#2 Florida vs. #10 Georgia
Formerly known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” this matchup of SEC powers in Jacksonville, Florida, will effectively decide the SEC East. Florida can clinch the division with a win, but Georgia will hope to keep its own title hopes alive by recording back-to-back wins over the Gators for the first time since 1989. Last week the Bulldogs barely squeezed by the lowly Kentucky Wildcats, while Florida made a statement with a dominating win over then 7th ranked South Carolina.
Georgia is ranked in the top ten in the BCS standings for the first time since 2008, but they won’t stay long enough to get comfortable. The ‘Dawgs can’t hope to contend with the Gators’ dynamic rushing attack, and Florida’s defense will be all over Aaron Murray from the beginning. Expect Florida to roll, 38-17.
#14 Texas Tech @ #3 Kansas State
With Kansas State on the cusp of winning their first conference championship since 2003, this marks one of the biggest matchups in the remaining Big 12 schedule. The Wildcats return home after dismantling West Virginia 55-14 in Morgantown last week, and Texas Tech is hitting its stride at the optimal time following their own upset of West Virginia with a three-point shootout win in triple-overtime at TCU last weekend. Interestingly enough, Tech and K-State both enter the game tied for 10th in the nation in scoring offense, with 42.9 points per game.
The winner of this one–like most games of this nature–will be which team shows up ready to play defense. The smart money is on Kansas State, who have consistently shut down some of the nations prolific offenses–Oklahoma, WVU–to take this one home in front of the friendly confines of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. I’ve got the Wildcats winning this one 52-21.
#5 Notre Dame @ #8 Oklahoma
College Gameday made a great choice to visit Norman, Oklahoma this week in anticipation of one of the most exciting non-conference showdowns of the year. Notre Dame has looked strong all year long, relying on a stout defense and and turnover-free offense to come into this week undefeated at 7-0. Oklahoma’s story has been slightly different. The Sooners (5-1) have played solid defense all year, and the offense–led by senior quarterback Landry Jones–is finally reaching its potential, averaging 485 total yards per game since falling to Kansas State in the third game of the season.
Notre Dame has won eight of the nine meetings between these historic programs, with the only loss to the Sooners coming way back in 1956. Though the Irish have put together a great 2012 campaign, I can’t bet against the terrific momentum Oklahoma has gathered over the past three weeks. Sooners pull the upset in Norman, 27-14.
#11 Mississippi State @ #1 Alabama
This showdown of undefeated SEC West programs could be even more exciting than the Florida-Georgia game earlier in the same day. The worst mistake ‘Bama can make is underestimate the Bulldogs, a group that has looked solid all year long. The story for Mississippi State continues to be defense, as they’ve held their opponents to 14.4 points per game in 2012, a mark ranked ninth in the nation.
However, Dan Mullen’s Dawgs haven’t seen anything like the Crimson Tide this year, who have the nation’s best defense to go along with an offense that averages 41 points per game. I don’t think any team in the NCAA has a reasonable chance to be ‘Bama in Bryant-Denny Stadium, but this one’s worth watching nonetheless. Tide Rolls, 45-17.