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The Key Games In College Football

November 29, 1996

FLORIDA (10-0) at FLORIDA ST. (10-0)

* KICKOFF: 9 a.m.

* STORYLINE: The schools have met 39 times, but never like this. At stake is state pride, bragging rights and possibly the national championship. While this is the eighth consecutive year the teams have brought top-10 rankings into the game, it is the first time both enter undefeated.

If Florida State wins, it goes to the Sugar Bowl as No. 1 and plays for the national title. If Florida wins, the Gators must still beat Alabama in the SEC title game on Dec. 7 to enter the Sugar Bowl No. 1.

* FLORIDA UPDATE: After blowing opponents out earlier in the season--we're talking 65-0 over Kentucky on Sept. 28--the Gators have sputtered because of injuries. Danny Wuerffel, who can virtually clinch the Heisman Trophy with a solid effort Saturday, is coming off his worst effort in a 28-21 victory over Vanderbilt two weeks ago.

* FLORIDA STATE UPDATE: The story in Tallahassee this season has been defense. The Seminoles rank first nationally, allowing 208.1 yards per game. Florida State is No. 1 against the rush (56.8) and No. 8 against the pass (87.06). Junior quarterback Thad Busby, who's improved each week, is expected to start despite suffering a mild knee sprain last week against Maryland. Senior tailback Warrick Dunn, among the Seminoles' best big-game players, has averaged more than 140 yards offense in four games against Florida, including a 23-17 Sugar Bowl victory almost two years ago.

* EDGE TO FLORIDA STATE: The Gators are ripe for an upset. The offensive line has been teetering for weeks, while Florida State has the most imposing defensive front in the nation. Florida has the advantage of a bye week and Coach Steve Spurrier's offensive mind, but Florida State has enough defense to counter.

* THE LINE: Florida by 2 1/2.


NOTRE DAME (8-2) at USC (5-6)

* KICKOFF: 5 p.m.

* STORYLINE: It's Lou Holtz' last regular season game as coach of the Irish, but the more intriguing question remains, is it the last game for USC Coach John Robinson? The bottom line: USC is 0-12-1 against Notre Dame since Robinson led the Trojans to a 17-13 win at the Coliseum in 1982.

* NOTRE DAME UPDATE: Holtz is trying to exit with an unblemished record against USC. He enters with a 9-0-1 mark and will have the emotional support of players wishing to send him off with one last win.

* USC UPDATE: Trojan players rallied to Robinson's defense this week, and will use this save-the-coach backdrop as pre-game inspiration. However, USC figures to be emotionally drained after last week's double-overtime loss to UCLA.

* EDGE TO NOTRE DAME: The Irish can clinch a Fiesta Bowl bid with a victory and have momentum after pounding Boston College and Rutgers by the combined scored of 122-6 the last two weeks.

* THE LINE: Notre Dame by 13.

COLORADO (9-1, 7-0) at NEBRASKA (9-1, 7-0)

* KICKOFF: 11:30 a.m.

* STORYLINE: Both teams still have national championship hopes. Today's winner will be favored to win the Big 12 title game on Dec. 7 and advance to the Sugar Bowl and likely meet the Florida-Florida State winner.

* COLORADO UPDATE: The Buffaloes have won seven in a row since losing to Michigan on Sept. 7.

* NEBRASKA UPDATE: The Cornhuskers have averaged 51.6 points per game in eight victories since losing to Arizona State on Sept. 21.

* EDGE TO NEBRASKA: Colorado has won 10 consecutive games on the road, but Nebraska has won its last 35 at home. Tom Osborne is 19-3-1 against Colorado and 10-1 at Lincoln.

* THE LINE: Nebraska by 18.

TEXAS A&M (6-5, 4-3) at TEXAS (6-4, 5-2)

* KICKOFF: 8 a.m.

* STORYLINE: Texas can win the Big 12 South Division with a victory and earn the right to meet the Nebraska-Colorado winner in the conference title game on Dec. 7. A Texas A&M win gives Texas Tech the title.

* TEXAS A&M UPDATE: It has been another season of unfulfilled expectations for the Aggies, who can only knock Texas from the title.

* TEXAS UPDATE: It has been another season of unfulfilled expectations for the Longhorns, who were thought to be top-10 material entering the season.

* EDGE TO TEXAS A&M: Look for the Aggies to wreck the Longhorns' title plans in the 103rd meeting of the series.

* THE LINE: Texas by 3 1/2.

MIAMI (7-3, 5-1) at SYRACUSE (8-2, 6-0)

* KICKOFF: 12:30 p.m.

* STORYLINE: Syracuse can clinch the Big East championship and an Alliance bowl berth with a victory. A loss would throw the race into a three-way tie among Miami, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, with the highest-ranked team getting the slot in the Alliance.

* MIAMI UPDATE: Sophomore quarterback Scott Covington filled in for the injured Ryan Clement last week and led the Hurricanes to a 43-26 victory over Boston College. Ten different Miami receivers caught passes in the game.

* SYRACUSE UPDATE: The Orangemen are the nation's hottest team, having won eight consecutive games after opening the season with two losses. Syracuse, led by sophomore quarterback Donovan McNabb, has scored at least 30 points in its last nine games.

* EDGE TO SYRACUSE: If the Orangemen had not messed up in September, they would be in the hunt for the national championship. Now, playing in the Orange Bowl will have to do.

* THE LINE: Syracuse by 7 1/2.



Virginia plus 2 1/2 at Virginia Tech

LSU minus 10 vs. Arkansas

at Little Rock, Ark.


Tennessee minus 25 1/2 at Vanderbilt

Miss. St. minus 2 1/2 at Mississippi

Georgia Tech plus 4 at Georgia

East Carolina minus 9 vs. N.C. St.

at Charlotte

Rutgers plus 7 1/2 at Pittsburgh

Wisconsin minus 28 at Hawaii

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