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Six Games To Watch

September 13, 2002|Robyn Norwood


at No. 6 OHIO STATE (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN GamePlan.

Line: Ohio State by 8.

Washington State update: Quarterback Jason Gesser runs the show on offense, but the new receiving star is Florida State transfer Devard Darling. Darling and running back Jonathan Smith each scored three touchdowns in a 49-14 victory over Idaho last week.

Ohio State update: Freshman running back Maurice Clarett is averaging almost 120 yards rushing a game. Craig Krenzel is a surprising fifth in the nation with a 186.3 quarterback rating.

Story line: This game doesn't have the historical grandeur of Michigan-Notre Dame, but it's the only clash of top-10 teams this week.

The pick: Ohio State. Although the Buckeyes might be stunned by the Cougars' speed, Washington State is 0-7 against Ohio State.


No. 7 MICHIGAN (2-0)

at No. 20 NOTRE DAME (2-0)

Kickoff: 11:30 a.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Michigan by 3 1/2.

Michigan update: Michigan has plenty going for it, including running back Chris Perry and emerging big-play receiver Braylon Edwards. Biggest worry: The game-winning field goal against Washington is the only make in six tries this season.

Notre Dame update: Two victories, zero offensive touchdowns. How bad is it? Quarterback Carlyle Holiday passed for only 50 yards against Purdue last week. But the Irish have given up only 8.5 points and 225.5 yards a game--and yes, the defense knows how to score.

Story line: The feel-good era of new Irish Coach Tyrone Willingham can't last if the offense doesn't start scoring.

The pick: Michigan. Maybe Notre Dame fans should keep those "Return to Glory" shirts on the shelf a little longer.


No. 17 USC (1-0)

at No. 18 COLORADO (1-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: Colorado by 2 1/2.

USC update: Colorado isn't as good as once imagined, but it's still a road game against a Big 12 team. Quarterback Carson Palmer played one of his best games against Auburn, but USC's running game could use a boost after accumulating only 84 yards.

Colorado update: Robert Hodge takes over at quarterback for Craig Ochs, who suffered his third concussion in 14 months during a 34-14 victory over San Diego State last week. Receiver Jeremy Bloom has a broken toe but is practicing and was upgraded from doubtful to questionable.

Story line: Could the Trojans really have a shot at surviving their opening nonconference run against Auburn, Colorado and Kansas State?

The pick: USC. Colorado is no No. 6 team anymore, and the quarterback change adds to its woes.


No. 23 UCLA (1-0)


Kickoff: 4 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Net

Line: UCLA by 7.

UCLA update: Coach Bob Toledo again plans to use freshman Drew Olson as well as starting quarterback Cory Paus, potentially adding fuel to a quarterback controversy waiting to boil over. Special teams are a focal point after a debut that included two missed field goals and a 55-yard punt return against the Bruins.

Oklahoma State update: The Cowboys lost to Louisiana Tech in their opener but beat Division I-AA Northern Iowa, 45-10, last week. Receiver Rashaun Woods has caught 19 passes in two games, nine for 175 yards against Northern Iowa.

Story line: Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma last season, so the Cowboys shouldn't be completely discounted. But UCLA has a good chance to be 2-0.

The pick: UCLA. The Bruins have trouble with November, but September is their month.


No. 8 NEBRASKA (3-0)

at PENN STATE (1-0)

Kickoff: 5 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: Nebraska by 5.

Nebraska update: The Cornhuskers didn't prove much with victories over Arizona State, Troy State and Utah State. Quarterback Jammal Lord, Eric Crouch's replacement, completed six of 12 passes for 105 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for two other touchdowns in a 44-13 victory over Utah State last week.

Penn State update: After consecutive losing seasons, this would be a huge upset if the Nittany Lions could pull it off. These programs haven't met since 1983, when No. 1 Nebraska defeated Penn State, 44-6.

Story line: The Nittany Lions' 1982 national championship team will be honored at halftime. The old campus sure has changed.

The pick: Nebraska. But wouldn't an upset by Penn State be a kick?


No. 9 GEORGIA (1-0)


Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 2.

Line: Georgia by 5.

Georgia update: The Bulldogs have two outstanding quarterbacks--sophomore David Greene and redshirt freshman D.J. Shockley--and a budding controversy. Expect both to play. Georgia struggled a bit last week to beat Clemson, but has a 29-13-2 record against the Gamecocks.

South Carolina update: Lou Holtz's team dropped out of the top 25 after committing seven turnovers in a 34-21 loss to previously winless Virginia last week. Six of the turnovers were fumbles, and two turnovers led to Virginia touchdowns.

Story line: If you like to watch Holtz squirm, this could be your game.

The pick: Georgia. South Carolina has won the last two meetings, but hasn't won three in a row in a series that dates to 1894.

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