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Six Games To Watch

November 21, 2003|Robyn Norwood

No. 4 OHIO STATE (10-1)

at No. 5 MICHIGAN (9-2)

Kickoff: 9 a.m.

TV: Channel 7

Line: Michigan by 7.

Ohio State update: The defending national champions are second in the bowl championship series standings, giving them the inside track to the national-title game. The Buckeyes' 16-13 overtime victory over Purdue last week was only their latest close call. Still, they've defeated Michigan two years in a row.

Michigan update: The Wolverines can play spoiler against Ohio State and win the Big Ten and a berth in a BCS bowl.

Story line: It is the 100th Michigan-Ohio State game. USC's future probably hinges on this game, not their margin of victory over UCLA.

The pick: Michigan. If Ohio State wins and USC wins its final two, gird for an outcry about the BCS system.

*

UCLA (6-5)

at No. 2 USC (9-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: USC by 22.

UCLA update: The spiraling Bruins have lost consecutive games to Stanford, Washington State and Oregon by a combined score of 83-40, scoring no more than 14 points in any of the three. Against USC, they've lost the last four games.

USC update: There are bigger things at stake than the winning streak against UCLA. The Trojans need to win their final two games and hope they can get back to No. 2 in the BCS standings.

Story line: The suspense is all about the Michigan-Ohio State game, because anything other than a USC blowout will be a huge upset.

The pick: USC. Trojan fans scrap "Fight On" for "Hail, to the victors valiant ... " earlier in the day.

*

No. 1 OKLAHOMA (11-0)

at TEXAS TECH (7-4)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN GamePlan.

Line: Oklahoma by 19.

Oklahoma update: The Sooners have clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game and are trying to complete the school's 10th undefeated regular season. Quarterback Jason White is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.

Texas Tech update: With B.J. Symons at quarterback, Texas Tech averages almost 500 yards in passing offense and more than 600 yards in total offense, both first in the nation.

Story line: There has been a buzz about the Texas Tech offense giving Oklahoma trouble before, but Oklahoma won in 2001 in Lubbock, 30-13, and won last season in Norman, 60-15.

The pick: Oklahoma. There's still the Big 12 title game to go, but figure you'll see the Sooners on Bourbon Street.

*

No. 3 LOUISIANA STATE (9-1)

at No. 15 MISSISSIPPI (8-2)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 2.

Line: LSU by 6 1/2.

LSU update: The Tigers, No. 4 in the BCS standings, can put themselves in the Southeastern Conference title game with a victory. Quarterback Matt Mauck is 14-2 as a starter.

Mississippi update: There's lots of talk of the Manning lore as Archie Manning watches son Eli try to get the Rebels to SEC title game. Perhaps Manning's most impressive statistic is his touchdown-to-interception ratio: 23 to 8.

Story line: They're calling this the biggest game in Oxford, Miss., since the 1950s, a classic Southern showdown for the SEC West Division title.

The pick: LSU. The Tiger defense leads the nation, holding teams to a mere 8.9 points a game.

*

No. 8 WASHINGTON STATE (9-2)

at WASHINGTON (5-6)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Net 2

Line: Washington State by 6 1/2.

Washington State update: Quarterback Matt Kegel says he will play despite pulling himself out of last week's victory over Arizona State because of his shoulder injury. A victory Saturday will give the Cougars their third consecutive 10-victory season.

Washington update: The Huskies have won five consecutive Apple Cups. Washington must win to have a chance to be selected for a bowl game.

Story line: Washington might as well have packed up the uniforms a few weeks ago, especially after giving up 729 yards to California.

The pick: Washington State. Washington's sorry season just needs to end after a loss to Arizona and a 47-point loss to California.

*

ALABAMA (4-7)

at AUBURN (6-5)

Kickoff: 4:45 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Line: Auburn by 8.

Alabama update: A dismal season would feel a lot better to the Crimson Tide after a victory over Auburn. Shaud Williams has rushed for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Auburn update: It seems like a long time ago that the Tigers were being mentioned as national championship contenders. Auburn has gone 2-4 against top-25 teams.

Story line: Sports Illustrated calls this college football's top rivalry. Sorry, Trojans and Bruins, but Michigan-Ohio State and Florida-Florida State were second and third.

The pick: Auburn. No national title and no SEC title, but the Tigers should win the Iron Bowl.

-- Robyn Norwood

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