Every game is critical for top-ranked teams like Alabama, Oregon, Clemson and others. But in Week 6, a handful of teams outside of the top 10 will be playing with everything to gain.
Whether there's a resume-boosting win on the line or an uplifting upset to be had, these teams are staring down golden opportunities in Week 6.
Below, I'll highlight three ranked teams with the most to gain on Saturday.
2013 College Football Rankings Week 6 - AP Poll
*Poll courtesy of The Associated Press.
No. 16 Northwestern Wildcats
A loss to No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday night won't derail Northwestern's chances of reaching the Big Ten Championship Game at season's end, but a win would have the Wildcats rising fast in the rankings and in position to run the table in 2013.
After Ohio State, the only ranked opponent on Northwestern's schedule is No. 19 Michigan, and that's a home game in mid-November.
No, road games at Wisconsin and Nebraska aren't easy, but Urban Meyer's undefeated Buckeyes are by far the Wildcats' biggest obstacle in 2013. A sixth consecutive home win on Saturday would make Northwestern the cream of the crop in the Big Ten. Well, at least for a week.
No. 17 Baylor Bears
The undefeated Baylor Bears will play host to West Virginia in Week 6, and though the Mountaineers are just 3-2 through September, they're coming off a win over Oklahoma State, which was ranked No. 11 coming into last weekend.
In addition to boosting West Virginia's resume, that win helps any team that beats them.
And seeing as the Mountaineers are 0-2 away from Morgantown in 2013 and 28.5-point underdogs at Baylor in Week 6, according to Covers.com, it's difficult to imagine the Bears not being able to beat them on Saturday night.
Although Baylor has faced underwhelming competition to start the year, the Bears have been awfully impressive, ranking tops in the nation in passing yards and scoring offense through five weeks. A win over West Virginia would have the electric Baylor offense 4-0 and ultra confident heading into the teeth of its schedule.
No. 25 Maryland Terrapins
Thanks to some improved health at quarterback, Maryland is just two wins away from becoming bowl eligible and one away from surpassing last season's win total.
But Terps fans have much higher hopes in 2013, and for good reason. Maryland's defense has been flat-out dominant to start the year—ranking sixth-best in America—and the offense has consisted of a balanced attack.
On Saturday, Maryland will be in Tallahassee to take on No. 8 Florida State. And while most expect the Seminoles to cruise to victory at home—Florida State is a 17-point favorite, according to Covers.com and has owned Maryland in the past, per ESPN Stats & Info—an upset win for the Terps would have them in position to challenge for the ACC this fall.
Maryland ranked in AP Poll (#25) for 1st time in post-Ralph Friedgen era. Play at #8 FSU Sat. Terps 0-11 all-time at FSU, 2-21 overall— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 2, 2013
It sounds crazy until you look at the schedule. Four of Maryland's last seven games are at home and only one is against a ranked opponent (No. 3 Clemson).
Therefore, Randy Edsall's underrated squad has nothing to lose but everything to gain this weekend.
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