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Four Games To Watch

October 19, 2006|Peter Yoon

No. 5 TEXAS (6-1) at No. 17 NEBRASKA (6-1)

* Kickoff: Saturday, 9 a.m. PDT.

* TV: (Game Plan only on West Coast).

* Line: Texas by 6 1/2 .

* Texas update: Freshman Colt McCoy has matured in a hurry and made the Longhorns the No. 2 scoring team in the nation at 42.71 points per game. He has 18 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. He gets solid run support from the duo of Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young, who have combined for 816 yards and seven touchdowns. The defense has limited opponents to 47.7 yards rushing per game.

* Nebraska update: The Cornhuskers rely on a defense that's giving up an average of only 13.4 points and an offense that is averaging 37 points. But a 28-10 loss to USC in Week 3 is their only game against a ranked opponent.

* Story line: This might be a Big 12 Conference championship preview. Texas can cruise to the South title with a victory. Nebraska gets Missouri at home and doesn't play Oklahoma this year, so the Cornhuskers might make the title game even with a loss.

* The pick: Texas. The Longhorns have the big-play offense to get a lead. Nebraska, which relies on the run, will have a tough time keeping pace.


No. 19 RUTGERS (6-0) at PITTSBURGH (6-1)

* Kickoff: Saturday, 2:45 p.m.

* TV: ESPN2.

* Line: Pittsburgh by 6 1/2 .

* Rutgers update: The Scarlet Knights lead the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of 8.33 points, and are No. 2 in total defense at 221.33 yards a game. Running back Ray Rice, who has rushed for 899 yards, leads a ball-control offense. Sophomore quarterback Mike Teel is coming off a breakout game against Navy, when he passed for 215 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

* Pittsburgh update: The Panthers are off to their best start since the Dan Marino-led 1982 team started 7-0. Since a Sept. 16 loss to Michigan State, Pitt has outscored opponents, 169-27, and has not trailed in a game. Quarterback Tyler Palko has completed 70% of his passes for 1,661 yards and 17 touchdowns with only three interceptions. The Panthers lead the nation with 20 forced turnovers.

* Story line: Both teams still have Big East games against West Virginia and Louisville, so it's a must-win for either to have a shot at the conference title.

* The pick: Pittsburgh. The Panthers' passing game will be too much for the upstart Scarlet Knights.


IOWA (5-2) at No. 2 MICHIGAN (7-0)

* Kickoff: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

* TV: Channel 7.

* Line: Michigan by 13.

* Iowa update: The Hawkeyes are reeling from a loss last week to Indiana. Perhaps they were looking ahead. Their offense, which averages 409 yards, is led by quarterback Drew Tate, who has passed for 1,481 yards and 11 touchdowns. He may, however, be without leading receiver Dominique Davis (sprained knee). Running back Albert Young will play in his first game since returning from a knee injury.

* Michigan update: Chad Henne and Mike Hart have benefited from one of the nation's top lines. Henne has passed for 1,299 yards and 14 touchdowns with three interceptions. Hart is fifth in the nation with 906 yards rushing. The defense gives up an average of 241.3 yards and 13.6 points.

* Story line: With games against Northwestern (2-5), Ball State (2-5) and Indiana (4-3) to follow, the Wolverines are poised to be undefeated going into their regular-season finale against Ohio State -- if they can get past this one. Iowa is No. 23 in the BCS standings.

* The pick: Michigan. It's defense will be tested, but the Wolverines will wear down the Hawkeyes at the line of scrimmage.


No. 13 GEORGIA TECH (5-1) at No. 12 CLEMSON (6-1)

* Kickoff: Saturday, 4:45 p.m. PDT


* Line: Clemson by 8.

* Georgia Tech update: The Yellow Jackets have won five straight since a season-opening loss to Notre Dame. Calvin Johnson, who has eight touchdowns, is among the nation's best receivers. Quarterback Reggie Ball is a double threat, with 929 yards passing and 315 rushing. The defense gives up an average of only 71.67 yards rushing a game.

* Clemson update: The Tigers' high-powered offense ranks No. 1 in the nation with a 43.9-point scoring average. James Davis, with 745 yards rushing and a nation-leading 14 touchdowns, and Will Proctor, with 1,302 yards passing, are the featured players for a team that has also won five consecutive games. The defense is No. 4 in the nation, giving up only 234 yards per game.

* Story line: They play in opposite divisions of the ACC, so a victory is not imperative for a conference title shot. Nine of their last 10 games were decided by five points or fewer.

* The pick: Clemson. The Tigers might be the hottest team in the country right now and if not for a double-overtime loss to Boston College would be in the national-title hunt.

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