Welcome to the Week of Doom.
The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet for the first time in less than a month, and this week almost certainly will shape the conversations for that group.
Every league will have powerhouse matchups between favorites and ranked teams, so much that our usual preview of the top five games of the week has been expanded to 10. And we still feel like we left out some important matchups.
The gauntlet starts Thursday with Oregon and Arizona and lasts through Nebraska and Michigan State in primetime on Saturday.
Title hopes will be crushed. Teams will have setbacks in conference races. And perhaps the postseason and Heisman pictures will start to take shape.
Get ready. This week will shape the rest of the year.
The Week Ahead: Week 6
All times Eastern, all games Saturday, unless noted
Arizona at Oregon
When and where: Thursday, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... games between Arizona and Oregon get weird. The Wildcats defeated Arizona 42-16 last season, effectively eliminating the Ducks from the Pac-12 and national title chase, and in 2007, they ended Oregon’s bid for a title. The Ducks are in contention again — with another Heisman favorite in Marcus Mariota — but their offensive line is in trouble. Behind redshirt quarterback Anu Solomon, Arizona has enough of an offense to put pressure on Mariota to perform on every possession.
Vegas says: Oregon by 22 1/2
Texas A&M at Mississippi State
When and where: Noon, ESPN
We’re watching because... the Aggies and Bulldogs keep proving their SEC West credentials. Texas A&M were able to take advantage of Arkansas’ fourth quarter miscues to stay alive, but the Aggies’ defense remains a liability. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott is an emerging Heisman contender coming off his career game against LSU. Prescott has rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games while improving as a passer. Could be trouble for the Aggies.
Vegas says: Mississippi State by 1
Ohio State at Maryland
When and where: Noon, ABC
We’re watching because... Ohio State may or may not be starting to putting its season together. J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 591 yards of total offense against Cincinnati, but Maryland’s defense has held its own despite mounting injuries. The Buckeyes pass defense remains vulnerable to long pass plays. Terrapins receiver Stefon Diggs, once a top recruiting target of Ohio State, can exploit that weakness.
Vegas says: Ohio State by 8
Alabama at Ole Miss
When and where: 3:30 p.m., CBS
We’re watching because... Ole Miss is playing its biggest home game in decades. The Rebels are 4-0 for the first time since Archie Manning was a senior, and they’re hosing ESPN College GameDay for the first time. Alabama is a week removed from 672 yards against Florida while Ole Miss has risen — surprisingly — to fourth in the country in fewest yards allowed per game (248) and yards per play (3.74). Ole Miss can’t afford another two-interception game from quarterback Bo Wallace.
Vegas says: Alabama by 5
Stanford at Notre Dame
When and where: 3:30 p.m., NBC
We’re watching because... Oct. 4 seems a little early for a Stanford-Notre Dame game, but the timing is right to sort out which team is for real. Stanford’s defense is masking the Cardinal’s inept offense inside the 40-yard line. The Cardinal is allowing 108.5 yards per game fewer than any other team in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s offense might not be as good as Everett Golson’s 25 consecutive completions against Syracuse indicate. Otherwise, Golson was responsible for two fumbles and two interceptions, one for a pick six.
Vegas says: Stanford by 1
Oklahoma at TCU
When and where: 3:30 p.m., Fox
We’re watching because... Oklahoma can further show why it’s the most complete team in the country. The Sooners have handled every opponent they’ve faced, including Tennessee and West Virginia, the latter on the road. TCU may be the toughest test. The Horned Frogs are stout defensively as usual with a Big 12-best 218.7 yards per game and 3.04 yards per play. But with Air Raid and spread concepts brought in by Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meachem, TCU is fourth in the Big 12 in yards per play.
Vegas says: Oklahoma by 4 1/2
Baylor at Texas
When and where: 3:30 p.m., ABC
We’re watching because... Baylor’s eventually going to start playing tougher games, right? Texas might not be that much better than Iowa State, but the Bears will try to improve their stock with a third consecutive lopsided win on the road.
Vegas says: Baylor by 14 1/2
LSU at Auburn
When and where: 7 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... this SEC West rivalry may be LSU’s last chance to prove it belongs among league contenders. Auburn’s defense may be the real deal after allowing only 4.56 yards per play after giving up nearly six per play in each of the last four seasons. Facing New Mexico State may have masked some of LSU’s offensive issues, but freshman Brandon Harris established himself as Les Miles’ quarterback (11-of-14, 178 yards, three touchdowns).
Vegas says: Auburn by 8 1/2
Miami at Georgia Tech
When and where: 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
We’re watching because... neither team can be written off in the ACC Coastal race. The division separated by a razor-thin margin, and Miami and Georgia Tech each have a leg up for the time being. Georgia Tech defeated Virginia Tech two weeks ago, and Miami is coming off a 22-10 win over Duke. Hurricanes freshman Brad Kaaya gets better every week, but he’s 0-2 on the road. That needs to change if UM is a realistic ACC contender.
Vegas says: Pick 'em
Nebraska at Michigan State
When and where: 8 p.m., ABC
We’re watching because... it’s safe to resume paying attention to the Big Ten now. The top two teams in the league rolled last week by a combined score of 101-28. Michigan State can regain ground lost by the loss to Oregon in Week 2 while Nebraska can establish itself as a Playoff contender. Ameer Abdullah enters a game against a stout Michigan State defense with momentum after rushing for of 437 yards in the last two games.
Vegas says: Michigan State by 9 1/2