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Six Games To Watch

September 20, 2002|Robyn Norwood

No. 10 FLORIDA (2-1)

at No. 4 TENNESSEE (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. TV: Channel 2.

Line: Tennessee by 4.

Florida update: With a 41-16 loss to No. 1 Miami behind them, the Gators face an elimination game in the national title chase.

Tennessee update: The Volunteers have given up only 10 points--seven to Wyoming, three to Middle Tennessee--and neither opponent scored until the fourth quarter. Receiver Kelley Washington makes his season debut after missing the first two games because of a sprained knee.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 21, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 9 inches; 338 words Type of Material: Correction
College football--In Sports Friday, a replica of a University of Kansas helmet incorrectly accompanied a listing about today's Kansas State game.

Story line: The Gators have won 12 of the last 16 against Tennessee, and three of the last four at Knoxville. Can Ron Zook continue the trend?

The pick: Tennessee, although it's difficult to know much about the Volunteers after victories over Wyoming and Middle Tennessee.


No. 11 USC (2-0)

at No. 25 KANSAS STATE (3-0)

Kickoff: 4 p.m. TV: TBS.

Line: Kansas State by 3.

USC update: Carson Palmer has completed 71.4% of his passes. The Trojans--ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense--held Colorado to only 61 yards.

Kansas State update: The Wildcats have won 37 consecutive nonconference home games, many of them against suspect opposition. Kansas State's 3-0 start is typical: The Wildcats have outscored Western Kentucky, Louisiana Monroe and Eastern Illinois, 179-16.

Story line: Trojan fans have a habit of getting ahead of their team, but maybe this group is something special.

The pick: USC. Trojans have a decent shot at becoming the first nonconference team to beat Kansas State at home since Northern Illinois in 1989, when Kansas State went 1-10.


No. 12 NOTRE DAME (3-0)


Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. TV: ESPN GamePlan.

Line: Michigan State by 2.

Notre Dame update: Tyrone Willingham takes his new team against his alma mater--and Notre Dame's nemesis of recent years. Michigan State has won the last five meetings.

Michigan State update: Spartans are smarting from a 46-22 loss to California--a 1-10 team last season. Willingham chooses to think the Spartans were looking ahead. Charles Rogers can tie the NCAA record of 12 consecutive games with a touchdown reception, joining Randy Moss, Desmond Howard and Pacific's Aaron Turner as the only players to accomplish the feat.

Story line: Just how real is this Notre Dame revival?

The pick: Notre Dame. The burgeoning Irish confidence is an advantage.



at No. 20 UCLA (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. TV: Channel 7.

Line: UCLA by 11.

Colorado update: Ugly keeps getting uglier for Colorado. The Buffaloes' top-10 ranking is long gone after a season-opening loss to Colorado State and last week's 40-3 home loss to USC. There's no great hope for improvement with Robert Hodge forced to start at quarterback again because of Craig Ochs' multiple concussions.

UCLA update: The Bruins cleaned up some of their early-season mistakes in a 38-24 victory over Oklahoma State last week, and Cory Paus was markedly better at quarterback.

Story line: Before the season began, the Buffaloes were in the top 10 and the Bruins were unranked. Can the turnarounds continue?

The pick: UCLA. Hodge was one of nine for 20 yards against USC.



at No. 1 MIAMI (3-0)

Kickoff: 4:45 p.m. TV: ESPN.

Line: Miami by 26.

Boston College update: This isn't the most dangerous Eagle team the Hurricanes have faced in a series known for Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass in a 47-45 Boston College victory in 1984. But Boston College didn't look threatening last season until putting a scare into Miami before losing, 18-7.

Miami update: The defending national champions' winning streak has reached 25 games and it doesn't look close to ending. The next serious challenger is Florida State on Oct. 12.

Story line: Just the names of the teams bring back memories of Flutie and the close call for Miami last year. But remember, the Hurricanes haven't lost to the Eagles since the 1984 game.

The pick: Miami. Too fast, too strong, too good.



at No. 19 TEXAS A&M (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. TV: ESPN GamePlan.

Line: Virginia Tech by 2.

Virginia Tech update: Tailbacks Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones ran for 324 yards against Marshall in what was to be a big-splash game for Thundering Herd quarterback Byron Leftwich.

Texas A&M update: Coach R.C. Slocum is wavering on senior quarterback Mark Farris after pulling him in the first two games. Dustin Long and Reggie McNeal are getting long looks.

Story line: It's a clash of strengths. The Aggies haven't given up a 100-yard rusher in 14 games and have the nation's top-ranked run defense.

The pick: Virginia Tech. Texas A&M earned that rushing defense statistic against Louisiana Lafayette and Pittsburgh. The Hokies will expose it.

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