Game of the week
Ohio State at Michigan State
The Buckeyes hadn’t lost a game under Urban Meyer and were headed to the BCS national-title game to meet Florida State — until it ran into Michigan State in last year’s Big Ten title game. It’s been a rough ride since. But Ohio State can seize control of the East Division by upsetting the Spartans. It won’t be easy. Michigan State has one of the nation’s top defenses. But Ohio State has been on the attack all season, averaging 45.6 points per game. The loser all but disappears from the playoff picture.
Upset of the week
Notre Dame over Arizona State
The Irish are a 2 1/2 point underdog and probably fell out of favor after falling behind Navy in the second half last week. This game almost didn’t happen. Notre Dame looked to end the contract early after making its ACC scheduling arrangement (five games per year). But Arizona State insisted on the game, and it works out well for both teams, which are looking to climb in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Irish squeezed out a victory over the Sun Devils last season in Arlington, Texas. Look for a similar outcome here.
Others to watch
Oregon at Utah
Utah is 3-2 in the Pac-12 and those games have been decided by one, two, six, three and three points. The six-pointer was a double-overtime outcome. The Utes could derail the Ducks’ national-title hopes, but they’ll have to find ways to score, which has been challenging. This is Oregon’s final ranked opponent in the regular season. Get through this and the Ducks could be a Pac-12 championship game victory away from a playoff spot.
Alabama at LSU
The Tigers fell 38-17 at Tuscaloosa last year, but no program has played Alabama tougher over the past decade. Les Miles is 5-5 against the Crimson Tide. LSU is 62-8 at home under Miles and in those victories they averaged 210 yards rushing. In the losses they’ve averaged 127 yards.
Kansas State at TCU
Gary Patterson, a former walk-on at K-State under coach Jim Dickey, started his coaching career in Manhattan. Now, he’ll look to spoil the Wildcats’ season in the top Big 12 game of the season. It’s cliché, but the team that makes the fewest mistakes should win. The trouble is neither side makes many mistakes. The Frogs lead the nation in turnover margin, the Wildcats in fewest penalty yards.
On the horizon: Nov. 15 games
Mississippi State at Alabama
Next in series of SEC West showdowns
Auburn at Georgia
Do Bulldogs avenge last year’s heartbreaker?
Nebraska at Wisconsin
Big Ten West should begin to untangle
Saturday’s Top 25 Games
No. 1 Mississippi State vs. Tennessee-Martin, 3 p.m.
No. 2 Florida State vs. Virginia, 5:30 p.m.
No. 3 Auburn vs. Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m.
No. 4 Alabama at No. 14 LSU, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Oregon at No. 20 Utah, 9 p.m.
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 9 Kansas State, 6:30 p.m.
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 13 Ohio State, 7 p.m.
No. 8 Notre Dame at No. 11 Arizona State, 2:30 p.m.
No. 10 Baylor at No. 16 Oklahoma, 11 a.m.
No. 12 Mississippi vs. Presbyterian, 11 a.m.
No. 17 Georgia at Kentucky, 11 a.m.
No. 18 UCLA at Washington, 6 p.m.
No. 21 Arizona vs. Colorado, 7 p.m.
No. 22 Duke at Syracuse, 11:30 a.m.
No. 23 Marshall at Southern Mississippi, 6 p.m.
No. 24 West Virginia at Texas, 2:30 p.m.
No. 25 Wisconsin at Purdue, 11 a.m.