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Six Games To Watch

October 11, 2002|Robyn Norwood

NO. 2 OKLAHOMA (5-0)

AT NO. 3 TEXAS (5-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: None.

Line: Texas by 3.

Oklahoma update: The Sooners have won the last two clashes with the Longhorns by a combined score of 77-17--but like Texas, Oklahoma looked shaky last week, defeating Missouri, 31-24. (Texas edged Oklahoma State, 17-15.) Oklahoma gives up only 13 points a game, but Texas is a little better, at 9.4.

Texas update: Coach Mack Brown and quarterback Chris Simms will keep taking heat for their performances in big games until they win more. Simms is 20-4 as a starter, but in his last three games against top-10 teams, he has 12 turnovers and one touchdown pass.

Story line: The winner has the inside track in the race to play for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl.

The pick: Texas. Because it's time.

*

NO. 9 FLORIDA STATE (5-1)

AT NO. 1 MIAMI (5-0)

Kickoff: 9 a.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: Miami by 13.

Florida State update: Bobby Bowden might not have been sandbagging when he said, "From what I see, it's Miami and the rest of the world. We're not at that level yet." Miami ended Florida State's 54-game home unbeaten streak last season, 49-27.

Miami update: The Hurricanes have won 27 in a row. A ferocious front seven leads a defense that ranks third nationally, giving up only 241.2 yards, and holding teams to an average of less than 15 points.

Story line: Miami and Florida State have traded places, and although the rivalry is intense, Miami is a step above.

The pick: Miami. Florida State lost to Louisville and almost lost to Iowa State.

*

NO. 10 TENNESSEE (4-1)

AT NO. 6 GEORGIA (5-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 2.

Line: Georgia by 3 1/2.

Tennessee update: Just a sore shoulder--or a hairline fracture of his left collarbone? Quarterback Casey Clausen's status is uncertain, and Coach Phillip Fulmer denied two published reports saying Clausen's collarbone is cracked. C.J. Leak will take over if Clausen can't play.

Georgia update: The Bulldogs are trying to become the first team other than Florida or Tennessee to win the SEC East since the conference split into two divisions in 1992. But Georgia hasn't beaten a top-10 SEC team at home since 1976.

Story line: Georgia must prove it's an elite team.

The pick: Georgia. Tennessee needed six overtimes to beat Arkansas.

*

NO. 7 OREGON (5-0)

AT UCLA (4-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: UCLA by 2 1/2.

Oregon update: The Ducks' 10-game winning streak is the second-longest among Division I-A teams, behind Miami's. They started slow against Arizona last week, but won, 31-14, as Onterrio Smith ran for 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game.

UCLA update: Tyler Ebell rushed for 203 yards and Cory Paus passed for a career-high 378 yards last week at Oregon State. Paus' accuracy along with Ebell's promise gave the Bruin offense a nice makeover.

Story line: As usual, it takes a while for the Pacific 10's best teams to emerge, and this is one of the sorting-out games.

The pick: Oregon, although the Bruins are favored by oddsmakers.

*

NO. 18 LOUISIANA STATE (4-1)

AT NO. 16 FLORIDA (4-2)

Kickoff: 4:45 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Florida by 8 1/2.

Louisiana State update: Running back LaBrandon Toefield is out because of a broken arm. But LSU's defense is strong, leading the nation in total defense and pass defense.

Florida update: Rex Grossman threw four interceptions in the Gators' 17-14 loss to Mississippi last week. Odd as it is to see Florida with two losses so early, how would three look? Grossman hasn't lived up to his Heisman hopes, completing only 53.8% of his passes with 10 interceptions after completing 65.6% of his passes last season.

Story line: A shifting of power is evident in the SEC as Florida has lost its aura--at least for the moment.

The pick: Florida. The Gators have to get better sometime. Right?

*

CALIFORNIA (4-2)

AT NO. 20 USC (3-2)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Net

Line: USC by 12 1/2.

Cal update: Any instinct to dismiss Cal's 3-0 start as a fluke should be rethought after the Bears' upset of Washington in Husky Stadium last week. Quarterback Kyle Boller should give the Trojan secondary a workout.

USC update: The Trojans gave up enough yards in their overtime loss at Washington State to lose their standing as the nation's leading defense, but USC still ranks among the top 15 in total defense, pass defense, pass-efficiency defense and scoring defense.

Story line: USC can't afford another loss.

The pick: USC. But the Bears have won four of the last six in the series, and USC hasn't beaten Cal in the Coliseum since 1994.

Robyn Norwood

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