College Football Top 25 preview
No. 21 Mississippi at No. 1 Alabama
Alabama looks to put together its first complete game and is coming off a lackluster performance against Colorado State that prompted several team leaders to speak up in the locker room. The Rebels are seeking their first 4-0 start since 1970, and can make a big statement with an upset.
California at No. 2 Oregon
Oregon has won four straight overall against the Golden Bears, who haven’t won in Eugene since 2007. Oregon has won each of its first three games this season by more than 40 points, and average 61.3 points per game. Cal has had a rough start, facing three ranked teams in its first four games. The Bears lost their opener to No. 22 Northwestern, and fell to No. 4 Ohio State on Sept. 14.
Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson
No. 3 Clemson has national championship aspirations. The 2011 ACC champs would like to get its offense cranking right from the start after a sluggish league opener, when the Tigers beat N.C. State 26-14 . Wake Forest has lost to Boston College and Louisiana-Monroe and hopes to score a major upset.
No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State
Wisconsin has won the last three Big Ten championships and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has told his players that the Badgers are the “kings” of the conference until someone knocks them off. This game will have a huge impact on whether they retain that title. The Buckeyes have won 16 straight.
No. 5 Stanford vs. Washington State
Stanford looks to extend its 11-game win streak — second longest in the country — ahead of trio of showdowns looming at home against Washington (Oct. 5), UCLA (Oct. 19) and Oregon (Nov. 7). Washington State makes it annual trip across the mountains with a chance to prove its resurgence early this season is further along than most believe.
No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia
A big boost in the national championship race, especially for Georgia. If the Bulldogs can beat a couple of Top 10 teams in the opening month of the season (they already knocked off then-No. 6 South Carolina), they would be in good position to claim a spot in their third straight SEC championship game. LSU has a much tougher schedule the rest of the way, including games against No. 1 Alabama and No. 10 Texas A&M.
No. 8 Florida State at Boston College
Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State begins a stretch of seven consecutive conference games that will determine if the Seminoles play in the title game for the third time in four years. Florida State probably can’t afford more than one ACC loss to keep its BCS championship aspirations alive. And the Seminoles have a road trip to No. 3 Clemson looming Oct. 19. A Boston College victory would give coach Steve Addazio a signature win in his first year with the Eagles.
No. 10 Texas A&M at Arkansas
Texas A&M looks to rebound from a Southeastern Conference-opening loss to No. 1 Alabama when it makes its first road trip of the season — the school’s first visit to Fayetteville since 1990 as a member of the Southwest Conference. Arkansas lost for the first time under coach Bret Bielema last week at Rutgers. The Razorbacks begin a stretch of four straight games against ranked opponents.
No. 11 Oklahoma State at West Virginia
A win could put Oklahoma State in position for its first Top 10 ranking since finishing third in its Fiesta Bowl-winning season in 2011. The Cowboys are playing in their Big 12 opener and don’t want to fall behind Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech, which already have conference wins. West Virginia needs to shake off a blowout loss at Maryland last week yet has a monumental task with its next three games against ranked opponents.
No. 12 South Carolina at UCF
The No. 12 Gamecocks begin a stretch of four of their next five games on the road with a trip to unbeaten UCF. South Carolina is trying to extend its streak of 17 straight regular-season victories against nonconference opponents. The Knights are coming off a road win at Penn State and are looking to move to 4-0 for the first time since 1988.
No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 22 Notre Dame
Another loss would put Notre Dame’s hopes of reaching a second straight title game to rest and put reaching the BCS in peril. Oklahoma can avenge last season’s 30-13 loss in Norman to the Irish.
No. 15 Miami at South Florida
Miami is looking to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2004, when the Hurricanes started with six straight victories. When the schedule was put together several years ago, this figured to be a good early-season test, but South Florida’s program has been in steady decline. The Bulls opened with a blowout loss to Football Championship Subdivision foe McNeese State and are still trying to give coach Willie Taggart his first win.
Arizona at No. 16 Washington
Both Washington and Arizona are seeking 4-0 starts for the first time in a while in the Pac-12 opener for both schools. The Huskies were last 4-0 in 2001, while the Wildcats haven’t won their first four since 2010 when they won seven of eight to start the year before losing their last five.
No. 20 Florida at Kentucky
Florida will try to remain unbeaten in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division while extending its 26-game winning streak over Kentucky, which is coming off a bye and aims to beat the Gators for the first time since 1986 along with earning its first SEC win since November 2011 against Tennessee. Florida’s winning streak against Kentucky is the current longest in an interrupted series between two teams.
No. 25 Fresno State at Hawaii
Fresno State is looking to keep rolling in the Mountain West against winless Hawaii as the Bulldogs enter Top 25 for the first time since 2008. Hawaii is hoping to turn around its season with a statement win after road losses at Oregon State and Nevada.