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College football storylines for Week 6: Big Ten takes center stage

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Spears says Nix needs to be special for Auburn (1:35)

ESPN analyst Marcus Spears joins Out Of Pocket and says QB Bo Nix will have to come up big for the No. 18 Tigers to challenge No. 2 Georgia. (1:35)

Last week, college football's microscope focused mostly on two huge SEC games (Ole Miss at Alabama, Arkansas at Georgia) and Cincinnati's trip to South Bend. This week we turn our gaze primarily to Big Ten country for the biggest Penn State-Iowa game ever -- and the conference's first top-five vs. top-five game not featuring Ohio State or Michigan since 1962.

That's not all Week 6 of the 2021 college football season has to offer, of course. By the time the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes kick off in Iowa City, Oklahoma-Texas will have answered a lot of questions in Dallas. Plus, Alabama heads to College Station, Georgia faces its oldest rival, Michigan faces a particularly tricky test in Lincoln, and Wake Forest and others attempt to keep "unbeaten upstart" labels pinned to their uniforms. Plus, if smaller schools are your thing -- and they should be -- the FCS slate is loaded. Let's preview Week 6!

All times listed below are Eastern.

Sean Clifford's rise and Iowa's vintage

No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa (4 p.m., Fox)

About 10 months ago in State College, Penn State's trajectory changed, even if we didn't know it at the time. James Franklin's Nittany Lions were 0-4 and dealing with an existential crisis; quarterback Will Levis started for a struggling Sean Clifford and led an early touchdown drive against a rugged Iowa defense, but the wheels quickly came off.

While Levis finished 13-for-16 passing, he also lost two fumbles and failed twice on fourth-and-short. Clifford subbed in late in the third quarter with Penn State down 31-7. He threw for touchdowns on each of his first two passes, but two interceptions -- including Iowa's specialty, a pick-six -- made it a 41-21 final.

Penn State hasn't lost since. Neither has Iowa.