Associated Press

College football’s four-team playoff has altered some of the drama of the regular season.

On one hand, some of the biggest games aren’t necessarily must-wins, since one loss may not end a team’s playoff hopes. Clemson lost in November last year and still went on to win the national title. Ohio State made the playoff despite failing to win its conference.

The tradeoff, of course, is that more teams are in the hunt later in the season — and that can mean more compelling games in more leagues. If a game has conference title implications in a top league, it can also have playoff implications.

That makes it hard to single out just six games to watch over the next three months, but here are a few matchups to circle during the regular season:

Alabama vs. Florida State (Sept. 2)

The top-ranked Crimson Tide and third-ranked Seminoles face off in Atlanta in just the fourth season-opening game involving teams in the top five. No, the loser won’t be out of the playoff race, but its margin for error will be a bit lower. And games like this between two national title contenders are what fans crave in non-conference play. Alabama also started last season with a neutral-site game against a big-name program. The Tide beat Southern California 52-6.

Clemson at Louisville (Sept. 16)

Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson put on quite a show in this matchup last season, combining for 601 yards passing and 253 rushing. A couple of late touchdown passes by Watson lifted Clemson to a 42-36 win. Now the Tigers must replace Watson, while Jackson, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, returns to lead the Cardinals.

Penn State at Ohio State (Oct. 28)

The Nittany Lions upset the Buckeyes 24-21 last year thanks to a blocked

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