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Four Games To Watch

September 06, 2007|Peter Yoon

MIAMI (1-0)

AT NO. 5 OKLAHOMA (1-0)

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

* TV: Channel 7.

* Line: Oklahoma by 10 1/2 .

* Miami update: The Hurricanes have a new look with Coach Randy Shannon taking over for Larry Coker and Shannon, the former defensive coordinator, wasted little time putting his stamp on the team. Miami gave up only 51 yards rushing, had six sacks and made four interceptions in a 31-3 victory over Marshall. The running attack, led by Greg Cooper and Javarias James, produced 260 yards. Quarterback Kirby Freeman had 81 yards passing.

* Oklahoma update: The Sooners produced gaudy numbers in their 79-10 victory over North Texas, piling up 674 yards. Freshman Sam Bradford passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns and during one stretch completed 18 consecutive passes. Freshman running back DeMarco Murray scored five touchdowns, giving the Sooners what appears to be a very balanced attack.

* Story line: The Miami defense and the Oklahoma offense were overwhelming in Week 1, but both faced second-tier opponents. This is the first meeting between the storied programs since a 20-14 Miami victory in the 1987 Orange Bowl. They also met in a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 matchup in 1986, also won by Miami.

* The pick: Miami. The Hurricanes can control the ball and the clock with a grinding running game and stout defense.

--

SOUTH CAROLINA (1-0)

AT NO. 11 GEORGIA (1-0)

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

* TV: ESPN2.

* Line: Georgia by 5.

* South Carolina update: The Gamecocks were not all that impressive in defeating Louisiana Lafayette, 28-14, last week. But they played without starting quarterback Blake Mitchell, suspended for a game for skipping summer school classes. South Carolina was 5-3 when Mitchell started last season. It's the start of Steve Spurrier's third season with the Gamecocks and he could use a big conference victory.

* Georgia update: The Bulldogs answered a lot of questions during a 35-14 victory over Oklahoma State, using a defense with eight first-year starters to corral a Cowboys offense that can be as electric as any in the nation. Quarterback Matthew Stafford started strong, passing for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He got good support from freshman running back Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 70 yards and added 51 more on two screen pass receptions.

* Story line: When Georgia defeated South Carolina, 18-0, last season, it was the first shutout of a Spurrier-coached team since 1987. Georgia has won five consecutive games in the series and is 11-4 against South Carolina since the Gamecocks joined the Southeastern Conference in 1992.

* The pick: Georgia. The Bulldogs' defense is inexperienced, but showed it has the ability to shut down a good offense.

--

NO. 19 TEXAS CHRISTIAN (1-0)

AT NO. 7 TEXAS (1-0)

* Kickoff: Saturday, 4 p.m.

* TV: FSN West.

* Line: Texas by 9.

* Texas Christian update: Defensive end Tommy Blake, the team sack leader last season, has been away from the team with an undisclosed medical condition, but he might play against the Longhorns. Even without him, the defense returns seven starters from a unit that was among the top three in the nation last year in total yards and scoring. The TCU offense benefited from good field position in its opener against Baylor, but did not show the ability to sustain drives.

* Texas update: The Longhorns escaped with a 21-13 victory over Arkansas State last week, but it wasn't pretty. They gave up nearly 400 yards in offense and the Texas offense routinely stalled. Quarterback Colt McCoy passed for two touchdowns, but also had two passes intercepted. Running back Jamaal Charles ground out 112 yards in 27 carries and receiver Limas Sweed had five catches for 93 yards.

* Story line: The former Southwestern Conference rivals are meeting for the first time in 12 years. TCU has a five-game win streak against Big 12 opponents, but has lost 14 consecutive games at Texas.

* The pick: Texas. The Longhorns were looking past Arkansas State last week and got lucky. They aren't looking past Texas Christian.

--

NO. 9 VIRGINIA TECH (1-0)

AT NO. 2 LOUISIANA STATE (1-0)

* Kickoff: Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

* TV: ESPN.

* Line: Louisiana State by 12 1/2 .

* Virginia Tech update: The Hokies, emotional after a pregame tribute to the victims of the on-campus shooting tragedy, were sluggish during their 17-7 victory over East Carolina last week. Sean Glennon completed 22 of 33 passes for 245 yards, but running back Brandon Ore never got into rhythm and finished with 70 yards in 23 carries. Virginia Tech limited the Pirates to 261 yards and produced a touchdown on an interception return by Victor Harris.

* Louisiana State update: The Tigers didn't seem to miss quarterback JaMarcus Russell -- the top pick overall in the NFL draft, now holding out with the Oakland Raiders -- as they rolled over Mississippi State, 45-0. Matt Flynn, a fifth-year senior, passed for two touchdowns in three quarters and did not commit a turnover. The strength of the team, however, is a defense that had six interceptions -- three by Craig Steltz -- and limited the Bulldogs to 146 yards and nine first downs.

* Story line: The season's first matchup of top-10 teams also pits teams that have ridden emotional roller coasters -- Virginia Tech because of the shootings and LSU because of Hurricane Katrina.

* The pick: LSU. The sluggish Hokies' offense is no match for the Tigers.

--Peter Yoon

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