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SPORTS WEEKEND

Game Of The Week

The Key Games In College Football

November 01, 1996

NORTHWESTERN (7-1, 5-0) at PENN STATE (7-2, 3-2)

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., pay-per-view

* STORYLINE: The Wildcats' last four victories have been by a total of 11 points, and all were decided in the final minute. Penn State is trying to recover from conference losses to Ohio State and Iowa, defeats that pretty much ended the Nittany Lions' Rose Bowl hopes.

* NORTHWESTERN UPDATE: Just as amazing as last week's miracle win over Illinois was that Wildcats did it without star tailback Darnell Autry, who sat out because of a shoulder injury. His backup, Adrian Autry (no relation) had 128 yards and two touchdowns in his first start since high school.

* PENN STATE UPDATE: The Nittany Lions appeared national title caliber after dominating USC in the Kickoff Classic, but have turned out to be just another solid Joe Paterno team. Paterno pulled starting quarterback Wally Richardson in last week's 48-26 rout of Indiana. Backup Mike McQueary rallied his team from a 20-10 deficit, but Paterno was adamant this week that Richardson is still his starter.

* EDGE TO NORTHWESTERN: Look for Northwestern to win on the last play, 21-20, when Steve Schnur's pass deflects off the referee's forehead, caroms off Autry's knee to D'Wayne Bates, who laterals to Brian Musso for the winning score.

* THE LINE: Penn State by 10.

KEY GAMES

NOTRE DAME (4-2) vs. NAVY (5-1) in Dublin

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 5 a.m.; Channel 2, 9 a.m.

* STORYLINE: From the Blarney offense to the Blarney itself, the Irish explore their roots and consider their limited bowl options with this game for the kinfolk in Croke Park.

* NOTRE DAME UPDATE: Remember when the Irish could schedule a military academy team and chalk up the "W" in July? Notre Dame is still smarting from its Oct. 19 overtime loss to Air Force, while the Midshipmen appear shipshape.

* NAVY UPDATE: All that separates Navy from being as good as Army is a five-point loss to Boston College.

* EDGE TO NOTRE DAME: If the Irish lose, expect them to flee toward the Irish Sea.

* THE LINE: Notre Dame by 17.

*

SYRACUSE (4-2, 4-0) at WEST VIRGINIA (7-1, 3-1)

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

* STORYLINE: The Orangemen will try to continue their comeback story after opening the season with two losses. The Mountaineers need to bounce back after last week's 10-7 loss to Miami.

* SYRACUSE UPDATE: The Orangemen are trying to repeat the course of fellow Big East member Virginia Tech, which won 10 in a row last year after losing first two games.

* WEST VIRGINIA UPDATE: It was a tough week for the Mountaineers, who lost a last-minute game to Miami and then had to apologize for the rowdy behavior of their fans.

* EDGE TO SYRACUSE: The Orangemen were supposed to be the class of the league, and quarterback Donovan McNabb and Co. are starting to play like it.

* THE LINE: Syracuse by 4.

*

WASHINGTON (5-2,4-1) at USC (5-3,3-2)

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

* STORYLINE: One down and five to go on John Robinson's prediction his team will sweep the back end of its schedule and win a quality bowl game. Washington needs the victory for any chance to catch Arizona State in the Rose Bowl race.

* WASHINGTON UPDATE: Washington is still in decent bowl shape thanks to the emergence of the Pacific 10 rushing leader, Corey Dillon, coming off a 259-yard game against Oregon, and redshirt freshman quarterback Brock Huard, the conference's fourth-leading passer.

* USC UPDATE: The Trojans went to Pullman last week and, Eureka, discovered a running game, rushing for 148 yards--115 in the second half.

* EDGE TO USC: We fear Robinson has connections to the Psychic Friends Network and will make good on his fearless prediction.

* THE LINE: USC by 3.

*

STANFORD (2-5, 1-3) at UCLA (3-4, 2-2)

* KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports West.

* STORYLINE: A good chance for the Bruins to get even overall, not bad considering the strength of schedule and the team's enigmatic play.

* STANFORD UPDATE: The Cardinal is the least-penalized team in the Pac-10, but the team's only conference win was against Oregon State.

* UCLA UPDATE: Maybe Coach Bob Toledo should hold midweek scrimmages more often. Last week's drill sure worked on running back Skip Hicks. Now, how about a scrimmage for the defensive backs?

* EDGE TO UCLA: Not even the Pac-10's most unpredictable team will blow this chance against Stanford.

* THE LINE: UCLA by 13.

*

FLORIDA STATE (6-0, 5-0) at GEORGIA TECH (5-2, 4-2)

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

* STORYLINE: The Seminoles' only remaining test before their Nov. 30 showdown against Florida.

* FLORIDA STATE UPDATE: It seems the whole season has been a prelude to the Florida game, and it appears Bobby Bowden has quarterback Thad Busby rounding into form at just the right time.

* GEORGIA TECH UPDATE: The Yellow Jackets have slipped up with a loss to Clemson and a ho-hum win over "mighty" Central Florida last week.

* EDGE TO FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles' offense is finally catching up with its fifth-ranked defense.

* THE LINE: Florida State by 19.

THE LINE ON THE REST

Ariz. St. minus 23 1/2 at Oregon St.

Arizona minus 1 at California

Miami minus 24 1/2 at Temple

Fla. minus 34 vs. Ga. (Jacksonville)

Tenn. minus 17 at South Carolina

Arkansas plus 16 at Auburn

Virginia minus 24 at Duke

Maryland plus 6 at Clemson

N. Carolina St. plus 26 at N. Carolina

NE Louisiana plus 20 at Miss. St.

Cincinnati plus 11 at S. Miss.

Memphis plus 11 at Louisville

SW La. plus 20 1/2 at Virginia Tech

Arkansas St. plus 35 at E. Carolina

Minnesota plus 35 at Ohio St.

Purdue plus 12 at Wisconsin

Iowa minus 9 1/2 at Illinois

Michigan St. plus 8 1/2 at Michigan

Nebraska minus 35 1/2 at Oklahoma

Colorado minus 22 at Missouri

Kansas minus 7 1/2 at Iowa St.

Baylor plus 12 at Texas

Houston plus 1 1/2 at Tulane

Texas A&M minus 13 at Okla. St.

S.D. St. minus 20 1/2 at San Jose St.

Texas El Paso plus 30 1/2 at BYU

SMU plus 14 1/2 at Wyoming

New Mexico plus 1 at Tulsa

Colorado St. plus 11 at Air Force

Utah minus 5 at Rice

North Texas plus 18 at Utah St.

Boise St. plus 19 1/2 at Fresno St.

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