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4 Down Territory: Playoff Contenders, Dark Horses & Teams to Keep an Eye on.....

First Down: Playoff Contenders: A funny thing happened on the way to Iowa’s easy street to the Big Ten West title as they were upset by unranked Purdue. That being said on paper these games should go the way of the contenders…..#2 Cincinnati at Navy: Cincinnati keeps rolling and given Navy’s struggles they should continue unless Navy finds a way to sink their hopes…..#3 Oklahoma at Kansas: OU Freshman QB Caleb Williams unseated a Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler against Texas and lit it up last week as well. The Jayhawks continue to struggle and unless they can rattle the freshman, expect the Sooners to keep rolling…..#5 Ohio State at Indiana: While this season has been disappointing for Indiana, the defense has played well. Last week they gave Michigan State’s offense all they could handle. They will have to match that performance to have a chance to stay in this game. Indiana has a solid WR corps and tight end that could challenge Ohio State’s defense—which has improved almost every week of late…..Illinois at #7 Penn State: After an off week the health at QB is THE big question for Penn State. Illinois has a veteran offensive line and two good running backs. If they can attack the void left by Penn State’s injured DT PJ Mustipher they may have a chance to keep this one interesting. But without a deep threat at WR Illinois may not be able to make PSU pay if they crowd the run game.

Second Down: Rivalry Games: LSU at #12 Ole Miss: With LSU’s Ed Orgeron agreeing to leave at the end of the season LSU has found the best way to complete a transition. The Tiger offense exploded last week. This is a rivalry with great folklore and has the chance to be a high-scoring shoot-out. Ole Miss QB Matt Carroll will like the opportunities that a banged-up LSU defense presents to him, but he will have to avoid the turnovers that killed Florida last week. LSU’s run game was dominant last week and that may be their best path towards vistory. At least in Oxford, Ole Miss will not have to worry about objects being thrown at them as they did in Knoxville which brings us to…….Tennessee at #4 Alabama: The Vols go on the road to Alabama, a team that looked like they’d regained focus and composure last week. That renewed focus could spell real trouble for the Vols……USC at #13 Notre Dame: After the Irish lost to Cincinnati, they have been largely forgotten nationally. USC is adrift and looks vulnerable here as most of the talk about the Trojans has centered on the next coach.