THE POTATO: Race for playoffs heats up – as hot as it ever gets because Ohio State, LSU and Clemson are in

Western Carolina at Alabama, noon, ESPN

Life without Tua begins for Bama. The Crimson Tide can do little else but get work for backups Mac Jones and Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua’s baby brother. Then they have to beat Auburn next week, no small order. and hope all the right teams lose. There are a bunch of them.

Alabama’s got marquee value, as proven by this turkey being on ESPN, and that’ll have to weigh into any hope the Tide has of backing into the playoffs – and probably getting clubbed like a baby seal without the star quarterback. The highlight of the game today will come when Tua hobbles out onto the field (he’s back on campus after hip surgery in Houston earlier this week), and all the fans stand up and cry and cheer and stuff.

Penn State at Ohio State, noon, Fox

I’d have thought Penn State might have a chance today until I saw them get butchered by Minnesota, who promptly lost to Iowa the next week. Today’s line started out at about 17 and went up to 18 1/2, which means many millions were wagered on the Buckeyes. Penn State’s best receiver suffered a head injury and is unlikely to play, and the only chance the Nittany Lions have is to go over the Buckeyes’ defense. The only way they could run on Ohio State is if they let the tailback ride a horse.

Texas A&M at Georgia, 3:30 p.m., CBS

The Aggies are Florida’s last hope to back into the SEC Championship Game next month. The chance of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagavailoa’s hip miraculously healing are better. However, an apocalyptic rain is likely for Athens, Georgia this afternoon, so maybe there’s some degree of divine intervention in effect.

Texas at Baylor, Fox Sports 1, 3:30 pm.

Here’s Texas’ chance to let the fans down again. Here’s Baylor’s chance to stay in the hunt for a Big 12 championship and a snub by the playoff committee.

Oregon at Arizona State, ABC, 7:30 p.m.

One-loss Oregon, a high double-digit favorite today, is in the playoff picture if they can win the Pac-12 championship. Interestingly, Oregon has lost its last three games in Arizona. Why that should have anything to do with this mismatch has more to do with magical thinking than reality.