September is always a bit choppy in college football. For every one good game on the schedule, there seems to be seven like LSU-Towson or Florida State-Savannah State. We wait patiently for weeks like this.
There are five games between two ranked teams this week, two SEC games that each feature a pair of top 10 teams, and a bunch of other interesting games including teams outside the top 25.
Basically, if you had any plans for Saturday that don't involve a couch and remote control, cancel them.
The biggest games of the day happen back-to-back in the SEC. At 3:30 p.m. ET, No. 4 LSU kicks off at No. 10 Florida. LSU has been slipping in the polls with some unimpressive wins lately (a 12-10 win at Auburn followed up by allowing 22 points to Towson), but this is a game that will get the Tigers properly interested. If the Tigers don't play well this week, against a Florida team that has proven its chops with back-to-back road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee, then we can sound the alarms in Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, this is the type of game that would validate Florida's return to prominence in the league.
After that, Georgia and South Carolina kick off at 7 p.m. ET. It's a shame the Bulldogs won't come into the game at full strength, with leading receiver Michael Bennett done for the year with a knee injury suffered in practice. Still, Georgia has "Gurshall," its freshman tailback combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and a more than capable quarterback in Aaron Murray. South Carolina has the defense to slow down the Bulldogs, as it ranks 13th in FBS in yards allowed and hasn't allowed more than 17 points in a game. South Carolina also has an offense that has done pretty well when quarterback Connor Shaw has been healthy.
Here's the rest of what to watch in Week 6:
• No. 8 West Virginia and No. 11 Texas is perhaps the most entertaining matchup of the week (7 p.m. ET). Texas allows a dreadful 14.75 yards per completion, a mark that is better than only seven defenses in FBS (West Virginia isn't much better at 14.55 yards allowed per completion). And the Mountaineers have a pretty good quarterback.
The Longhorns average 47.3 points per game, so this might be another track meet involving the Mountaineers. Should be fun. Get ready for the game by watching this awesome video of West Virginia fans singing "Country Roads" after last week's win against Baylor:
• No. 21 Nebraska travels to No. 12 Ohio State for a key game in the Big Ten (8 p.m. ET), and the Buckeyes are looking for some revenge. Ohio State blew a 21-point lead in the second half at Nebraska last year and lost 34-27. The 5-0 Buckeyes are coming off a big win at Michigan State, but they haven't forgotten the Cornhuskers and last year's disappointment.
"It's a looooong flight," safety Bradley Roby said, according to the Associated Press, referring to last year's road game at Nebraska. "I went through it last year. It's not fun at all. So that's what we're trying to send them back with."
(Associated Press)• The last game between two ranked teams this week looks a lot more lopsided than the first four. No. 2 Oregon hosts No. 23 Washington (10:30 p.m. ET) and the game doesn't look that close on paper. Consider the Huskies' 41-3 loss against LSU earlier this season.
But the Huskies are coming off a big win against eighth-ranked Stanford and had a couple extra days of preparation because that game came on a Thursday night. This is a good rivalry game in the Pac-12, and Washington comes in with the confidence it can beat a top 10 team.
• There seems to be skepticism about Northwestern, which is 5-0, with four wins against BCS conference opponents. Despite their record, the Wildcats have climbed up to just No. 24 in the AP poll. If Northwestern is a legitimate contender in the Big Ten it has to win games like Saturday's affair at Penn State (12 p.m. ET). The Nittany Lions are coming off an emotionally charged victory against Illinois. Penn State's biggest challenge is slowing down Northwestern's Kain Colter, who drives opponents nuts because he'll line up at quarterback, running back or receiver from play to play. Colter might be one of the most underrated exciting players in college football.
• Now we'll see if Texas Tech's defense is for real. The Red Raiders are No. 1 in FBS is yards allowed, ahead of Alabama, Florida State and LSU. The problem is Texas Tech has played Iowa State and three other sub-par opponents that give us no sense of how good that defense really is. This week Texas Tech plays Oklahoma (3:30 p.m. ET), although it could be argued that Oklahoma isn't a great measuring stick either. The Sooners are coming off a 24-19 loss at home to Kansas State.
Kentucky QB Maxwell Smith (AP)• Kentucky already had plenty of problems this season, and then starting quarterback Maxwell Smith tore a ligament in his ankle. The Wildcats will have to turn to two true freshman quarterbacks to handle the position with Smith out. CatsIllustrated.com reports Jalen Whitlow will start. Kentucky hosts 4-0 Mississippi State (12:21 p.m. ET), which has to be excited for the chance to get after a quarterback (or two) who was playing in high school a year ago.
• Who would have thought Arkansas and Auburn would be a combined 2-7 at this point in the season? The two teams meet at Auburn (12 p.m. ET), and while the Tigers' struggles aren't quite as egregious as the struggles Arkansas has had, losing to a Razorbacks team that looks like it has completely given up on its coach might make the seat under Auburn coach Gene Chizik a little warmer.
• Clemson comes home to face a beleaguered Georgia Tech team (3:30 p.m. ET). The Yellow Jackets aren't particularly fond of playing defense. They have given up 91 points in their past two games, including 49 at home to Middle Tennessee State last week, putting a harsh spotlight on defensive coordinator Al Groh. Coach Paul Johnson seems at a loss for answers to explain his team's lethargy:
"If I knew," Johnson said. ""It's disappointing and it's unacceptable and I think our guys know it's unacceptable."
The lack of defense will be a problem against the Tigers, who bounced back from a loss at Florida State and scored 45 points in a win at Boston College last week. That came without star receiver Sammy Watkins, who should be back this week.
TCU QB Trevone Boykin (US Presswire)• TCU is 4-0, but there is plenty of reason for pessimism among the Horned Frogs. Quarterback Casey Pachall has been suspended, and now TCU will turn to Trevone Boykin, a little used freshman, according to PurpleMenace.com. Boykin has enough running ability that TCU coach Gary Patterson had planned to use him at tailback, before Pachall's arrest. Boykin was going to be switching positions because of some injuries at tailback, which is another concern for TCU. The offense will change dramatically without Pachall, a good all-around quarterback who ranks fifth in the FBS in passing efficiency.
TCU's problems could open the door for Iowa State (3:30 p.m. ET) which is looking to bounce back after its first loss of the season last week, against Texas Tech.
• Florida State probably has no margin for error if it wants to play for the BCS title, and fortunately for FSU the schedule doesn't have a lot of potential pitfalls. One of the more interesting remaining games for the Seminoles comes this week, when they travel to play N.C. State (8 p.m. ET). N.C. State somehow let a Miami receiver get behind the secondary for a miracle game-winning touchdown last week, and that kind of mental breakdown won't cut it against Florida State this week. The Wolfpack has to play the pass better, considering Miami's Stephen Morris threw for 566 yards last week and Florida State's E.J. Manuel might be capable of doing the same.
• Speaking of Miami (Fla.), the Hurricanes travel to Chicago this weekend for a (ahem) neutral-site game at Soldier Field against Notre Dame. And before we get to the game (7:30 p.m. ET), let's remember that this is the contest the Fighting Irish picked to wear one of the weirder uniforms we're going to see this season. They'll have a half-and-half helmet with a leprechaun on the blue side, and jerseys that look more like they came from the set of "Any Given Sunday" than the Notre Dame locker room. Twitter will have fun with that for a few hours.
As for that game, Notre Dame's biggest question seems to be at quarterback. Coach Brian Kelly keeps insisting struggling Everett Golson is his guy, but that's getting harder to sell as Tommy Rees keeps outplaying him off the bench. Maybe this is the week Golson plays well. Miami's defense offers an opportunity to do so. The Hurricanes deserve a lot of credit for hanging in to get thrilling wins against Georgia Tech and N.C. State, but they'll have a tough time continuing to win with a defense that's ranked 114th in the nation in yards allowed this season.