Originally Published: October 2, 2014

GameDay Kickoff Show

Edward Aschoff, Heather Dinich and Ted Miller join host Chantel Jennings to preview Week 6 of the college football season.

Bubble Watch: What to watch in Week 6

By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

This Saturday is even bigger than the state of Mississippi.

Week 6 features the most meaningful games to date, with six games between two ranked opponents, and four games featuring a matchup of unbeatens. There are showdowns in the SEC West; a must-see in South Bend, Indiana; a potential Big 12 shake-up; and a Big Ten battle in East Lansing, Michigan.

This is where the road to the College Football Playoff begins to clear. Contenders in the left lane, please; everyone else in the right. The first official rankings of the playoff's selection committee will be revealed on Oct. 28. This is the month to make impressions -- or fade out of the picture.

Here a look at what's at stake in each of the games featuring two Top 25 teams:

No. 14 Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame

If Stanford wins: It would help erase doubts that surfaced after the loss to USC, and a road win over a top-10 opponent should impress the selection committee. With Oregon and UCLA still on the schedule, though, this is just the beginning. Notre Dame's stock would drop, and while it would still be too early to eliminate the Irish, they'd be on the bubble and likely need help to reach the playoff.

If Notre Dame wins: The Irish validate themselves as a playoff contender (that win over Michigan now looks very different and does nothing for Notre Dame's résumé). Notre Dame's schedule gives it a chance to possibly beat the Pac-12 champ (USC? Stanford?) and ACC champ (FSU?). Even if Stanford loses, it can still win the conference and earn a spot in the playoff. If Notre Dame wins, Irish fans should also become Stanford fans.

More to gain: Notre Dame

No. 4 Oklahoma at No. 25 TCU

If Oklahoma wins: The Sooners stay status quo -- the front-runners to win the Big 12 and represent the league in the playoff.

If TCU wins: The Big 12 race gets turned upside down. With back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Baylor, the Frogs have a chance to legitimize themselves not only as Big 12 title contenders, but as a dark horse in the national title picture. A one-loss Oklahoma team still can't be counted out, though, because the Sooners could still win the league. The entire Big 12 is better than it's getting credit for.

More to gain: TCU

No. 15 LSU at No. 5 Auburn

If LSU wins: Auburn drops from "next team in" to trying to separate itself from a crowded one-loss group, and LSU keeps its playoff hopes alive. With a win, LSU has a good shot at being 7-1 heading into its Oct. 25 game against Ole Miss, and would be right back in the SEC West race. Right now, Auburn is within arm's reach of the playoff. With four road games against ranked teams still on the schedule, it can't afford to lose at home.

If Auburn wins: LSU is in a heap of trouble. LSU already lost to Mississippi State, putting it behind in the SEC West race. Considering the rest of LSU's schedule -- Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and A&M -- odds are the Tigers will lose again, and a three-loss SEC champ might be pushing it. An Auburn win could push it off the bubble and into the bracket.

More to gain: LSU

No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Mississippi State

If the Aggies win: Depends on what happens with Alabama and Auburn. If those teams both win, A&M won't make too much of a jump. The Aggies would have passed the first of a two-part test against the state of Mississippi. A win would help A&M shake the doubts that critics had after it needed overtime to beat Arkansas last week, but the Aggies still have Ole Miss on Oct. 11. If Auburn and/or Alabama lose and A&M wins, the Aggies could be back in the top four.

If the Bulldogs win: It's a start. Mississippi State would still have to leapfrog Alabama and Auburn (not to mention Ole Miss) in the committee's Top 25. If the top-ranked teams in the SEC West lose, it could be a dramatic jump for the Bulldogs. If LSU wins, a win by Mississippi State looks even better because the Bulldogs beat LSU.

More to gain: Texas A&M

No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss

If Alabama wins: The Crimson Tide stay status quo as the team to beat in the SEC West, and one of the top four teams in the country. Ole Miss wouldn't be out of the playoff race because the SEC West race will continue to fluctuate, but instead of separating itself, it would drop back into the one-loss pack and be playing from behind.

If Ole Miss wins: The Rebels get their first win over a ranked opponent and fans in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, hit the panic button. Alabama won't be out of it, even with a loss, but Ole Miss could vault into the top five, depending on what happens elsewhere.

More to gain: Ole Miss

No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State

If Nebraska wins: Michigan State would likely be out of the playoff, and the Huskers would need to be taken seriously as a playoff contender. Nebraska would remain the only undefeated team in the Big Ten, and it would have a manageable path to the playoff, with Wisconsin as the only ranked opponent standing in the way. With two losses, Michigan State would drop out of the playoff conversation.

If Michigan State wins: The Spartans keep their playoff hopes alive, and Nebraska would have to hope for a Big Ten title as its consolation prize.

More to gain: Nebraska


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