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Four Games To Watch

September 20, 2007|Peter Yoon



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

* TV: Channel 2.

* Line: Louisiana State by 16 1/2 .

* South Carolina update: The Gamecocks may have offense-minded Steve Spurrier as coach, but they are winning with defense. They have given up only two touchdowns this season -- none since the opening week -- and that includes a 16-12 victory over nationally ranked Georgia. They have given up only 9.7 points a game, eighth in the nation. South Carolina is on a six-game winning streak dating to last season.

* Louisiana State update: The Tigers lead the nation in scoring defense at 2.3 points a game and total defense at 128.33 yards a game. Virginia Tech in Week 2 is the only team to score against LSU, which is giving up only 30 yards rushing a game. Defensive back Craig Steltz has a nation-leading four interceptions. On offense,

the Tigers are averaging 45.67 points and have two quarterbacks -- Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux -- with at least 300 yards and two touchdowns passing.

* Story line: If South Carolina wants to be taken seriously in the Southeastern

Conference, it has to win games

like this. Spurrier is 11-1 lifetime against LSU, but all those games were with


* The pick: Louisiana State. The Gamecocks are still a year or two away from Bowl Championship Series title



NO. 21 KENTUCKY (3-0)


* Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m. PDT

* TV: ESPN2.

* Line: Arkansas by 6 1/2 .

* Kentucky update: The Wildcats are in the top 25 for the first time in more than two decades thanks to a 40-34 victory over No. 9 Louisville last week -- their first victory over a ranked team since 1977. Now they must back it up with a quality Southeastern Conference victory. Offense has been the signature of the team, with quarterback Andre Woodson passing for 743 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception and Rafael Little rushing for 129.33 yards a game.

* Arkansas update: The Razorbacks have one of the top ground games in the nation with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones leading an attack that averages 325.5 yards a game. Arkansas dropped out of the top 25, however, because of a defense that's giving up 413 yards a game. The Razorbacks are coming off a 41-38 loss to Alabama and have lost three consecutive conference games plus the SEC title game. Defensive lineman Ernest Mitchell was suspended by the team for hitting an Alabama player with a helmet.

* Story line: These teams last met in 2003 and Arkansas won, 71-63. The offenses are capable of producing a similar result, especially since each defense has had its share of problems.

* The pick: Arkansas. It's too early to count the defending SEC West champions out of the race.


NO. 22 GEORGIA (2-1)

AT NO. 16 ALABAMA (3-0)

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


* Line: Alabama by 3 1/2 .

* Georgia update: The Bulldogs' defense has been as good as advertised, giving up an average of only 260.3 yards, which is 15th in the nation. They rebounded nicely from a Week 2 loss to South Carolina

and defeated Western Carolina, 45-16, last week. Freshman running back

Knowshon Moreno has been impressive with 268 yards rushing in 47 carries. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has

passed for 621 yards and four touchdowns.

* Alabama update: After a 41-38 victory over Arkansas last week, the Crimson

Tide cracked the top 25 for the first time since 2005. With running back Terry

Grant leading the way with an average of 133.4 yards rushing a game, Alabama

is averaging 465.3 yards in total offense. The defense has been vulnerable to

the run, however, giving up 309 yards a game, including 450 last week against Arkansas.

* Story line: Georgia already has a Southeastern Conference loss and can't afford to be 0-2 if it wants to stay in the league title race. With a pretty soft schedule to follow, Alabama could be undefeated heading into its Nov. 3 home game against Louisiana State.

* The pick: Georgia. The Bulldogs should have no trouble moving the ball against a soft Crimson Tide defense.


IOWA (2-1)


* Kickoff: Saturday, 5 p.m. PDT.

* TV: ESPN Game Plan.

* Line: Wisconsin by 8.

* Iowa update: The Hawkeyes feature a stingy defense that has not given up a touchdown and ranks No. 3 in the nation in points given up at 6.0 a game. Still, they are coming off a loss to lowly Iowa State and their offense is averaging only 21.3 points. They do not have Ohio State or Michigan on their Big Ten Conference schedule this year, so a win here and Iowa could become a surprise contender for the Rose Bowl.

* Wisconsin update: The Badgers have yet to impress or validate their lofty national ranking. They barely beat Nevada Las Vegas two weeks ago and then struggled for a half against the Citadel last week. Running back P.J. Hill has been a load for opposing defenses. He's averaging 133 yards with six touchdowns, but the Badgers have been vulnerable on defense. They have given up more than 300 yards in each game.

* Story line: Wisconsin, considered a top-five team when the season started, has won 12 consecutive games. But the Badgers need to run away with this one to avoid another drop in the polls and stay in the hunt for a BCS game. Iowa has won four of the last five meetings in the series.

* The pick: Wisconsin. The Badgers, who certainly have played as if they are overrated, are motivated by talk that they are.

-- Peter Yoon

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