College Football 2012: Power Ranking the 10 Best Games of October

Alex CallosCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2012

College Football 2012: Power Ranking the 10 Best Games of October

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    There is no question that October is a month where the college football season really turns it up a notch.

    Most of the non-conference cupcakes are out of the way and it is time for the big boys to butt heads.

    This year, October features some of the best games of the season, particularly in the Big 12 and SEC. One of these two conferences feature a representative in nine of the top 10 games.

    It all starts this weekend with some huge conference battles.

    Here are the top college football games for the month of October.

Honorable Mention

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    Before we get to the top 10, here are some of the games that almost made the list. These games might not be as marquee as the top 10, but there is still high interest in these matchups.

    No. 21 Nebraska vs. No. 12 Ohio State - Oct. 6

    No. 23 Washington vs. No. 2 Oregon - Oct. 6

    No. 13 USC vs. No. 23 Washington - Oct. 13

    Michigan vs. Michigan State - Oct. 20

    No. 21 Nebraska vs. No. 24 Northwestern - Oct. 20

    Cincinnati vs. No. 19 Louisville - Oct. 26

    No. 20 Mississippi State vs. No. 1 Alabama - Oct. 27

    No. 15 TCU vs. Oklahoma State - Oct. 27

    No. 14 Oregon State vs. No. 23 Washington - Oct. 27

    Michigan vs. No. 21 Nebraska - Oct. 27

10. No. 18 Stanford vs. No. 9 Notre Dame

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 13

    The annual battle will be played in South Bend this year and pits two of the top 20 teams in the country against each other.

    A slip-up by Stanford against Washington is the only thing from keeping this game from the top five on the list.

    It has all the makings of being a low-scoring defensive battle between two teams who rank near the top of the country in points allowed.

    Perhaps the key battle will be Stanford trying to run the ball with star running back Stepfan Taylor. He will be going up against a talented Notre Dame front seven, led by senior linebacker Manti Te'o.

    Expect a close game that could be decided by turnovers.

9. No. 4 LSU vs. No. 10 Florida

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 6

    Florida is back near the top of the SEC East and will get its first true test of the season on Saturday when the LSU Tigers come to town.

    Like the previous game on the list, this will be a battle between two of the better defenses in the conference.

    LSU comes into the game only allowing 12.6 points per game, good for ninth in the country. Florida has been equally impressive at 10th in the nation, allowing 12.8 points a game.

    This contest will come down to which quarterback can control the game for his team.

    Florida is at home, but has not seen a defense quite like the Tigers. This could make for one of the more interesting games of the entire SEC slate.

8. No. 9 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 Oklahoma

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 27

    Even though these two teams have only met once in the past 44 years, there is some history between the two.

    No team has dominated Oklahoma quite like Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish hold an all-time series edge of 8-1.

    This year, the Sooners are at home and that is the only major advantage they have.

    Quarterback Landry Jones will be the key, and it is still hard to determine how he will be playing heading into the game. Jones and the high-flying Oklahoma offense have not been too impressive early on.

    The Notre Dame defense will give Oklahoma its biggest test of the season and that may not bode well for the Sooners in this one.

7. No. 10 Florida vs. No. 5 Georgia

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 27

    One of the premier rivalries in the SEC is finally back, as Florida has seemingly returned to prominence and Georgia is one of the best teams in the country.

    Known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," this game will be as good as it has been in a few years.

    This season, Georgia is doing it with an offense ranking in the top 10 in the country.

    Florida, on the other hand, has been impressive on the defensive side of the ball, ranking in the top 10 in points against.

    This game will hinge on Florida slowing down the two-headed rushing monster of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall from Georgia.

    On offense, Florida will need to control the ball and keep the potent Georgia offense off the field.

    Either way, one of these teams will be partying in Jacksonville a few weeks from now.

6. No. 11 Texas vs. No. 17 Oklahoma

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 13

    The annual Red River Rivalry is one of the best in all of college football.

    Due to the struggles of Oklahoma, the game is a little lower on the list than it might normally be.

    The game will once again be played in Dallas, and could be a challenge for the Texas defense as it will be coming off back-to-back games against two talented offenses in Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

    While most thought Texas would be doing it with defense this season, that has not necessarily been the case as the Longhorns have averaged over 47 points a game so far this season.

    Oklahoma has been impressive on the defensive side of the ball, allowing under 15 points a game, good for 20th in the country.

    This will come down to whether or not the Sooners offense can put some points on the board against the Longhorns defense.

5. No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Florida

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20

    This will be the final game in a brutal three-game stretch for South Carolina as it takes on Georgia, LSU and Florida three straight weeks.

    Florida, on the other hand, will also be in the midst of a difficult October as it takes on LSU, South Carolina and Georgia over a four-week span.

    The game will be a battle between two of the top defenses in the country as both South Carolina and Florida rank in the top 10 in the country in points against.

    The continued improvement of Marcus Lattimore will certainly help South Carolina in the coming weeks as he continues to recover from the knee injury he suffered last season.

    Florida has a talented running back of its own in Mike Gillislee. The senior is averaging nearly six yards a carry early on in the season.

    Ball control and turnovers will be a key in this one.

4. No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Texas

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 6

    This is the first road test for West Virginia in the Big 12, and what a game it is setting up to be.

    These are two of the best offenses in the country so far this season, and everybody is aware of what Geno Smith has been doing the past few weeks.

    Will the Longhorns defense be able to slow down the high-flying attack of the Mountaineers?

    If Texas can hold West Virginia to a few field goals when the Mountaineers get into the red zone instead of just allowing touchdowns, then the Longhorns will have no problem hanging around and coming out with a victory.

    This has all the makings of being one of the best games of the entire season.

3. No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 4 LSU

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 13

    There is nothing better in the college football world than the SEC in October, and this is one of the marquee games of the month. 

    LSU and South Carolina are two of the top six teams in the country, and even though LSU has struggled in recent weeks, the talent on both sides of the ball can not be overlooked. 

    For South Carolina, the health of quarterback Connor Shaw and the progress of Marcus Lattimore will be huge.

    The offensive talent for South Carolina will allow them to hang around, but this is a night game at LSU.

    There are not many places in the country that are tougher to win than Death Valley in the dark.

    If LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger can manage the game, LSU will come out on top in this one.

2. No. 7 Kansas State vs. No. 8 West Virginia

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 20

    While West Virgina is beginning a Big 12 gauntlet, Kansas State is reaching the easy part of its conference schedule.

    The Wildcats take on Kansas and Iowa State the next two weeks heading into the West Virginia game and should be ready to roll.

    West Virginia on the other hand, has Texas and Texas Tech on the road their next two games.

    Good thing for the Mountaineers that Kansas State is making the long trip to Morgantown.

    With two of the best quarterbacks in the country taking center stage, this is going to be one of the best Big 12 games of the entire season and could decide the conference champion when all is said and done.

1. No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 6 South Carolina

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    When: Saturday, Oct. 6

    As far as the SEC East is concerned, these are the top two teams in the division and the game on Saturday will go a long way toward determining who is going to represent the division in the SEC Championship game.

    While Florida is in the mix, these are the two favorites at this point in the season.

    Both teams are undefeated, making this game more of a guarantee than a lot of the other games on the list that are still a few weeks away.

    South Carolina is at home, which might give it a slight edge, but Georgia has one of the best offenses in the country and this one will be as good as it gets this weekend.