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Six Games To Watch

October 25, 2002|-- Robyn Norwood

No. 6 NOTRE DAME (7-0)

at No. 11 FLORIDA STATE (5-2)

Kickoff: 9 a.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: Florida State by 10.

Notre Dame update: Everyone keeps waiting for the luck -- or whatever it is -- to run out for the unbeaten Irish, who emerged as a surprising No. 3 in the bowl championship series standings. But if Coach Tyrone Willingham's players win at Tallahassee, they'll have a good chance of entering the regular-season finale against USC at the Coliseum without a loss.

Florida State update: That 28-27 loss against Miami suggested the Seminoles aren't washed up after all.

Story line: An Irish victory would give Notre Dame a glimpse of the road to the national title.

The pick: Florida State. The Miami game made us believers.

*

NO. 15 USC (5-2)

at NO. 14 OREGON (6-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: USC by 1.

USC update: The last two trips to Eugene have ended in Trojan losses on last-minute field goals, last year on Jared Siegel's 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds left and in 1999 on a field goal by third-string Oregon kicker Josh Frankel in triple overtime.

Oregon update: The Ducks fell from the unbeatens last week in a rare home loss -- to Arizona State, the Pac-10's surprise team. Oregon has won 29 of its last 31 games in Autzen Stadium.

Story line: Here's USC's chance to make a big splash in the Ducks' pond. Otherwise, the Trojans have to take a seat in the Pac-10 race.

The pick: USC. How many games can Oregon win on late kicks?

*

NO. 13 IOWA (7-1)

at NO. 8 MICHIGAN (6-1)

Kickoff: 9 a.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Michigan by 3 1/2.

Iowa update: Two of the three teams unbeaten in Big Ten play meet. Iowa hasn't beaten Michigan since 1990, the last year they claimed a share of the Big Ten title. Key scheduling note: Iowa doesn't play Ohio State.

Michigan update: The Wolverines must find a way to stop Fred Russell, who went to high school 25 miles from Ann Arbor and signed with Michigan in 1999 but failed to meet NCAA eligibility requirements and ended up at Iowa. Now he averages 128.1 yards rushing -- and Michigan is in his way.

Story line: If Iowa has BCS aspirations, now is the time to state its case.

The pick: Iowa. Let's go out on a small limb, for fun.

*

No. 18 PENN STATE (5-2)

at No. 4 OHIO STATE (8-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: None.

Line: Ohio State by 4 1/2.

Penn State update: Larry Johnson set a school record with 257 rushing yards last week against Northwestern. The Nittany Lions' losses came in overtime to Iowa and Michigan. Penn State hasn't been held under 24 points. Ohio State hasn't given up more than 21.

Ohio State update: The Buckeyes have only three difficult games left -- against Penn State and at home against Minnesota and Michigan.

Story line: Maurice Clarett takes center stage in a battle of the backs that might have Fiesta or Rose bowl implications.

The pick: Ohio State. We still can't get over what the Buckeyes did to Washington State.

*

NEBRASKA (5-3)

at TEXAS A&M (5-2)

Kickoff: 4 p.m.

TV: TBS.

Line: Texas A&M by 5.

Nebraska update: With three games against ranked teams ahead, Nebraska is an underdog at Texas A&M after five consecutive road losses dating to last season -- and the Aggies are 71-10-1 at home under Coach R.C. Slocum.

Texas A&M update: In the four games since Slocum relieved Dino Babers of play-calling duty and named Kevin Sumlin offensive coordinator, the Aggies have averaged more than 41 points a game.

Story line: If the Cornhuskers are going to pull out of this, College Station would be a good place to start.

The pick: Texas A&M. With Nebraska end Chris Kelsay struggling because of a hamstring injury, the defense may be without its best player.

*

No. 17 IOWA STATE (6-2)

at No. 7 TEXAS (6-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: None.

Line: Texas by 12 1/2.

Iowa State update: Quarterback Seneca Wallace's outsider campaign for the Heisman can close up shop if he doesn't perform any better than he did in the 49-3 loss to Oklahoma. (He was four of 22 for 43 yards with three interceptions.)

Texas update: Chris Simms doesn't get another chance for that first victory over a top-10 team -- but the downside if Iowa State pulls an upset is huge. The Longhorns need this victory to stay in the BCS picture.

Story line: This game shouldn't apply as one of the Longhorns' struggles with "the big ones."

The pick: Texas. Or else Mack Brown really catches what-for.

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