Alabama-LSU highlights this week's slate, as the playoff picture starts to come into focus.
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Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior editor Rob Doster:
Navy at Notre Dame
The Irish have retaken control of this rivalry, winning five in a row after Navy had won three of four. The Midshipmen come in following their worst defensive outing of the season in a 52–45 loss to South Florida. The Irish can still salvage bowl eligibility, but this game is a must win.
Doster's pick: Notre Dame 35–27
Louisville at Boston College
The Cardinals flirted with disaster before escaping Charlottesville with a 32-25 win over Virginia. They'll be inclined to take care of business early against an improved but still outmanned BC team.
Doster’s pick: Lousville 38–14
Wisconsin at Northwestern
Another week, another test for the Badgers, who will find little relief from their gauntlet of tough games with this trip to Northwestern, which gave Ohio State all it could handle. The Badgers' elite defense should be the difference.
Doster’s pick: Wisconsin 24–13
Texas A&M at Mississippi State
The Aggies still have a path to the College Football Playoff, although they'll need some help. First, they must take care of their own business, starting this Saturday in Starkville.
Doster’s pick: Texas A&M 35–20
Vanderbilt at Auburn
The Commodores are actually thinking about bowl eligibility, but this week won't help that cause. The Tigers are playing some of the best football in the country right now.
Doster's pick: Auburn 41–17
Georgia Tech at North Carolina
Tech's option offense is a challenge to prepare for, and Carolina has been vulnerable against the run this season. But Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been flawless aside from a hiccup against Virginia Tech, and the Heels will outscore the Jackets.
Doster’s pick: North Carolina 31–24
Florida at Arkansas
On the surface, this game looks like a threat to Florida's quest to win the SEC East, but the Gators have beaten the Razorbacks in all nine matchups between the two since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992. Florida's defense will be the difference.
Doster's pick: Florida 24–17
Syracuse at Clemson
The Orange have won two in a row and are coming off a bye, while Clemson is coming off a tough, emotional win over Florida State. The Tigers may start slowly, but their talent will ultimately take over in this one.
Doster's pick: Clemson 34–21
Virginia Tech at Duke
Tech has the upper hand in the ACC Coastal race on the strength of its win over North Carolina. Duke is dangerous but lacks the firepower this season to hang with the Hokies.
Doster's pick: Virginia Tech 31–14
Oklahoma State at Kansas State
The Cowboys come into Manhattan brimming with confidence following their win over West Virginia. They face a typical Wildcats team: a little undermanned, but well coached and well prepared.
Doster's pick: Oklahoma State 28–21
TCU at Baylor
TCU and Baylor have played some of the most entertaining games in the Big 12 in recent years. Baylor can still win the Big 12 title, but this team cannot afford another loss. Gary Patterson’s team has been a disappointment, but the Kenny Hill-led Frogs offense is capable of piling up points. This one could be a shootout.
Doster's pick: Baylor 45–38
Maryland at Michigan
Michigan finally showed a few flaws in its win over Michigan State, but you can chalk that one up to a rivalry game. Maryland has fallen to earth after a 4–0 start, and the descent continues this week.
Doster's pick: Michigan 38–17
Arizona at Washington State
The Cougars' charmed march through the Pac-12 continued late Saturday night with a comeback win over Oregon State. Wazzu will continue to cruise toward critical season-ending matchups with Colorado and Washington.
Doster’s pick: Washington State 41–24
Missouri at South Carolina
Two straight wins, including an upset of Tennessee, have the Gamecocks thinking bowl, but this one is an absolute must. Fortunately for them, they face a Tigers team in the process of bottoming out.
Doster's pick: South Carolina 21–16
Florida State at NC State
Jimbo Fisher was enraged at the refs following the Noles' disappointing loss at home to Clemson. His team is likely to take out its frustrations on the Wolfpack, who have lost three straight after a 4–1 start.
Doster's pick: Florida State 35–17
Iowa at Penn State
The Nittany Lions got blown out by Michigan and survived close calls against Temple and Minnesota before stunning Ohio State and giving James Franklin his long-awaited signature win against a ranked team. Iowa has returned to its inconsistent ways, struggling to beat a woeful Rutgers team but testing Wisconsin in an eight-point loss. This one is tough to peg.
Doster’s pick: Iowa 21–20
Georgia at Kentucky
Believe it or not, Kentucky is still alive in the SEC East race. The Wildcats aren't likely to get to Atlanta, but they are likely to get to a bowl, which represents significant progress in Lexington. The disappointing Dawgs are playing out the string.
Doster’s pick: Kentucky 24–20
Nebraska at Ohio State
After playing their toughest games on the road, the Buckeyes finally get a ranked opponent at home. They also catch the Huskers one week after Nebraska’s trip to Wisconsin, and the Horseshoe is an even tougher venue than Camp Randall Stadium. Nebraska's flirtation with a playoff spot ends this week.
Doster's pick: Ohio State 34–24
Alabama at LSU
Alabama has won five straight in this annual clash of SEC West heavyweights, dating back to the 21–0 win in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, and the Tide will be significant favorites in this one, but Nick Saban is well aware of just how dangerous the Tigers are. LSU is playing with renewed energy since the move from Les Miles to Ed Orgeron, and Leonard Fournette is running like the Heisman favorite he was before injury derailed the early part of his season.
Doster's pick: Alabama 24–17
Washington at California
The Huskies passed a significant test with a win at Utah. This trip won't be quite so dangerous. The Bears can score in bunches but will have no answer for Jake Browning and the Washington offense.
Doster's pick: Washington 51–31
Last Week: 15-5