By Rob Cressy
6:50 PM CDT, October 9, 2013
We are finally getting into the meat of the college football schedule. No more turkey bacon-type crap where teams play directional schools and win by 50. I'm talking real bacon, lots of it, that comes in the form of conference matchups that mean something.
Last week Stanford and Washington lived up to the hype, Northwestern proved it can hang, Georgia survived its letdown game, and Famous Jameis Winston and Florida State destroyed Maryland.
This week we've got another sporgy of games that'll shake up the Top 25 and give us a better understanding of the national landscape.
>> Welcome to big boy football, Northwestern. Even in defeat against Ohio State the Wildcats impressed and showed they can hang with the best of the Big Ten. This week they head to Wisconsin, where they are actually ranked ahead of the Badgers (No. 19 vs unranked). No, that is not a typo.
This will not be easy for the Wildcats as Wisconsin comes off a bye and winning in Camp Randall Stadium is as difficult as beating "Contra" without using the code that gets you 30 lives.
Wisconsin will run the ball like Kanye's mouth and if the Badgers are true to their calling card, they won't turn the ball over much. Northwestern, however, will need to force turnovers if it's going to have a chance at the upset. And yes, this would be an upset despite the ranking difference.
This is exactly the type of game Northwestern needs to win to take that next step. Hanging tough only counts if you are talking about a New Kids on the Block song.
>> The marquee game of this weekend involves Washington yet again. Like Northwestern, the Huskies gained some street cred despite their close loss. They are a program looking to elevate their status and will get the opportunity at home against second-ranked Oregon.
Oregon's offense is pretty much like using Bo Jackson in "Tecmo Bowl." The Ducks can score at will. They've scored at least 55 points in every game this season, albeit against no ranked teams.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has a ridiculous 14-0 touchdown to interceptions ratio, and if Oregon gets through its schedule unscathed, you could be looking at the Heisman Trophy winner.
Running back Bishop Sankey and quarterback Keith Price are the cogs to the Washington offense. The Huskies outgained Stanford by over 200 yards in their close defeat, so they'll need to be every bit as good if they are going to find a way to beat the Ducks for the first time since 2003.
>> We are one week away from the titanic matchup between Florida State and Clemson, and don't think Clemson doesn't know that. Unlike the Seminoles, the Tigers have to play this week and a loss to unranked Boston College would be sooooo Clemson.
They beat Georgia to open the season, opening the doors for a legit shot at a national title. This is exactly the spot where Clemson teams of years past would let down. Luckily for Tigers fans they've got senior quarterback Tajh Boyd and if his 455-yard, five-TD performance last week is any indication, there should be no let-up.
>> Don't sleep on LSU. The Tigers narrowly fell to a good Georgia team, but that loss does not have them out of the national title picture. They still have games remaining against top-ranked Alabama and ninth-ranked Texas A&M to go with this weekend's matchup at home versus 17th-ranked Florida.
This is high-powered offense meeting stingy defense. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is balling hard and is a shell of last year's version that had LSU ranked in the bottom half of SEC offenses. He's got potent weapons in wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham and running back Jeremy Hill.
Florida's defense is allowing only 12 points per game, but that's against the likes of Toledo, Kentucky and Arkansas. That's not exactly a murderers' row, but they've done what they are supposed to.
Tyler Murphy is filling in at quarterback for the injured Jeff Driskel, and amazingly the offense has gotten better. Murphy will get his biggest test as he tries to win in one of the most hostile environments in college football.
This is the first of five remaining games against ranked teams for the Gators. If they want to make noise in the SEC, a victory here would be a great start.
Check out more of RedEye special contributor Rob Cressy's writing at BaconSports.com or @BaconSports.Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC