Bowl season is fast approaching, but some of the Top 25 teams in college football will have to keep their guard up in order to avoid getting upset.
This is the point of the season when fans start looking ahead. The biggest rivalry games are approaching, with conference championships and postseason play beyond them.
However, there are some matchups this week that could surprise you if you're not paying attention, knocking teams gunning for a high-profile bowl or even a BCS bid down in the standings and putting a premature damper on their December.
Look out for tough road trips, traps and downright difficult games this week. Otherwise, you'll be dumbfounded when a onetime contender is watching from home in January.
No. 13 Michigan State at Northwestern
They're the runt of the Big Ten, but don't sleep on the Wildcats.
After starting 4-0 and being ranked as high as 16th, Northwestern has yet to win a game in conference play, but this team is better than its 4-6 record.
A 40-30 loss to Ohio State actually represents a valiant effort, and the Wildcats have either lost by three or forced overtime in four of its five other Big Ten bouts.
Meanwhile, the Spartans come to Evanston with a stout defense but an unexciting offense.
Connor Cook is careful under center, with only three interceptions on the year, but with just 14 touchdowns and a 57.9 completion percentage, he can be neutralized, and the passing game can be taken away.
Northwestern will have trouble throwing on Michigan State as well, but if it comes down to the running game, Treyvon Green has a chance to swing the game in the home team's favor.
No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 22 LSU
No matter how good the visitor is, LSU must always be feared in Death Valley, and the Tigers know it.
Unsurprisingly, LSU is undefeated at home this season and is better than its ranking might indicate. Of its three losses, one came at Alabama, which has been known to happen. The other two came at Georgia and at Ole Miss, each of which was decided by three in the final two minutes.
As usual, Les Miles has a balanced offense and a solid defense but not the respect he is used to having even after wins over two ranked foes in TCU and Florida.
The Tigers are good enough to make Johnny Manziel make mistakes in one of college football's most punishing environments. If that happens, Texas A&M doesn't have the defense to stop Zach Mettenberger from turning the game into a shootout.
If LSU tops 40 points in Baton Rouge, you can't bet on A&M to keep up, not with the Tigers D allowing just 200.8 passing yards a game. The Aggies have a potent running game as well, but they're not nearly as threatening if Manziel's arm is diminished.
No. 17 Arizona State at No. 14 UCLA
UCLA has the hype, the home-field advantage and the higher ranking, but Arizona State controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South.
Part of that is luck; the Sun Devils only faced one of the Pac-12 powers this season, Stanford, while UCLA got smacked around by both Oregon and the Cardinal.
Even so, with Taylor Kelly under center and Marion Grice in the backfield, Arizona State sports a veteran offense that can beat you any number of ways.
Maintaining that balance will be necessary for the Sun Devils, who can put up big point totals but aren't as good leaning on Kelly and playing from behind. As long as they can contain UCLA's Brett Hundley even a little, they won't risk falling too far.
With the Bruins playing at USC next week, this game might not seem the more difficult of the UCLA's final games, but that thinking will burn you against the Sun Devils.
No. 8 Missouri at No. 24 Ole Miss
What was once an indefensible loss for LSU doesn't seem quite so bad now that Ole Miss is ranked.
Give credit to Bo Wallace. He can really sling the ball for the Rebels, allowing Ole Miss to compete even against fearsome SEC defenses.
Granted, Alabama shut out the Rebs, but again, that's no shocker. Ole Miss played Auburn to a one-possession game in its second loss and put up 38 on the Aggies in its third before Wallace threw for 346 yards to beat LSU.
Missouri is a legitimate juggernaut, with a high-octane passing and running game, but things could get screwy as quarterback James Franklin returns from a sprained shoulder injury.
Once deemed out for the year, Franklin is the Tigers' top option if healthy. That said, he'll need to prove that in an SEC road game, which is a daunting prospect.
At full strength, Mizzou crushes Ole Miss regardless of venue. But until that's proven to be the case, expect Ole Miss to give the Tigers a true challenge.
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