Take a deep breath college football fans, because there are plenty more showdowns in the second half of the season. Mark your calendars for these defining games.
SATURDAY, IOWA STATE AT OKLAHOMA
There's no time to celebrate for the Sooners. Two weeks ago Oklahoma couldn't contain a scrambling quarterback when Missouri freshman Brad Smith ran for 215 yards in a game the Tigers narrowly lost. Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace (box, page 48) is even more dangerous. If the Cyclones win, the two teams could meet again in the Big 12 title game.
SATURDAY, NOTRE DAME AT AIR FORCE
This could prove to be an even bigger test for the Irish than their Oct. 26 visit to Florida State. The Falcons run the difficult-to-defend triple option and lead the nation in rushing (339.1 yards per game) behind junior quarterback Chance Harridge (615 yards, 15 touchdowns). A night game in the Rockies could spell doom for Notre Dame.
NOV. 9, OREGON AT WASHINGTON STATE
In a classic battle of quarterbacks—the Ducks' Jason Fife and the Cougars' Jason Gesser—this one could be for the Pac-10 title. Question is, would an Oregon win earn the Ducks enough respect in the eyes of poll voters to vault them past other unbeatens? Doubtful.
NOV. 23, MICHIGAN AT OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes' brash freshman tailback, Maurice Clarett, is making history, but can he reverse Ohio State's fortunes against the Wolverines? The Buckeyes have lost five of the last seven games in the series, with two of those defeats costing them a shot at the national title. Coach Jim Tressel beat Michigan in his first attempt last year—but with a lot less on the line.
DEC. 7, VIRGINIA TECH AT MIAMI
Forget the Fiesta Bowl. If these Big East powers are still unbeaten when they meet in the regular-season finale, this game should be for the national title. The Hokies have the talent to hang with the Hurricanes, but speed and experience give Miami an edge.