The tone of this series is going to shift now that Penn State no longer controls its own destiny. Rather than focusing on games based on sheer entertainment value, we will be taking a closer look that could have playoff implications for the Nittany Lions to find a way into the top four by season’s end. While unfortunate, it also makes the rest of the college football schedule much more interesting as each week will offer games with very specific rooting interests that can help Penn State’s cause.
Week six is shaping up to be one of the best of the season so far. While there isn’t a list of marquee games that would be appointment viewing, each timeslot has several interesting match-ups that should make up for a satisfying, and potentially wild, first Saturday of October.
(#19)Texas vs. (#7)Oklahoma
This is one of those games that is worth watching on an annual basis, regardless of records. However, there is now extra appeal as an Oklahoma loss could mean Penn State moves up one spot in the rankings. Several conferences could be shut out of the playoffs this season with the SEC having a solid shot of getting two teams in, plus Notre Dame’s relatively clear path to an undefeated season. This means a one-loss Big 12 team may fall out of consideration. Texas has been on a bit of a hot streak since being upset by Maryland in week one, beating two ranked teams (at the time). Can they make it three in four weeks?
Prediction: Oklahoma-28, Texas-25
Indiana at (#3)Ohio State
4 p.m., FOX
Remember what happened last year the week after Ohio State beat Penn State by one point in dramatic fashion? They were dismantled by Iowa 55-24 in the game that ultimately would eliminate the Buckeyes (and the Big Ten) from the playoffs. Unlike a year ago, the Buckeyes will be at home and can probably overcome some poor play against Indiana, but it will still be interesting to see how they come out and try to get back up after a hard-fought, emotionally-draining victory.
Prediction: Ohio State-38, Indiana-23
(#8)Auburn at Mississippi State
7:30 p.m., ESPN2
An upset here would definitely bump up Penn State as Auburn already has a loss. The Joe Moorhead era at Mississippi State got off to a fast start, but the offense has been completely derailed, putting up a total of 13 points in the last two weeks in losses to Kentucky and Florida. Can they find their way and outscore Auburn at home, or is it going to take time for JoMo to provide the offensive fireworks that everyone is expecting?
Prediction: Auburn-24, Mississippi State-17
(#6)Notre Dame at (#24)Virginia Tech
8 p.m., ABC
The Irish will not face another ranked opponent after Saturday, so an inconsistent Hokies squad may be the only thing standing in the way of a playoff berth for Notre Dame. Virginia Tech is still an enigma, rising to #13 early in the year before being upset by a winless Old Dominion team. They followed that up by beating a ranked Duke squad last weekend. We’ll see what the Hokies are made of on Saturday night, and will give their absolute best effort to try to knock off Notre Dame in an electric atmosphere in Blacksburg.
Prediction: Virginia Tech-27, Notre Dame-23