Thanksgiving weekend typically is the time where team are crafting their final cases for inclusion into the College Football Playoff or playing for conference championships or bragging rights with rivals.
The season, of course, is different. There’s still three weeks to go after Saturday, meaning the weekend has a new feel. Those in-state showdowns of non-conference opponents are gone. Some of the bigger games of the season have been pushed later.
There’s still much to savor during the holiday.
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There’s the Iron Bowl, where No. 1 Alabama hosts No. 19 Auburn. It’s the last ranked opponent on the schedule for the Crimson Tide before a potential showdown in the SEC title game with Florida. The Tigers would like nothing better than to spoil the season of their biggest rival.
No. 2 Notre Dame travels to No. 23 North Carolina in what is its toughest challenge before a likely appearance in the ACC championship game. The Irish need only win two of their final three games to secure their spot. But the Tar Heels are eager to earn a signature win in Mack Brown’s second season.
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The third game matching ranked opponents has big ramifications in the Big 12. No. 15 Iowa State can all but secure a spot in its first conference title game with a win at No. 21 Texas. The Longhorns also would be in prime position to reach Arlington, Texas, by knocking off the Cyclones.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA TODAY Sports college football staff picks for Week 13