On Thursday, college football fans get to witness, over the span of about six hours, two games between BCS Top 10 teams.
The No. 6 Baylor Bears play host to their first ranked opponent of the season as No. 10 Oklahoma comes to town, while No. 3 Oregon faces its toughest test of the season in the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal.
The Baylor-Oklahoma game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, followed by the Oregon-Stanford game at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
With 40 percent of the nation's Top 10 squaring off in one night, you have to figure that Thursday is the best day of college football this season.
In 2013, there have been five games between Top 10 teams (AP poll used before BCS standings were available). Those games involved a total of seven teams. Of those seven teams, four are not ranked in the Top 10 anymore, three have two or more losses, and Georgia has fallen off the map completely.
|Top 10 Showdowns in 2013|
|Week 1||No. 8 Clemson vs. No. 5 Georgia||Clemson over Georgia, 38-35|
|Week 3||No. 6 Texas A&M vs. No. 1 Alabama||Alabama over Texas A&M, 49-42|
|Week 5||No. 9 Georgia vs. No. 6 LSU||Georgia over LSU, 44-41|
|Week 8||No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 5 Florida State||Florida State over Clemson, 51-14|
|Week 10||No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 7 Miami||Florida State over Miami, 41-14|
|Week 11||No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 10 Oklahoma||TBD|
|Week 11||No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 3 Oregon||TBD|
With the sixth and seventh Top 10 matchups occurring on Thursday, 28.6 percent of the Top 10 showdowns to date are happening in one night.
What makes this Thursday night so intriguing is just how much is riding on both games.
Baylor, despite being ranked fifth in the Big 12 preseason poll, is looking to prove itself as a legitimate national title contender. The Bears are first in the country in scoring offense and total offense, but many will point to their weak schedule as the main reason for their inflated stats.
The Sooners spoiled Texas Tech's perfect start earlier this season, so they know what it takes to stop a highly touted spread offense.
If Baylor beats Bob Stoops and the Sooners on Thursday, it could vault the Bears up the BCS standings and will provide some much-needed legitimacy to their national title hopes. However, a loss would not only derail the Bears from their dream of going to Pasadena, but it would open a can of worms in the Big 12 title race.
As for Oregon, many see the game against Stanford as its last hurdle in the regular season.
Just one year ago, the Ducks were sitting pretty at No. 2 in the BCS standings and all but controlled their destiny to the national championship. But a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford in their penultimate game of the regular season forced the Ducks to settle for an at-large berth in the Fiesta Bowl, where they smashed Kansas State 35-17.
Like Baylor, Oregon possesses one of the nation's prolific offenses. But unlike the Bears, the Ducks have already proven themselves to be a legitimate title contender with two wins over ranked opponents in their last three games.
A win for Oregon would part the Red Sea, as the Ducks don't face another ranked opponent until possibly the Pac-12 title game. It's hard to imagine them getting upset down the stretch given how dominant they've been. It seems like a win over Stanford is all that stands in the way at this point.
The Heisman Trophy race will also be heavily affected by Thursday night's games. Both Marcus Mariota and Bryce Petty are among the top contenders for the nation's most coveted individual honor. Should either of them shine, he should stand out from the pack and become one of just a few remaining legitimate candidates.
But if one of them struggles, he could be knocked out of the race all together.
Overall, Thursday night is sure to be one of the most entertaining and thrilling nights of the college football season. So much is on the line across the country in both games, so expect everything to be left on the field.
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