College football has arrived.
Well, the collegiate game has been here for five weeks now, but outside of the occasional must-see tilt such as Alabama versus Texas A&M, it's been a pretty uneventful season as the best teams have beat up on little schools in preparation for this very moment.
No more tune-up games where a small school is paid to take a beating. Now it's the big boys going at it each week in conference play and other heavy matchups as teams jockey for bowl position.
Here are three of the more intriguing matchups to watch this week as the serious weeks get under way.
TCU vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
No. 11 Oklahoma needs to prove it belongs in the realm of the top-ranked teams, and it is in the middle of a brutal stretch.
The Sooners dispatched Notre Dame last week 35-21 and now must not overlook the Horned Frogs before a showdown with rival Texas.
Meanwhile, TCU has been a disappointment while plummeting from the ranks after many thought the team would be a conference contender. TCU played SEC powerhouse LSU tough in Week 1 before losing by 10 and has struggled to find consistency since.
TCU is no slouch and almost ruined Oklahoma's plans last year when quarterback Trevone Boykin passed for 231 yards and scored twice as the Sooners barely escaped with a 24-17 victory.
This year Boykin is on a tear and backed by a defense that forced five turnovers against SMU last week. While this contest has all the makings of a trap game, Oklahoma showed against the Fighting Irish it can jump out to a lead and hold on for a win. Expect that here.
Prediction: Sooners 34, Horned Frogs 24
No. 4 Ohio State and No. 16 Northwestern
Is there a quarterback controversy in Columbus?
Perhaps. Kenny Guiton took over with starter Braxton Miller out and breezed his way through the opportunity, but that may speak more to the overall talent of the roster Urban Meyer has crafted rather than Guiton's skills.
Miller returned and tossed four touchdowns last week in a big win over Wisconsin and now sees a slight dip in competition against a Northwestern squad that has yet to face a team with a winning record, unless we count Maine of the CAA.
Ohio State is just entering a long stretch of Big Ten showdowns and could potentially overlook the Wildcats. Northwestern will still need a near-perfect performance against one of the nation's top 10 offenses.
Prediction: Buckeyes 42, Wildcats 24
No. 25 Maryland vs. No. 8 Florida State
Jameis Winston fever is sweeping the nation after 14 total touchdowns in four starts while completing almost 74 percent of his passes.
One problem—Winston and Co. have yet to meet any real competition. Big victories over Pittsburgh, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman and Boston College are great, but they're all fluff when compared to the defense Maryland fields.
Maryland ranks as a top-three defense with just over 10 points per game allowed. Quarterback C.J. Brown has been impressive in his own right with over 1,000 yards passing and seven touchdowns to just one interception.
When the two sides meet Saturday, expect the fireworks to come to an end as Florida State has only allowed 15 points per game. Winston and Co. will pull the victory out at home, but don't expect it to be anything but a defensive battle.
Prediction: Florida State 23, Maryland 20
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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