October is the heart of the college football season, and there is a slew of big intra-conference games around the country this week. The PAC-12 North race is intriguing. Fans of a lot of schools in major conferences dreaming of playoff berths are hoping for a Notre Dame loss. The Big XII is wide open, courtesy of Texas’s upset of Oklahoma.
1. Alabama – The Crimson Tide pummeled Arkansas to make it 6-0, and now they face their toughest or second toughest test of the season thus far as Missouri heads to Tuscaloosa. It will be interesting to see if the students show up early.
2. Ohio State – The Buckeyes last lost to Indiana back in 1988 when the Hoosiers were led by the outstanding tailback Anthony Thompson.
3. Clemson – The Tigers bounced back from surviving Syracuse to absolutely pummel Wake Forest 63-3. Trevor Lawrence was back starting for Clemson, and the team can heal up now with an open date. Then comes a huge game with North Carolina State in Death Valley.
4. Georgia – The Bulldogs pulled away from Vanderbilt and rolled to a 41-13 victory over the Commodores. Now comes a mega-showdown with LSU in Baton Rouge. This one has major ramifications in the SEC and nationally.
5. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish are 6-0 and dreaming big. As are the executives with the College Football Playoff. Notre Dame has taken off since making the change at quarterback. Pitt comes to South Bend, and the Panthers have had that knack for the upset.
6. West Virginia – The Mountaineers are 5-0 after beating Kansas 38-22. Is this the team to beat in the Big XII? They will certainly get their chances. West Virginia will be on upset alert this week at Iowa State.
7. Central Florida – The Golden Knights, Alabama and Georgia are the only teams thus far this season that have won every game by double digits this season. Next up is one of their toughest challenges of the season at Memphis this weekend.
8. Kentucky – It was a gut-wrenching loss for the Wildcats in College Station, as Kentucky fell 20-14 to Texas A&M in overtime. This is an excellent team with a strong resume. Kentucky is idle this week and then hosts Vanderbilt.
9. Florida – What a job by the Gators since the loss to Kentucky in the second game of the season. Florida picked up its biggest win of the season, downing LSU 27-19 in Baton Rouge. The Gators will have to avoid the letdown this Saturday at Vanderbilt.
10. LSU – It was a heart-breaker for LSU in the swamp, as the Bayou Bengals came up just short 27-19. The Tigers now turn their focus to a big one with Georgia in Baton Rouge. The LSU defense is one of the country’s best.
11. Penn State – The Nittany Lions had this past Saturday off, which certainly made that tough one-point loss to Ohio State linger. Penn State has another tough one Saturday, as Michigan State visits Beaver Stadium.
12. Oregon – The Ducks were off Saturday to get primed for the big showdown with Washington in Eugene Saturday. The decisions that let the Stanford game get away certainly sting. The bounce-back over Cal was big.
13. Michigan – The Wolverines took down Maryland 42-21 to make it 5-1 on the year. Jim Harbaugh has a good defense and Shea Patterson has the offense clicking. It’s a big one with Wisconsin Saturday in the big house. The loser of this one has two losses in mid-October.
14. Texas – What a game, and what a rally for Texas. The Longhorns were up 45-24, and the Sooners came back to tie it. But Texas drove and won on a last-second field goal. The ‘Horns have beaten both USC and Oklahoma. Baylor comes to Austin Saturday.
15. Oklahoma – It was a gut-wrenching loss for the Sooners, who had an incredible comeback to rally from 45-24 down to tie Texas. It will be a long week as the Sooners are idle. They come back and go to TCU.
16. Washington – The Huskies once again didn’t have it all clicking at UCLA last week, but they got the win 27-20. Now comes the huge showdown with Oregon in Eugene. Jake Browning will have to be at his best for Washington to pull it off.
17. N.C. State – This has been the second most consistent team in the ACC. A victory over Boston College pushes the record to 5-0 and the Wolfpack will take this Saturday off before heading to Clemson for a huge showdown.
18. Miami – The Hurricanes got yet another one-point win over Florida State. It is pretty incredible how often that has happened in this rivalry. The trip to Virginia could be very tricky for Miami on Saturday.
19. Wisconsin – The Badgers beat Nebraska and now head to Michigan. That loss to Brigham Young really stung. Wisconsin is unbeaten in Big Ten play, but it all hasn’t clicked. It will have to for Wisconsin to go win in Ann Arbor.
20. Colorado – The Buffaloes are now 5-0 after beating Arizona State 28-21. Next up is a big one in the race for the PAC-12 South with Southern Cal, which is coming off an open date. Mike McIntyre has done an excellent job in Boulder.
21. Washington State – The Cougars offense was on fire in a 56-37 win at Oregon State last weekend. Gardner Minshew threw five touchdowns. Washington State is now 5-1 and idle this weekend. Then comes a big one with Oregon in Pullman.
22. Texas A&M – The Aggies pulled out a 20-14 overtime victory over Kentucky in College Station. Texas A&M is now 4-2 and 2-1 in SEC play. It’s a big one Saturday at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off a big win over Missouri.
23. Utah – The Runnin’ Utes turned it on and got an impressive win over Stanford last weekend to make it 3-2 on the year. The Arizona Wildcats, who beat Cal last week, come to Salt Lake City Friday night.
24. Cincinnati – The Bearcats beat the Green Wave of Tulane to improve to a sneaky 6-0 on the season. This is a program that has had some days in the spotlight. They are off this week and then play Temple in Philly.
25. Mississippi State – The Maroon Bulldogs got a great bounce-back win over Auburn, downing the Tigers 23-9 in Starkville. It was just what MSU needed after the offense sputtered in losses to Kentucky and Florida.