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The most important game for each Top 25 team


    We’re more than two months away from the start of another college football season, but it’s never too early to starting looking at the key games for each Top 25 team. Here are the rivalry showdowns and nonconference battles that could decide the College Football Playoff.


    1. Alabama: Nov. 24 vs. Auburn

    Once again, Alabama saves the best for last with what has become an almost annual SEC championship play-in game against Auburn to end the regular season. The rest of the season, with a Lamar Jackson-less Louisville and Tennessee and Missouri out of the East, could turn out to be a cakewalk otherwise. — Alex Scarborough


    2. Clemson: Oct. 27 at Florida State

    Even though Florida State is going through a coaching transition, the Seminoles remain an immensely important game for the Tigers, not only for ACC championship hopes but for their playoff hopes, too. Nobody else on the schedule matches them in the talent department. Plus the game is on the road and wedged in between two difficult division games against NC State and Louisville. Clemson has to have this one. — Andrea Adelson


    3. Ohio State: Sept. 29 at Penn State

    No disrespect to The Game, but Ohio State-Penn State has had far more bearing on the Big Ten title race during the past decade. The game takes place much earlier this season, as Ohio State visits Happy Valley. This will be the first true road test for the Buckeyes’ new starting quarterback. Ohio State will need Nick Bosa and others to put pressure on Nittany Lions star Trace McSorley. — Adam Rittenberg



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