‘The Games You Remember Are Played in November’

Sam Obitz / November 15th, 2012 / No Comments »

I first heard this phrase used in describing college football when I was a teenager. I’m not sure who originated this saying, but I have seen this play out year after year since then. This clearly applies to the Heisman trophy as well. If it didn’t, we would have awarded the trophy to Matt Barkley of USC, Gino Smith of West Virginia or De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon in September. Now it is unlikely any of those three will even be making the trip to the ceremony in New York.

The three current front runners for the Heisman Trophy are: Collin Klein of Kansas State, Johnny Manziel of Texas A & M and Kenjon Barner of Oregon. If K-State finishes undefeated I think Klein will be the most deserving, but right now if I had a vote I’d give it to Marqise Lee of USC. Interestingly, of the three early season favorites, two have been displaced as leading candidates by their own teammates.

We just completed the second weekend of games in November and we have already witnessed some outstanding games. The first weekend featured wins by then BCS #1 ranked Alabama over then #5 LSU 21-17 on the road, winning on a last minute drive. We also got to see then BCS #4 Oregon beating then BCS #17 USC, also on the road 62-51. In addition there was a triple overtime victory by then #2 Notre Dame at Pittsburgh.

This past weekend’s most exciting game featured #15 Texas A & M at #1 Alabama, with the Aggies upsetting The Crimson Tide 29-24 in a thriller. Other top match-ups this past weekend included #14 Stanford beating #11 Oregon State at home 27-23, and previously undefeated and 9th ranked Louisville losing at Syracuse 45-26.

This coming weekend’s slate features games between an injury plagued and vulnerable #2 Oregon at home against #13 Stanford. This match-up features the #1 offense in the Pac-12 going up against the conference’s #1 defense. Also out West, we have the #17 UCLA Bruins hosting the #18 USC Trojans, in a game that will determine the Pac-12 Southern division champion. Other important games include #23 Texas Tech at #24 Oklahoma State, and #1 Kansas State traveling to face the struggling but explosive Baylor Bears.

In addition to all the games with national implications riding on them, November is the month in which a majority of the in-state rivalries take place.  Most fans remember which teams win these games, and hold all of the bragging rights heading into the following season.

Despite their importance and the memories created by the games played in November, one must remember that in order to make those games, games of significance, the teams involved have to win most if not all of their games leading up to November. This is best achieved by staying in the moment each and every week, and focusing on your own improvement. If Kansas State was thinking about their big games against Oklahoma State and TCU in November when they played at Oklahoma in September, chances are the outcome of that game would not have come out in their favor.

Far too often, teams get ahead of themselves and are more focused on where they see themselves going, rather than where they are right now. This is how upsets and disappointments tend to occur. Teams that control what they can control, which is their own improvement and beating whoever they are facing each week, are the ones who are likely to be playing those meaningful games in November.

Teams that want to play meaningful games at the end of the year ignore all the preseason hoopla. USC was ranked #1 in the AP and #3 in the USA Today Coaches preseason poll. Arkansas was ranked #10 and Michigan State was ranked #13 in both polls coming into the season. Now, two weeks into November, USC is sitting at #18 and neither Arkansas nor Michigan State is even listed in the BCS top 25. In fact, both Arkansas and Michigan State are still struggling to achieve Bowl eligibility.

Good teams avoid getting caught up in all the hype surrounding them, knowing that each game counts the same on their record. Teams that are not constantly improving themselves, usually find that the only games they remember that were played in November (other than the aforementioned in-state rivalry games) are sadly games played by teams other than theirs.


You can follow Sam on Twitter: @SuperTaoInc



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