Week 6 of the college football season brings a start to the heart of the schedule. Starting on Oct. 5, the true contenders and pretenders will start to get weeded out and clarify the BCS picture. At least two games on Oct. 5 will pit an expected contender against a would-be one from their own conference, with the more revealing matchup set in Northwestern.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will have to visit the unbeaten, upstart Northwestern Wildcats, while the Stanford Cardinal get the benefit of hosting the Washington Huskies. Both the Buckeyes and Cardinal have already beaten conference challengers in the Wisconsin Badgers and Arizona State Sun Devils, yet the Wildcats and Huskies are both in the top 16.
The stakes are bigger for the Buckeyes, since they don’t have any more serious challenges -- on paper -- until the regular season finale with the Michigan Wolverines. As such, if Ohio State passes this road test, they can cruise along to the top while the Pac-12, ACC and SEC national title contenders knock each other off. Meanwhile, Stanford still has the UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks to confront after Washington.
Yet if Northwestern and/or Washington pulls an upset, the BCS picture will have to open up a bit for a Cinderella. Are these programs ready to shake up the power structure, or will they fade to the second tier of their conferences while the Ohio States and Stanfords stay on top?
Here is a full list of the top games in college football that will narrow some things down in Week 6.