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Super Saturday : Fire Up the Remote Control, It's a Football Bonanza

October 15, 1994|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It is a day when marriages, couch cushions and TV remote controls will be tested like never before. A day created by a college football scheduling quirk that features nine key games involving 14 teams ranked in the top 25, many of them playing each other.

Not only is there quantity, there's quality, the kind that will help determine which teams win what conference titles, which teams go to what bowls and which one finishes with a national championship. If you're a fan or a network executive, it is a day to give thanks.

Presenting the matchups that matter:

NO. 6 AUBURN AT NO. 1 FLORIDA

Why you should care: Auburn has the nation's longest consecutive winning streak, 17, and unbeaten Florida has more depth than a sinkhole. Both coaches--Auburn's Terry Bowden and Florida's Steve Spurrier--have egos that require tether lines, which adds to the dramatics.

Amazing fact: The Tigers are 16-point underdogs. "I don't know if that's any more insulting than being a three-point favorite last week (Auburn beat Mississippi State, 42-18) or a one-point underdog last year against Georgia when we were 10-0 (Auburn won, 42-28)," says Bowden.

At stake: If Auburn, which is ineligible for postseason play, wants any chance at a national championship, it must finish 11-0, which would run the two-season streak to 22-0. A Gator victory would keep Florida atop the polls and out of a possible first-place tie with South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division. Florida can't win a national title unless it first wins the SEC championship.

NO. 16 KANSAS STATE AT NO. 2 NEBRASKA

Why you should care: Kansas State, which was off-the-charts awful a few years ago, is one of the five surprise teams of the season. Meanwhile, Nebraska has lost so many quarterbacks that its coaches are scouting intramural flag football games.

Amazing fact: For the first time since 1969, Nebraska might lose to Kansas State.

At stake: A Big Eight Conference championship, two undefeated records and an Orange Bowl bid.

NO. 3 PENN STATE AT NO. 5 MICHIGAN

Why you should care: Because the earth revolves around the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl.

Amazing fact: Nobody has ever had the guts to tell Penn State Coach Joe Paterno that his pants are too short. He looks like a doofus on a clambake.

At stake: A rare chance at a Rose Bowl that really means something.

NO. 22 OKLAHOMA AT NO. 4 COLORADO

Why you should care: Because if Colorado's Rashaan Salaam keeps stacking up 200-yard games, you might see a Heisman Trophy on his mantle and a national championship ring on his finger.

Amazing fact: This is Colorado's fourth ranked opponent in five games. And the Buffaloes have Kansas State and Nebraska after this.

At stake: Well, Oklahoma Coach Gary Gibbs' job, for one. This was supposed to be his best team, but a loss to Colorado and a 3-3 record aren't going to help his employment status. Oklahoma hasn't won a league title since 1987. For Colorado, it's a chance to remain in the national championship hunt.

BAYLOR AT NO. 7 TEXAS A&M

Why you should care: Uh. . . .

Amazing fact: Texas A&M might be the best team you'll never see this year. The Aggies, in the first of a five-season NCAA probation, are ineligible for TV and postseason play.

At stake: Baylor's chance at a Southwest Conference championship and a Cotton Bowl bid. Beat the Aggies and Baylor doesn't have another truly difficult game until Nov. 24 against Texas.

NO. 10 ALABAMA TENNESSEE

Why you should care: Because there's a chance the Crimson Tide might become the worst undefeated team in the history of college football.

Amazing fact: Alabama's margin of victory against Division I-A opponents is 7.2 points.

At stake: For the Crimson Tide, a chance at an unbeaten season. Alabama is comfortably ahead in the SEC's Western Division standings, so a loss doesn't significantly damage its SEC championship game hopes.

NO. 14 ARIZONA AT NO. 20 WASHINGTON STATE

Why you should care: With Washington on NCAA probation, somebody has to lose to Penn State or Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Amazing fact: Washington State has yet to use its goal-line defense this season.

At stake: The granddaddy of them all.

BRIGHAM YOUNG AT NO. 17 NOTRE DAME

Why you should care: Because NBC needs viewers.

Amazing fact: This is Notre Dame's worst ranking in 32 polls.

At stake: Forget the national championship; if the 4-2 Irish don't win four of their next five games, the bowl coalition might think twice about inviting them to one of the Big Four--Orange, Cotton, Sugar or Fiesta.

CLEMSON AT NO. 25 DUKE

Why you should care: Duke normally begins the season 5-0 . . . in basketball.

Amazing fact: If Clemson loses, it will mark the first time since 1975 that the Tigers have begun a season 2-4. Duke historians will note that the last time the Blue Devils were 5-0, which was 1988, they lost their next game--to Clemson, 49-17.

At stake: An eventual medium-sized bowl bid for the Dookies, who are ranked for the first time since 1989.

So Far, So Good

Unbeaten and untied major college football teams.

Florida: 5-0

Nebraska: 6-0

Penn State: 5-0

Colorado: 5-0

Auburn: 6-0

Texas A&M: 5-0

Alabama: 6-0

Colorado State: 6-0

Kansas State: 4-0

Utah: 5-0

Duke: 5-0

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