October is the best sports month. Baseball's playoffs. The NBA opens. And college football gets serious.
After a September full of mismatches, the first Saturday in October brings showdown after showdown.
Second-ranked Oregon hosts No. 23 Washington. Fifth-ranked Georgia is at No. 6 South Carolina. Fourth-ranked LSU is at No. 10 Florida. Eighth-ranked West Virginia is at No. 11 Texas. No. 21 Nebraska goes to No. 12 Ohio State.
The best of those games figure to be the two SEC showdowns, which could signal a shift in power from the West Division to the East.
With the demise of Tennessee and the recent slump of Florida, the West Division has ruled. Alabama won national titles in 2009 and 2011, Auburn won in 2010, LSU in 2003 and 2007.
But if Florida beats LSU on Saturday, the East will have returned as a powerhouse division.
The Gators have gone 8-5 and 7-6 the last two seasons and are 0-6 against the SEC West during that time. But Florida beat SEC West newcomer Texas A&M 20-17 on Sept. 8, and the Gators don't have to play Alabama.
“I think we're much better than we were a year ago,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “We're much deeper, more mature, more experienced. I think we're stronger. We handle adversity a lot better. When you play games like this, there is going to be adversity.
“Anybody that was a part of watching us and being a part of our organization last year and this year will notice a night and day difference between our football team. I think we've made tremendous improvement in a short period of time.”
And now Florida gets a huge test. That's what is to be expected in October.