No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 8 Kansas State:
Saturday 2:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The last time that Kansas State was ranked this high was in the 2004 preseason poll. The Wildcats have gotten out to a 7-0 start this season, with marquee wins over Miami and Baylor. The true test for the Wildcats will come in the next four weeks, when they take on four straight ranked opponents starting with No. 9 Oklahoma on Saturday. Oklahoma may be their toughest test in the stretch though, especially since the Sooners are coming off of a demoralizing loss to Texas Tech that most likely knocked them out of the National Championship race. They will be motivated and looking to show no mercy this weekend. The Wildcats will have to lean heavily on their 19th-ranked rushing attack to keep the Oklahoma offense of the field. Kansas State’s running game is spearheaded by running back John Hubert, who has 637 yards in his sophomore campaign, and dual-threat quarterback Collin Klein, who has 670 yards and 14 touchdowns with his legs alone. Expect Kansas State to keep the ball on the ground to work the clock, but it will be a monumental task for the Wildcats to take on and defeat an angry Oklahoma squad.
Baylor at No. 3 Oklahoma State:
Saturday 2:30 p.m. | TV: ABC
High-scoring offenses, check. Two great quarterbacks, check. Two defenses that prefer to allow their offensives to win games for them, check. What does all of this equal for football fans? Perhaps the highest scoring and most entertaining game of the season. Despite his team’s pair of losses, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III still manages to see the top five in most Heisman watch lists because of his outstanding numbers. Griffin has already thrown for 1,950 yards, 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Oklahoma State is also led by a prolific player under center in senior Brandon Weedon, who has thrown for a video game-like total of 2,436 yards already this season. Leading the Cowboys’ second-ranked offensive attack, that averages 48.6 points a game. But unlike Baylor the Cowboys have elite level talent around Weedon, such as wide receiver Justin Blackmon. He is a likely top-five pick in the 2012 NFL draft, although after suffering concussion-like symptoms in their last game, Blackmon is questionable for the showdown with Baylor. Even without their star receiver on the field, expect the third-ranked Cowboys to continue their roll and out gun Baylor in a great game.
No. 11 Michigan State at No. 14 Nebraska:
Saturday 11 a.m. | TV: ESPN
Last week, Michigan State had perhaps the most exciting finish in college football this season when it completed a Hail Mary to knock off an undefeated Wisconsin squad while simultaneously ruining any national title hopes the Badgers had. However, this win for the Spartans was huge for them in their Big 10 title hopes, as it kept them undefeated in conference play and should give them the confidence moving forward to continue their roll. The Spartans are competitive in every game because of their outstanding defense that holds opponents to only 13.7 points a game — which is more than enough to allow their offense to work. While their offense is not the most explosive in the world, it is efficient. Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins takes care of the ball while moving it down the gridiron, as he has thrown only three interceptions this season. Nebraska has been strong in their first season in the Big 10, with its only loss coming to the previously mentioned Wisconsin squad. While the Cornhuskers aren’t the prettiest team to watch, they are effective at pounding the ball down your throat, averaging 261 rushing yards a game. This keeps the pressure off of quarterback Taylor Martinez and his throwing arm, which if used to often, causes Nebraska to lose games. Expect a smash mouth game with the Cornhuskers rushing attack and the Spartans defense clashing.
No. 6 Stanford at USC:
Saturday 7 p.m. | TV: ABC
Stanford has rolled early on this season, jumping off to a quick 7-0 start against average competition. But this week the Cardinal square off with perhaps the toughest team on their schedule thus far: USC. The Trojans have only one loss on the season and are coming off of an impressive 31-17 win against Notre Dame on Saturday. USC is led by junior quarterback Matt Barkley, who has thrown for 2,006 yards, 19 touchdowns and only four picks thus far. Barkley is a very gifted player and was the top prep recruit in the class of 2008. However, as luck would have it, the Trojans are up against one of the few quarterbacks in the country that could actually be better than Barkley: Andrew Luck. Luck is the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft and is looking to lead Stanford to a national title before he leaves. He has a great shot to do that if he can navigate the Cardinal through the rest of the Pac-12 schedule, starting with USC on Saturday. But even if Stanford stumbles against USC this weekend, the game is still a must see because of the NFL-level talent under center for both squads.