Ohio State (No. 2 in the Kickoff Top 25, No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings) faces a test this weekend as it hosts Michigan State (No. 11 on the Kickoff Top 25, No. 9 in the CFP rankings) in one of our Kickoff Games of the Week. The Buckeyes lead the series 29-13, and we expect them to prevail again this week. We’ll see, though, as the kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm, televised on ABC.

ohio-state-michigan-stateAn Ohio State loss would shake things up in the Playoff picture. ESPN’s College GameDay will broadcast from Columbus Saturday morning, the first time on campus since 2010. Clemson (10-0) and Alabama (9-1) are ahead of Ohio State with Notre Dame (9-1) immediately trailing.

The Kickoff Top 25 has Oklahoma State (10-0) ahead of the Fighting Irish in the No. 4 spot. Their game against Baylor (8-1, No. 10) is our other Game of the Week. When hosting, as they are Saturday, the Cowboys have a 12-4 record, and Oklahoma State leads the series all-time 19-14. A look at the Kickoff Power Ratings suggests the Bears may leave disappointed, which would end their playoff hopes. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM in Stillwater with the game airing on FOX.

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Other big games worth checking out this weekend: No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma, California at No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 LSU at No. 22 Ole Miss, No. 24 USC at No. 23 Oregon, No. 20 Northwestern at No. 25 Wisconsin, and No. 17 North Carolina at Virginia Tech in Frank Beamer’s final home game.

In this week’s issue of The Kickoff, we looked at last weekend’s upsets as Arkansas topped LSU, Oklahoma beat Baylor, Oregon topped Stanford, and Missouri beat BYU, among others. The Kickoff Thermostat showed Pittsburgh, Oregon and Iowa on the rise, with the stock of Auburn, Duke and Stanford falling.

In our Top 25, Alabama, Notre Dame, Houston, Northwestern, and Iowa jumped two spots. Michigan State, USC, Florida, and Arkansas jumped 3 spots. Oklahoma jumped 7 spots. Falling after last week’s upsets were Baylor, Stanford, LSU, and Utah, while BYU dropped out of our Top 25.

The Kickoff looked at the overall trends through last week, listed the complete FBS and select FCS schedules and standings, examined the average points allowed by teams and strength of schedule, broke down the conferences’ winning percentages, and offered Power Ratings for this weekend’s games. We also looked back to the rankings in November 1963, when Texas led the nation with a 9-0 record. In News and Notes, we recognized the superlatives of Ezekiel Elliot, Brandon Radcliff, Jake Ruddock, Derrick Henry, Jehu Chesson, Jordan Howard, Alex Collins, and Sterling Shepard.

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