Reporting Matt Ryan
It will be another anticipated Saturday in the SEC after another historic achievement this week. The Southeastern Conference has a record eight teams in the latest polls and should dominate the headlines again with two matchups between top 25 teams. That number likely would have reached nine ranked teams and three top 25 matchups, if Ole Miss had been able to pull off the upset against Johnny Manziel and the Aggies. Although the nation’s top conference will be the site of several key matchups, no game this weekend on the pro or college gridiron, will be bigger than the showdown between third-ranked Clemson and number-five Florida State. Its the first matchup between top-five ACC teams in nine years and some are even hyping it as the biggest football game in the conference’s history. The winner will rise to first place in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, boasting a signature win for their national title and BCS hopes. Those stakes alone make it one of the biggest games of the entire college football season.
10. TCU at #21 Oklahoma State (-8) (12pm, Fox): Its been a disappointing 2013 for the Horned Frogs who have already lost three games to ranked opponents. An upset win over the 21st-ranked Cowboys would be a good start to turn around a sub-par season. Oklahoma State has already fallen victim to the upset bug this season falling 30-21 to West Virginia.
9. USC at Notre Dame (-3) (7:30pm, NBC): It has been far from a memorable season for two of college football’s most successful programs, but it’s always a headline when the Men of Troy face the Golden Domers. Notre Dame is looking to beat USC for the third time this decade.
8. #20 Washington at Arizona State (-3.5) (6pm, Pac-12 Network): Consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon will keep the Huskies out of the BCS picture, but Washington could still end up with double digit wins with a favorable schedule down the stretch. A Saturday afternoon trip to Phoenix will be their toughest task until they go on the road against Brett Hundley and UCLA next month.
7. #15 Georgia (-7) at Vanderbilt (12pm, CBS): The Aaron Murray era in Athens wont conclude with a national title celebration, but the Dawgs still have a chance to make it three straight years in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia’s offense has been productive this season, even with numerous injuries that sidelined some of their key offensive players, but the young defense is still a work in progress and has surrendered 30+ points in five of their first six games. While the Commodores have yet to win an SEC game this year, they have enough skilled offensive players that could cause even more trouble for Todd Grantham’s unit.
6. UCF at #8 Louisville (-13) (8pm, Friday, ESPN): Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals have gotten to the halfway mark of a perfect regular season with little trouble. Central Florida is the biggest hurdle on their schedule and could be the toughest challenge Charlie Strong’s team faces all year. The Knights have already upset Penn State this year and only lost by three points to South Carolina last month. A loss for the Cardinals would more than likely keep them out of the national title discussion.
5. #6 LSU (-10) at Ole Miss (7pm, ESPN2): Three straight losses for the Rebels have pushed them the middle of the pack in the SEC West, but this young squad is still capable of pulling off an upset this year. This could be a trap game again for the Bayou Bengals who were almost upset by Ole Miss last year in Baton Rouge.
4. #24 Auburn at #7 Texas A&M (-14) (3:30pm, CBS): The Aggies bid for an SEC Championship is still alive after a comeback road win over Ole Miss a week ago. The Aggies scored the final 10 points of the game, trailing by a touchdown with about six minutes left in regulation. They will play host to a newly ranked Auburn squad that is looking to pull off an upset and signature win this season.
3. #22 Florida (-3) at #14 Missouri (12:21pm, Peachtree TV): The road in the SEC East now runs through Columbia, Missouri and the 14th ranked Tigers. Gary Pinkel’s squad is the only unbeaten team in the SEC East and could solidify their status as national contenders, with wins over Florida and South Carolina the next two weekends. The Gators have the fourth best scoring defense in the nation, but will need a more productive offense to keep their hopes alive in the SEC East. Florida was limited to 240 yards in their loss against LSU.
2. #9 UCLA at #13 Stanford (-6) (3:30pm, ABC): Utah pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the season so far by knocking off Stanford at home. That loss dropped the Cardinals to 13th in the polls, but their Rose Bowl hopes are still against the much-improved Bruins. Stanford beat UCLA twice last season in the span of six days in their regular season finale and in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Like the Washington Huskies the last two Saturdays, UCLA will get a chance to show just how far they’ve come with consecutive games against Stanford and Oregon. A split in those big matchups could be enough to get them in to a BCS bowl.
1. #5 Florida State (-3) at #3 Clemson (8pm, ABC): It may not go down as the biggest game in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but this showdown has everything expected in a top-five October matchup. Both squads are led by Heisman candidates at quarterback, its without a doubt the top game in the nation this weekend, and national title hopes are on the line. The Seminoles have had an extra week to prepare for their trip to the Palmetto State and the easier path to this matchup. Tajh Boyd and the Tigers began the year with a three point win over Georgia and are coming off a nail-biting win over Boston College (who also challenged Florida State last month). The winner of this game could rise to second place in the polls next week with a convincing win over their division rival. Clemson and Florida State have exchanged wins the last six years, with the home team winning each time.