As the calendar turns to October and its colder weather, college football is about to heat up the gridiron with a spectacular weekend of action.
The tune-up period is over for some of the nation's top teams and it's not a stretch to say that there could be a couple of clear cut conference champion frontrunners in place by Sunday morning. Here's a primer on the big games:
#1 Alabama vs. #7 Florida - The centerpiece of the weekend matches up the last two BCS champions in front of what is sure to be a rabid crowd down in Tuscaloosa. The game, originally slated for a 3:30 p.m. start, has been moved to 8 p.m. to achieve maximum viewership. Ever since Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have taken over the Tide and Gators respectively, these games have turned into titanic struggles and it's not lost on Florida that Heisman winner Mark Ingram and his teammates killed the Gators shot at back to back SEC and BCS titles by whipping them in Atlanta last December. Alabama brings an 18 game win streak into the contest, but a loss won't doom either squad from winning their divisions in the SEC. Still, the psychological edge could go to the winner should they meet again this season. (8:00 p.m. CBS)
#4 Oregon vs. #9 Stanford - Yes, that's correct. There are two Pac-10 teams in the top ten and neither is called USC. This game will be a contrast in styles as the Ducks offense plays like a fastbreaking basketball team on grass and the upstart Cardinal employ a more methodical style. Think Nolan Richardson's Arkansas "40 minutes of hell" teams vs. Pete Carril's "Princeton offense." But Stanford can move the ball as well behind the talents of its Heisman-caliber quarterback, Andrew Luck. The two teams combined for 93 points last year. This year's edition in Autzen Stadium could top that. (8:00 p.m. ABC)
#8 Oklahoma vs. #21 Texas - The Red River Rivalry lost some of its luster when the Longhorns got smoked by UCLA in Austin last weekend. Still, this is one of college football's marquee matchups and the winner will be in good position to snag the Big XII's BCS bid. Neither squad is as overpowering as they have been in recent years, but both teams still have plenty of talent and Texas' Mack Brown can even his head to head matchup with O.U.'s Bob Stoops with a win this weekend. (3:30 p.m. ABC)
Two Big Ten clashes are also worth checking out, the first being #11 Wisconsin taking on #24 Michigan State. This is a major contest for Michigan State as a win would put them in excellent position to make a run at the Big Ten title. Due to the conference's unbalanced schedule, MSU doesn't play #2 Ohio State this year. Should the Trojans win, they play archrival Michigan next week in a game that could determine who heads to the Rose Bowl. A Wisconsin win sets them up for a major showdown against the Buckeyes on October 16. (3:30 p.m., ABC)
The other matchup pairs #17 Iowa against #22 Penn State. Both teams are coming off big, recent out of conference losses (Iowa to Arizona; Penn St to Alabama), but each can still play themselves into a BCS bid. Iowa stars a murderer's row that features PSU, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State on consecutive weeks before a late November date with Ohio State and the Nittany Lions still play Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. It's not an easy road for either team, but the winner of this game can help its post-season chances considerably. (8:05 p.m, ABC)