1. Tennessee-Texas A&M will be a battle of who can shake out of their ugly trends. Tennessee has fallen behind by 10-plus points four times in five games. Make it five in six and, rest assured, the Vols will bring their first loss home with them to Knoxville. At the same time, Texas A&M is 1-5 at home against ranked teams since joining the SEC. The Aggies carry a minus-11 turnover margin in those six games. Lose the turnover margin by two again and, rest assured, that number will fall to 1-6.
But there is reason to believe each will slay their respective dragons. Behind the steady, if inefficient, arm of Trevor Knight, Texas A&M is up to 40th in turnover margin after finishing last season ranked 102nd. And Tennessee, if it can figure out how to trick its team into believing the game starts an hour before it actually kicks off, may just be one of the very best teams in the country with a knack for pulling out games. This is a team that has, by hook or crook, won 11 games in a row. A great way to prove that? Turn the Aggies over and, for goodness sake, don't dig yourself a hole that will require every bit of whatever time remains to dig out of.
2. Texas-Oklahoma has become a game where you can literally throw the records (and the stats) out. A year ago, Charlie Strong and Texas limped into Dallas at 1-4, fresh off a 50-7 whipping by TCU, and kicked Oklahoma up and down the field -- UT out-rushed OU 313-67 -- in a 24-17 stunner. The year prior, Texas handed Oklahoma a box score beatdown -- Texas held a 24-11 first downs edge, pushed OU off the field in 10-of-11 third downs, and more than doubled the Sooners' 232 total yards -- yet lost 31-26. In 2013, buzzards circled Mack Brown as he arrived in Dallas, yet Texas flattened the favored Sooners 36-20.
I'm taking Oklahoma, simply because I'm unsure how much Strong can do to transform a historically porous Texas defense in a week's time. But while Texas ranks 126th nationally and last among Power 5s in pass efficiency defense, Oklahoma is 122nd and third-to-last among major programs. Texas is better on the ground, OU is better through the air.
By now we know what Oklahoma is: a notch below the national elite, but a team that should be the class of the Big 12. I think we see that Saturday.
3. Arkansas has come close against Alabama in the past under Bret Bielema. Is this the year he breaks through? Arkansas held a 7-3 lead deep into the third quarter last season in Tuscaloosa. By the time the Hogs scored again, Alabama had already run off 24 straight points. The last time the Tide visited Fayetteville, Alabama won 14-13 thanks to a missed field goal and a blocked extra point by Arkansas.
This time around, Arkansas is ready to not just compete with Alabama, but make the plays necessary to win. They think.
4. We'll learn more about Miami this weekend than any team in the country. Florida State is 2-3, but the victim of a schedule that required games against the Nos. 1, 5 and 13 ranked offenses in terms of yard per play. Next up? No. 2 Miami.
Granted, the 'Canes have played a schedule that includes Florida Atlantic, Florida A&M, Appalachian State and Georgia Tech, the highest of which ranks No. 68 in yards per play allowed. Florida State isn't FAU, but Miami will test a struggling 'Noles defense.
5. Oregon has beaten Washington a dozen years in a row. All but the last one have come by 17 points or more. Oregon's defense struggled to stay in front of Colorado and Washington State, and in walks the nation's most efficient passer (through five games) in Jake Browning.
Chris Petersen and Mark Helfrich are buddies, so I wouldn't expect a Pacific Northwest downpour on the Ducks, but the streak should end Saturday.
6. An interesting test for the new look LSU offense. One look at the LSU game log makes for a quick game of "one of these things is not like the others."
With no Leonard Fournette, this game -- whenever it gets played -- will be a tough hurdle to clear for LSU against the No. 2 pass efficiency defense in college football.
Well, this game isn't happening. For more on that, read this.