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SPORTS WEEKEND

Game Of The Week

The Key Games In College Football

September 27, 1996

OHIO STATE (2-0) at NOTRE DAME (3-0)

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 11:30 a.m., Channel 4.

* STORYLINE: So much for the cream puffs. The Buckeyes outscored Rice and Pittsburgh, 142-7; now, back to football. If the Buckeyes have national title hopes, they begin beneath the Golden Dome. The Irish's last-second victory at Texas last week may have kicked off a national championship run.

* OHIO STATE UPDATE: The Buckeyes lost more marquee players than any team in the country in quarterback Bobby Hoying, Heisman winner Eddie George, tight end Rickey Dudley and receiver Terry Glenn. Fellas, we hardly missed you. Stanley Jackson has been superb at quarterback, tailback Pepe Pearson has scored six touchdowns and true freshmen receivers Michael Wiley and David Boston appear headed for stardom. Defense? The Buckeyes have 10 returning starters.

* NOTRE DAME UPDATE: That Lou Holtz is some motivator. He berates his field-goal kicker in practice, calls him "Foul Ball" because of all the shanks, then begs Jim Sanson to beat Texas with a last-second field goal. Hey, it worked. Rumor is Holtz is calling quarterback Ron Powlus "choker" in practice this week. The Irish still don't have much of a receiving corps but can slug it out with anyone on the line of scrimmage and rely on a barrage of backs--Marc Edwards, Autry Denson, et al.--to break down defenses in the fourth quarter.

* EDGE TO NOTRE DAME: The Buckeyes are still a mystery. When in doubt, go with home field, history, leprechauns, heritage and the team with a returning starter at quarterback.

* THE LINE: Ohio State by 3.

OTHER GAMES

UCLA (1-1) at MICHIGAN (3-0)

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7.

* STORYLINE: The Bruins could lose and still gain respect, much as they did in holding then-No. 2 Tennessee to a 35-20 win in Knoxville on Sept. 7. UCLA will play in front of a crowd of 100,000-plus for the second time this season.

* UCLA UPDATE: After the Tennessee loss, the Bruins routed Northeast Louisiana, 44-0. Quarterback Cade McNown leads the Pac-10 in completion percentage (.659), and running back Skip Hicks is averaging 4.9 yards a carry, but the story so far has been on defense. UCLA leads the conference against the run, giving up 57 yards a game.

* MICHIGAN UPDATE: The Wolverines have a great defense, led by linebacker Jarrett Irons and cornerback Charles Woodson, and just enough offense to win. Quarterback Scott Dreisbach is 7-0 as a starter. Look for Woodson to do his Deion Sanders impression as a receiver/corner.

* EDGE TO MICHIGAN: This is a hedge, because UCLA could pull off the upset. The Wolverines were not impressive in last week's slop-fest victory over Boston College.

* THE LINE: Michigan by 8.

*

NORTH CAROLINA (3-0) at FLORIDA STATE (2-0)

* STORYLINE: The Tar Heels try to pull off a feat similar to Arizona State's and to shoot up the polls into national prominence; the Seminoles try to act excited as they take the field with their 33-1 record in ACC play.

* NORTH CAROLINA UPDATE: The Tar Heels are the nation's leader in scoring defense, having given up 10 points in three games. North Carolina has avenged three 1995 losses with wins over Clemson, Syracuse and Georgia Tech. Will Florida State be the fourth?

* FLORIDA STATE UPDATE: After a sore-armed first start, new quarterback Thad Busby broke out with a 17-for-26, 251-yard, two-touchdown effort in blowout of North Carolina State.

* EDGE TO FLORIDA STATE: Take the Seminoles, at home, especially now that a national championship path has been cleared by Nebraska's loss.

* THE LINE: Florida State by 17.

*

TEXAS (2-1) at VIRGINIA (3-0)

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN.

* STORYLINE: The Longhorns try to shake a tough home loss to Notre Dame. The Cavaliers try to shake last year's 17-16 loss to Texas in Austin.

* TEXAS UPDATE: Running back Ricky "Little Earl" Williams is one of nation's best and has rushed for 100-plus yards in all three games. Bad sign? Brown is already ducking reporters, and it's not even October.

* VIRGINIA UPDATE: Mighty Mite tailback Tiki Barber leads the ACC in rushing with 383 yards.

* EDGE TO VIRGINIA: The Big 12 is taking a beating so far, so why buck the trend? To beat the Cavaliers, Brown will have to scorch a secondary led by cornerback Ronde Barber, Tiki's twin.

* THE LINE: Virginia by 3 1/2.

*

OREGON (3-1) at ARIZONA STATE (3-0)

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Prime Sports.

* STORYLINE: The key word is letdown, and Arizona State is ripe for one after last week's monumental upset of Nebraska.

* OREGON UPDATE: The Ducks have won the last two meetings in Tempe but are without injured quarterback Tony Graziani and most of their tailbacks.

* ARIZONA STATE UPDATE: The Sun Devils are 3-0 for the first time since 1982, when they opened 9-0.

* EDGE TO ARIZONA STATE: If Graziani were playing, the pick would be Oregon in a letdown upset. Note that same Arizona State defense that shut out Nebraska gave up 42 points to Washington.

* THE LINE: Arizona State by 11 1/2.

THE LINE ON THE REST

Colorado 3 1/2 over Texas A&M

Miami 35 1/2 over Pittsburgh

Boston College 6 over Navy

Clemson 15 over Wake Forest

Purdue 4 1/2 over N.C. State

Florida 36 over Kentucky

S.Carolina 1 over Mississippi State

Penn State 8 1/2 over Wisconsin

Nebraska 36 1/2 over Colorado St.

Northwestern 3 1/2 over Indiana

BYU 14 1/2 over So. Methodist

Air Force 16 over Rice

Iowa State 3 over Missouri

Oklahoma 10 over Tulsa

Louisville 3 1/2 over So. Mississippi

Syracuse 1 over Virginia Tech

California 15 1/2 over Oregon State

Wyoming 30 over UNLV

Washington St. 27 over San Jose St.

West Virginia 13 over Maryland

Ark.-x 22 1/2 over NE Louisiana

New Mexico 5 over TCU

Kansas 2 1/2 over Utah

Fresno State 19 over Hawaii

Michigan St. 19 1/2 over E.Michigan

Army 17 over North Texas-y

Northern Illinois Pick vs. UTEP

Nevada 29 over Kent

Cincinnati 3 over Miami, Ohio

La. Tech 1 over SW Louisiana

Western Michigan 9 over Akron

Texas Tech 21 1/2 over Utah State

LSU 35 1/2 over New Mexico State

x-at Little Rock, Ark. y-at Irving, Texas

Home team in bold

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