With the first College Football Playoff rankings revealed on Tuesday, the 2017 season is heading into a massive two-week stretch: Based on the current top 25, each of the next two weeks features seven matchups of ranked teams. This Saturday, that list includes the Bedlam showdown between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, two games in the ACC acting almost as conference semifinals and the always-tense Alabama-LSU game.
What should you watch this week? Let's break down every key game.
All times are Eastern, and within each time slot games are previewed in order of importance and watchability.
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No. 23 Memphis at Tulsa
8 p.m., ESPN2
Memphis is one of two Group of Five teams ranked in the playoff top 25. The other is UCF, which blew out Memphis 40-13. If the Tigers keep winning, there's a good chance we'll see a rematch in the AAC title game, with a New Year's Six bowl bid on the line. The winning should continue on Friday night. Tulsa is dangerous on offense because of D'Angelo Brewer and its running game, but its defense ranks last nationally in yards per play allowed and stands little chance of slowing down Riley Ferguson, Anthony Miller and the Memphis attack.
Pick: Memphis 49, Tulsa 31
UCLA at Utah
9:30 p.m., FS1
A hand injury in last week's loss to Washington has made UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen's status questionable for Friday night in a matchup of two teams having disappointing seasons. Both sit at 4-4 overall: UCLA is 2-3 in the Pac-12 and has the nation's worst run defense, and Utah is on a four-game losing streak with a new-look offense struggling to find consistency. Both teams are coming off 21-point losses -- Utah's was particularly disheartening against Oregon -- but at least Utah might be able to get something going on the ground again against the Bruins.
Pick: Utah 33, UCLA 28
Marshall at Florida Atlantic
6 p.m., CBSSN
The Lane Kiffin era got off to a slow start, with losses to Navy, Wisconsin and Buffalo in three of the Owls' first four games. Since then, Florida Atlantic has taken off as a dynamic offense behind running back Devin Singletary, who already has 1,053 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Owls are 4-0 in Conference USA, scoring an average of 51.8 points per game in those league games. They'll get a Friday night showcase against one of their top Conference USA East challengers in Marshall, which has rebounded from 3-9 last year to 6-2 so far this year but is coming off a home loss to FIU. Marshall has the best defense in Conference USA, but the Owls look unstoppable at home as they take aim at a C-USA title. Hop aboard on the Lane Train …
Pick: Florida Atlantic 38, Marshall 27
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Saturday Early Afternoon
No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State
The annual showdown for the most magnificent trophy in sports moves up from its frequent end-of-regular-season spot to early November, with both teams coming off of a loss: Penn State blew a 15-point lead and its undefeated season in a one-point heartbreaker at Ohio State and Michigan State lost in triple overtime at Northwestern. The Nittany Lions went from dominating Michigan to seeing their offense wear down and stall in the second half against the Buckeyes, who overwhelmed the PSU offensive line. Michigan State's defense isn't as talented as Ohio State, but the Spartans have mostly played well on that side of the ball and will try to duplicate the Buckeyes' success in zeroing in on Saquon Barkley and pressuring Trace McSorley.
Of course, Michigan State has played five straight one-possession games and ranks 96th in yards per play on offense. Although Penn State's defense struggled against Ohio State, J.T. Barrett playing the game of his life is a bit different from this Spartans attack. It's a tough spot for Penn State, going back on the road after the back-to-back big games against the Wolverines and Buckeyes, but in their biggest remaining game, expect McSorley to get on track and Barkley to reignite his Heisman campaign.
Pick: Penn State 31, Michigan State 17
No. 14 Auburn at Texas A&M
On a busy weekend of big games, this is quietly an important one for coaches Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin. Auburn is 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the SEC; this is its last road game before hosting No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama in two of the last three weeks. It's been an up-and-down season for the Tigers, thanks to especially to their loss at LSU. Lose in College Station, and 7-5 is on the table. Texas A&M did a solid job bouncing back from its opening meltdown against UCLA, but after losing to Alabama and winning three close SEC games, it was blown out at home by Mississippi State last week.
That Mississippi State result doesn't bode well for the Aggies. Kellen Mond has struggled the past two games at quarterback, completing less than a third of his passes, and now he'll meet an excellent Auburn defense that allows 5.7 yards per pass attempt and is solid against the run, too. The Tigers are the better team on both sides of the ball.
Pick: Auburn 28, Texas A&M 13
No. 9 Wisconsin at Indiana
The Hoosiers have had a somewhat rough season, falling to 0-5 in Big Ten play after losing three straight tight games to Michigan, Michigan State and Maryland. They are, however, still playing well on defense, as they rank 22nd in yards per play allowed. They're capable of giving the unbeaten Badgers some problems, especially because star Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor is questionable with an injury. That's on top of WR Jazz Peavy being out and WR Quintez Cephus also listed as questionable. Indiana is capable of threatening an upset here, but its offense has been too unreliable (120th in yards per play) to predict the upset to actually happen. More Hoosier heartbreak is likely.
Pick: Wisconsin 23, Indiana 17
Syracuse at Florida State
12:20 p.m., ACC regional
Florida State's season has become so disappointing that it's still talking about rescheduling the canceled UL Monroe game, potentially to try to keep its 35-year bowl streak alive. (The Seminoles last missed the postseason in 1981.) The Noles are 2-5 with games remaining against Syracuse, Clemson, Delaware State and Florida. As it stands, they'd need to win out to get to 6-5 and go bowling, an unlikely proposition, given that only the Delaware State game is a guaranteed win. If the UL Monroe game is rescheduled, the Seminoles would have to take two of three against Syracuse, Clemson and Florida, in addition to presumably beating the Warhawks and Delaware State. The bowl talk may not matter: After last week's 35-3 debacle at Boston College, it's hard to put much faith in Florida State salvaging much in November.
Pick: Syracuse 27, Florida State 24
Florida at Missouri
Here's something nobody expected to say during the 2017 season: The Randy Shannon era begins now. It's been clear for a while that Jim McElwain and Florida weren't a great match, but a difficult situation rapidly escalated into 2017's first in-season SEC firing. That leaves Shannon, the defensive coordinator and ex-Miami coach, as Florida's interim coach for November as it tries to somehow go from 3-4 to bowl eligibility. This is a winnable game for the Gators against one of the nation's worst pass defenses, but Missouri's offense has recovered from some September problems and is capable of putting up plenty of points. It's hard to know how Florida will respond so such a tumultuous past couple weeks, especially with Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire moving into the starting quarterback job, too.
Pick: Missouri 30, Florida 27
UMass at No. 16 Mississippi State
Noon, SEC Network
UMass is coming off a shocking 30-27 double-OT upset of Sun Belt power Appalachian State, giving it back-to-back wins after a 0-6 start. Unfortunately, the Minutemen have to turn around and go to Starkville after actually pushing Mississippi State in a 47-35 home loss last year. Perhaps Dan Mullen to Florida rumors and looking ahead to next week's Alabama game could hinder Mississippi State a bit, but not enough for the Bulldogs, who blew out Texas A&M on the road last week, to be seriously threatened.
Pick: Mississippi State 42, Massachusetts 21
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Saturday Late Afternoon
No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State
4 p.m., FS1
This is the third year in a row that Bedlam matches top-11 teams. The past two years, Oklahoma ended the regular season with blowout wins over the Cowboys -- 58-23 in 2015, 38-20 in 2016 -- to win the Big 12 championship. The situation is more complicated this season. With both teams owning one loss, this is effectively a playoff elimination game in early November rather than at the end of the regular season. That's because of the return of the Big 12 title game, which necessitated Bedlam moving up a few weeks to guard against the rivalry being played two weeks in a row. A rematch a month from now is possible, but with Iowa State and TCU also tied atop the Big 12 at 4-1 each, the loser here will be at a significant disadvantage.
Bob Stoops may be gone, but those involved on Saturday are familiar, particularly quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph, who are two of the three players nationally averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt. Despite Mike Gundy's success in Stillwater, he's only 2-10 in the Bedlam rivalry, with six losses by at least 18. The Cowboys are 2 ½-point favorites, though, as Rudolph has more weapons at receiver and Oklahoma State has played far better defense, ranking 19th in yards per play allowed. Picking against Mayfield is never easy, though, and picking against Oklahoma in Bedlam is never easy, either. Mayfield plays well in spots like these.
Pick: Oklahoma 40, Oklahoma State 38
No. 4 Clemson at No. 20 N.C. State
3:30 p.m., ABC
Clemson has owned the Textile Bowl in the 21st century, wining 14 of the past 17 games against the Wolfpack. That includes last year, when the Tigers won in overtime after N.C. State missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. It was a missed opportunity for a long-awaited breakthrough win for N.C. State, and now the Wolfpack are hoping for a win in one of the biggest games in the history of Carter-Finley Stadium.
N.C. State is 6-2, with both losses coming outside of ACC play. It is 4-0 in the ACC, and a win over Clemson -- which has one ACC loss, to Syracuse -- would make it a near-lock to win the Atlantic Division and advance to the conference title game for the first time. The Wolfpack are ranked in the top 20 for the first time since 2003, and they're pursuing their first ACC championship since 1979. There is no bigger obstacle than Clemson.
After a week off, the Tigers rebounded from their loss at Syracuse by mostly cruising on a rainy night vs. Georgia Tech. QB Kelly Bryant looks healthy again, which is essential Saturday against Bradley Chubb and one of the best defensive lines in the nation. Of course, Clemson also has one of the nation's best defensive lines -- and, really, one of the best all-around defenses. The Tigers rank fourth in yards per play allowed. The Wolfpack rank 60th. Although Chubb and the Wolfpack will pressure Bryant, this is the toughest matchup yet for N.C. State QB Ryan Finley, who has avoided mistakes beyond a costly pick-six at Notre Dame. Expect the Tigers' defense to step up and control this game in a tough road environment.
Pick: Clemson 27, N.C. State 17
No. 6 Ohio State at Iowa
3:30 p.m., ESPN
Unlike Penn State (which escaped Iowa on a last-play touchdown) in September and Michigan (which ruined its undefeated season) last November, Ohio State won't have to deal with a prime-time game at Kinnick Stadium with its playoff hopes hanging in the balance. But an afternoon kickoff doesn't mean this will be an easy road trip. After last week's masterful J.T. Barrett-led fourth-quarter comeback against Penn State at home, the Buckeyes have to turn around and play in a tough road environment against an Iowa team capable of lulling opponents to sleep. Then again, Iowa hasn't been much of a problem for Ohio State: Although the two have met only once in the past six seasons, Ohio State has won 13 of the past 14 meetings dating back to 1992. Three of Iowa's past four games have ended in 17-10 final scores (two losses, one win), and given the way Barrett and the Ohio State offense have been playing, the Hawkeyes will likely need more points than that to have a chance.
Pick: Ohio State 31, Iowa 13
South Carolina at No. 1 Georgia
3:30 p.m., CBS
Georgia is not ranked No. 1 in the AP or coaches poll -- it last did that in the preseason in 2008 -- but it was picked No. 1 in the first playoff rankings, and deservedly so. It beat No. 3 Notre Dame on the road, and its other seven wins have all been by at least three touchdowns. Saturday afternoon's game in Athens offers some intrigue before a pivotal road trip to Auburn. The Gamecocks are quietly 6-2 and have won three games in a row, and they've not been above playing spoiler for Georgia in recent years. However, Georgia is simply the deeper, more physical team. It has a far better defense, and it has a far better running game to support its young quarterback, Jake Fromm. South Carolina QB Jake Bentley is talented, but the Gamecocks' passing game clearly misses injured receiver Deebo Samuel. South Carolina doesn't have the weapons to beat this Georgia defense.
Pick: Georgia 32, South Carolina 13
Wake Forest at No. 3 Notre Dame
3:30 p.m., NBC
Notre Dame should take care of business here, but don't dismiss it as a possible trap spot. The Fighting Irish are coming off back-to-back runaway home wins in big games against USC and N.C. State. They have a massive road trip to Miami next week. In between, they host a solid Wake Forest team that quietly ranks 24th in Football Outsiders' S&P+ ratings and 29th in Jeff Sagarin's ratings. Despite losing defensive coordinator Mike Elko to Notre Dame, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson has done an excellent job. The Demon Deacons are 5-3 and coming off a 42-32 win over Louisville. They're 42nd in yards per play on offense -- up from 125th last year -- and 29th on defense. Led by its powerful running game and improved defense under Elko, Notre Dame is the superior team on both sides of the ball, but Wake Forest is good enough to make things interesting if the Irish aren't sharp.
Pick: Notre Dame 31, Wake Forest 23
No. 15 Iowa State at West Virginia
3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Iowa State beat Oklahoma and TCU, giving it two more wins over top-five teams than it had in the rest of its football history. The Cyclones entered the AP poll at No. 25 last week and, after the TCU upset, are No. 15 in the first playoff rankings this week. They had not been a top-15 team since the Seneca Wallace-led Cyclones reached No. 9 in 2002 before collapsing to No. 9. Now, they're seeking their third-ever ranked finish, in addition to a Big 12 title game appearance. It's a shocking turn of events for a team that hadn't done better than 3-9 since 2012. Now that the hype has arrived, it's the job of Matt Campbell to maintain his team's focus. Before next week's big home game with Oklahoma State, Iowa State has to go on the road to Morgantown, which is never an easy place to play. The Mountaineers have defensive issues, but they average 42.8 points per game and will test the Cyclones' stellar defense behind QB Will Grier, who's trying to bounce back from a rough outing against Oklahoma State. Iowa State is the more complete team, but this is a tough road spot, especially with pressure suddenly mounting in a surprise Big 12 title chance.
Pick: West Virginia 34, Iowa State 27
No. 21 Stanford at No. 25 Washington State
3:30 p.m., Fox
This is still a big game between ranked teams with Pac-12 North title implications, but the impact was lessened a bit by the events of last week. With Heisman candidate tailback Bryce Love out because of an ankle injury, Stanford luckily escaped Oregon State with an ugly 15-14 win in which its offense went almost nowhere. Washington State then lost its second game out of three, becoming the latest victim of Arizona's Khalil Tate. In a 58-37 loss to the Wildcats, Mike Leach benched standout senior QB Luke Falk late in the first half; backup Tyler Hilinski went on to throw 61 passes in just 33 minutes, completing 45 for 509 yards with two TDs and four INTs.
How these teams rebound is a tough question, especially given that the status of Love is in doubt. Falk will be back in the starting lineup for Wazzu, and if Love sits out, the edge belongs to the Cougars at home. If Love plays? Consider it a toss-up, especially given how erratic Wazzu has been recently.
Pick: Washington State 30, Stanford 24
Army at Air Force
3:30 p.m., CBSSN
A few weeks ago, Air Force staged a comeback but lost a 48-45 heartbreaker at Navy. The second leg of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series will happen in Colorado Springs on Saturday, with Army hoping to win and set the stage for a battle with Navy for its first trophy win since 1996. Don't rule it out: Army has been rejuvenated under Jeff Monken. It went 8-5 and finally beat Navy last year, and it's 6-2 now, already bowl-eligible. This will be a difficult test, however: After a 1-4 start with a rebuilding defense, Air Force has won three in a row, and it has also scored at least 34 points in five straight games. The Falcons haven't lost a home game to the Black Knights since 2005, and they get the edge with a bit more explosiveness on offense.
Pick: Air Force 27, Army 24
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Saturday Prime Time
No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 10 Miami
8 p.m., ABC
When the ACC added Virginia Tech and Miami from the Big East in 2004 and placed them in the Coastal Division in 2005, it seemed possible that their annual matchup would frequently decide a spot in the conference title game. Instead, the Hokies have made six trips to the ACC championship game and Miami has made zero. Finally, the division appears to be on the line in Miami on Saturday night: The Hurricanes are 5-0 in ACC play and the Hokies are 3-1. This is their first matchup as ranked teams since 2010, and it will be played between playoff contenders.
Miami is 7-0 but still being met with skepticism, as its big win over Florida State turned out to be a win against a 2-5 team, and it hasn't won by double digits since Sept. 29 at Duke. In fact, Virginia Tech is a road favorite, even though it has merely defeated Boston College, North Carolina and Duke in three games since losing to Clemson. The Hokies have been more dominant against inferior opponents than Miami, but despite the close calls, don't underestimate the Hurricanes. They rank 14th in yards per play on offense and 18th on defense, with a defense on the same level as the Hokies' excellent unit. It's going to be hard for Miami to continue winning tight games each week, but it's capable of pulling off another escape before hosting Notre Dame next week.
Pick: Miami 24, Virginia Tech 21
No. 19 LSU at No. 2 Alabama
8 p.m., CBS
There has been no such thing as a minor LSU-Alabama game since Nick Saban returned to the college game to coach Alabama in the same division as his former team. The hype for this one has been lessened for a few reasons, however: There are six other games between ranked teams on Saturday, LSU is still trying to fight off the stigma of losing at home to Troy and Alabama has owned the series recently. Since LSU's 9-6 Game of the Century win in the 2011 regular season, Alabama has won six in a row in the rivalry. The Tigers haven't scored more than 17 in any of those losses, including a 21-0 shutout in the 2011 national title game and a 10-0 shutout in the first Saban-Ed Orgeron matchup last year. LSU has averaged four or fewer yards per play in four of those games and hasn't hit 300 total yards against the Crimson Tide since 2012.
LSU has done a nice job recovering from the loss to Troy, winning three in a row with a comeback win over Auburn. But there are very few reasons to believe that this is the LSU team that will end the streak, especially in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has been almost mundanely blowing out teams most weeks to start 8-0, playing its usual dominant defense and overpowering teams with its running game. LSU is one of the few teams that recruits athletes and talent on a comparable level to Alabama on defense, but its run defense has been more beatable than usual. And although new coordinator Matt Canada brings creativity to the LSU offense, the Tigers don't have the offensive line this year to match up with the Bama defensive front. It's a typical Alabama team, so expect a typical Alabama-LSU game.
Pick: Alabama 22, LSU 5
Texas at No. 8 TCU
7:15 p.m., ESPN
Shane Buechele led Texas to an easy win over Baylor last week with Sam Ehlinger injured, but with Ehlinger cleared to resume playing, the Longhorns are back to their guessing game at quarterback. They go on the road to face a TCU team that can't afford another loss after last week's defeat at Iowa State, and it's a difficult spot for the Horned Frogs, too, with their trip to Oklahoma on tap next week. This has a good chance to be a relatively low-scoring Big 12 game. TCU leads the Big 12 in yards per play allowed -- a number boosted by Kansas' 21 total yards against the Frogs -- and Texas has played well on defense much of the season, including a 13-10 loss to Oklahoma State a couple weeks ago.
Although Kenny Hill has played well at quarterback, TCU scored zero offensive touchdowns in the loss to Iowa State and has been good on offense but hardly dominant. All season, Texas has come close to springing upsets on highly regarded teams, but it has repeatedly fallen short: a 27-24 loss at USC, a 29-24 loss to Oklahoma, a 13-10 loss to Texas. TCU's defense is a tough matchup for whichever young quarterback plays, especially because the Longhorns haven't run the ball well, but this is another upset opportunity, one in which Texas can perhaps finally finish the job.
Pick: Texas 23, TCU 21
No. 18 UCF at SMU
7:15 p.m., ESPN2
After South Florida lost to Houston last week, UCF is the last remaining undefeated team among the Group of Five conferences. It is 7-0 and has won every game by double digits, including a 40-13 blowout of a Memphis team that is currently ranked 23rd. The Knights' pursuit of perfection and a New Year's Six bowl bid rolls on to a tricky road matchup against SMU's prolific offense. Chad Morris has done an excellent job with the Mustangs, who are 6-2 and scoring 41.5 points per game. The Mustangs did, however, lose by 20 to TCU and 13 to Houston, and at 100th in yards per play, they face a daunting task in slowing down McKenzie Milton and a UCF offense that is scoring a national-best 51 points per game.
Pick: UCF 49, SMU 31
Minnesota at Michigan
7:30 p.m., Fox
The battle for the Little Brown Jug took a year off last year. The last time the old rivals met, Minnesota let an opportunity for a big win slip away, when it inexplicably ran only three plays in the final 1:17, didn't kick a field goal to force overtime and ran out of time at the one-yard line. Michigan has won 23 of its past 25 games in this series, but the Golden Gophers did win their last trip to Ann Arbor, pummeling Brady Hoke's Wolverines 30-14 in 2014. Both teams have substantial issues in the passing game, ranking 106th and 107th in efficiency, but Michigan offers an interesting angle here because it's likely to be the first start by redshirt freshman Brandon Peters, who played well upon taking over for John O'Korn in last week's win over Rutgers. Michigan might not look pretty, but the Gophers are 1-4 in the Big Ten and won't be able to move the ball enough on this Wolverines defense in the Big House.
Pick: Michigan 28, Minnesota 10
Southern Miss at Tennessee
7:30 p.m., SEC Network
Florida has an interim coach for the rest of the season. Tennessee does not … yet. Florida parting ways with Jim McElwain before Tennessee fires Butch Jones was one of the biggest upsets of the season, as Tennessee is 0-5 in the SEC after losing to Kentucky for just the second time since 1984. The Volunteers rank 117th in yards per play on offense and 91st on defense. In their most recent nonconference game, they barely escaped UMass, 17-14, on Sept. 23. Southern Miss is coming off an ugly loss to UAB, but led by tailback Ito Smith, it is not a pushover -- especially for a Vols team that has seen its season unravel and fan frustration reach ugly levels.
Pick: Tennessee 27, Southern Miss 26
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Saturday Late Night
No. 22 Arizona at No. 17 USC
10:45 p.m., ESPN
Arizona is coming off a 3-9 season in which it lost to USC by 34, so nobody saw this coming: Arizona at USC has turned into the Pac-12 South's game of the year. They both have one conference loss. Last week, USC responded well to its ugly trip to Notre Dame by pummeling Arizona State. Meanwhile, Arizona has been one of the hottest teams in the country since the discovery of explosive quarterback Khalil Tate, a highlight machine who has 926 rushing yards despite being the primary quarterback for only four games -- wins over Colorado, UCLA, California and Washington State.
Tate's production is bound to slow down a bit, but USC is two weeks removed from giving up 377 rushing yards to Notre Dame and has dealt with a long list of injury problems. Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones II and the Trojans' offense shouldn't have much trouble moving the ball on a beatable Arizona defense, but the presence of Tate, who has led Arizona to at least 45 points in each of those four straight wins, has turned this into a must-watch game capable of becoming a shootout.
Pick: USC 42, Arizona 38
Oregon at No. 12 Washington
10 p.m., FS1
It's amazing how quickly the tables turned in this rivalry. After 12 straight Oregon wins -- all but the last one, in 2015, by at least 17 points -- Washington crushed the Ducks 70-21 last year and is a 17 ½-point favorite at Husky Stadium on Saturday night. It's not hard to see why the Huskies are expected to cruise to victory. Although Washington struggled in a 13-7 loss to Arizona State a few weeks ago, it owns one of the nation's best defenses, ranking first in yards per play allowed, and it still has plenty of productive pieces on offense, led by QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin and WR Dante Pettis, despite losing OT Trey Adams and WR Chico McClatcher to injuries. Oregon is coming off a win over Utah but is 2-4 in Pac-12 play and has been playing without QB Justin Herbert, who is labeled as questionable to return from a broken collarbone. The Ducks' defense has improved under new coordinator Jim Leavitt, but the Ducks are far too one-dimensional without Herbert -- they haven't thrown for more than 74 yards in the past three games -- to beat Washington. Even if Herbert does play, asking him to win on the road in Seattle against this defense in his return would be too much.
Pick: Washington 42, Oregon 20