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 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. Meanwhile, on November 7, 2015, Hunter Henry’s desperate lateral eliminated 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.
Georgia is mean, obliterating its two most historic division rivals — and getting one of those rivals’ head coaches fired — and now two more rivalry wins away from a 12-0 record and a likely date with Alabama.
Georgia is also trying to win it all with a true freshman quarterback. That nearly worked out for Alabama last year … but didn’t.
Alabama is Alabama: nameless, faceless, and mostly dominant. The Crimson Tide are almost flying under the radar thanks to a weaker schedule. They are still coached by Saban and still have the most talented roster in the country.
Clemson has a nasty defense and an offense that does just enough. They are last year’s title team, only with a little bit more duct tape and chicken wire. They are in contention until otherwise noted.
Notre Dame is back? The Fighting Irish are explosive on offense and aggressive on defense, and instead of dilly dallying and losing close games, they are stomping on throats. They enter November having defeated two straight ranked teams (USC and NC State) by a combined 56 points.
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. Undefeated Georgia and Bama lead, but 11 power conference unbeatens or one-loss teams trail directly behind. There are dark horses everywhere — Virginia Tech? TCU? — and the computer rankings suggest this year’s teams aren’t quite as dominant as in previous years.
That means there’s an incredible battle royal coming our way.
- Auburn gets a shot at playing spoiler for both Georgia and Alabama.
- Notre Dame plays at Miami and Stanford.
- Ohio State still has to play Michigan State, which seems to either knock off or nearly knock off Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes every year.
- The Big 12 could still feature up to three games pitting some combination of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU against each other … unless Iowa State continues to ruin everybody.
- Clemson has to survive NC State, then potentially face the Miami-Virginia Tech winner.
- Washington gets Stanford, Washington State, and maybe USC.
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.
Ohio State lost to Oklahoma early in the year, bringing to light all of last year’s doubts and questions. The Buckeyes have been a wrecking ball since, even spotting an awesome Penn State 14 points before unleashing a comeback.
Wisconsin, loser of the 2014 and 2016 Big Ten title games, is homing in on another title chance, this time unbeaten. All the Badgers have to do is avoid a November upset and pull one for itself on the first Saturday in December. Easy, right?
Miami hasn’t finished in the top 10 in 14 years. The Canes enter November unbeaten for just the second time in that span, and unlike the first time (2013), they have already cleared the Florida State hurdle.
Notre Dame went 4-8 last year. Maybe you heard? Now the Irish are third in the country.
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, Nebraska beat Oklahoma in what many still claim is the greatest game in the sport’s history.
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 — Pitt’s Max Browne … Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow … BC’s Connor Strachan … Washington State’s Peyton Pelluer — injuries could also mean your career ends a few games 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 racewith 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.