Conference play is in full swing, and there are pivotal matchups across college football this Saturday. The SEC is still wide open while the other BCS conferences are battling for position as the season hits the home stretch. Here are the top-ranked teams that face the toughest tests this week.
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 South Carolina
The next two weekends will likely decide the winner of the SEC East and the outcome of the Florida Gators' season. The Gators come into this game at 6-0 (5-0 SEC) and will take on South Carolina this week before playing Georgia next Saturday. All three teams still have a shot at the East title and have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
Florida is two weeks removed from its win over LSU and has shown that it is one of the best teams in the country. The matchup to watch this week is how well Florida's vaunted defense can contain Connor Shaw and the rest of South Carolina's offense.
The key to the game is the health of Marcus Lattimore, who missed practice on Wednesday and is uncertain for Saturday's game with a bruised hip. Lattimore is one of the best backs in the country, but he ran for only 35 yards on 13 carries in last week's loss to LSU. A healthy and effective Lattimore could mean trouble for the unbeaten Gators.
Prediction: Florida 23, South Carolina 20
No. 6 LSU at No. 18 Texas A&M
LSU has been one of the most dominant teams at home over the last few years, extending their win streak to 22 games at Tiger Stadium. Road games have not been as kind to the Tigers, especially in 2012. They beat an awful Auburn team by just two points in late September before losing to Florida two weeks ago in their only away games thus far.
Texas A&M will provide a major test for LSU's defense. The Aggies are fifth in the nation in points, scoring 47 per game. Their only loss this year was at the hands of Florida, who came back from a 17-7 deficit to win 20-17. Johnny Manziel's play will be the difference in the game as he leads the Aggies offense with 24 total touchdowns against just three interceptions.
Prediction: Texas A&M 27, LSU 20
No. 15 Rutgers at Temple
In a pivotal Big East matchup on Saturday, the undefeated Scarlet Knights will take on Temple at Lincoln Financial Field. At 6-0 (3-0 Big East), Rutgers can pull away from the pack with a victory, but Temple (3-2, 2-0) can make it a race with an upset win.
The story of the game will be the Rutgers defense, which has allowed just 11.5 points per game this year. If it can stop Temple's Chris Coyer, it will be a long day for the Owls' offense, and Rutgers can take a commanding lead in the Big East standings.
Prediction: Rutgers 24, Temple 14