South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore will try and knock off Georgia for the third consecutive season in a battle for the driver's seat in the SEC East.
The first weekend in October brings college football fans the first Saturday filled with match ups that will have lasting implications on the BCS picture.
Showdowns pitting ranked teams against one another in the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 as well as an old-school rivalry renewed between two of the sport’s most storied powers highlight the weekend’s marquee battles.
Which schools will emerge victorious from Saturday's most intriguing contests?
Find out inside as I breakdown and predict the weekend’s top match ups.
Driskel will face his toughest test against a stout LSU defense.
LSU limps into the Swamp after lackluster performances in the last two weeks to face the hungry and resurgent Gators.
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel looks light years ahead of the overwhelmed true freshman he was a year ago, but this will be his first true test of just how far he has progressed.
The Tigers offense may be struggling, but the defense is still ferocious—as evidenced by ranking fourth in the country in total defense.
After tumbling in the rankings in consecutive weeks, LSU should find more than enough motivation to come out and deliver a strong performance and earn a hard-fought road victory.
Prediction: LSU 24 Florida 16
Georgia's dynamic running back duo will try to outlast Bulldog-killer Marcus Lattimore.
The second SEC showdown will have major ramifications for the Eastern Division, with the winner gaining a leg up on a trip to the SEC title game while the loser essentially falls into a two-game hole.
The Gamecocks have taken the last two meetings thanks to monster efforts out of star running back Marcus Lattimore, who has torched the Bulldogs by accounting for a combined 382 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in those two victories.
Georgia will counter with the SEC’s top offense led by quarterback Aaron Murray and the two-headed monster at tailback featuring true freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall (h/t, cfbstats.com).
With all of that offensive firepower on the field, the best players in this game could be a pair of defenders with freakish ability in Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
The Gamecocks get the slight nod considering their defense is playing at a higher level and the fact that they are at home.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Georgia 28
Smith will try to keep up his blistering start against a talented Texas defense.
This game features two teams that have scored more than 100 points combined in its last two games, which means the scoreboard operator could have a long night in Austin.
One week after a historic performance that was so good that it may have already locked up the Heisman Trophy, Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith will face his stiffest challenge this season against the Longhorns.
While Manny Diaz’s troops will have its hands full with Smith and the dynamic receiving tandem of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, the defensive end duo of Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat could be the key to slowing down West Virginia’s aerial assault.
Similar to last week’s win over Oklahoma State, Texas’ ability to run the football and play keep away from Smith and company should be the difference in another shootout.
Prediction: Texas 45 West Virginia 35
Led by LB Manti Te'o, the Irish defense will try to slow down Miami's dynamic offense.
Two decades after these programs were arguably the center of the college football universe, the Hurricanes and the Fighting Irish will collide at Soldier Field in Chicago in what could be defined as the most important game for both schools in recent memory.
This game features a classic matchup pitting a high-flying offense (Miami) against a gritty and hard-nosed defense (Notre Dame).
Miami’s wealth of playmakers at running back and wide receiver will be the best collection of skill players that the Irish has seen thus far.
The best remedy for the Irish’s erratic offense could be facing a Hurricanes defense that is giving up an average of nearly 500 yards of total offense and ranks 116th nationally in total defense.
As long as the Irish continue to protect the football, their defense should make enough stops to keep their BCS dreams alive by improving to 5-0.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34 Miami 23
Miller has been the difference-maker for the Buckeyes offense this season.
Both teams showed a tremendous amount of grit in narrow conference wins last weekend, and in turn, helped setup a much-needed showcase game for the Big Ten.
The battle between dual-threat quarterbacks Taylor Martinez and Braxton Miller should provide plenty of fireworks for both offenses.
However, the deciding factor will likely hinge on which defense has more success in limiting the opposing quarterback from doing damage both through the air and on the ground.
With the Buckeyes strength being on the defensive line and having the advantage of playing at home, that should prove to be the difference in helping Urban Meyer’s club improve to 6-0.
Prediction: Ohio State 31 Nebraska 21
Kenjon Barner and the Ducks offense will face a Huskies defense that shut down Stanford's vaunted ground attack.
One week after upsetting a Top 10 Pac-12 North heavyweight, Washington will try to repeat that feat by knocking of the reigning conference champion Oregon Ducks in Autzen Stadium.
The Huskies have lost the last eight meetings in the series, including the last two in Eugene by at least 34 points.
If Washington has any shot to pull off another stunner, the defense will have to stop the run like they did in last week’s win over Stanford—limiting the bruising Cardinal ground game to just 70 yards on 28 carries.
However, the Ducks fast-paced attack—led by running back Kenjon Barner and multi-purpose threat De’Anthony Thomas—is a different beast altogether.
Considering that Keith Price and the Huskies offense has struggled to put up points, that spells doom for Steve Sarkisian’s club and their hopes to gain an elusive victory over the Ducks.
Prediction: Oregon 45 Washington 13