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What to watch for: Keys to Mississippi State vs. Alabama
1:19 | College Football
What to watch for: Keys to Mississippi State vs. Alabama
Thursday November 13th, 2014

How's everybody feeling? Cold? Yeah, let's go with cold. My football coach when I was younger used to call these days "warm and sunny" days because that's what you'd have to keep telling yourself as the wind whipped and you're wearing so many layers you kind of forget that you're the one controlling your own arms and legs. These are the weeks that prove what teams are made of -- and not just the College Football Playoff contenders, but the ones overcoming injuries or still trying to play through disappointing seasons, too. 

It was hard to imagine this back in September, but you've only got three full Saturdays left of the regular season, then championship weekend, and of course, the Army-Navy game. That's it. Bowl games will flash before our eyes, but they're a mirage. They only serve to show us how thirsty we really are at that point. 

So make some chili, heat up some cider and put on your favorite sweatshirt. We've got football to watch.

• STAFF: Week 12 picks: Who'll win Alabama-Mississippi State? More winners

The early slate

Noon: No. 8 Ohio State at No. 25 Minnesota (ABC)

Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner put on his best J.T. Barrett imitation last week, throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for 77 yards. But the real J.T. Barrett is out to keep the Buckeyes' playoff hopes alive. As for the weather, in the words of the immortal Phil Connors of Groundhog Day, "I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."

Noon: No. 19 Clemson at No. 22 Georgia Tech (ESPN)

We haven't had a ton of great ACC matchups this year, so when we do get one with intrigue and the potential for fireworks, we have to dive right in. Plus Deshaun Watson is back.

Second screen specials

These are games that are tailor-made for your tablet, extra laptop, giant phone or any other device you use to stream things. Go crazy.

Noon: South Carolina at Florida (SEC Network)

Any time the HBC plays Florida, it's worth a watch, even if this one lacks some (OK, a lot) of the luster of other years.

• ELLIS: Bowl Projections: Who's headed to the playoff, all bowls?

Dog day afternoon

3:30 p.m.: No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama (CBS)

This is the big one: No. 1 vs. No. 5 in what could possibly be for a College Football Playoff bid. Despite being the lower-ranked team, Alabama is favored. That's exactly how the Bulldogs would like it to be. As Andy Staples wrote in his Walkthrough this week, Mississippi State prefers to be the underdog.

• STAPLES: Can Mississippi State maintain its title form vs. Alabama?

3:30 p.m.: No. 16 Nebraska at No. 20 Wisconsin (ABC)

If you are someone who just appreciates running back play, this game is for you. Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon are not just two of the Big Ten's best runners, they're two of the best runners in college football, period. Here's hoping Abdullah is close to 100 percent so we can get the best matchup possible.

• HAMILTON: Ebullient Wisconsin LB Trotter motivated by brother's memory

Second screen special

6 p.m.: Utah at Stanford (Pac-12 Network)

Defense and special teams and defense and special teams and defense and special teams and so on and so forth. 

Night moves

7:15 p.m.: No. 9 Auburn at No. 15 Georgia (ESPN)

Just a few weeks ago, this one seemed like it would mean a lot more. That being said, there's still plenty to watch for here, most notably the long-awaited return of running back Todd Gurley.

8 p.m.: No. 3 Florida State at Miami (ABC)

Let's see if the Seminoles are as fired up by their drop in the rankings as #FSUTwitter is. Plus it'll be fun to see if Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Duke Johnson can get going against that Florida State defense.

• ​STAPLES: #DearAndy, could a 13-0 Florida State miss the playoff?

Second screen specials

7:30 p.m.: Missouri at No. 24 Texas A&M (SEC Network)

Somehow, inexplicably, the Aggies have played their way back into the polls off the heels of that upset win over Auburn. Now they'll have to take on a Missouri team that has a shot to win the SEC East for the second year in a row if the Tigers can sneak out of Kyle Field with a win.

Late night theater

10:45 p.m.: No. 6 Arizona State at Oregon State (ESPN)

The Sun Devils have vaulted up the rankings after their 55-31 win over Notre Dame, and they have their sights set on winning the Pac-12 South and playing their way into the playoff. It's a sprint to the finish, and the Beavers are the next hurdle.

• RICKMAN: Where does Arizona State sit in this week's Power Rankings?

Second screen special

10:15 p.m.: San Diego State at Boise State (ESPNU)

And now for our weekly dose of late-night Mountain West fun.

• INSIDE READ: Early NFL exodus allowing teams to catch up to Alabama

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