Connelly’s November preview: Playoff tiers, bowl odds and every FBS conference race

    Bill Connelly is a staff writer for

In the college football universe, Halloween basically means two things: It’s the anniversary of the greatest punt return of all time (Billy Cannon’s exhausted romp against Ole Miss, now 63 years ago), and it’s the last day until November starts.

The first two months of a given season can be an absolute blast — this one certainly has been — but a vast majority of what we end up remembering happens in November.

Michael Crabtree beating Texas in 2008 happened on Nov. 1. Clint Stoerner’s fumble, which cleared the way for Tennessee’s 1998 title bid, happened on Nov. 14. The 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game of the century (replete with the second-best punt return ever) happened on Nov. 25. The Kick Six happened on Nov. 30, 2013. Division titles are decided in November. Heismans are (unofficially) clinched in November. Weeknight MACtion happens in November.

We’ve absorbed everything that happened over the first nine Saturdays of a delightful season, and now we get to find out what it all means. As I try to do each season, let’s take stock of where things stand. Here are the stakes at hand — national title, conference races, Heisman and anything else noteworthy — as we head into the greatest month on the college football calendar.

Where the national title race stands

Although the first College Football Playoff rankings come out Tuesday, there are a number of huge games lined up for the coming weeks, so, as always, the initial rankings matter only so much. To get the firmest look at the overall title chase, let’s consult ESPN’s Allstate Playoff Predictor. Here’s which teams it thinks are most likely to be in the top four when it matters.

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