College football's top-ranked clubs will come front and center this weekend to fortify their stance atop the polls.
The portion of the schedule designed for slaughtering helpless prey has concluded, and the nation's premier squads are beginning to collide.
Stanford and Washington gave us the game of the week with their Saturday night clash. Despite obtaining 210 less total yards, the Cardinal fended off the Huskies to remain ranked at No. 5.
What matchup can match that intensity this weekend? The slate offers us a newly-ranked team forced to defend its spot in a conference best, while other prestigious schools look to avenge recent losses against fierce foes.
Here's what lies ahead for college football's top dogs.
|No. 25 Missouri at No. 7 Georgia||12:00 p.m.||ESPN|
|No. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas||12:00 p.m.||ABC|
|Iowa State at No. 20 Texas Tech||12:00 p.m.||FOX Sports 1|
|Pittsburgh at No. 24 Virginia Tech||12:00 p.m.||ESPN U|
|No. 14 South Carolina at Arkansas||12:21 p.m.||ESPN Gameplan|
|Boston College at No. 3 Clemson||3:30 p.m.||ABC/ESPN 2|
|No. 17 Florida at No. 10 LSU||3:30 p.m.||CBS|
|No. 15 Baylor at Kansas State||3:30 p.m.||FOX|
|No. 19 Northwestern at Wisconsin||3:30 p.m.||ABC/ESPN 2|
|No. 2 Oregon at No. 16 Washington||4:00 p.m.||FOX Sports 1|
|No. 18 Michigan at Penn State||5:00 p.m.||ESPN|
|Akron at No. 23 Northern Illinois||5:00 p.m.|
|No. 5 Stanford at Utah||6:00 p.m.||Pac-12 Network|
|No. 1 Alabama at Kentucky||7:00 p.m.||ESPN 2|
|No. 9 Texas A&M at Ole Miss||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|California at No. 11 UCLA||10:30 p.m.||ESPN 2|
No. 25 Missouri at No. 7 Georgia
Missouri is keeping up with a stacked SEC at 5-0, representing the only undefeated squad besides Alabama. The Tigers are now the conference's seventh team bestowed with a Top 25 AP ranking, but they must quickly prove their merit against a gauntlet of juggernauts.
A 51-28 victory over Vanderbilt allowed Missouri to scoop up its fifth win and a fresh-out-of-the-box ranking to close out the Top 25. After winning all five of their bouts by double digits, Missouri faces a cerebral challenge in traveling to Sanford Stadium to beat the Georgia Bulldogs.
Georgia does not bestow the same pearly record, but its only blemish came at the hands of No. 3 Clemson in a 38-35 duel. Missouri should print out the blueprint used by their fellow Tigers (Is every team nicknamed the Tigers? Is it that hard to name a team?) and use it to slay Georgia.
While Aaron Murray leads a potent offense, the other side has relinquished an SEC-high 32.2 points per game. Most of that damage was inflicted by SEC adversaries, but Missouri is no slouch itself: 46.6 points per game led by James Franklin and Russell Hansbrough.
We're likely to have another shootout on our hands here.
No. 17 Florida at No. 10 LSU
Let's stay in the SEC to cover one more matchup between inner-conference rivals.
The Gators have recovered from a tough loss against the Hurricanes to win their last three, even after Jeff Driskel broke his leg. As Florida continues its path to redemption, it will face a steep test in LSU.
Who will win?
Were it not for a heartbreaking 44-41 loss to Georgia, LSU would be gunning for a spot in the title game. That one blemish on its report card will likely keep the squad looking from the outside, but the Tigers (see?) can at least have some fun along the way to another bowl appearance.
LSU clawed Mississippi State in a 59-26 win last weekend to save face, but Florida touts a sturdier defense, which has allowed a frugal 12.2 points per contest. The two squads will come to blows with their starring units squaring off in Death Valley.
Since points won't come as easily as LSU is accustomed to, it must continue to convert in the red zone with sterling efficiency, entering the game with scores on 90 percent of its trips inside the 20.
No. 2 Oregon at No. 16 Washington
Obviously there is no room for error when vying for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. Oregon has looked unstoppable so far, but let's see what happens against its first ranked opponent of the 2013 campaign.
Over/Under: 50 points for Oregon against Washington
The Ducks have decimated any poor squads with the misfortune of scheduling a game against the offensive dynamo.
They have scored at least 55 points in each slate while only allowing 59 total points in five games. Marcus Mariota is only getting stronger as the season progresses, bolstering his Heisman campaign with seven total touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) at Colorado last Saturday.
Washington—who quickly spoiled Boise State's season with a 38-6 pounding during the opening weekend—nearly upset Stanford, besting the Pac-12 in nearly every significant stat except the one that counts. In a losing effort, the Huskies limited Kevin Hogan to 100 passing yards while Keith Price collected 350 of his own.
Can Price possibly keep up with Mariota's menacing attack? Not in the shootout business, Washington must force some turnovers and find a way to control the tempo before facing the daunting task of matching Oregon point for point.