Often games that get circled on the schedule at the beginning of the season aren't quite as big as expected when kickoff comes.
There's a few of those this weekend. All are still important, but they're not quite the marquee showdowns that were expected.
Louisville at West Virginia was penciled in as a rematch of last year's huge Thursday night Big East matchup. The Cardinals and Mountaineers again meet on a Thursday night, but it's been a disappointing season for Louisville (5-4, 2-2). Still, West Virginia is hanging around the fringe of the national title race and very much in the hunt for a conference title.
The Southern California-Cal game has played a major role in deciding the Pac-10 in recent seasons, but the Trojans and Bears have already combined to lose five games. USC still has hopes for a conference title. The Trojans will need to win out and get help.
Wisconsin and Michigan were top-10 teams to start the regular season, but they, too, will meet Saturday with a combined five losses. The Wolverines have come back strong from an awful start. They're perfect in the Big Ten and can still win the conference title and Rose Bowl bid.
The picks:
Thursday
Louisville (plus 16) at No. 6 West Virginia
Average score in last two meetings: 45-39 ... WEST VIRGINIA 39-20.
Saturday
Illinois (plus 14 1/2) at No. 1 Ohio State
Illini held Buckeyes to regular season-low 224 yards in '06 ... OHIO STATE 37-17.
Louisiana Tech (plus 36) at No. 2 LSU
Tigers are 16-1 against Bulldogs ... LSU 55-13.
Baylor (plus 38) at No. 4 Oklahoma
Sooners are 16-0 against Bears ... OKLAHOMA 50-10.
No. 5 Kansas (minus 6) at Oklahoma State
Cowboys' No. 1 rush offense in Big 12 vs. KU's No. 2 rush defense ... KANSAS 28-24.
M (plus 19 1/2) at No. 7 Missouri
Tigers TEs Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman have 104 receptions ... MISSOURI 44-17.
No. 8 Boston College (minus 6 1/2) at Maryland
Terps must win two of final three to get bowl eligible ... BOSTON COLLEGE 27-20.
No. 9 Arizona State (minus 7) at UCLA
Bruins have won five of last six in series ... UCLA 27-24.
No. 17 Auburn (plus 2) at No. 10 Georgia
Road team has won 11 of last 15 meetings ... AUBURN 24-23.
Florida State (plus 6) at No. 11 Virginia Tech
Seminoles have won 12 straight against Hokies ... VIRGINIA TECH 20-17.
No. 12 Southern California (minus 4) at No. 24 California
USC is minus-5 in turnover margin ... USC 24-21.
No. 13 Michigan (minus 2 1/2) at Wisconsin
Wolverines have won seven of last eight against Badgers ... WISCONSIN 27-24.
Fresno State (plus 17 1/2) at No. 14 Hawaii
Bulldogs are 1-5 at Hawaii since 1995 ... HAWAII 49-30.
Texas Tech (plus 6 1/2) at No. 15 Texas
Tech's Graham Harrell has 1,183 more passing yards than No. 2 QB in nation ... TEXAS 39-28.
No. 16 Connecticut (plus 6 1/2) at Cincinnati
UConn going for third nine-win season in school history ... CINCINNATI 28-20.
No. 18 Florida (minus 6 1/2) at South Carolina
Gators' Tim Tebow is top-rated QB (179) in country ... FLORIDA 33-28.
No. 19 Boise State (minus 24) at Utah State
Aggies are one of two winless teams in country ... BOISE STATE 55-20.
Wake Forest (plus 9) at No. 20 Clemson
Demon Deacons haven't won at Clemson since 1998 ... CLEMSON 28-17.
No. 21 Alabama (minus 5) at Mississippi State
Tide must bounce back from LSU disappointment ... ALABAMA 26-23.
Arkansas (pick) at No. 22 Tennessee
Razorbacks TB Darren McFadden making late Heisman push ... ARKANSAS 27-26.
No. 23 Virginia (plus 3 1/2) at Miami
Cavaliers have won five games by two points or less ... MIAMI 21-14.
No. 25 Kentucky (minus 3 1/2) at Vanderbilt
Commodores defense ranks third in SEC ... KENTUCKY 27-24.
---
Last week's record: 16-5 (straight); 10-7-3 (vs. points).
Season: 159-43 (straight); 95-83-6 (vs. points).

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