The biggest game in terms of national attention, no matter their place in the rankings? The Red River Shootout, Texas against Oklahoma in Dallas. The actual big game will be South Carolina in a huge test for their title aspirations in Baton Rouge against an angry, one-loss LSU Tigers. The number one team in the nation, Alabama, travel to Columbia to play Missouri.
#1 Alabama (5-0) at Missouri (3-3), 3:30
Mizzou are 0-3 in SEC games, while Alabama are the consensus choice for the number one team in the nation coming after a bye week. The Tigers are struggling offensively at times, averaging 25.3 points per game, while the Alabama team, scoring over 40 per game, simply don’t make mistakes, examplified by their quarterback A.J. McCarron still not throwing an interception. Hard to see this as anything but an Alabama blowout.
#3 South Carolina (6-0) at #10 LSU (5-1), 8:00
The big game of the weekend in terms of national championship and SEC implications. The South Carolina Gamecocks are playing better than anyone expected, but there’s not much creativity or surprise. Simply running the ball very well while the defense doing a great job, like shutting down Georgia last week to take control of the SEC East. LSU’s defense can stop that, but can’t win if they score only 9 points, their average against SEC teams so far. The Tigers have won four straight in this rivalry (last meeting in 2008), while the Gamecocks have more tools to come out as the winner for the first time since 1994.
#4 Florida (5-0) at Vanderbilt (2-3), 6:00 PM
Some are calling this a trap game, with Vandy showing some impressive defense so far this season. Still, Florida haven’t lost to the Commodores in nearly a quarter-century. Their defense is just as good, as they showed against LSU in what may be a season defining moment, and their offense, with Jeff Driskel and Mike Gillislee, is getting things done, just without the flashy numbers.
#5 West Virginia (5-0) at Texas Tech (4-1), 3:30
The high powered offense of Geno Smith (1996 yards, 24 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin heads into Lubbock. It didn’t take very long for Tech to find themselves out of the rankings again, losing at home to Oklahoma 20-41. This time, the Mountaineers are also bringing a running game, with Andrew Buie running 31 times for 207 yards and 2 TDs against Texas. This is going to be a shootout (teams average a combined 91 points) with the Mountaineers simply packing too much heat to lose.
#6 Kansas State (5-0) vs Iowa State (4-1)
Trap game? Hell yeah. Farmageddon is always a very non-Big 12 like game, taking on a very physical, aggressive nature to it. Both teams don’t really air it out, but the Wildcats’ running game has been excellent with Collin Klein and John Hubert, averaging 262.8 yards per game (9th in the nation). Iowa State have lost four straight in the rivalry, but are on the verge of making the rankings for the first time since 2005. A great defensive effort, maybe one that’s too much for this team, is their only chance.
#17 Stanford (4-1) at #7 Notre Dame (5-0), 3:30
A defensive struggle? Just the way Notre Dame like it. The Fighting Irish look impossible to score against, holding Miami to only 3 points last week and are allowing only 7.8 points per game. Stanford’s defense looked, well, bad against Arizona. They have won the last three games between the two teams, but Notre Dame’s defense is so good that even their so-so offense should be enough against a hard to predict Stanford team.
#8 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) at Indiana (2-3)
It’s a pretty simple concept of how to stop Ohio State: Control Braxton Miller. Problem is? The Indiana Hoosiers have the worst rushing defense in the conference, while Ohio State get nearly 250 yards on the ground each week. The Buckeyes haven’t lost to Indiana in 24 years (17 straight wins) while the Hoosiers have lost their last 10 conference games. Easy decision.
#10 Oregon State (4-0) vs BYU (4-2), 3:30
Oregon State have a more talented team, but with Cody Vaz starting for Sean Mannion (out for 2-4 weeks), everything changes. Suddenly, BYU not losing at home this season and allowing only 8.8 points per game makes them look much more impressive. The Beavers have also been stingy on defense, but will mostly have to rely on Storm Woods, Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks to make life easier for Vaz. Smells like an upset.
Rest of the top 25 –
#11 USC (4-1) at Washington (3-2), 7:00 PM
Boston College (1-4) at #12 Florida State (5-1), 5:30 PM
#15 Texas (4-1) vs #13 Oklahoma, 12:00 PM
#18 Louisville (5-0) at Pittsburgh (2-3), 11:00 AM
Tennessee (3-2) at Mississippi State (5-0), 9:00 PM
Syracuse (2-3) at #20 Rutgers (5-0), 12:00 PM
Fordham (4-2) at #21 Cincinnati (4-0), 7:00 PM
#22 Texas A&M (4-1) at #23 Louisiana-Tech (5-0), 9:00 PM
Fresno State (4-2) at #24 Boise State (4-1), 3:30 PM
Illinois (2-3) at #25 Michigan (3-2), 3:30 PM