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The Top Ten Things This Weekend Will Teach Us About the Rest of the Season

1. Whether or not Georgia is still a national title contender - Georgia becomes just the fourth team of the BCS era to face three top ten teams in its first four games when LSU arrives in Athens. Should the Bulldogs lose, their SEC hopes would very much still be alive but anything beyond that is fantasy. Not exactly fair, but that's the way the cookie crumbles inside the SEC.

2. If there's something to worry about in the Alabama secondary - Nick Saban stated this week the approach to defending Ole Miss and Texas A&M is completely different, but way the Tide's SEC foes will attack the Alabama defense is the same - throw, throw and throw some more. Johnny Manziel hit Alabama for 464 yards and five touchdowns, and Bo Wallace and the Rebels' pass catchers are capable of posting a similar performance. Alabama cornerback John Fulton had better be ready for an onslaught.

3. Who the real Big Ten favorite is - Stat of the Day: 0. Ohio State and Wisconsin have collectively won seven games, and those seven teams have gone on to win precisely zero games against FBS competition. Even though we may not really know anything about the Badgers and Buckeyes, we know enough about the rest of the Big Ten to say Saturday night's winner will carry the torch as the Big Ten favorite until someone else takes it away.

4. Oklahoma's status as a national player - A 30-13 loss to Notre Dame in Norman last October effectively pushed Oklahoma out of the national conversation for the remainder of the 2012 season. The Sooners have the chance to return the favor a month earlier, and vault themselves into the national conversation.

5. Who the real Pac-12 dark horse is - Arizona and Washington are each capable of winning the Pac-12 if things break their way. For that to happen, though, requires each team beating each other. Obviously, that can't happen. Considering Washington faces all three of the Pac-12's Oregon/Stanford/UCLA power trio and Arizona gets two of them, Saturday night's game in Seattle is basically a late September playoff bout.

6. Just how good is UCF really? - After an under-the-radar 3-0 start, UCF has a chance to win - for itself and the American Athletic Conference - a lot of respect if not the game itself when South Carolina comes to campus on Saturday. Playing in the noon ET game on ABC without much competition from other networks, this will be the spotlight early game of the college football world. Should the Knights make it interesting in the second half, expect Orlando (and Louisville) to be rocking.

7. The identity of North Dakota State's biggest challenger in the FCS - If there was a Football Championship Subdvision version of College GameDay - and, by God, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network, what else are you doing on Saturday mornings? - it would absolutely be in Huntsville, Texas, Saturday when No. 4 Eastern Washington visits No. 3 Sam Houston State. These teams met in the FCS semifinals last year, a game in which Sam Houston State took a 35-0 halftime lead and then held on for dear life to win a 45-42 thriller. This year's winner will become (along with No. 2 Towson) the official frontrunners to take a shot at North Dakota State's crown.

8. The status of the Cal passing game - Sonny Dykes' program isn't yet ready to challenge Oregon position-by-position, but if there's one thing the Bears have shown they can do as well as anyone, it's throw the ball. Cal's true freshman quarterback Jared Goff stands as the nation's leading passer through three games with 433.7 yards per game. He hoisted 63, 51 and 53 passes in those three outings. Meanwhile, Oregon's two FBS opponents to date, Virginia and Tennessee, rank 106th and 116th, respectively. 

9. Just how far the West Virginia offense has fallen - A year ago this week, West Virginia had become the talk of the nation after roasting the Baylor defense with 656 passing yards, eight touchdowns and 70 points in its first Big 12 game. Things could not be more different now, as the Mountaineers' second Big 12 season opens after a 37-0 loss to Maryland in which West Virginia totaled 175 yards of offense. I don't know how much punch this year's West Virginia offense really has, but I expect Dana Holgorsen to give Oklahoma State his best on Saturday afternoon.

10. Who Miami's biggest challenger in the ACC Coastal Division is - Virginia Tech visits Georgia Tech on Thursday night - if there's such a thing as a perfectly fitting Thursday night match-up, this is it - for what will unofficially serve as the play-in game for the right to challenge Miami for the Coastal championship. Off to a 2-0 start in conference play, Georgia Tech is technically the defending Coastal champion - the Yellow Jackets finished third in the standings, but played in the ACC title game thanks to NCAA sanctions at North Carolina and Miami. Virginia Tech has won three straight after its season-opening loss to Alabama, but last week's win over Marshall was about the ugliest thing you'll ever see on a football field besides a 450-pound naked streaker.