The jockeying for position begins in earnest now that the first College Football Playoff rankings are out.
Among the four teams at the top, only Notre Dame (No. 2 CFP) is expected to face a strong challenge this week.
Alabama (No. 1) hosts Auburn in the Iron Bowl rivalry, Clemson (No. 3) is at home against Pittsburgh and Ohio State (No. 4) visits Illinois. All three are favored by at least 24 points.
Notre Dame, looking to make the playoff for the second time in three years, will put its defense to the test against a North Carolina offense that’s scored at least 56 points in three games.
Notre Dame is allowing 16.6 points per game, fourth-best among Power Five teams. Under defensive coordinator Clark Lea, the Irish have held 31 of 34 opponents to 30 points or fewer.
North Carolina (No. 19) features the prolific Sam Howell at quarterback and the 1-2 punch of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams at running back. The Tar Heels have gained 500 yards in six straight games for the first time in at least 50 years.
No. 15 Iowa State at No. 20 Texas
The Cyclones, who haven’t won even a share of a conference title since 1912, will clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game for the first time with a win. Iowa State fans could have only dreamed to be in this position when Matt Campbell was hired five years ago.
Texas also controls its destiny. Beat the Cyclones and win out on the road against Kansas State and Kansas and the Longhorns will be back in Arlington, Texas, playing in the title game for the second time in three years.
The Longhorns haven’t had a game since Nov. 7 after an open date and a postponement due to COVID-19 at Kansas.
The Cyclones won 23-21 in Ames last year on Connor Assalley’s 36-yard field goal as time expired. They’ve lost four straight in Austin.
Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Trask threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt last week and is the first SEC quarterback with 30 TD passes in seven games.
The opponent Saturday is Kentucky. Last year Trask replaced an injured Feleipe Franks in the fourth quarter and led two TD drives that rallied the Gators from a double-digit deficit to a 29-21 win over the Wildcats. Trask has been the starter ever since.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2 — Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and North Carolina’s Mack Brown are the top two FBS coaches based on number of career wins. Kelly has 271 in 30 years, Brown has 257 in 32.
5 — Iowa’s win streak against border rival Nebraska.
6 — South Florida players who have attempted at least one pass.
7 — Buffalo’s streak of games with no sacks allowed.
25 — Turnovers committed by Duke in eight games, most in the nation.
69 — Number of days it will be Saturday since UTEP has played a home game, the longest in-season stretch in program history.
72 — Consecutive games Oklahoma State has won when holding its opponent to fewer than 20 points, the longest streak of its kind since at least 1980.
Not much has gone right for Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin since a 2018 win over a nationally ranked Oregon. He’s 9-17 after ending last year on a seven-game losing streak and starting this season 0-2. Sumlin also is 0-2 against rival Arizona State. This week they’re nine-point underdogs on the road against UCLA and its hot-seat coach Chip Kelly.
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