A pair of ranked SEC clashes headline the Week 10 college football slate, and with so many postseason implications at stake, the contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.
In that vein, there will be teams whose fates will be sealed on Saturday, as they are destined to fall in the rankings—some further than others, and some completely out of the polls.
Check out the trio of marquee matchups between teams ranked in the most recent AP poll that feature star-crossed squads sure to drop.
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 1 Alabama
The home Baton Rouge crowd won't be able to prevent the Tide from rolling on Saturday night.
This national-championship rematch from a season ago is sure to have the Tigers gunning for sweet revenge, but they still haven't found a quarterback good enough to come out on top.
These teams have deep backfields and two of the best rushing attacks in the nation, but Alabama signal-caller A.J. McCarron gives the Tide their biggest matchup advantage. He has thrown 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 2012 and is far superior to his LSU counterpart, Zach Mettenberger.
Last week, McCarron put up big numbers against a difficult opponent, the very opportunistic Mississippi Bulldogs defense. Meanwhile, Mettenberger was miserable at Texas A&M, completing just 11-of-29 passes for 97 yards.
This is sure to be a hotly contested SEC battle. When the game is on the line, it's overwhelmingly obvious which quarterback is the one to trust.
Final Score: Alabama 20, LSU 13
No. 15 Mississippi State vs. No. 16 Texas A&M
The blowout loss to 'Bama has the Bulldogs reeling in their return to Davis Wade Stadium. Unfortunately, the Aggies don't make life any easier for Dan Mullen's bunch.
What's hard to comprehend is why the Aggies are slotted so far down in the rankings. The team's only two losses came at the hands of Florida and LSU by three and five points, respectively.
Mississippi State, on the other hand, had played a relatively weak schedule until it got to Tuscaloosa this past Saturday night. Then the Bulldogs got manhandled and now face another stiff test at home.
It will be intriguing to see how Bulldogs QB Tyler Russell bounces back from last week's nightmare. The same goes for Johnny Manziel, who threw three costly interceptions against LSU that essentially cost the Aggies a shot at the upset.
This game looms large in the SEC West, especially with Alabama and LSU squaring off. But it will take a miracle from the Crimson Tide for either of these teams to luck into the conference championship game.
Regardless, the bowl-game implications are still huge. Based on the superior competition A&M has faced in 2012, Manziel and company will be able to gut out a win on the road against the devastated Bulldogs.
Final Score: Texas A&M 34, Mississippi State 21
No. 23 Texas Longhorns at No. 18 Texas Tech
Mack Brown was lucky that Case McCoy came in to relieve David Ash at quarterback and orchestrate a game-winning drive on the road against the lowly 1-7 Kansas Jayhawks. Otherwise, the longtime Texas coach may have been looking for other work this week.
Mike Finger of the Houston Chronicle reports that Ash will remain the starter, despite his ineffectiveness facing such a putrid team.
That should scare Longhorn fans.
The Red Raiders were shellacked by No. 2 ranked Kansas State this past week and return to Lubbock eager to bounce back. QB Seth Doege played admirably to keep his slim Heisman hopes alive for Texas Tech but simply got zero help from his defense.
Unless the Longhorns have some stunning improvement on defense, Doege should throw for somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 yards. Meanwhile, Ash looks like a shell of himself since starting out his sophomore campaign so well.
Texas will fall out of the polls after this road trip, but it should have happened a week ago.
Final Score: Texas Tech 49, Texas 27
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