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Can Alabama, Baylor avoid upsets?

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Baylor Bears both have to feel good about their current positions in the College Football Playoff race.

Alabama was able to take down the No. 2 LSU Tigers last week at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, putting it in a great spot to be a top-three team (Alabama went into the game as the No. 4 and final seed in the playoffs). Meanwhile, Baylor is still undefeated in the Big 12 and looks even better after TCU went down to the Oklahoma State Cowboys last week. Oklahoma State and Baylor will play later in November, but the Bears (No. 6 currently in the rankings) have a tough test this week.

Baylor is hosting the No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners, a team that could easily be undefeated as well if not for a horrible loss in the Red River rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl against the listless Texas Longhorns. Oklahoma has a potent offense and a solid defense, led by head coach Bob Stoops. Despite the game being in Waco, the Sooners have to be considered nothing but a slight underdog to go into Baylor’s back yard and hand it its first loss of 2015.

Baylor’s biggest test against Oklahoma will be stopping the connection of Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard. Mayfield has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation, throwing for 28 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing more than 70 percent of his passes. Shepard has been the leading receiver on the team, catching 47 passes for 826 yards and seven touchdowns, showcasing why he will be playing on Sunday’s.

In the SEC, the Crimson Tide is hoping to avoid the upset on the road. Alabama will be visiting the No. 20 Mississippi State Bulldogs, who have only lost to LSU and the Texas A&M Aggies. Since those defeats, quarterback Dak Prescott has led the Bulldogs to four straight wins, although the level of competition has been nothing to write home about.

Prescott could put himself into the lead for the Heisman Trophy if he can slay the Crimson Tide defense. Prescott has been tremendous all year, rushing for 418 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing for 2,351 yards and 18 touchdowns against only one interception.

With the cold weather here, the College Football Playoff race is heating up. While both Alabama and Baylor have very tough games beyond this weekend, each may be facing their toughest tests this Saturday. Can the Crimson Tide and Bears find a way to keep hope alive for a national championship, or will the playoff picture be turned upside down?

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