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Six Games to Watch Saturday

September 12, 2003

NO. 15 NOTRE DAME (1-0) AT NO. 5 MICHIGAN (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: Michigan by 10.

Notre Dame update: The Fighting Irish had to rally to defeat Washington State in overtime, 29-26, on Nicholas Setta's 40-yard field goal, his fifth of the game. Maybe Tyrone Willingham's West Coast offense still hasn't landed in South Bend, Ind.

Michigan update: Running back Chris Perry can reach 500 yards rushing in the Wolverines' third game. He leads the nation with a 208-yard average. The Wolverines have outscored Central Michigan and Houston by a total of 95-10.

Story line: No school has won more games than Michigan, with 825. Notre Dame is second, with 792. They have the best fight songs too.

The pick: Michigan. The Wolverines aren't counting on a kicker to win their games.

*

NO. 24 N.C. STATE (1-1) AT NO. 3 OHIO STATE (2-0)

Kickoff: 9 a.m.

TV: Channel 7.

Line: Ohio State by 9 1/2.

N.C. State update: Coach Chuck Amato told his players not to talk about Ohio State until after the Wake Forest game. The Wolfpack can talk about the Buckeyes now, but that came after a stunning 38-24 loss to the Demon Deacons, despite Philip Rivers' career-high 433 passing yards.

Ohio State update: Maurice Clarett has been suspended for the season because of NCAA violations, leaving Ohio State to defend its national championship without him. Presumably the Buckeyes will be better than they were in a 16-13 victory over San Diego State last Saturday.

Story line: These teams are trying to recover from huge setbacks.

The pick: Ohio State. Another undefeated season is unlikely, but the Buckeyes should win this one.

*

PURDUE (0-1) AT NO. 20 WAKE FOREST (2-0)

Kickoff: 9 a.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Wake Forest by 1.

Purdue update: The Boilermakers were upset by Bowling Green, 27-26. Upstart Wake Forest could inflict more humiliation, but at least the Demon Deacons are a ranked team.

Wake Forest update: Jim Grobe might be the next big thing in coaching after landing tiny Wake Forest -- undergraduate enrollment, 3,700 -- in the top 25 with victories over Boston College and North Carolina State.

Story line: The standing-room-only crowd that watched Wake Forest upset N.C. State was only 35,741, but excitement is high in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The pick: Wake Forest. These teams are heading in opposite directions emotionally, and Wake Forest might have an emotional advantage.

*

NO. 25 SOUTH CAROLINA (2-0) AT NO. 8 GEORGIA (2-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channel 2.

Line: Georgia by 14.

South Carolina update: Lou Holtz's Gamecocks defeated Louisiana Lafayette by only seven points but trounced a ranked Virginia team by 24. They're trying to avoid a repeat of last season's swoon, when they lost their final five after a 5-2 start.

Georgia update: The Bulldogs shut out Clemson, 30-0, and defeated Middle Tennessee State, 29-10. Quarterback David Greene leads the offense, but Georgia hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against South Carolina in the last two meetings.

Story line: It's the Southeastern Conference opener for these old rivals, with South Carolina's new ranking on the line.

The pick: Georgia. Between the hedges, the Bulldogs have the edges.

*

HAWAII (1-0) AT NO. 4 USC (2-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Net.

Line: USC by 21.

Hawaii update: Prolific quarterback Timmy Chang makes his season debut after missing the opener against Appalachian State for failing to meet a Western Athletic Conference academic requirement last season. Only a junior, Chang is more than halfway to reaching Ty Detmer's NCAA passing record of 15,031 yards.

USC update: Defensively, USC has one of the nation's best front seven, but getting to a quarterback running the run-and-shoot can be difficult.

Story line: The Trojans' next big test could come Oct. 4 at Arizona State.

The pick: USC. Chang shouldn't be able to make much progress in his pursuit of Detmer's record against the Trojans.

*

PENN STATE (1-1) AT NO. 18 NEBRASKA (2-0)

Kickoff: 5 p.m.

TV: None.

Line: Nebraska by 10.

Penn State update: Joe Paterno's 9-4 comeback last season might prove short-lived, with people again wondering how much longer he'll coach after a 27-14 loss to Boston College.

Nebraska update: The Cornhuskers have beaten Oklahoma State and Utah State with new offensive and defensive coordinators.

Story line: Penn State's 40-7 victory in last season's meeting signaled the Nittany Lions' temporary resurgence and Nebraska's nose dive. Now, two once-dominant teams try to reclaim some pride.

The pick: Nebraska. Penn State leads the series, 7-5, but there are indications the Nittany Lions' problems might run deeper than the Cornhuskers'.

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