There are several games this weekend that have serious national title implications. Florida State is looking to stay undefeated and in the top 10, while two undefeated PAC-12 teams in Washington and Stanford look to keep its names in national headlines. Ohio State will get its toughest test (vs. Northwestern) to date and Notre Dame looks to keep its BCS hopes alive against Arizona State.
No. 25 Maryland (4-0, 0-0 ACC) @ No. 8 Florida State (4-0, 2-0), Noon: To be perfectly honest, no one thought this game would be important. It was assumed it would just another “scrimmage” for Florida State. Not so fast. Maryland is 4-0 and out to prove it is for real. Of course the skeptics will tell you that the Terrapins’ wins over Florida International, Old Dominion, UConn and a down West Virginia team are proof that they are nothing but a mirage. To be fair Florida State’s list of opponents haven’t been much to talk about either, although Pittsburgh and Boston College are better than anyone Maryland has faced. Seminoles freshman QB Jameis Winston has lived up to the hype thus far, throwing or 1,048 yards, 12 TDs and two interceptions. He can also run with the ball. Other than a 14-carry, 67-yard performance against Boston College last week, he hasn’t made it a priority. The Seminoles will probably roll in this one.
No. 22 Arizona State (3-1) @ Notre Dame (3-2), 7:30: This is it for Notre Dame, as in the last stand. The Fighting Irish need to win this game to keep alive any hopes of a BCS Bowl berth. A third loss would all but knock them completely out of the BCS Bowl picture. Arizona State, on the other hand, is riding high after knocking off Wisconsin and USC two of the last three weeks. The Sun Devils faithful haven’t been this excited since Jake Plummer was under center. Offensively, it’s been all about Sun Devils QB Taylor Kelly, who’s thrown for 1,370 yards, 11 TDs and 4 interceptions. He torched USC for 351 yards passing, 3 TDs and 79 yards on the ground. Look for the Notre Dame defense to show some pride, especially considering that the game is in South Bend. The Irish were stellar defensively in a 17-13 win against Michigan State and equally excellent in a 31-24 win at Purdue. They’ll need to be on their toes to slow down Kelly, though.
No. 4 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) @ No. 16 Northwestern (4-0, 0-0), 8:00: You count on one hand how many times Northwestern has beaten Ohio State the last 29 times the teams have met: ONCE. That’s it. The Wildcats have lost 28 of the last 29 times they have played the Buckeyes. Can that change this week? It’s going to be a tall order for Northwestern as the Buckeyes have blitzed just about every opponent. Even their 31-24 win over Wisconsin last week was a breeze for the most part. Northwestern will rely on its two-headed QB rotation of Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter. Colter, who has passed for 264 yards and 4 TDs and run for 237 yards and 3 TDs could be the wildcard in this. If he can get loose and force Ohio State’s defense to inch up a little, Northwestern might be able to work in its downfield passing game. For Ohio State, it was the Braxton Miller show against Wisconsin last week. The junior signal-caller completed 17 of 25 passes for 198 yards, 4 TDs and ran for 83 yards. Northwestern’s defense was a bit leaky at the start of the season. In wins over Cal (44-30) and Syracuse (48-27) the Wildcats gave up a combined 894 yards. They were better against Western Michigan (38-17) and Maine (35-21), but the competition was markedly inferior. The Wildcats must contain Miller or they’ll fall to Ohio State for the 29th time in 30 games.
No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0 PAC-12) @ No. 5 Stanford (4-0, 2-0), 10:30: It’s been a while since the Washington Huskies were a true factor nationally. You have to go back 13 years to the Rick Neuheisel era when the Huskies went 11-1 and won the Rose Bowl. Can they equal that feat? Possibly. For those who don’t remember, the Huskies actually beat Stanford 17-13 last season. They’ll need to do it again if they are to stay in the national title hunt. A win on the Cardinal home field would likely put them in the top 10 of both the AP and Coaches polls. Stanford is counting on the legs and arms of QB Kevin Hogan to lead the way. Through four games Hogan has thrown for 832 yards, 10 touchdowns and 3 TDs. He’ll need to be a little more explosive to upend the Huskies defense. The Huskies are fourth nationally in scoring defense (10.8) and that’s including a 38-6 drubbing of Boise State, a 56-0 win over Idaho State and a 31-13 thrashing of Arizona. Saturday is the beginning of a rough three-game stretch for the Huskies, who host Oregon and play at Arizona State after the tilt vs. Stanford.
Texas @ Iowa State: Mack Brown might need to win this or else…Illinois @ Nebraska: Bo Pelini needs to win this one or else…Michigan State @ Iowa: We’ll find out this week if Iowa is for real…Missouri @ Vanderbilt: Missouri is 4-0, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note. A win here would have the Tigers 5-0 heading into a battle with Georgia on Oct. 12...Minnesota @ Michigan: Don't look now, but the Wolverines will be 5-0 if they can hold off the Golden Gophers.