As the BCS championship race comes into focus, it's all about the style points. Think otherwise? Last weekend saw Florida State run a fake punt despite being ahead 35-0 and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer challenge a spot late in the third quarter of a game his team led 56-7.
With that in mind, the Seminoles return this weekend as three-touchdown favorites against No. 6 Miami, and anything less than a blowout will be considered a disappointing performance. Is that fair? Probably not, especially since Florida State already proved its quality in the 51-14 victory at Clemson.
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But this also is the Seminoles' last opportunity to play a ranked team during the regular season, which means the last chance to truly impress voters who have kept Alabama and Oregon at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the polls. The Seminoles simply can't afford to lose ground at this point, so the pressure is on not just to win but to look as dominant as they did against Clemson.
Here are nine other teams with something to prove this weekend:
MISSOURI: It's hard to lose an important game in more heartbreaking fashion than the Tigers last weekend, blowing a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead against South Carolina. How quickly can the Tigers bounce back? Though Missouri still controls its destiny for the SEC East crown, one more loss will put the Gamecocks in the driver's seat. The Tigers need to take care of business at home against Tennessee and freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs, who will make his first start.
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FLORIDA ATLANTIC: Despite their 2-6 record, oddsmakers pegged the Owls as slight favorites Saturday against 6-2 Tulane. The real intrigue, however, occurred Wednesday when head coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis resigned over illegal drug use. The shocking resignation, which occurred roughly 48 hours after athletics director Pat Chun learned of the allegations, has put FAU in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. How will its players respond to the sudden firestorm?
WISCONSIN: You know who should be rooting hard for the Badgers to win out? Ohio State. At the moment, the Buckeyes' weak schedule is killing their chances to make the BCS championship game, and the only win they can truly hang their hats on occurred Sept. 28 against No. 23-ranked Wisconsin. That win would significantly diminish in value, however, if the Badgers drop a couple of games down the stretch — like Saturday at Iowa — and fall out of the top 25.
FLORIDA: Injuries have been the story of the season for the 4-3 Gators, but they face a Georgia team Saturday that has been equally diminished by personnel losses. Though the Bulldogs are getting a little healthier with the expected return of running back Todd Gurley, all the excuses go out the window in this annual matchup, dubbed the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," which Georgia has won the past two years. The Bulldogs haven't taken three in a row from Florida since 1987-89.
MICHIGAN: The Wolverines are 6-1, but it hasn't been a pretty 6-1. The schedule now gets much tougher, starting Saturday at rival Michigan State, and Michigan won't be able to overcome the turnovers and defensive lapses that have characterized their early performances against weaker opponents. Brady Hoke's squad is coming off a bye week, so perhaps some of those issues have been corrected, but there won't be much margin for error against the Big Ten's top defense.
NORTH CAROLINA: This has been a disappointing season for the 2-5 Tar Heels, but things might be starting to turn. Coming off its most impressive performance of the season, a 34-10 victory against Boston College, North Carolina needs to sustain its momentum against local rival North Carolina State. The Wolfpack have won eight of the last 13 meetings but are struggling at 0-4 in the ACC. This is pretty much a must-win for second-year Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora.
TEXAS TECH: Despite an admirable performance last weekend in a 38-30 loss at Oklahoma, the Red Raiders can't shake the rap that they're a touch overrated at No. 15. That's nothing new; Texas Tech has been doubted all season, but now Kliff Kingsbury's crew is finally at the rough stretch of its schedule and must come right back Saturday against No. 12 Oklahoma State. Another loss, and not only will the Big 12 title be out of reach but that 7-0 start will seem like a mirage.
NEBRASKA: The tide of public opinion once again is turning against Bo Pelini after last week's 34-23 loss at Minnesota, which dropped the Cornhuskers to 5-2. Pelini has lost four games each of his previous five seasons, and there's significant pressure from the fan base to show progress and win a Big Ten title. Losing at home to Northwestern wouldn't be a good look, but given how much Nebraska's defense has struggled to stop the run this year, it's a realistic possibility.
UNLV: The Rebels have been a nice under-the-radar story, trying to become bowl eligible after three consecutive two-win seasons. But for a program such as UNLV, which has only been to three bowl games in its history, getting to the magic number is never easy. It would serve the Rebels well to go ahead and get that sixth win out of the way this weekend against San Jose State. It's one of three opportunities they'll have at home to get over the hump.
Dan Wolken, a national college football reporter for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @DanWolken.
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