Usually in this space we rank the best coaching match-ups of the weekend in a customary descending order. But considering this week's slate consists of a delicious main course and so many tantalizing sides they require a run through the buffet, we've designed this week's best match-up and then laid out the remaining 10 in no particular order.
Alabama HC Nick Saban vs. Ole Miss HC Hugh Freeze. Can anyone name the last time Ole Miss won in Tuscaloosa? (It was 1998.) How about the last time Ole Miss beat the Tide two years in a row? (Trick question. It's never happened.) What about Saban's record in so-called revenge games? (18-2, winning by an average of 14-plus points.)
Add in that Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly makes his first competitive college start (the Rebels faced UT-Martin and Fresno State to open the season) at a juiced Bryant-Denny Stadium under the lights with College GameDay and ESPN's A-team in town, and you've got the makings of what should be a Tide win.
So why should the Rebels like their chances on Saturday night? For starters, Ole Miss has a lot in common with 2012 Texas A&M, 2013 Auburn, 2013 Oklahoma, 2014 Ohio State and, oh yeah, last year's Ole Miss team - the ability to spread defenders out and then pick the Tide apart.
- Cal HC Sonny Dykes vs. Texas HC Charlie Strong. We've gone on record saying 2016 will be the make-or-break year for Strong's tenure at Texas, but many (myself included) believe Saturday is the make-or-break game for the Longhorns' 2015 season. Can't beat Cal at home? Good luck against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma. However, if the Longhorns somehow shut down Jared Goff and company, it could signal Strong's rebuild may be ahead of schedule.
Will they actually slow down those Bears? Probably not. Texas is 114th nationally in pass efficiency defense and dead last in third down defense. Not a good combination against a Dykes offense.
- Arkansas OC Dan Enos vs. Texas Tech DC David Gibbs. How can the same team that bowled Texas Tech over to the tune of 68 carries for 438 yards and seven touchdowns last year in Lubbock muster only 103 yards and one score on 31 carries against Toledo?
New Hogs coordinator Enos put the ball in the air 53 times in last week's loss to Toledo. If he does that again, there's a good chance Gibbs' trademark ballhawk defense (six turnovers forced already this season, tied for sixth nationally) grabs a few of them and makes this a game.
- Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and OC Rhett Lashlee vs. LSU DC Kevin Steele. Auburn hasn't won in Baton Rouge since 1999, and their last three trips ended in an average 37-14 defeat. So it would seem poor timing that neither Auburn's running game (177.5 yards per game, 72nd nationally) or passing game (91st in passing efficiency, five interceptions are tied for most nationally) are clicking right now.
- Clemson HC Dabo Swinney vs. Louisville HC Bobby Petrino. A chic pick to win the ACC entering the season, Louisville starts the year 0-3 without an upset of Clemson tonight with road trips to N.C. State and Florida State looming. Expect Bobby Petrino to throw every punch he has at a favored Clemson team.
- Georgia Tech HC Paul Johnson vs. Notre Dame DC Brian VanGorder. With Notre Dame's offensive backfield now erased for the season, VanGorder's charges have seen their margin for error vanish. That's not a good thing against a Georgia Tech offense that requires its opponent fit properly snap after snap after snap or chase them to the end zone. How many points do you think DeShone Kizer is good for in his first start at quarterback? 24? Well, Georgia Tech hasn't been held below 25 points since the 2013 Music City Bowl.
- Florida HC Jim McElwain vs. Kentucky HC Mark Stoops. Last week we foreshadowed the ending of Kentucky's 22-game road losing streak, so how about Stoops and company break two barriers in one night? The Wildcats haven't beaten Florida since 1986 and haven't started 2-0 in SEC play since 1977.
- South Carolina HC Steve Spurrier vs. Georgia HC Mark Richt. Steven Orr Spurrier has turned tormenting the Georgia Bulldogs into his life's work. He's 16-6 as a head coach against the red and black - including wins in four of the past five years. But he's just 5-7 against Power Five opponents since the beginning of the 2014 season. Spurrier's 70th birthday passed last spring, and pieces like this now populating his Google search bar. A win Saturday feels sorely needed. And if the HBC is ever going to reclaim his mojo, isn't it going to come against his beloved Bulldogs?
- Bowling Green HC Dino Babers vs. Memphis DC Galen Scott. This week's Group of Five playoff preview features a Bowling Green offense that illuminated Tennessee and Maryland's defenses like a Fourth of July sky (624.5 yards per game, nation's best 924 passing yards, 39 points per game) against a Memphis defense led by longtime Justin Fuente lieutenant but first-time coordinator Galen Scott. Memphis ranks seventh nationally at 3.48 yards per play allowed, but Bowling Green represents a large step up in competition from Southwest Missouri State and (sadly) Kansas.
- Stanford HC David Shaw vs. USC HC Steve Sarkisian. USC has looked generally contender-ish in wins over Arkansas State and Idaho. But now enters a Stanford team that in no way resembles the Trojans' opening Sun Belt-two step. And beware Stanford as a heavy underdog, as they will be Saturday.
- BYU OC Robert Anae vs. UCLA DC Tom Bradley. If not for two well-timed and perfectly-placed passes, BYU is 0-2 and largely forgotten. But those two Tanner Mangum rainbows found their pots of gold, and now the Cougars are the early darlings of college football. Bruins freshman quarterback Josh Rosen is the real deal, and the Cougars surely can't count on an extra seven points at closing time, can they?