Last week's upsets have taken some of the luster off this week's schedule, but it didn't make the big games in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., any less important.
Actually, those games are even more crucial to the teams looking to bounce back. Remember, last year's national champion Florida lost a game, so one loss is not necessarily a death sentence for a team's title hopes.
Two losses, however, is definitely too many for a national championship contender.
As for those Gators, they visit LSU for the Tigers' first game as the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 in more than half a century. Since LSU was last No. 1 in November 1959, 31 teams have held the top spot in the AP poll, including seven of the current members of the SEC (Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, while in the Southwest Conference).
Tim Tebow and Florida fell to Auburn 20-17 last week. A win over LSU would go a long way toward making poll voters forget all about that slip up at home to those other Tigers. With another Southeastern Conference loss, Urban Meyer's Gators would not only be out of national title contention, but they'd have a tough time getting back to the SEC title game.
In Dallas, both of the participants in the Red River Rivalry are coming off surprising - and a bit puzzling - upsets.
Texas was pounded 41-21 at home by Kansas State. Oklahoma blew a 17-point lead in the second half and lost 27-24 at Colorado. For the first time since 1999, the Sooners and Longhorns both lost the week before they played each other.
Consider this a national championship elimination game, though Texas has hardly played like a team that should even be in the conversation.
There would be no better way for the Longhorns to right themselves than by making it three straight victories over the Sooners. The winner of this game usually represents the Big 12 South in the conference title game. Not last season, though. The Sooners rebounded and didn't lose another game and the Longhorns lost two straight to end the regular season.
The picks:
Thursday
No. 8 Kentucky (plus 3 1/2) at No. 11 South Carolina
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier 14-0 against 'Cats ... KENTUCKY 28-24.
Saturday
No. 9 Florida (plus 9) at No. 1 LSU
For second straight year, both are in top 10 when they play ... LSU 30-22.
Stanford (plus 38) at No. 2 Southern California
Trojans have won 35 straight at home, since Cardinal beat them in '01 ... USC 50-7.
No. 4 Ohio State (minus 7) at No. 23 Purdue
Boilermakers won last meeting in '04 ... OHIO STATE 28-17.
No. 5 Wisconsin (plus 2 1/2) at Illinois
Badgers are 2-9-1 in last 12 against Illini ... WISCONSIN 33-27.
No. 6 South Florida (minus 15 1/2) at Florida Atlantic
USF won only previous meeting 51-0 in 2002 ... SOUTH FLORIDA 34-14.
Bowling Green (plus 20) at No. 7 Boston College
BC has lost game before playing Notre Dame three straight times ... BOSTON COLLEGE 30-17.
No. 10 Oklahoma (minus 11) vs. No. 19 Texas at Dallas
Sooners had won five straight before Horns took last two ... OKLAHOMA 30-17.
No. 12 Georgia (plus 2) at Tennessee
Bulldogs are 3-0 in Knoxville under coach Mark Richt ... TENNESSEE 26-25.
No. 13 West Virginia (off) at Syracuse
Mountaineers have won five straight, longest streak ever in series ... WEST VIRGINIA 39-17.
No. 15 Virginia Tech (plus 5 1/2) at No. 22 Clemson
Hokies have won four straight against Tigers ... VIRGINIA TECH 20-17.
Utah State (plus 39) at No. 16 Hawaii
Warriors have outscored Aggies 113-33 last two seasons ... HAWAII 60-20.
No. 25 Nebraska (plus 7) at No. 17 Missouri
Tigers have won three straight against 'Huskers ... MISSOURI 45-35.
No. 18 Arizona State (minus 8 1/2) at Washington State
ASU coach Dennis Erickson went 12-10-1 with WSU in 1987-88 ... ARIZONA STATE 34-27.
No. 20 Cincinnati (plus 3 1/2) at No. 21 Rutgers
Scarlet Knights are 7-4-1 against Bearcats ... RUTGERS 27-24.
Kansas (plus 3) at No. 24 Kansas State
Home team has won four straight in series ... KANSAS STATE 27-20.
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Last week's record: 15-7 (straight); 9-12 (vs. points)
Season: 97-14 (straight); 48-45-1 (vs. points)

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