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Six Games To Watch

November 15, 2002|Robyn Norwood


AT NO. 8 USC (7-2)

Kickoff: 4 p.m.


Line: USC by 15.

Arizona State update: Andrew Walter passed for 477 yards last week against California -- and lost. Walter has four 400-yard passing games and a school-record 2,992 yards.

USC update: With 10,622 yards, Palmer needs only 290 to pass Stanford's Steve Stenstrom as the Pacific 10 Conference career passing leader. In his last three games, he has 1,113 yards and 13 touchdown passes.

Story line: Trojans still have a whiff of the Rose Bowl, but they must finish the Pac-10 season without another loss -- and hope Washington State either loses twice or makes it to the Fiesta Bowl to play for the national title.

The pick: USC. But maybe not by as big a margin as predicted.


NO. 2 OHIO STATE (11-0)


Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN GamePlan

Line: Ohio State by 8 1/2.

Ohio State update: No. 1 in the BCS rankings, and still trying to wrap up the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have been shaky lately, but star tailback Maurice Clarett is expected to return to the starting lineup after playing sparingly the last three games.

Illinois update: The Illini were awful early, losing five of their first six. But they've won three of their last four with an offense ranked ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten.

Story line: For once, BCS seems simple: Beat Illinois and Michigan, and Buckeyes can pack for the Fiesta Bowl.

The pick: Ohio State. Buckeyes might not be the best team in the country, but they ought to be able to avoid a loss to Illinois.


NO. 6 IOWA (10-1)


Kickoff: 9 a.m.


Line: Iowa by 10 1/2.

Iowa update: An upset of Ohio State by Illinois or Michigan in the final two weeks sure would make Iowa feel better about its Rose Bowl chances. But the Hawkeyes first must take care of their final regular-season game against the Gophers.

Minnesota update: The Gophers haven't lost to Iowa at home since 1996, and own a 35-12-1 lead at home in the series. But quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq has been vulnerable.

Story line: The Hawkeyes and quarterback Brad Banks, an outside Heisman contender, try to make sure if they're closed out of the Rose Bowl, it's through no fault of their own.

The pick: Iowa. But we might never know if this really is the Big Ten's best team.


NO. 7 GEORGIA (9-1)

AT NO. 24 AUBURN (7-3)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 2.

Line: Georgia by 2 1/2.

Georgia update: The Bulldogs can clinch a spot in the Southeastern Conference title game with a victory. But if they lose a second game in a row, then Florida can win the SEC East by beating South Carolina at home Saturday.

Auburn update: The Tigers have won three in a row. More trouble: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution figures over the years Auburn has cost Georgia seven conference titles and possibly three national championships with late-season victories over the Bulldogs.

Story line: Georgia's season rests on this game: It's time to clinch.

The pick: Georgia. But without much conviction.


NO. 10 ALABAMA (8-2)


Kickoff: 6 p.m.


Line: Alabama by 1 1/2.

Alabama update: Already on NCAA probation, the Crimson Tide could face further sanctions after a former high school coach pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in accepting $150,000 from a booster to steer Albert Means toward Alabama.

LSU update: People are still talking about the deflected Hail Mary pass that beat Kentucky as time ran out last week. Coach Nick Saban is trying to move on.

Story line: LSU's defense, ranked first in the nation, and Alabama's defense, ranked third, meet in a game with big implications for SEC West.

The pick: Alabama. The story gets more interesting the more the team on probation wins.




Kickoff: 9:30 a.m.

TV: Fox Sports Net.

Line: Kansas State by 10 1/2.

Nebraska update: Since the dire days when Nebraska's streaks of winning seasons and bowl appearances were on the line, the Cornhuskers have won two of three.

Kansas State update: The defense has given up only 17 points over the last three weeks. But the Wildcats need to win their last two games and hope Colorado loses its last two to reach the Big 12 title game.

Story line: Kansas State is playing very well, but it's probably too late to salvage the Big 12 North title.

The pick: Kansas State. Nice story if Nebraska wins, but the Cornhuskers have done well enough to salvage as much of the season as they have.

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