Last season's BCS championship was a showdown between Alabama and LSU, and those two teams are once again in the driver's seat after the USC Trojans flamed out at Stanford last week. With USC's loss, Oklahoma, Florida State and Notre Dame have moved into the national championship conversation, but all three face Top 25 teams this week. Whether any of these teams are capable of keeping up with Alabama and LSU will be apparent after this week.
Clemson Tigers at Florida State Seminoles
Odds: Florida State -14
The ACC won't have many spotlight moments this season. This is probably going to be as good as it gets for the league that has won fewer BCS bowls than the other five power conferences (the Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, Big East, and Big Ten).
Clemson is the defending ACC champion, but in the early stages of this season, Florida State's defense has looked quite imposing. Be careful jumping on the Florida State bandwagon, though, because the Seminoles have not played any formidable opponents yet. They've handled two Football Championship Subdivision cupcakes before facing a thin and outmanned Wake Forest squad this past Saturday.
Clemson received a test from Auburn in Week 1, and that battle may let the Tigers play with more of a competitive edge in this game. Florida State, playing at home and at night, probably deserves a slight edge, but if the Seminoles' offense can't take advantage of a relatively weak Clemson defense, the Tigers have the offensive firepower to turn this contest in their favor.
The ACC Atlantic Division -– and a whole lot more –- is up for grabs in what should be an entertaining encounter.
Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Odds: Notre Dame -6.5
In each of the last three meetings between these schools, Michigan has swiped a win from Notre Dame's grasp in the final minutes of regulation. The matchup between Notre Dame's offense and Michigan's defense will be pivotal in this game given the prowess of Notre Dame's defense and the lack of consistency possessed by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
Notre Dame's defense will perform well in this game, but the question is whether the Irish can avoid turnovers against the Wolverines. Michigan struggled on defense in Week 2 against the wishbone attack of Air Force, but Notre Dame provides a more conventional offensive look that should be easier for the Wolverines to defend against.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has to step up in this game for the Fighting Irish. Robinson will get most of the publicity before kickoff, but Golson is the quarterback who will likely shape the outcome of this game –- one way or the other.
Kansas State Wildcats at Oklahoma Sooners
Odds: Oklahoma -14
This is a fascinating game for a couple of reasons, as Oklahoma won by 41 points at Kansas State last year. The Wildcats will be out for revenge. Secondly, Oklahoma's offensive line is quite thin following several injuries in the offseason.
Kansas State will either rise to the challenge or remain spooked by Oklahoma's dominance in this head-to-head series. It will be intriguing to see how the Wildcats respond to this situation. It is very hard to win in Norman, Okla., but Kansas State is entirely capable of pulling off what would be something of an upset.
LSU Tigers at Auburn Tigers
Odds: LSU -18
Auburn is playing poorly at the moment, having lost to Clemson and Mississippi State to start the season and then needing overtime just to get past Louisiana-Monroe.
LSU is an 18-point favorite, but it can't be forgotten that this is the first SEC road game for LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. If he plays a shaky game and commits a few turnovers due to nerves, Auburn instantly gains a chance to not only beat the spread but also to win outright.
LSU's defense is suffocating, having allowed a total of 31 points this season. The Tigers are going to be on their game to make sure that Auburn is limited — even if Mettenberger is coughing up the football in bad spots. Auburn's offense has been suspect this season, barely mustering 10 points against Mississippi State and 19 against Clemson. An LSU shutout here is entirely possible.
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