still has to play at No. 17 Texas. Texas beat Oklahoma but still has to face No. 24 Iowa State, which beat WVU. The Big 12 race is a glorious mess and might only get messier.
- No. 4 Notre Dame still has to play at Northwestern (which has already beaten two ranked teams this year), take on No. 19 Syracuse (which beat Clemson last year and nearly did so again this year), and play at USC, where its national title dreams have died before.
We've spent the first nine weeks of the year positioning ourselves. Now it begins.
On November 16, 1991, Florida State went wide right against Miami for the first time.
On November 17, 2007, Indiana beat Purdue and clinched a bowl bid in honor of fallen head coach Terry Hoeppner.
On November 18, 2011, Iowa State beat undefeated Oklahoma State by the width of a goalpost.
On November 19, 2011, Baylor's Robert Griffin III locked up the Heisman against Oklahoma.
On November 20, 1993, BC's David Gordon knocked a 41-yarder between the uprights to take down No. 1 Notre Dame and give Florida State's Bobby Bowden a shot at his long-sought first national title.
November is renewal.
Oklahoma lost to Texas in early-October but has been a wrecking ball since, scoring a combined 103 against TCU and Kansas State. And it could have been worse. Kyler Murray’s current passer rating, by the way: 227.3. Baker Mayfield, one of the best QBs in college football history, topped out at 199.
Ohio State fell to Purdue and enters November with all sorts of question marks. And it would surprise no one if the Buckeyes ran the table from here and started looking incredible heading into the CFP.
LSU hasn’t beaten Alabama, and Michigan hasn’t beaten Ohio State, in nearly seven years. Both the Tigers and Wolverines are in the CFP top five. No time like the present to end a streak.
On November 22, 1969, Michigan upset undefeated Ohio State, and Woody Hayes former pupil (Bo Schembechler) became his closest peer.
On November 23, 1984, Doug Flutie Doug Flutie'd Miami.
On November 24, 2007, Missouri beat Kansas in the biggest game in the history of either school.
On November 25, 1971, in what many still claim is the greatest game in the sport's history, Nebraska beat Oklahoma with help from a legendary Johnny Rodgers punt return.
And on November 25, 2017, UCF’s eventual claim to a share of the national title survived because of a legendary (in Orlando) kick return by Mike Hughes.
November is cruelty.
Injuries in November don't mean you miss part of the season. They mean you miss the rest of the season. And in some cases — Appalachian State’s Jalin Moore, Michigan State’s Felton Davis III, Notre Dame’s Alex Bars, UMass’ Andrew Ford, USC’s Porter Gustin — injuries could mean your college career ends earlier than you expected.
On November 27, 2015, Baylor and TCU finally got their rematch 14 months after an all-time classic. Only, both teams were defeated by a deluge of rain.
On November 28, 2014, Stanford eliminated Notre Dame from the College Football Playoff race with a last-second field goal at the end of a spectacular 60 minutes.
On November 29, 2014, Ohio State's J.T. Barrett broke his leg in the fourth quarter against Michigan. The Buckeyes survived, and a week later, romped Wisconsin with backup QB Cardale Jones to make the Playoff.
On November 30, 2013, "The Kick Six" became part of the college football lexicon.
We spend the first 10 months of the year talking about what might happen in the college football season.
We spend November watching what happens.
College football is at its best and worst in November. October was wild, cruel, and exhilarating.
And now come four November Saturdays. Buckle up.