1. The voodoo of Les Miles - Nick Saban's resume is as strong as titanium, except for the exact predicament he finds himself in tonight. Since 2010, Alabama is 35-1 against FBS opponents in August, September, October, December and January, and 5-4 in November. Saban is 4-3 coming off a regular-season bye week, and Alabama was off last week. As a program, the Tide is 1-5 against LSU in Tuscaloosa since 2001. The match-ups on the field say tonight should be an Alabama victory, but this game (and especially that coach) have a way of defying the match-ups on the field.
2. The situations at Texas and Alabama - Texas will kick off at West Virginia at 7 p.m. ET on Fox. Alabama will kick versus LSU an hour later on CBS. We wrote yesterday about why and how "Saban-to-Texas" could die (or, just maybe, come alive) depending on what happens tonight.
3. A game Will Muschamp really needs to win - Muschamp's seniors were in diapers the last time Florida lost to Vanderbilt and the last time the Gators missed a bowl game. With South Carolina and Florida State still on the schedule and the Gators entering Saturday with four losses, knocking over Domino One probably sends Domino Two tumbling as well. Meanwhile, the last time Vanderbilt beat Florida and Georgia in the same season was.... your guess is as good as mine.
4. The Surly Bowl at the Big House - Nebraska and Michigan have played parallel seasons thus far in 2013, and neither one has gone as hoped. Michigan nearly lost to Connecticut, struggled to beat Akron, blew a bad loss at Penn State and got manhandled by Michigan State. Nebraska nearly lost to Wyoming, squeaked by Northwestern, blew a bad loss to Minnesota and got manhandled by UCLA. Don't expect many smiles on the sidelines of this one, but here's guessing Brady Hoke's spotless home record sends Bo Pelini home with the larger scowl.
5. Rally Gophers - Minnesota enters Saturday's game with Penn State (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2) as a three-point favorite. A win would move the Gophers to 8-2 and 4-2 in Big Ten play. More importantly, a win gives Minnesota its first four-game conference winning streak since 1973. 40 years. I'd say Tracy Claeys is earning his $13,000 a week stipend as acting head coach.
6. A duel in the desert - In the incredibly short history of the Pac-12 divisional format, UCLA is the only champion the South Division has ever known. The Bruins' 2011 title was NCAA sanctions aided, but last year's championship was firmly earned. A third straight title requires a win at Arizona (10 p.m. ET, ESPN), as both teams - sporting identical 3-2 Pac-12 records - hope to stay in control of their own respective destinies with a date against first-place Arizona State on the horizon.
7. Two games worthy of your attention - BYU takes its five-game winning streak and turf-churning running game (258.9 yards per game) to Wisconsin, where it meets the Badgers' own three-game winning streak and an even more productive ground assault (287 yards per game) at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. At 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, first place in the American is on the line when one-loss Houston visits one-loss Central Florida.
8. How much does Miami have in the tank? - Miami took a body blow or seven last Saturday night in Tallahassee. Now Al Golden has to get his Hurricanes off the mat for an important ACC Coastal game against Virginia Tech. A loss here and Miami will go from undefeated and firmly in control of its ACC destiny to finding itself in a dog fight with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke (yes, Duke) for the division title.
9. I'm not saying, I'm just saying - David Shaw has won the last two Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors and, deserving as he may be for a third straight trophy, voters are likely to look elsewhere. After Thursday night, we know it won't be Mark Helfrich. Todd Graham, Rich Rodriguez and Jim Mora all appear like good candidates, but what's a better story than the interim head coach, who failed elsewhere and returned to the place he loves, and pulled the wheels back on after an 0-2 start to conference play? In case you're not aware who I'm talking about yet, USC visits Cal at 3 p.m. ET on Fox.
10. How much do you really love football? - You say you love football, but do you love it enough to watch 1-8 Western Michigan (riding a one game winning streak!) visit 1-8 Eastern Michigan, playing a game not 24 hours after losing its head coach? If so, park yourself in front of ESPN3 at 1 p.m. ET.