No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Auburn
Auburn’s slide into the Top 5, after its win against Georgia, set up the first matchup of Top 5 teams in the Iron Bowl since 1971. This high-stakes showdown is not just a fierce battle between in-state rivals but will also determine who wins the SEC West and plays for a conference championship. Auburn’s only loss of the season came on the road at LSU. Although Alabama beat LSU by 21 points, the Crimson Tide had the home-field advantage in that game, a factor that could have changed the game for Auburn. To keep Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron from throwing his way to securing its third consecutive Iron Bowl victory, the Tigers defense will have to keep their eyes up to stop completions — something it has not excelled at this season.
No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 10 South Carolina
South Carolina’s 70-10 win against Coastal Carolina set up the best-case scenario for the Gamecocks going into the game against Clemson. The Gamecocks didn’t struggle to put up points, leading 42-7 at the half, and more importantly didn’t sustain any more injuries. They finally got the opportunity to rest some of their key playmakers that have been playing through injuries all season. But Clemson is its toughest opponent yet and is led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, who threw for 288 yards and five touchdowns last week and holds more than 50 school records, is hoping to lead the Tigers to their first win in four years against their in-state rivals.
No. 19 Texas A&M vs. No. 5 Missouri
While Johnny Manziel took a step back in the Heisman race and Texas A&M got knocked down in the rankings after its loss to LSU. Missouri dodged a similar fate, beating Ole Miss, 24-10, in Oxford. Any fears the Tigers had of quarterback James Franklin performing poorly after more than a month of not starting (due to a shoulder injury) were silenced, as he completed 63 percent of his passes for 142 yards. In 2011, when both A&M and Missouri were Big 12 teams, the Tigers beat the Aggies, 38-31. But in 2012 when Texas A&M moved to the SEC and added Johnny Manziel to their roster, the new Aggies team proved to be too much for the Tigers, who fell drastically, 59-29. This year the game could go either way if Texas A&M is able rebound from their disappointing loss at LSU.
No. 22 UCLA vs. No. 23 USC
Last week UCLA came up short at home for their first time all season and dropped from No. 14 to No. 22 in the rankings. Previously, UCLA’s only two losses came from hard-hitting opponents, Oregon and Stanford, but last week they fell to No. 12 Arizona State, a team they could have beaten. The Bruins’ slow start and inability to avoid costly penalties meant the Sun Devils could get away with scoring just three points in the second half. USC, on the other hand, earned a 47-29 win against an easy opponent (Colorado) last week. The win served as a good warm-up for this week’s game, and gave sophomore Javorius Allen the chance to run for a career-best 145 yards and three touchdowns.