The excitement of college football season is almost too much to handle. Each year seems to trump the previous one. Memorable upsets like Texas beating Oklahoma and Vanderbilt knocking off Georgia shatter the national landscape.
The rise of a new dark-horse team frenzies a fresh fan base. All the while, peril lurks around the corner for every team as they fight through their every-game-matters-season.
The first BCS rankings of the year came out on Monday, and there are more than a few teams who could be in for trouble on Saturday. Here are four teams to keep an eye on.
No. 4 Ohio State, 7-0 (computer poll point average .855)
The Buckeyes have played a justified schedule and have been tested by Wisconsin at home and Northwestern on the road. Now they get Penn State at the Horseshoe.
According to ESPN's game preview, Ohio State is 15-13 all-time against Penn State.
This game has always been a toss up. Penn State was idle last week but pulled off a 43-40 win against Michigan in four overtimes two weeks ago. The Nittany Lions are fired up, have had a week off to prepare for this game and are capable of pulling the upset.
No. 7 Miami, 6-0 (.720)
Miami looks like a nicely balanced team, ranking 28th nationwide in passing offense and 22nd in rushing offense, per ESPN. "Look" is the keyword there. Take a look at their schedule so far.
Their best win is against Florida, a team that isn't even ranked anymore. They've padded their 6-0 record with cupcake wins against Florida Atlantic and Savannah State.
Last week, the Hurricanes barely escaped 1-5 North Carolina with a late touchdown. Granted, in that game, they lost star running back Duke Johnson to injury, while quarterback Stephen Morris threw four interceptions. Still, beating a 1-5 team shouldn't have been that difficult.
Wake Forest, even at 4-3, might be the second-best team Miami has played all year.
The Hurricanes don't belong in the BCS Top 10, and a loss this week at home to the Demon Deacons would knock them down to where they belong. The Hurricanes will have Johnson back for this week's game, though, as indicated by this tweet from ESPN ACC:
No. 10 Texas Tech, 7-0 (.622)
The Red Raiders are in the same boat as Miami, except they have it a bit tougher. Three of their seven wins are against SMU, Stephen F. Austin and Texas State. Their best win was in Week 3 at home against then 24th-ranked TCU.
They didn't look impressive against either Iowa State or West Virginia, two below-average teams.
Now the Red Raiders will go into Norman to play a Sooner team that is probably still feeling the sting after its loss to the Texas Longhorns two weeks ago.
Texas Tech will score early with its elite passing game, but its average-at-best rushing attack won't give it enough to avoid the upset.
According to Fox Sports Southwests' David Ubben's tweet, the Sooners are seven-point favorites against the Red Raiders:
This is evidence that Texas Tech is overrated. Like Miami, they should not be ranked this high.
No. 14 Virginia Tech, 6-1 (.441)
According to CBSSports.com's Jerry Hinnen's comments on the BCS rankings, the Hokies boast the second-best defense in the FBS. Hinnen says this is why they can put up a 6-1 record with an offense that doesn't even rank in the top 100 in the FBS.
The Duke Blue Devils are the opponent this week, and their offense is actually ranked 32nd in the nation, according to ESPN. With the exception of their win against Western Carolina, the Hokies haven't won a game by more than 10 points.
This is a dangerous game for Virginia Tech, as it really hasn't been tested yet this year.
If you're a Hokies fan, this tweet from ACC Now might make you feel better:
A loss would effectively end each of these teams' national title hopes. Except for Ohio State, each team has marquee games remaining on its schedule that will likely knock it off.
Texas Tech still has to play No. 19 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Baylor. It's likely that the Red Raiders lose at least one of those games.
Miami plays No. 2 Florida State next week, and therefore really can't afford a loss to Wake Forest.
Ohio State plays a favorable schedule until it faces No. 22 Michigan in Ann Arbor in the final week of the season. If the Buckeyes win that game and run the table, they will be in the conversation for the title.
Virginia Tech has to play Miami in Coral Gables and upstart Maryland at home. The Hokies could lose both of those games.
With the exception of Ohio State, a loss by any of these teams means the season is over.