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Six Games To Watch

September 10, 2004|Pete Thomas

No. 4 FLORIDA STATE (0-0) at No. 5 MIAMI (0-0)

Kickoff: Tonight, 5.

TV: ABC.

Line: Miami by 2.

Florida State update: The Seminoles have nine starters returning, including quarterback Chris Rix, and seem poised to improve on a 32-point scoring average that helped them to last season's 10-3 record.

Miami update: The Hurricanes will need steady play from quarterback Brock Berlin while they try to reload a defense that led the way to last season's 11-2 record.

Story line: The Hurricanes have won five in a row against the Seminoles.

The pick: Florida State. A reversal of fortune is in order as these teams tend to beat each other in bunches. Before their five-game skid, the Seminoles had won the previous five contests, from 1995 to 1999.

*

OREGON STATE (0-1) at BOISE STATE (1-0)

Kickoff: Tonight, 7.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Boise State by 7 1/2 .

Oregon State update: The Beavers presumably have stopped kicking themselves over what happened last week against then-No. 3 Louisiana State -- Alexis Serna missed three extra-point attempts, and they lost by one point in overtime-- to focus on the Broncos.

Boise State update: The Broncos tuned up with a 65-7 victory over Idaho.

Story line: Oregon State was the last team to beat Boise State, prevailing 26-24 last season in Corvallis. The Broncos have won 13 in a row, best in Division I-A.

The pick: Boise State, which has not lost at home since its 2001 opener against Washington State.

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UCLA (0-1) at ILLINOIS (1-0)

Kickoff: 9 a.m. Saturday.

TV: ABC.

Line: UCLA by 1 1/2 .

UCLA update: Eyoseph Efseaff, a 6 feet 3, 314-pound offensive guard who has not played this season because of a groin injury, has been moved to defensive tackle and may play against the Illini.

Illinois update: The Illini opened with a 52-13 victory over Division I-AA Florida A&M but have not beaten a Division I opponent since 2002. Guard Bryan Koch suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Story line: The Illini were 1-11 last season. The Bruins have lost six in a row and last won Oct. 25 against Arizona State.

The pick: UCLA. The Bruins played a legitimate opponent in Oklahoma State while the Illini fattened up on a I-AA team.

*

No. 3 GEORGIA (1-0) at SOUTH CAROLINA (1-0)

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Georgia by 8.

Georgia update: The Bulldogs, who have 20 starters back from last season, lost sophomore running back Kregg Lumpkin to a season-ending knee injury during training camp. Freshman Danny Ware became the starter and had three touchdowns against Georgia Southern.

South Carolina update: The Gamecocks, with 16 starters back, defeated Vanderbilt, 31-6, behind a veteran offensive line.

Story line: Georgia is picked by many to win the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina's Lou Holtz is third among active head coaches with 244 victories.

The pick: Georgia makes it three in a row against Holtz and South Carolina.

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No. 8 MICHIGAN (1-0) at NOTRE DAME (0-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

TV: NBC.

Line: Michigan by 13 1/2 .

Michigan update: Freshman Chad Henne played with poise in leading the Wolverines past Miami of Ohio, 43-10.

Notre Dame update: Coach Tyrone Willingham expressed disappointment with the offensive effort -- including forced passes by quarterback Brady Quinn -- during a 20-17 loss to Brigham Young. Defensively, the Irish will need to stop giving up big plays to have a chance.

Story line: Willingham won't acknowledge it, but a win would go a long way toward prolonging his stay in South Bend.

The pick: Michigan, although not by a large margin, with the Wolverines starting a freshman quarterback on the road.

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COLORADO STATE (0-1) at No. 1 USC (1-0)

Kickoff: 5 p.m. Saturday.

TV: ABC.

Line: USC by 24.

Colorado State update: The Rams are hoping to play as they did in the second half of a 27-24 loss to Colorado. They compiled 335 of their 447 total yards -- while giving up only 111 yards -- in that span.

USC update: The Trojans used their off week "to develop the depth and give the [young] guys an opportunity to move up and challenge the guys that are [starting]," Coach Pete Carroll said.

Story line: The Trojans, who pulled away from Virginia Tech in the second half to win, 24-13, hope to avoid a slow start.

The pick: USC, after another slow start, in a high-scoring game.

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