With the release of the AP poll, three ranked matchups headline the college football slate in Week 6—all of which are showdowns between conference rivals.
In the Big 10, the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, seeking to go 18-0 under head coach Urban Meyer, will travel to Ryan Field to take on No. 17 Northwestern on Saturday evening in prime time.
Another headlining late game features the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal playing host to 15th-ranked Washington, who are coming off a dominant 31-13 Pac-12 win over the Arizona Wildcats.
Earlier on, though, one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the country in Florida State's Jameis Winston will take on a stout Maryland Terrapins defense at Doak Campbell Stadium.
After an overview of the AP Top 25 for Week 6, we will take a closer look at the schedule's most significant games, with predictions for all three included.
|Ranking||Team (First Place Votes)||Record||Points||Previous Ranking||B/R Ranking|
Source: Associated Press
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 16 Northwestern Wildcats
Which team is likeliest to be upset?
The Buckeyes were boosted by Braxton Miller's return in a huge 31-24 victory at home over Wisconsin, but that monumental win has to be pushed aside in a swift manner ahead of Saturday's difficult road trip.
Compounding problems for Ohio State is that the Wildcats are coming off of a bye, so Pat Fitzgerald's bunch has had an extra week to prepare for their Big Ten opener in Evanston.
Northwestern presents an interesting matchup in that it deploys two quarterbacks, a superior passer in Trevor Sieman and dynamic dual-threat senior Kain Colter, who's run for 237 yards and three touchdowns.
Colter certainly isn't afraid of Ohio State, and the return of RB Venric Mark—who ran for over 1300 yards and 12 TDs last season—will help the cause:
“I was rooting for Ohio State so we could get GameDay.” - #Northwestern's Kain Colter— Aric DiLalla (@DiLallaRivals) September 30, 2013
Tony Jones on the return of Venric Mark: "We’ve just got another weapon on our offense now." #Northwestern— Aric DiLalla (@DiLallaRivals) September 30, 2013
5'10", 215-pound running back Treyvon Green leads the Wildcats' 18th-ranked rushing attack with seven yards per carry, 404 yards and five TDs, so the Buckeyes' front seven will have their hands full.
However tough this game may be for the visitors, look for Ohio State to step up and thwart the Wildcats on the ground as they did against the Badgers. Miller will capitalize facing an easier defense than the one he threw four touchdowns against in Week 5 and drive a key Buckeyes win.
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Northwestern 31
No. 15 Washington Huskies vs. No. 5 Stanford Cardinal
Running back Bishop Sankey is the foundation around which the Huskies are built on offense, as he's scampered for 607 yards and five scores.
Balance is provided by Kevin Price, who's averaging 9.32 yards per attempt and has thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions.
History is not on the Huskies' side, either, per the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner:
Stanford-Washington: In this situation (road game vs ranked team): Huskies have lost 7 in a row, all blowouts— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) September 30, 2013
As impressive as Stanford tight ends have been in recent years, producing NFL products such as Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz, Washington's own Austin Seferian-Jenkins should give the Cardinal problems with his dynamic athleticism.
There is all kinds of upset potential here, but Kevin Hogan should be able to quarterback the Cardinal's similar complementary offense well enough to pull out the victory.
Hogan's run-pass skills & a great #Stanford O-line makes for a potent combo.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) September 29, 2013
The Pac-12 is stronger this year than in any in recent memory, but Stanford will remain the class of the conference (along with Oregon) in a nail-biter.
Prediction: Stanford 27, Washington 21
No. 25 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 8 Florida State Seminoles
This looks to be the toughest test to date for sensational Florida State signal-caller Jameis Winston.
The super sophomore has looked unstoppable in his first four career starts, but the Terrapins sport the nation's third-ranked scoring defense, yielding just 10.3 points per game.
Maryland will have to overcome a discouraging trend that has seen the program lose all 11 of its previous trips to Tallahassee, though:
Maryland is 0-11 all time in Tallahassee and 2-21 against Florida State regardless of site. (via @ESPNStatsInfo)— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 30, 2013
Winston has averaged 11.52 yards per attempt, completed 73.6 percent of his passes and thrown 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
The Seminoles defense did struggle in a 48-34 win at Boston College without standout safety Tyler Hunter in the secondary, but the Terrapins' light schedule featuring two FCS opponents in four games will not prepare them well enough for this one.
Look for another big outing from Winston and for Maryland to remain winless on the road against Florida State.
Prediction: Florida State 41, Maryland 27