FSU quarterback Jameis Winston (5) scrambles during the Maryland at FSU football game at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, October 5, 2013. FSU won the game 63-0. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel) (Stephen M. Dowell / October 16, 2013)
Here are our top five college football games to watch this week:
Saturday, 12:21 p.m., ESPN3.com
The Buzz: If you had told anybody before the season that the road to the SEC East crown would go through Columbia, Mo., they would have thought you crazy. Missouri controls its destiny with back-to-back games against Florida and South Carolina. The Tigers will have to win without starting quarterback James Franklin (1,577 yards/14 TDs), who is out three to five weeks due to a separated shoulder he suffered during the win against Georgia last week. Florida’s anemic offense suffered another big blow with the loss of starting running back Matt Jones (339 yards/2 TDs). The Gators, however, still have the top defense in the Southeastern Conference, allowing only 235.3 yards per game.
No. 24 Auburn at No. 7 Texas A&M
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Buzz: Auburn is back in the top 25 for the first time since November 2011 thanks to a 5-1 start to this season. The Tigers are only allowing about 19 points per game and lead the SEC in rushing thanks to Tre Mason (515 yards, 7 TDs) and Cameron Artis-Payne (389, 3 TDs). Texas A&M, on the other hand, is averaging a league-best 47.8 points per game, with much of the offense centered on quarterback Johnny Manziel (2,262 total yards/19 total TDs). If Auburn hopes to have a chance of beating the Aggies Saturday, it needs to eliminate mistakes. The Tigers have turned the ball over 11 times and are -2 in turnover margin.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
The Buzz: UCLA and Stanford meet in what is a rematch of last season’s Pac-12 championship game. The Cardinal won the title tilt 27-24. Stanford is looking to rebound from a stunning loss to Utah last week that effectively eliminated the Cardinal from the national title discussion. UCLA comes into this one with the fifth-best offense in the country (547 yards per game). Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley had a career-high 410 yards passing and three touchdowns last week against Cal. It was his fourth straight game with more than 300 yards of total offense. Saturday’s game is the first of two road contests against ranked opponents for UCLA, which travels to Eugene, Ore., next week to take on No. 2 Oregon.
No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson
Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC
The Buzz: All eyes will be on this one as ACC heavyweights Florida State and Clemson hook up for what could be the biggest conference game in almost a decade. The winner of this one has the inside track for a spot in the ACC title game and raises its profile in the national championship sweepstakes. The game pits two of the best quarterbacks in the country: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Florida State’s Jameis Winston. The winner will improve his chances in the Heisman Trophy race. Clemson’s defense, which has held opponents to 14 points or less in the past five games, will get a big test against a Florida State offense that is averaging close to nine plays of 20 or more yards per game this season.
Saturday, 8 p.m., NBC
The Buzz: Two of college football’s most-storied programs renew their rivalry when USC travels to South Bend, Ind., to take on Notre Dame Saturday. Both programs are going through some ups and downs this season, and this marks just the 11th time both teams were unranked during the game. The Trojans have owned this series, as of late, winning nine of the past 11 meetings, but those two losses came during the past three seasons. USC won its first game under interim coach Ed Orgeron Thursday, recording a 38-31 victory over Arizona. The Irish are coming off a bye week and are looking to ride a wave of success following their 37-34 win over Arizona State in Dallas.
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