The Pac-10's best bet to play for a national title will likely be decided Saturday in Eugene, Ore. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., the Crimson Tide's new coach has a shot to ruin his old team's season.
The college football season begins its stretch drive this weekend, the first of November. The game of the day will be in the Pacific Northwest, where No. 4 Oregon hosts No. 6 and unbeaten Arizona State.
Both are coming off big wins. The Ducks dispatched Southern California, the reigning Pac-10 champs, and the Sun Devils took care of California, which was expected to be USC's main competition in the conference.
While Oregon has the higher ranking, Arizona State is a spot ahead of the Ducks in the BCS standings. The Sun Devils moved up to fourth last week, and with their perfect record and challenging remaining schedule, they're chances of playing for a national title if they win out are excellent.
That's a big if. Just getting by Dennis Dixon, Jonathan Stewart and the high-powered Ducks in Autzen Stadium will be a huge challenge for coach Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils.
LSU has the best chance among teams with one-loss - such as Oregon and Oklahoma - to reach the national title game, but the Tigers can't slip up again.
Alabama and former LSU coach Nick Saban can not only eliminate the Tigers from national title contention, but they would take control of the SEC West with a victory.
The picks:
Thursday's Game
No. 11 Virginia Tech (plus 2 1/2) at Georgia Tech
Hokies control own destiny to reach ACC title game ... VIRGINIA TECH 19-16.
Saturday's Games
Wisconsin (plus 15 1/2) at No. 1 Ohio State
First of two home games for Buckeyes before finale at Big House ... OHIO STATE 35-14.
Florida State (plus 6 1/2) at No. 2 Boston College
BC's Matt Ryan leads ACC with 2,433 yards passing ... BOSTON COLLEGE 26-14.
No. 3 LSU (minus 7) at No. 17 Alabama
Tigers have won three straight in Tuscaloosa ... LSU 30-24.
No. 6 Arizona State (plus 7) at No. 4 Oregon
Road team has won four of last five meetings ... OREGON 33-21.
M (plus 21) at No. 5 Oklahoma
M has No. 2 ground game in league... OKLAHOMA 38-14.
Nebraska (plus 19) at No. 8 Kansas
Another team Huskers used to dominate ... KANSAS 40-20.
No. 9 Missouri (minus 3 1/2) at Colorado
Tigers haven't won in Boulder in a decade ... MISSOURI 28-20.
Troy (plus 16 1/2) at No. 10 Georgia
Bulldogs have never lost a nonconference regular-season game under coach Mark Richt ... GEORGIA 36-16.
Oregon State (plus 15) at No. 13 Southern California
USC 20-0 in November under coach Pete Carroll ... USC 28-17.
No. 14 Texas (minus 3) at Oklahoma State
Longhorns must win to have shot at Big 12 title game ... TEXAS 33-27.
No. 15 Michigan (minus 4) at Michigan State
Mike Hart and Chade Henne should be back for Wolverines ... MICHIGAN 30-23.
Rutgers (plus 2 1/2) at No. 16 Connecticut
Huskies have been great mudders, but no rain expected ... RUTGERS 27-24.
Vanderbilt (plus 16) at No. 18 Florida
Vandy needs win to become bowl eligible; Commodores last bowl was '82 ... FLORIDA 37-20.
Tennessee Tech (no line) at No. 19 Auburn
Tigers take a break from SEC grind ... AUBURN 44-3.
Cincinnati (plus 4 1/2) at No. 20 South Florida
Two fast starters on two-game losing streaks ... SOUTH FLORIDA 28-21.
San Jose State (plus 25 1/2) at No. 21 Boise State
Broncos are 26-0 in WAC homes games ... BOISE STATE 45-15.
No. 21 Wake Forest (pick) at Virginia
Demon Deacons have won six straight overall ... WAKE FOREST 22-19.
No. 23 South Carolina (plus 4 1/2) at Arkansas
Razorbacks TB Darren McFadden averaged only 4.0 per carry in October ... SOUTH CAROLINA 26-24.
Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 29 1/2) at No. 24 Tennessee
Vols second in SEC in passing offense ... TENNESSEE 45-10.
No. 25 Clemson (minus 16) at Duke
Tigers QB Cullen Harper leads ACC with 21 TD passes ... CLEMSON 40-17.
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Last week's record: 8-8 (straight); 7-8-1 (vs. points).
Season: 143-38 (straight); 85-76-3 (vs. points).

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