As if there weren't enough big games in the Southeastern Conference, three interdivisional matchups that might not have been circled on many calendars back in the summer have turned out to be important and intriguing.
Kentucky, coming off a huge win over rival Louisville, visits Arkansas on Saturday, with the Razorbacks trying to rebound from a heartbreaking loss at Alabama. An 0-2 league start is no way for Darren McFadden and the Hogs to defend their Western Division title.
Alabama is trying to start 3-0 in the conference in its first season under coach Nick Saban. Georgia comes to Tuscaloosa, having lost its SEC opener to South Carolina.
In Baton Rogue, La., the coach who used to dominate the league tries to pull off a big upset. Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks could take a huge leap with a victory over LSU. The Tigers have been as dominant a team as any in the country, allowing only seven points in three games.
The picks:
Thursday
M (plus 2 1/2) at Miami
M 24-20.
Friday
No. 4 Oklahoma (minus 22 1/2) at Tulsa
Sooners ranked third in nation in total offense; Tulsa fourth ... SOONERS 58-24.
Saturday
Washington State (plus 24 1/2) at No. 1 Southern California
Trojans have won four straight in series ... USC 42-14.
No. 12 South Carolina (plus 16 1/2) at No. 2 LSU
Tigers are 14-2-1 against Gamecocks, 9-1 at home ... LSU 35-14.
No. 3 Florida (minus 21) at Mississippi
Rebels won last two meetings in 2002-03 ... FLORIDA 46-17.
East Carolina (24 1/2) at No. 5 West Virginia
Mountaineers are 11-0 against Pirates in Morgantown ... WEST VIRGINIA 41-20.
Arizona (plus 16) at No. 6 California
Wildcats upset Bears 24-20 last season ... CAL 44-17.
Rice (plus 38 1/2) at No. 7 Texas
Longhorns have won 36 of 37 against Owls ... TEXAS 50-10.
Northwestern (plus 22) at No. 8 Ohio State
Wildcats last win in Columbus was 1971 ... OHIO STATE 38-14.
Iowa (plus 7 1/2) at No. 9 Wisconsin
Hawkeyes have won four of last five meetings ... WISCONSIN 27-21.
No. 10 Penn State (minus 3) at Michigan
PSU's eight straight losses in series marks longest skid to one team under JoePa ... MICHIGAN 28-24.
No. 13 Oregon (minus 16 1/2) at Stanford
Ducks have won five straight over Cardinal ... OREGON 55-17.
Army (plus 28 1/2) at No. 14 Boston College
Eagles are 23-3 against Army since 1970 ... BOSTON COLLEGE 35-3.
No. 15 Clemson (minus 7) at N.C. State
Tigers have won three straight against Wolfpack ... CLEMSON 26-20.
No. 22 Georgia (plus 3 1/2) at No. 16 Alabama
Bulldogs are 1-7 in Tuscaloosa, with win coming in 2002 ... GEORGIA 27-26.
Mary (no line) at No. 17 Virginia Tech
Hokies frosh Tyrod Taylor threw for 287 yards in first start last week ... VIRGINIA TECH 44-6.
Syracuse (minus 36 1/2) at No. 18 Louisville
Cardinals are No. 1 in nation in total offense; Orange 116th ... LOUISVILLE 58-10.
Charleston Southern (no line) at No. 19 Hawaii
Could be short day for QB Colt Brennan (sprained ankle) ... HAWAII 50-10.
No. 21 Kentucky (plus 6 1/2) at Arkansas
Last meeting in '03 went seven overtimes and Razorbacks won 71-63 ... ARKANSAS 36-31.
North Carolina (minus 13 1/2) at No. 23 South Florida
In first meeting last year, Bulls won 37-20 ... SOUTH FLORIDA 34-17.
Ball State (plus 22) at No. 24 Nebraska
Cornhuskers last game against MAC team was '97, a 59-14 win over Akron ... NEBRASKA 48-21.
Illinois State (no line) at No. 25 Missouri
Tigers ranked seventh in total offense ... MISSOURI 50-14.
---
Last week's record: 19-3 (straight); 9-7-1 (vs. points).
Season: 63-4 (straight); 28-25-1 (vs. points).

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