Game of the week
Mississippi State at Alabama
The Bulldogs were more impressive becoming the top-ranked team than being the No. 1 target. They climbed to the top after knocking off LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn, all ranked in the top ten at the time. Since then, Mississippi State struggled to put away Kentucky and Arkansas before breezing past Tennessee-Martin. Look for the Crimson Tide to attack in the passing game. They have college football’s premier wide receiver in Amari Cooper, and the Bulldogs rank No. 120 in passing yards allowed (300.6) this season.
Upset of the week
Washington over Arizona
The Wildcats played themselves out of national title talk with two losses in the past four weeks, but the team that won at Oregon still has a shot at the Pac-12 title. Plus Arizona finishes the year against two ranked teams that could boost its status. Washington isn’t one, but the Huskies are a dangerous foe because of their ability to run and stop the run. Washington should be able to stay with the high-scoring Wildcats and give themselves a shot to win in the end.
Others to watch
Nebraska at Wisconsin
Quite a blow for the Cornhuskers, who fell three spots to No. 16 in the College Football Playoff ranking. But they can make a big jump with a victory in Madison. The league’s top two running backs — Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah — face off, but Abdullah may not be 100 percent.
Florida State at Miami, Fla.
The Seminoles seem to rise to the occasion, and perhaps the national buzz this week about the plunging point spread, from three points to 1 1/2 in some joints, will get their attention. Maybe it’s the inconsistency. Florida State has had to come from behind to beat Clemson, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Louisville this season. But are the unranked Hurricanes good enough to get it done? They’ve won three straight but haven’t played a team ranked in the top 10 this season.
Rice at Marshall
The 9-0 Thundering Herd is the nation’s third undefeated team, and it’s getting some love in the wire service polls. Quarterback Rakeem Cato is having a terrific season, with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. But Rice is coming on strong with three straight victories. If the Owls spring the upset, the teams could meet for a second time in the Conference USA title game.
On the horizon: Next week’s big games
Kansas State at West Virginia (Thursday)
Wildcats try to stay in Big 12 race
Southern California at UCLA (Nov. 22)
Big rivalry meaningful in division race
Minnesota at Nebraska (Nov. 22)
Cornhuskers looking for some payback
Saturday’s Top 25 Games
No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 4 Alabama, 2:30 p.m.
No. 2 Florida State at Miami, Fla., 7 p.m.
No. 5 TCU at Kansas, 2 p.m.
No. 7 Arizona State at Oregon State, 9:45 p.m.
No. 8 Ohio State at Minnesota, 11 a.m.
No. 9 Auburn at No. 16 Georgia, 6:15 p.m.
No. 11 Nebraska at No. 22 Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m.
No. 12 Michigan State at Maryland, 7 p.m.
No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Northwestern, 2:30 p.m.
No. 17 Arizona vs. Washington, 2:30 p.m.
No. 18 Clemson at No. 24 Georgia Tech, 11 a.m.
No. 19 Duke vs. Virginia Tech, 11 a.m.
No. 20 LSU at Arkansas, 7 p.m.
No. 21 Marshall vs. Rice, 1:30 p.m.
No. 25 Utah at Stanford, 5 p.m.