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September 06, 1996


Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

* STORY LINE: Winners of 25 in a row, the Cornhuskers begin their quest for an unprecedented third consecutive national championship. Stanford transfer Scott Frost makes his first start at quarterback, replacing Tommie Frazier, perhaps the best option quarterback ever. Linebacker Terrell Farley's suspension for drunk driving casts another pall over a team desperately trying to clean up its image.

* MICHIGAN STATE UPDATE: The Spartans shocked just about everybody last week with the ease of their 52-14 victory over Purdue in East Lansing and at least give Nebraska something to think about. Pause. OK, Nebraska has thought about it.

* NEBRASKA UPDATE: Coach Tom Osborne is confident Frost can buffer the loss of Frazier. Frost, from nearby Wood River, was a local legend who spurned Nebraska to study under guru Bill Walsh at Stanford. When the guru bolted, so did Frost, a great all-around athlete who has a better arm than Frazier but not better feet.

* EDGE TO NEBRASKA: The Cornhuskers have won 10 successive home openers.

* THE LINE: Nebraska by 29.


UCLA at TENNESSEE Saturday, 5 p.m., Ch. 2

* STORY LINE: First-year UCLA Coach Bob Toledo takes a hearty but overmatched band of Bruins into a football inferno against the nation's second-ranked team, hoping to escape with enough able bodies to, gulp, play at Michigan in two weeks.

* TENNESSEE UPDATE: Volunteer quarterback Peyton Manning has already had more written about him than they wrote about Winston Churchill. Then again, Churchill couldn't throw a button-hook.

* UCLA UPDATE: The Bruins don't have a Peyton Manning, but they could confuse him with the Guidry brothers, Paul and Javelin, at cornerback. Quarterback Cade McKnown showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman, but he'll need to grow up in a hurry to stand a chance at Neyland Stadium.

* EDGE TO TENNESSEE: Count it as a moral victory if the Bruins keep the game close into the third quarter.

* THE LINE: Tennessee by 17 1/2



Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 7

* STORY LINE: USC, the school they used to call Tailback U., can't seem to get one eligible to play, since the NCAA denied the Trojans' appeal to lessen Delon Washington's three-game suspension for a "ethical violation." With Shawn Walters suspended until Week 4, it's another game with Rodney Sermons and LaVale Woods.

* ILLINOIS UPDATE: The Illini are 0-1 after dropping their season opener last week to Michigan. Illinois lost two of the best linebackers in the country--Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy--and the offense remains a work in progress.

* USC UPDATE: The Trojans got their wake-up call against Penn State, 24-7, and now need to regroup until their tailbacks return.

* EDGE TO USC: The Trojans had a bye week to mull over their loss, while Illinois is coming off a tough Big Ten opener last week. The advantage goes to the well-rested.

* THE LINE: USC by 3.



Saturday, 7:15 p.m., Prime

* STORY LINE: This is the fifth year of Coach Bruce Snyder's five-year plan at Arizona State and it appears the pieces are in place to make a run at the Pac-10 title. Washington still is feeling the effects of two years of probation and reduced scholarships.

* ARIZONA STATE UPDATE: The Wildcats have the best pass-catch team in the West in quarterback Jake Plummer and receiver Keith Poole and are anchored by 6-foot-8, 319-pound senior tackle Juan Roque, an Outland trophy candidate.

* WASHINGTON UPDATE: This is a tough way to break in a new secondary. The cornerbacks, Jermaine Smith and Mel Miller, are redshirt freshmen who will be making their college debuts. Starting safety Kyle Roberts is a junior but is starting for the first time. As if facing Plummer weren't bad enough, next week the Huskies play Brigham Young quarterback Steve Sarkisian.

* EDGE TO ARIZONA STATE: Washington has some talent, but too much youth at key positions. Shane Fortney, a 6-3 junior quarterback, threw only 10 passes last season.

* THE LINE: Arizona State by 3.



Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN2

* STORY LINE: The Tar Heels didn't wait long to announce they were for real, opening the season last week with a 45-0 victory over what was supposed to be a good Clemson team. The Orangemen are opening their season with high expectations and star quarterback Donovan McNabb.

* NORTH CAROLINA UPDATE: Coach Mack Brown shook up his offensive coaching staff, replacing the coordinator and firing the receiver coach, and got instant results. His team's thumping of Clemson was the most impressive of the weekend. Tailback Leon Johnson averaged 5.7 yards a carry and junior college transfer Chris Keldorf had a sold debut at quarterback.

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