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Six Games To Watch

October 18, 2002|Robyn Norwood

NO. 9 IOWA STATE (6-1)


Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: None

Line: Oklahoma by 9.

Iowa State update: Seneca Wallace is one of the nation's most exciting quarterbacks, but he'll be going against a defense determined to chew up any talk of Wallace contending for the Heisman.

Oklahoma update: The Sooners picked off three of Chris Simms' passes and sacked him three times in their 35-24 victory over Texas last week. Wallace, at 5 feet 10 and 193 pounds, can't absorb much of a beating -- but first they have to catch him.

Story line: It's a top-10 clash, but Iowa State is a considerable underdog. Still, the Cyclones gave Florida State a scare in the opener, so you never know.

The pick: Oklahoma -- but wouldn't an Iowa State upset be fun?


NO. 7 NOTRE DAME (6-0)

AT NO. 18 AIR FORCE (6-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.


Line: Air Force by 3.

Notre Dame update: Notre Dame was outgained by Pittsburgh, 402-185 last week -- and won. Now the Irish face the prolific Air Force triple-option, and although logic suggests they should be able to handle the option, they've been vulnerable in the past.

Air Force update: California is the only decent team Air Force has beaten, and that score was 23-21. No other opponent has a winning record. But should the Falcons get past Notre Dame, Colorado State might be the only team with a chance to keep them from running the table.

Story line: It's time for one of the 10 remaining unbeatens to fall.

The pick: Notre Dame. We'll go with size and speed over offensive scheme.



AT NO. 19 USC (4-2)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: USC by 8.

Washington update: Quarterback Cody Pickett is second in the nation in total offense at 369.5 yards a game. Sophomore receiver Reggie Williams had eight receptions for 184 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona.

USC update: USC had plenty of trouble with California in a 30-28 victory -- even with the help of a touchdown Pacific 10 Commissioner Tom Hansen later said was a blown call by officials and shouldn't have counted. Injuries are a concern, especially with defensive tackle Shaun Cody out for the season.

Story line: The loser probably is out of the Pac-10 race.

The pick: USC, but the Trojans can't count on another gift touchdown.


NO. 8 TEXAS (5-1)


Kickoff: 4 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Net

Line: Kansas State by 2.

Texas update: Chris Simms threw three interceptions in the Longhorns' 35-24 loss to Oklahoma, bringing his record against top-10 teams to 0-4 with a stunning 15 turnovers.

Kansas State update: Although they beat Oklahoma State, 44-9, the Wildcats had serious problems on special teams, with three blocked extra points.

Story line: Simms and Coach Mack Brown try to get up off the mat and back in the battle for the Big 12 title game a week after yet another big-game loss to Oklahoma.

The pick: Kansas State. This kind of logic is often flawed, but Kansas State beat Oklahoma State by 35 a week after Texas beat Oklahoma State by two.


AUBURN (4-2)


Kickoff: 3:45 p.m.


Line: Florida by 8.

Auburn update: Like Florida, the Tigers are coming off a loss and badly need a victory. (Auburn lost to Arkansas last week and Florida fell to Louisiana State.)

Florida update: Three losses already and out of the AP rankings -- and Georgia and Florida State are ahead on the schedule. Quarterback Rex Grossman is expected to start despite a sprained right knee

Story line: Auburn upset then-No. 1 Florida last season. Now the Tigers try to add some pain to Ron Zook's rapidly deteriorating first season as Gator coach.

The pick: Florida. With Grossman, Earnest Graham and Taylor Jacobs, the Gators have too much talent.


UCLA (4-2)


Kickoff: 4 p.m.


Line: UCLA by 3.

UCLA update: The Bruins had their shot against Oregon and Chris Griffith missed a late field goal in a 31-30 loss. Still, the offense has matured in recent weeks, with Cory Paus playing well and Tyler Ebell adding punch to the running game.

Cal update: The resurgent Bears have lost three games by a total of 14 points -- all to teams in the top 25 (Air Force, Washington State and USC). Cal leads the Pac-10 in scoring.

Story line: This is a key game in the battle for the conference's second tier. Winner is in good shape; loser starts to slip.

The pick: UCLA. Cal's defense has a ways to go.

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