Clash of the titans: Top college teams struggling to stay relevant

10/11/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak

Week 6 was certainly not a good week to be ranked in the Top-10, as four of the Top-10 teams in the land were beaten.  So what will happen in Week 7?  With two games pitting two of the nations Top 10 teams against each other, it's guaranteed that there will be more shakeup after this week.  So let's take a look at 5 of the biggest games this weekend.
No. 2 Auburn at No. 3 Mississippi State
Mississippi State made the biggest leap in the rankings since last week, jumping 9 spots from No. 12 to No. 3 after an impressive 48 to 31 win over then No. 6 Texas A&M.  And for the third week in a row, the Bulldogs will take on a Top 10 team.  Auburn comes in off of a dominating 41 to 7 win over last weeks No. 15, LSU.  Both teams get it done on offense, as the Tigers average 42 points per game, just behind the Bulldogs 42.6 average.  The question is, can Auburn's defense stop the Bulldogs Dak Prescott?  Prescott has become a potential leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy by passing for 1,232 yards and throwing 13 TD's against just 2 interceptions so far in 2014.  Prescott has also rushed for 455 yards and 6 scores.  This is just Auburn's second road game of the season, their previous being a 20-14 win over No. 20 Kansas State.  This is the highest Mississippi State has ever been ranked, and they'll try to extend their winning streak to nine games dating back to last season.
No. 3 Mississippi at No. 14 Texas A&M
One team comes in off of a huge win, the other off of a one sided loss.  Last week, Mississippi beat then No. 3 Alabama 23 to 17.  Texas A&M, which was ranked No. 6 last week, was throttled by Mississippi State 48 to 21.  The Aggies average 47.8 points per game, which is 3rd highest in the NCAA.  The Rebels give up just 10.2 points against, which is 2nd lowest in college football.  Kenny Hill will be a tough test for that Rebels defense, as he has thrown for 2,110 yards and 21 TD's so far this season.  Hill passed for 365 yards and 4 scores in last weeks loss, but also threw 3 interceptions.  WR Malcome Kennedy was injured and missed last weeks loss for the Aggies, but is listed as probable for this week and would be a big boost to the passing game.  Texas A&M gave up 559 yards rushing to Mississippi State, but the Rebels rushing attack has been far from a force this season, ranking 87th in the nation at 143 yards per game.  This is just Mississippi State's second road game of the season, and first against a Top 25 opponent.

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No. 9 TCU at No. 5 Baylor
TCU comes in off of a 37 to 33 upset win over last weeks No. 4, Oklahoma.  With that win, the Horned Frogs jumped 16 spots in the rankings from last week.  Trevone Boykin led the way for TCU last week with 395 yards in total offense.  Both teams have been solid on defense, with TCU ranking 7th in scoring defense, while Baylor features the 5th best defense in points against.  Both defenses will be tested, as Baylor has the nations highest scoring offense, averaging 51 points per game.  TCU's 42.8 points per game is 12th highest.  This will be Baylor's first real test of the season, and the Bears will need a better game from QB Bryce Petty, who was less than impressive in last weeks win over Texas.  Baylor has won 12 consecutive home games...their last home loss was to TCU in October of 2012.


No. 12 Oregon at No. 18 UCLA
Nothing sent bigger shockwaves through the NCAA than Oregon being upset by Arizona.  Perhaps that Thursday night upset should have been considered a preview of what was to come last weekend?  The Ducks fell 10 spots from No. 2, and weren't the only team to fall that far.  UCLA was stunned at home by Utah, and fell 10 spots from No. 8.  Two of the Pac-12's top QB's will try to get their teams back on track in this one.  Oregon has Marcus Mariota, who has thrown for 1,411 yards and 15 TD's without an interception.  UCLA has Brett Hundley, who has passed for 1,310 yards and 9 TD's against just two picks.  The winner may be decided by which quarterback can stay off the turf.  Oregon has allowed 12 sacks the past two games while UCLA allowed Hundley to be sacked 10 times by Utah.   Oregon dominated last years meeting, and has won 10 of the past 12 games between these schools.  The Ducks also haven't suffered back to back losses since 2007.
No. 13 Georgia at No. 23 Missouri
The big story here is that Georgia will be without their leading rusher and Heisman Trophy contending RB Todd Gurley.  Gurley, who has rushed for 773 yards and 8 TD's this season, has been suspended indefinitely for allegedly violating NCAA rules.  With Gurley, the Bulldogs had the 6th highest scoring offense in the nation, averaging 45 points per game.  The other challenge for the Bulldogs will be trying to stop Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk, who has passed for 1,110 yards and 14 TD's this season.   Georgia has also struggled on the road, losing 5 of their past 9 road contests and dropping their past four road games against ranked teams.

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