Favorites to compete for conference titles are being challenged all over the country this weekend. Will the traditional powers establish dominance, or will a flurry of upsets fling us into blessed pigskin chaos? Here's your weekend non-SEC viewing guide. All times listed are Central.
Minor league (non-SEC) schedule
Texas @ Iowa State: Thursday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
The struggles of Mack Brown and his Longhorns have been well documented, but they should overwhelm Iowa State this weekend on talent alone. Iowa State struggles stopping the run, so Texas should be able to keep things vanilla and grind out a comfortable victory. Should. After a couple of bad losses to start the season, the Cyclones looked better in an easy win over a decent Tulsa team last week. With the Oklahoma game looming next week, the Longhorns can't afford to be caught looking ahead. Mack Brown won't be praised for a win over a team of this low caliber, but if Texas somehow drops this game -- let's just say he shouldn't answer his phone in the airport that night.
(25) Maryland @ (8) Florida State: 11 a.m., ESPN
This is a fun matchup of two teams that have certainly surprised thus far. Florida State is always expected to contend in the ACC, but not many expected Jameis Winston to be this dominant this quickly. The redshirt freshman is completing almost 75 percent of his passes and has tallied 14 total touchdowns against only two interceptions. On the other side of the ball, Maryland has also been making some noise. People have really started taking notice of the Terps after their complete dismantling of West Virginia. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has established himself as one of the most explosive playmakers in the country, and can make a defense pay for even the smallest mistake. It's not just about offense for the Terps, though: their defense has been stout all year long. It's a tough road trip to Tallahassee, but expect this game to be one of the more entertaining matchups of the week.
(20) Texas Tech @ Kansas: 11 a.m., Fox Sports 1
Hey, girl, did you miss me last week? I know bye weeks are tough, but you know that Koach Kliff had you on his mind the whole time. Lord knows I wasn't worrying about Kansas, who has looked like the ugliest team in the Big 12 so far. You know who isn't ugly? You, baby. You.
TCU @ (11) Oklahoma: 6 p.m., Fox
The Horned Frogs are still a bit of an enigma; we don't know how good or bad they really are this season. No one blames them for a loss to LSU, and we at College and Mag have certainly sung the praises of the Texas Tech Fightin' Kingsburys (their other loss), but they just haven't seemed like the team most people expected them to be thus far. TCU can change all that with a big road upset against an Oklahoma team that has somehow managed to fly under the national radar despite looking pretty strong. Oklahoma runs the ball well and plays solid defense -- that's a recipe for success in any conference. Unless TCU pulls a shocker here, we're probably looking at the Sooners' November game at Baylor to decide the Big 12.
(4) Ohio State @ (16) Northwestern: 7 p.m., ABC
The College GameDay crew is heading to Evanston to see if Northwestern can somehow place itself in the driver's seat for a Big Ten title. Through five weeks, these two teams have been the class of the B1G and are likely to win their respective divisions -- could this be the first of two matchups between the Buckeyes and Wildcats? If you like traditional "old man" football, this probably isn't the game for you. Both teams will use a variety of formations, lining up all manners of personnel in the backfield to confuse the defense. Most are familiar with OSU's Braxton Miller, but Northwestern's Kain Colter is an excellent dual-threat athlete, as well. Think of him as a Johnny Manziel, but with better parents. Ohio State is the favorite in this one, but don't be surprised if Northwestern feeds off of an excellent atmosphere to steal this one at home.
(15) Washington @ (5) Stanford: 9:30 p.m., ESPN
The late-night ESPN game should be a good one. Stanford is the tough, nasty, bullying team from the Pac-12, and Washington has crossed the Malzahn Line (80 offensive plays) in every game this season. Stanford is the clear favorite, but remember that the Huskies knocked off the Cardinal last season, and star running back Bishop Sankey can lead them to another big upset. Basically, whoever dictates the pace of this game will win. Stanford will try to slowly choke Washington to death with giant formations and a battering running game. With Oregon, Stanford and Washington all in the same division, this game becomes the de facto play-in game to challenge the Ducks for divisional superiority.
Don't forget to check back in on Friday for our weekend SEC preview.
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