All times eastern
Thursday
M (6-5, 3-4), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Texas by 22 1/2.
Series Record: Texas leads 74-36-5.
Last meeting: 2008, Texas 49-9.
What's at Stake
Texas has already clinched a berth in the Big 12 title game so this is all about staying on course for a national championship. It's also the stretch run for postseason awards. Another big game on national TV could be a big boost for quarterback Colt McCoy's Heisman campaign. For the Aggies, it's all playing spoiler.
Key Matchup
M pass rusher Von Miller. McCoy is on a torrid pace over the last five games with 1,487 yards and 12 touchdowns. He'll need to be able to spot Miller before the snap because Miller leads the nation with 15 1/2 sacks.
Players to Watch
pens up the field for McCoy.
M: QB Jerrod Johnson. The most athletic quarterback Texas has faced all season has more touchdowns (24) than McCoy, but also has been under fierce pressure behind a struggling offensive line that has allowed 24 sacks
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M. The Aggies and Kansas State are the only teams with winning records against McCoy ... The Aggies' six wins this season were by an average of 27 points. Their five losses were by an average of 25.4 ... McCoy has more than 3,000 yards passing in three of his four seasons.
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Friday
No. 2 Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) vs. Auburn (7-4, 3-4), 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Line: Alabama by 10 1/2.
Series Record: Alabama leads 39-33-1.
Last meeting: 2008, Alabama 36-0.
What's at Stake
Besides bragging rights, Alabama controls its own destiny in terms of a national championship shot. Beat Auburn and Florida, and the Crimson Tide is Pasadena-bound. Auburn could secure a better bowl destination with a win, and give a huge highlight to first-year coach Gene Chizik.
Key Matchup
Auburn's offensive line, including center Ryan Pugh, against Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody. The Bronco Nagurski, Lombardi and Chuck Bednarik finalist has been clogging the middle all season for the nation's No. 2 run defense. The running game is where it all starts for Auburn's high-tempo offense. Ben Tate has been held to 134 yards on 38 rushes, a 3.5-yard average, in the Tigers' last two losses.
Players to Watch
Alabama: RB Mark Ingram. The Heisman Trophy candidate has been punishing defenses all season, breaking tackles and big runs against weary defenders in the fourth quarter. Auburn's defense, hampered by injuries, has been missing tackles and giving up big runs in the fourth.
Auburn: RB Ben Tate. Tate is the SEC's No. 3 rusher, with 1,209 yards and eight touchdowns in the senior's breakout season. He has said he believes he's the state's best running back. This would be a pretty good showcase to try to back that up.
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This is the third time the teams have met on Thanksgiving weekend since 1992. ... Auburn owns a 7-2 advantage at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a series that was largely played in Birmingham. This is the 20th anniversary of the first Iron Bowl played in Auburn, when the Tigers upset an unbeaten and No. 2-ranked Alabama team with designs on a national title. ... Auburn's Chris Todd is one touchdown pass shy of the school mark of 20 held by Jason Campbell and Pat Sullivan. ... 'Bama's defense has allowed only six TDs in seven SEC games. 'Bama hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 31 games.
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Illinois (3-7) vs. No. 5 Cincinnati (10-0), noon (ABC)
Line: Cincinnati by 17 1/2.
Series Record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
The Bearcats are fifth in the BCS standings and need a win to keep themselves in the discussion of national title candidates. They're also looking for QB Tony Pike to get back into the flow after missing most of the last month with an injury to his non-throwing arm. Illinois has won two of its last three.
Key Matchup
Cincinnati's offensive line against the Illini pass rush. Pike had a damaged plate in his left arm replaced five weeks ago. He's expected to start for the first time since the injury, wearing a protective cast. The Bearcats don't want him to get hit very much. On Nov. 7, the Illini had seven sacks - four by DE Clay Nurse - in a 35-32 win at Minnesota.
Players to Watch
Illinois: QB Juice Williams hurt his left ankle at Minnesota and hasn't played since. He's expected back against the Bearcats. The senior is 22 yards shy of 10,000 total yards for his career. He would become only the sixth player in Big Ten history to reach the mark.
da on Oct. 15, he had thrown for 1,649 yards and 17 touchdowns with only three interceptions.
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Illinois is 3-8 against ranked teams in the past three years, including losses this season to Ohio State and Penn State. ... The Illini rank 24th in the nation in rushing with 190.5 yards per game. ... Williams has thrown for 7,544 yards during his career. ... Cincinnati is one of six unbeaten teams left in the Bowl Subdivision. ... Sophomore QB Zach Collaros, who started four games while Pike was sidelined, is expected to get into the game in situations where he can use his running ability. ... Cincinnati has won its last 16 regular-season games, including its last 11 at home.
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Nevada (8-3, 7-0, WAC) at No. 6 Boise State (11-0, 6-0), 10:08 p.m. (ESPN2)
Line: Boise State by 13 1/2.
Series record: Boise State leads 23-12.
Last meeting: 2008, Boise State 41-34.
What's At Stake
The WAC championship, Boise State's perfect season and the Broncos' BCS bowl hopes - though fellow outsider TCU has the inside track to crashing that party. It's Boise's biggest test on its cozy blue home turf. The ``pistol'' offense of the Wolf Pack leads the nation in rushing (373 ypg), and is averaging 52 points while winning eight straight. Broncos coach Chris Petersen calls it ``the biggest challenge, for sure, that we've had in a long, long time.''
Key Matchup
Nevada's pass defense against Boise State QB Kellen Moore: For all the talk about that pistol offense, Nevada has no chance unless it fixes this: Moore is the nation's passing efficiency leader with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions; the Wolf Pack is ranked 119th out of 120 bowl subdivision teams in pass defense, allowing 286 yards per game.
Players to watch
Nevada: QB Colin Kaepernick. Sure, he's one reason Nevada is the first team in NCAA history to have three 1,000-yard rushers in one season. But Boise's going to crowd everyone short of the Idaho's governor around the line to stop the run. Kaepernick's likely going to have to throw it more than his average of 21 times per game.
Boise State: WR Austin Pettis. The acrobatic junior, and nephew of former Gold Glove outfielder Garry Pettis, caught everything Moore threw near him, even tapping balls to himself for one-handed grabs, while scoring four TDs against Idaho two weeks ago. But his school-record of 10 consecutive games with a scoring catch ended last week at Utah State.
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Boise State has won nine consecutive games in the series and hasn't scored fewer than 38 points in any of those wins. ... Nevada hasn't won at BSU since 1997. ... Boise State has the nation's best home winning percentage this decade at .968 (61-2). ... Moore threw a career-high three INTs the last time he faced Nevada. That's two more than he's thrown in any of his other 23 games.
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No. 8 Pittsburgh (9-1, 5-0 Big East) at West Virginia (7-3, 3-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Line: Pittsburgh by 2.
Series record: Pittsburgh leads 61-37-3.
Last meeting: 2008, Pittsburgh 19-15.
What's At Stake
It's the 102nd Backyard Brawl between the schools separated by 75 miles of interstate highway. A win over West Virginia would be mostly for pride because Pittsburgh needs to beat No. 5 Cincinnati at home on Dec. 5 to earn the Big East's automatic BCS berth. West Virginia still has faint hopes of its fourth 10-win season in the last five years but must win out, including a bowl game.
Key Matchup
Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis vs. West Virginia's defense. The Mountaineers have sprung a leak after allowing only one 100-yard rusher in their first seven games. They've given up three straight big rushing performances since. Lewis ran for 152 yards in a 27-22 win over Notre Dame and leads the Big East with 1,291 yards.
Players to Watch
t 12 of 23 for 156 yards with two interceptions, a fumble and two drives inside the West Virginia 10 that didn't produce points.
West Virginia: RB Noel Devine. The junior has gone a month without a 100-yard rushing effort after recording five in his first seven contests. He's been slowed by a sore left ankle the past two games.
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Frank Cignetti Jr., Pittsburgh's first-year offensive coordinator, is the son of Frank Cignetti Sr., West Virginia's head coach from 1976-79. The younger Cignetti's brother, Curt, lettered as a quarterback at West Virginia in 1982. ... Pittsburgh is trying to go 10-1 for the first time since 1981. ... West Virginia is going after its first perfect season at home since 1993 - Pittsburgh ruined that chance in the 2007 regular-season finale, denying the Mountaineers a berth in the BCS championship game. Pittsburgh is 19-5 since that game ... The Panthers are trying to beat West Virginia for the third straight year. That hasn't happened since Pitt won seven straight meetings from 1976-82.
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Saturday
No. 1 Florida (11-0) vs. Florida State (6-5), 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Line: Florida by 24 1/2.
Series Record: Florida leads 32-19-2.
Last Meeting: 2008, Florida 45-15.
What's at Stake
Florida's 21-game winning streak, the longest in the nation, and its five-year run against rival Florida State. A loss would knock the Gators from the forefront of the national championship picture.
Key Matchup
Florida State defense vs. QB Tim Tebow and RBs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. The Gators had a combined 596 yards rushing in the last two meetings and ran away with both games. The 'Noles rank 105th in the nation against the run this season.
Players to Watch
Florida State: Greg Reid, a speedy defensive back who chose FSU over Florida in February, leads the team in punt returns, kickoff returns and all-purpose yards. He also might be FSU's best chance for a big play.
Florida: Tebow and his fellow seniors. It should be an emotional senior day for a class that has more wins (46) than any other in Southeastern Conference history. Those guys, especially Tebow, don't want a bit of disappointment in their final game in The Swamp.
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Could this be coach Bobby Bowden's final game in Gainesville? Most believe it will be. Bowden has said next season is probably his last as Seminoles coach. Bowden is 5-11 at Florida. ... FSU's defense ranks 106th in the nation, lower than every Football Bowl Subdivision opponent on Florida's schedule except for Florida International (No. 118). ... The family of Michael Guilford, a walk-on quarterback killed in a motorcycle crash in 2007, also will be part of the Florida's pregame senior day ceremony. ... The Gators are 21-1 in non-conference games under coach Urban Meyer, with the lone loss coming against Michigan in the 2008 Capital One Bowl. ... Under Meyer, the Gators are 13-1 against traditional rivals Tennessee (5-0), Georgia (4-1) and Florida State (4-0).
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New Mexico (1-10, 1-6 Mountain West) at No. 4 TCU (11-0, 7-0), 1 p.m. (The Mtn.)
Line: TCU by 44 1/2.
Series Record: TCU leads 7-3.
Last Meeting: 2008, TCU 26-3.
What's at Stake
TCU becoming a BCS buster. If the Horned Frogs complete their first undefeated regular season since 1938, they will be waiting to find out where - and not if - they will play in one of the big-money games. The Frogs are fourth in the Bowl Championship Series standings. They would also clinch the outright Mountain West title.
Key Matchup
New Mexico's freshman running backs vs. TCU's defense. Desmond Dennis and Kasey Carrier combined for 210 yards rushing in the Lobos first victory a week ago. TCU is sixth nationally allowing only 87 yards rushing a game, only 53 in five home games.
Players to watch
rlacher's school record set in 1998.
TCU: QB Andy Dalton. The junior and three-year starter goes for his 29th victory, which would match the school record held by ``Slingin' Sammy'' Baugh (1934-36). Dalton has 12 TD passes and two interceptions the last six games.
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The last time New Mexico faced a team ranked this high was 25 years ago, when the Lobos lost 48-0 to fourth-ranked Brigham Young during the Cougars' national championship season. ... TCU is going for its 14th consecutive victory, which would tie the school record set by that 1938 team with Heisman Trophy winner Davey O'Brien at quarterback. ... Already with their fifth 11-win season in seven years, the Frogs try to get to 12 wins for only the second time in school history (1935 was the other). ... TCU has topped 500 total yards and 300 yards rushing in four consecutive games.
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No. 7 Goergia Tech (10-1) vs. Georgia (6-5), 8 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2)
Line: Georgia Tech by 7 1/2
Series Record: Georgia leads 59-39-5.
Last meeting: 2008, Georgia Tech 45-42.
What's at Stake
State pride. Georgia Tech has already clinched a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Dec. 5 and has little chance of moving up enough to garner consideration for the BCS title game. Georgia is already assured of its worst record since Mark Richt took over as coach in 2001, though a win over the Yellow Jackets would make up a bit for the disappointing season. Plus, the Bulldogs are eager to make up for last year's loss, which snapped their seven-year winning streak in the series.
Key Matchup
Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas vs. Georgia CBs Prince Miller and Brandon Boykin. The Yellow Jackets rely mostly on the running game out of their spread-option offense, but coach Paul Johnson loves to set up defenses for the long ball to Thomas. The 6-foot-3, 299-pound junior leads the ACC in receiving yards (86.4 per game) and he's adept at leaping over shorter corners such as Boykin (5-10) and Miller (5-8).
Players to Watch
Georgia: RB Washaun Ealey. The freshman was involved in a crucial fumble at the goal line in last week's stunning home loss to Kentucky, and it will be intriguing to see how he bounces back.
Georgia Tech: QB Josh Nesbitt. ``The straw that stirs the drink,'' according to Johnson. Nesbitt has been invaluable as the trigger man on the triple option, whether he runs the ball (847 yards, 16 touchdowns) or gives it off to someone else.
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The series record is a matter of dispute. Georgia does not recognize two Georgia Tech wins during World War II, claiming the Yellow Jackets had an unfair advantage due to wartime training programs. ... The Bulldogs rank next-to-last in turnover margin among the NCAA's 120 major schools. Only Miami of Ohio is worse than Georgia's minus-18. ... Georgia Tech ranks second nationally in rushing yards at 314 per game. ... Georgia's top receiver, A.J. Green, may not play because of a separated shoulder.
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No. 11 Oklahoma State (9-2, 6-1, Big 12) at Oklahoma (6-5, 4-3), 12:30 p.m. (FSN)
Line: Oklahoma by 9 1/2.
Series Record: Oklahoma leads 79-17-7.
Last meeting: 2008, Oklahoma 61-41.
What's at Stake
Oklahoma State could position itself for an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series - the first in school history - if it can snap a six-game losing streak against Oklahoma in the Bedlam rivalry. The Sooners are trying to protect a 29-game home winning streak.
Key Matchup
Oklahoma State RB Keith Toston vs. Oklahoma defense. Toston leads the Big 12 with an average of 121.4 yards rushing in conference play while the Sooners rank eighth in the nation in rush defense (91 ypg) even after allowing a season-high 161 yards in last week's loss at Texas Tech.
Players to Watch
Oklahoma State: CB Perrish Cox. Besides leading the nation in passes defended, he also scored on a punt return in a win against Colorado last week.
Oklahoma: WR Ryan Broyles. A Norman native who decommitted from the Cowboys at the last minute to attend Oklahoma, he's been the go-to guy in the Sooners' offense with at least seven catches in five consecutive games.
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Coach Mike Gundy has said Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson will start after missing last week's game with shoulder and head injuries. ... A ranked Cowboys team is facing an unranked Sooners team for only the third time in series history. The opposite scenario has occurred 38 times. ... Oklahoma has lost only twice at home under coach Bob Stoops, but one of the losses came against Oklahoma State in 2001. The Sooners have won 49 of 50 home games since. ... OSU is seeking a school-record fifth straight conference road victory.
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No. 15 Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5), noon (ESPN)
Line: Clemson by 3.
Series Record: Clemson leads 65-37-4.
Last meeting: 2008, Clemson 31-14.
What's at Stake
In the Palmetto State? Everything. This series is a 24/7/365 happening for sports fans in a state without big-league professional sports. The games are annual sellouts and generally shape perception about a program's potential heading into the following season. The Tigers hope to continue their six-game winning streak and head into next week's Atlantic Coast Conference title game on a high. The Gamecocks look to end a three-game losing streak.
Key Matchup
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia vs. Clemson's defense. Garcia was on the rise earlier this season as the Gamecocks won five of their first six games and averaged more than 27 points a game. The offense hasn't scored more than 16 points in any of its past five contests. The Tigers are tied for 11th in the country with 33 sacks and their 20 interceptions trail only Ohio State.
Players to Watch
Clemson: RB C.J. Spiller. The Tigers senior star seems to set a record each time he touches the ball. He holds the ACC's single season all-purpose yardage mark and is the only player in Division I to score a touchdown in every game. He's 26 yards shy of becoming the NCAA's fifth player ever with more than 7,000 all-purpose yards.
South Carolina: LB Eric Norwood. South Carolina's career leader in sacks, he's also the SEC's career active leader with 29 sacks and 53 1/2 tackles for loss. He's a finalist for the Butkus Award, which goes to the country's best linebacker.
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Clemson has had South Carolina's number for more than three decades, going 24-8-1 since 1976. ... The Gamecocks have won only once over Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium in 10 games dating to 1991. ... South Carolina comes into the regular-season finale off a bye week. It has lost to the Tigers the past two seasons when not playing the week before. It's last series win? 2006 when the Gamecocks beat Middle Tennessee a week before facing Clemson.
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No. 17 LSU (8-3, 4-3) vs. Arkansas (7-4, 3-4 SEC), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: LSU by 3 1/2.
Series Record: LSU leads 33-19-4.
Last meeting: 2008, Arkansas 31-30.
What's at Stake
It's the 14th annual battle for the ``Golden Boot,'' a trophy in the shape of the states of Arkansas and Louisiana. An LSU win would give the Tigers a winning record in the Southeastern Conference and restore some faith in coach Les Miles, who is under heavy criticism for a series of perceived play-calling and clock-management mistakes at the end of LSU's 25-23 loss at Mississippi. Arkansas will leap ahead of LSU and take third place in the SEC West standings with a win.
Key Matchup
Arkansas's SEC-leading offense, which averages 38 points and 445.2 yards per game, against LSU's defense, which has improved this season under new coordinator John Chavis. Arkansas has scored 40-plus points seven times this season. The Tigers' defense has forced 17 turnovers and ranks third in the SEC with 14.7 points per game.
Players to Watch
quarterback to have thrown for 400-plus yards twice this season and has thrown for more than 300 yards five times.
LSU: WR receiver Brandon LaFell, who has 166 career receptions, needs two more catches to move past Josh Reed and into third on LSU's all-time list. The senior needs three receiving TDs to tie Dwayne Bowe at 26 for first all-time in that category.
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This marks the first time since 1995 that these teams have played on a Saturday. They met on the Friday after Thanksgiving from 1996-2008. ... Arkansas has won the last two meetings and LSU won the two before that. The margin of victory in each of those four games was less than a touchdown. ... The last time Arkansas beat LSU three straight times was 1927-29. ... LSU QB Jordan Jefferson made his first career start at Arkansas a year ago. ... LSU has won 35 of its last 36 Saturday night games in Tiger Stadium, with the lone loss coming this season to No. 1 Florida.
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No. 14 Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2) at Virginia (3-8, 2-5), 3:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
Line: Virginia Tech by 15 1/2.
Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 48-37-5.
Last meeting: 2008, Virginia Tech 17-14.
What's at Stake
The game is expected to be Al Groh's last as coach at Virginia because of three losing seasons in four years and rapidly declining attendance. Groh has won only once in eight meetings with Virginia Tech as the coach at his alma mater. The Cavaliers seniors honored before the game could be the third straight class to leave Virginia without beating the Hokies.
Key Matchup
Virginia Tech WR Jarrett Boykin against Virginia's secondary. Boykin has emerged as QB Tyrod Taylor's favorite and most reliable target, but may be facing the best pair of cornerbacks he's seen all year in Chris Cook and Ras-I Dowling. Boykin is physical and has huge hands, and Cook and Dowling are also big for cornerbacks, both at 6-foot-2.
Players to Watch
Virginia Tech: QB Tyrod Taylor. Always feared for his running ability, Taylor has developed into a polished passer this season - but can still open things up for ACC rushing leader Ryan Williams and the offense with one or two well-timed runs from the pocket.
Virginia: WR Vic Hall. He was Virginia's surprise starter at quarterback last season in this game and ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns, and this season has turned into one of QB Jameel Sewell's favorite targets. Hall also threw a touchdown pass last week at Clemson.
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Virginia Tech has won nine of the last 10 meetings. ... The game will feature 96 players from Virginia - 51 for the Cavaliers, and 45 Hokies. ... Scott Stadium holds 61,500, which is about 15,000 more than the Cavaliers' average attendance. As always seems to be the case, the void will be filled with a lot of Hokies fans. ... The Hokies have been ranked for the past 15 meetings; Virginia only twice in the last nine.
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No. 22 Utah (9-2, 6-1 Mountain West) at No. 18 BYU (9-2, 6-1), 5 p.m. (The Mtn., CBS-College)
Line: BYU by 7.
Series Record: Utah 53-33-4.
Last Meeting: 2008, Utah 48-24.
What's at Stake
Second place in the Mountain West - and the state's biggest rivalry. The Utes and Cougars could be tied for last instead of second in the league and the Holy War rivalry would be just as heated. Ten of the last 12 games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Key Matchup
BYU's offense vs. Utah's defense. The Utes are No. 2 in the Mountain West in pass efficiency defense and third in total defense. The Cougars have the top passing offense in the conference and are second in total offense and scoring, but struggled last year against the Utes. Max Hall threw five interceptions in Utah's 48-24 win.
Players to watch
Utah: QB Jordan Wynn. Wynn is 2-1 as a starter, but this will be his first taste of the Utes-Cougars rivalry.
of Austin Collie's school record of 215.
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The rivals can't even agree on the series record. BYU doesn't recognize six games - split 3-3 - when the school was known as BY Academy. ... A win for BYU on Saturday would give the Cougars 200 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. ... Utah has nine wins for the eighth time in school history and third straight season.
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No. 19 Miami (8-3) vs. South Florida (7-3), 3:30 p.m.
Line: Miami by 5 1/2.
Series Record: Miami leads 1-0.
Last meeting: Miami 27-7, Oct. 1, 2005.
What's At Stake
Miami is looking for its first nine-win regular season since 2005. The Hurricanes won five games in 2007, Randy Shannon's first season as head coach. They improved to seven wins a year ago. South Florida stumbled badly in the Big East after a 5-0 start, but can enhance its bowl prospects with a second win over an Atlantic Coast Conference team. The Bulls beat Florida State in September.
Key Matchup
Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris is coming off a 348-yard, two-touchdown performance in Miami's 34-16 victory over Duke. He's completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 3,003 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He's also been sacked 28 times. South Florida has been good at pressuring quarterbacks. Four USF linemen, including ends George Selvie and Jason Pierre Paul, have at least three sacks.
Players to Watch
Miami: WR Leonard Hankerson had eight catches for 143 yards and one TD against Duke. He leads the team with 42 receptions for 752 yards and four TDs. The Hurricanes have a trio of productive runners with Graig Cooper (583 yards, three TDs), Damien Berry (473 yards, eight TDs) and Javarris James (454 yards, four TDs).
South Florida: QB B.J. Daniels, a red-shirt freshman who became the starter after Big East career total offense leader Matt Grothe suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game. Daniels had 445 yards total offense in a 34-22 win over Louisville last week. He leads USF in rushing with 671 yards and six TDs and has thrown for 1,529 yards, 14 TDs and eight interceptions.
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Last week, Daniels became the first player in Big East history to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 in the same game. ... After yielding an average of 149.6 yards rushing in its first five games, Miami has limited opponents to 88.2 per game on the ground the last six games. ... USF has lost three of five, falling to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Rutgers by a combined 106-31.
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No. 20 Mississippi (8-3, 4-3, SEC) vs. Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5), 12:21 p.m. (SEC)
Line: Mississippi by 7 1/2.
Series Record: Mississippi leads 60-39-6.
Last meeting: 2008, Mississippi 45-0.
What's at Stake
Blood, sweat and tears to start in the nation's 16th oldest rivalry. For Ole Miss a win means a primo bowl, probably in sunny Florida. For Mississippi State, a win gives the Bulldogs something to smile about as they head into the offseason.
Key Matchup
Ole Miss RB Dexter McCluster vs. Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon. Two of the nation's flashiest running backs square off in a game that will probably feature more than 60 running plays. Dixon is the nation's No. 6 rusher (125.8 ypg) and McCluster has averaged 184.8 rushing yards and 238.3 all-purpose yards in the last four SEC games.
Players to Watch
Ole Miss: NT Jerrell Powe. Powe had a breakout game last season with 1.5 sacks and an interception against the Bulldogs in a record-breaking win that included 11 sacks for Ole Miss. The Rebels lead the SEC in tackles for loss (7.6) and sacks (2.9) per game and a big reason is Powe's development.
Mississippi State: MLB Jamar Chaney. If anyone's going to slow down McCluster it's Chaney. The fifth-year senior was absent from last year's game because of a broken leg and his presence gives the Bulldogs defense some bite this time around.
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Miss has won five of seven in the series. ... Ole Miss is on a three-game winning streak and has won five of six overall. Mississippi State has lost two straight. ... A win would give the Rebels consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time since 1961-62. ... Ole Miss WR Shay Hodge needs just 22 yards to tie the single-season receiving record of 949 yards. ... Ole Miss is the fifth ranked team to play at Mississippi State this season.
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No. 23 North Carolina (8-3, 4-3, ACC) vs. N.C. State (4-7, 1-6), noon (ESPN2)
Line: North Carolina by 6.
Series record: North Carolina leads 63-29-6.
Last meeting: 2008, N.C. State 41-10.
What's at stake
The latest meeting in the rivalry finds two teams heading in opposite directions. The Tar Heels have won four straight and can post their highest win total in a dozen years with a win. The Wolfpack has lost six of seven games.
Key Matchup
North Carolina's secondary vs. N.C. State QB Russell Wilson. Wilson frustrated the Tar Heels last year and has thrown 27 touchdown passes this year. But CB Kendric Burney had three interceptions against Miami while S Deunta Williams had three of his own last week at Boston College.
Players to watch
North Carolina: DE Robert Quinn. He is second in the ACC with 11 sacks and has 12 hurries, which will be key in pressuring Wilson into mistakes.
N.C. State: TE George Bryan. Leads the team with 40 catches and has six touchdowns as one of Wilson's steadiest targets.
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The coaches were hired within a month of each other in late 2006 and Tom O'Brien's Wolfpack has taken both meetings against Butch Davis' Tar Heels. ... North Carolina's four-game winning streak is its longest run since 2001. The Tar Heels haven't won more than eight games in a year since winning 11 in Mack Brown's final season in 1997. ... N.C. State will play without offensive coordinator Dana Bible, who is being treated for leukemia. He also missed last week's loss at Virginia Tech. ... A loss would give N.C. State (1-6) its worst ACC record since going 1-5 in 1984.
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No. 24 USC (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10) vs. UCLA (6-5, 3-5), 10 p.m. (Fox)
Line: USC by 13.
Series Record: USC leads 43-28-7.
Last meeting: 2008, USC 28-7.
What's at Stake
UCLA hasn't felt as hopeful about its chances in Los Angeles' annual crosstown showdown since before Pete Carroll arrived at USC. The Trojans have lost two of three, including a historic defeat against Stanford in their last Coliseum appearance. UCLA is in prime position to cement its case for a bowl bid after three straight wins. USC hopes to salvage some of its pride by maintaining its dominance of UCLA over the past decade.
Key Matchup
USC QB Matt Barkley vs. UCLA CB Alterraun Verner and S Rahim Moore. Barkley's second-half struggles have been a huge factor in the Trojans' downward spiral. He has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games while passing for fewer than 175 yards per game, freeing opponents to load up against USC's talented tailbacks. Moore leads the nation with nine interceptions, and Verner is an All-America candidate.
Players to Watch
UCLA: WR Nelson Rosario. After a slow start to his sophomore season, Rosario has embraced his big-play potential, catching 21 passes for 406 yards in the last four games while providing a deep threat for QB Kevin Prince.
USC: DE Everson Griffen. The Trojans' defense allowed the most points in school history in its loss to Stanford, its second awful game in three weeks. USC could regain some of its confidence by putting pressure on Prince. Griffen's eight sacks lead the best pass-rushing defense in the Pac-10.
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al time, a rarity in a rivalry usually played in the afternoon. ... Both teams will wear their colored home jerseys at the Coliseum, continuing the revival of a long-abandoned tradition brought back last year by USC at the Rose Bowl. UCLA isn't expected to be penalized with the loss of a timeout after the opening kickoff for wearing the wrong jersey, as USC was last year.
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No. 25 Houston (9-2, 5-2) vs. Rice (2-9, 2-5 C-USA), 7 p.m.
Line: Houston by 29 1/2.
Series Record: Houston leads 25-10
Last meeting: 2008, Rice 56-42.
What's At Stake
At 5-2 in Conference USA play Houston needs a victory to win the West division and qualify for the championship game. If the Cougars win and East division leader East Carolina loses, Houston will host the championship game. East Carolina will host the title game if Houston wins and it beats Southern Mississippi on Saturday. Last season the Owls kept Houston from the championship game with a win in this rivalry game.
Key Matchup
Houston's top-ranked offense against the 110th-ranked Rice defense. The Cougars have the nation's most potent offense and are averaging almost 575 yards a game and the Owls are allowing 444 yards a game. QB Case Keenum, the country's leading passer, threw for five touchdowns in a win over Memphis last week.
Players to Watch
Rice: WR Toren Dixon ranks third in school history with 158 career receptions. He has 57 catches for 631 yards and six touchdowns this season. Freshman Charles Ross leads C-USA freshman running backs with nine rushing touchdowns.
Houston: Keenum not only leads the nation in yards passing (418.09), but is also No. 1 in total offense (428.27), total passing yards (4,599), completions (35.18) and points responsible for (21.64). His five touchdown passes against Memphis gave the junior the school record for career touchdown throws with 94.
Figures
Before last season's win by the Owls, Houston had won three in a row. ... The first game in this series was a 23-21 Houston win in 1971. ... Houston has won three straight over Rice at home. ... It is the 15th time this game has been the regular season finale for both teams. ... Rice has won two straight after starting the season 0-9. ... Keenum was named one of three finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award given to the best quarterback on Monday. ... Houston RBs Bryce Beall and Charles Sims 1,131 yards rushing and 13 rushing touchdowns.
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