Quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) and Clemson will take on Louisville in one of Saturday’s must-see matchups.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) and Clemson will take on Louisville in one of Saturday's must-see matchups. (AP)

October brings separation to college football as the playoff contenders start to emerge — especially this week.

This weekend for the first time in 14 years, there are three games matching teams ranked in the top 10 of The Associated Press college football poll. It will be the ninth time in the history of the AP poll that at least three top-10 games will be played in the same regular-season week.

No. 3 Louisville can take a commanding lead in the ACC Atlantic race at No. 5 Clemson. Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals already have beaten Florida State and the conference schedule after this looks very manageable.

No. 4 Michigan faces the last and toughest of its five straight games in the Big House to start the season against No. 8 Wisconsin.

A clear Pac-12 North front-runner will emerge on Friday night when No. 7 Stanford faces No. 10 Washington.

For those looking to reminisce, the last time there were three top-10 games in one weekend was Oct. 6, 2002, and the higher ranked team won each game. No. 1 Miami beat No. 9 Florida State; No. 2 Oklahoma defeated No. 3 Texas and No. 6 Georgia beat No. 10 Tennessee. The average margin of victory was six points.

The picks:


UConn (plus 28) at No. 6 Houston

The only game the Cougars have lost under Tom Herman was at UConn last season with QB Greg Ward Jr. hurt ... HOUSTON 42-10.


No. 7 Stanford (plus 3) at No. 10 Washington


Both starting cornerbacks are out injured for the Cardinal against QB Jake Browning, who leads the Pac-12 in efficiency rating (194.88) ... WASHINGTON 28-23.


No. 3 Louisville (minus 2) at No. 5 Clemson

A chance for Deshaun Watson to slow down Jackson's sprint toward the Heisman Trophy ... CLEMSON 38-35.

No. 8 Wisconsin (plus 101/2) at No. 4 Michigan

The Wolverines have not beaten a team ranked in the top 10 since 2008, a string of 11 consecutive losses ... MICHIGAN 28-14.

No. 11 Tennessee (minus 31/2) at No. 25 Georgia

The Vols snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs last year and have not won in Athens since 2006 ... TENNESSEE 28-21.


Kentucky (plus 35) at No. 1 Alabama

The Crimson Tide is 36-2-1 against the Wildcats; last loss 1997 ... ALABAMA 50-10.

Rutgers (plus 38) at No. 2 Ohio State

The first meetings came the last two seasons. Total score: Ohio State 105, Rutgers 24 ... OHIO STATE 45-3.


No. 9 Texas A&M (minus 18) at South Carolina

Aggies QB Trevor Knight ranks second in the SEC in total offense at 340.8 yards per game ... TEXAS A&M 35-13

North Carolina (plus 11) at No. 12 Florida State

The Seminoles are second in the ACC in plays of at least 10 yards (76); Tar Heels are third (72) ... FLORIDA STATE 45-31.

No. 13 Baylor (minus 17) at Iowa State

The Bears have averaged 55 points in winning three straight against the Cyclones ... BAYLOR 55-24.

No. 14 Miami (minus 7) at Georgia Tech

Hurricanes coach Mark Richt is 8-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but the Yellow Jackets are looking to avoid consecutive home ACC losses ... GEORGIA TECH 24-21, UPSET SPECIAL.

Illinois (plus 21) at No. 15 Nebraska

The Cornhuskers' turnover margin is plus-6; last year it was minus-12 ... NEBRASKA 48-17, BEST BET.

Memphis (plus 141/2) at No. 16 Mississippi

The Tigers upset the Rebels last season ... OLE MISS 42-21.

No. 17 Michigan State (minus 7) at Indiana

The Spartans last lost consecutive games in 2012 and last lost to the Hoosiers in 2006 ... MICHIGAN STATE 31-27.

No. 18 Utah (plus 21/2) at California

QB Troy Williams gives the Utes a better chance to keep up in high-scoring games ... UTAH 35-30.

Oklahoma (pick'em) at No. 21 TCU

The Sooners are trying to avoid their worst start (1-3) since going 0-4 to begin 1996 season ... TCU 32-28.

No. 22 Texas (plus 3) at Oklahoma State

Seven straight wins for the road team in this series ... TEXAS 35-30.

No. 23 Florida (minus 10) at Vanderbilt

Another week of Austin Appleby at quarterback for the Gators ... FLORIDA 24-17.

Utah State (plus 191/2) at No. 24 Boise State

The Aggies snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Broncos last season ... BOISE STATE 42-17.


No. 19 San Diego State (minus 19) at South Alabama

The Aztecs have won 13 straight games ... SAN DIEGO STATE 34-17.


Kansas State (plus 31/2) at West Virginia — (at)rdcramer

Thanks to some weak competition and playing half a game against Missouri State because of severe weather, the Wildcats have the No. 1 defense in the nation at 179 yards allowed per game ... WEST VIRGINIA 31-23.

Notre Dame (minus 10) vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey— (at)nickfeely

The Irish, with a new defensive coordinator, try to avoid 1-4 start, which would be their worst since going 0-5 in 2007 ... NOTRE DAME 42-28.

Navy (plus 71/2) at Air Force — (at)mikecarey25

The teams have split the last six meetings, but with Army playing well the winner is no guarantee to take the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy ... AIR FORCE 29-25.

Missouri (plus 13) at LSU — (at)TexasTider1

New era for the Tigers, but how much can things really change in a week? ... LSU 28-13.

Arizona State (plus 10) at USC — (at)pac12board

First Pac-12 home game for the Trojans, who are desperate for a victory ... USC 38-31.


Record: Last week 14-7 straight; 10-10 vs. points.

Season: 56-19; 36-36-1.

Upset specials: 1-3.

Best bets: 0-4.