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Rooting for College Football Chaos? These October Matchups Will Be Key

There is a notion that this college football season may be mirroring the famously chaotic one of 2007, with presumptive playoff team Clemson crashing out of the top five and sustaining two September losses. I’d hesitate to go that far considering, for instance:

  • Louisiana Monroe won’t beat Nick Saban’s Alabama
  • Illinois isn’t likely to beat Ohio State or go to the Rose Bowl
  • Notre Dame won’t go 3–9
  • Hawaii won’t be in a New Year’s Six bowl
  • LSU won’t be in the national title game (although it could lose two triple-overtime games)
  • Kansas and Missouri won’t play at all, much less play the game of the year
  • Tennessee isn’t good

And that’s only some of the truly wild twists and turns that the 2007 season took. But whatever November brings, October sets up. And there are plenty of ways this season ends up being a wild one thanks to the next four weeks.

There could be some new No. 3s?

Nine teams occupied the No. 2 spot in the AP poll in 2007, including such bluebloods as Cal, USF and Kansas (yes kids, they were really damn good that year). But provided Alabama and Georgia can take care of business against Ole Miss and Arkansas, respectively, on Oct. 2, the SEC pair should keep their vice grip on the top two spots in the rankings. Bama also gets the recently weakened Texas A&M on Oct. 9. Georgia heads to Jacksonville to face Florida Oct. 30.

One spot lower in the polls, we’ve got potential for something approaching that type of 2007 chaos, albeit with some names you’re more accustomed to. Four teams have already ranked No. 3 this season, and while Oklahoma could get the spot back, it’s highly doubtful Ohio State or Clemson will get it back.

So, while predicting pollster behavior is dubious, we could get a fifth No. 3 after the Iowa–Penn State game on Oct. 9 if both teams are undefeated heading into it. Spare a moment for Cincinnati to enter the fray as well if it can beat Notre Dame (Oct. 2) and keep rolling from there. The Bearcats also get UCF on Oct. 16, which will prove if Cincinnati can at the very least reclaim the Group of 5 New Year’s Six berth.

Rutgers' Aaron Young celebrates a touchdown vs Delaware

Greg Schiano’s Rutgers may hold the key to unlocking a Big Ten Pandora’s box

Schiano’s Scarlet Knights upset that apple cart by knocking off then-No. 2 USF at home in ‘07. If they are to be agents of chaos once more: Hosting Ohio State (Oct. 2) and Michigan State (Oct. 9) could be the moments they inject a little anarchy into the season. Another loss for the Buckeyes would almost certainly knock OSU out of playoff contention.

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But the Buckeyes can certainly still play spoiler to Penn State’s playoff dreams

Ohio State hosts Penn State (Oct. 30) and will be countering PSU’s all-white with a slick scarlet color rush. They’ll look the part, but will the quarterback situation allow the Buckeyes to play the part?

Elsewhere in the Big Ten East…

If Maryland's for real we’ll find out rather quickly with games against Iowa (Oct. 1) and Ohio State (Oct. 9). And of course, the month for Michigan starts with facing Wisconsin on Oct. 2, and ends with a trip to East Lansing for a rivalry matchup that could be a big deal.

Speaking of big deals…

The last seven regular season Red River Rivalry games have had a one score margin of victory. If Texas keeps getting it together on offense and Oklahoma continue to flounder, pay even closer attention to Oct. 9’s Cotton Bowl clash.

Don’t put it past Oregon to stub its toe out West either…

In 2007, we waited until November before Oregon’s season completely fell off the rails. The No. 2 Ducks visited Arizona as an 11-point favorite with presumptive Heisman favorite Dennis Dixon at QB. Dixon tore his ACL, and lost both the game and the Heisman. Games against Stanford (Oct. 2) or UCLA (Oct. 23) are conceivably losable even for a seemingly good Ducks squad. But Cal (Oct. 15) and Colorado (Oct. 30)? Those are games that Oregon should roll. If history does repeat itself, let’s just hope this doesn’t come with the injury this time.

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