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Thursday, 26 November 2009 08:14
NCAAF Headline News

 Friday, Nov. 27
No. 2 Alabama (11-0) vs. Auburn (7-4), 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 the national championship race. Beat Auburn and Florida, and the Crimson Tide are Pasadena-bound. Auburn could secure a better bowl destination with a win, and give a huge highlight for first-year coach Gene Chizik.
Key Matchup
Auburn's offensive line, including center Ryan Pugh, against Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody. The Nagurski, Lombardi and Bednarik award 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
quarter. Auburn's shorthanded defense has been missing tackles and giving up big runs in the fourth.
Auburn: Tate. He's the SEC's No. 3 rusher with 1,209 yards and eight touchdowns during a breakout season. He has said he believes he's the state's best running back, and this would be a pretty good showcase to try to back that up.
Figures
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, and no 100-yard rushers in 31 games.
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Illinois (3-7) vs. No. 5 Cincinnati (10-0), 12 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Cincinnati by 17 1/2.
Series Record: First meeting.
What's at Stake
The Bearcats are No. 5 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
ncinnati'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. The senior hurt his left ankle at Minnesota and hasn't played since. He's expected back against the Bearcats, and 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.
Cincinnati: Pike. The Bearcats will be watching to see how he handles getting hit. Before he hurt the left arm during at win at South Florida on Oct. 15, he had thrown for 1,649 yards and 17 touchdowns with only three interceptions.
Figures
won its last 16 regular-season games, including its last 11 at home.
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Nevada (8-3) at No. 6 Boise State (11-0), Friday, 10:08 p.m. (ESPN2)
Line: Boise State by 13 1/2.
Series record: Boise State leads 23-12.
Last meeting: Boise State 41-34.
What's At Stake
The WAC championship, Boise State's perfect season and BCS bowl hopes - though fellow outsider TCU has the inside track to crash that party. It's Boise's biggest test on its cozy blue turf. The ``pistol'' offense of the rampaging Wolf Pack leads the nation by rushing for 373 yards per game, 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 dustup over that pistol offense, Nevada has no chance unless it fixes this: The unflappable Moore is the nation's passing efficiency leader with 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and the Wolf Pack are 119th out of 120 bowl subdivision teams in pass defense, allowing 286 yards per game.
Players to Watch
ck's likely going to have to throw it more than his average of 21 times per game to give the Wolf Pack a chance.
Boise State: WR Austin Pettis. The acrobatic junior caught everything Moore threw near him while scoring four TDs against Idaho two weeks ago. His school-record of 10 consecutive games with a scoring catch ended last week at Utah State. Expect the nephew of former major league outfielder Gary Pettis to try and extend his school season record of 14 TD catches.
Figures
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. ... The 'Pack shouldn't feel bad. 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: Pittsburgh, 19-15.
What's At Stake
till has faint hopes of its fourth 10-win season in the last five years, but must win against Pitt, at Rutgers on Dec. 5 and in 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 to South Florida's B.J. Daniels (104), Louisville's Darius Ashley (164) and Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead (175). 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
Pittsburgh: QB Bill Stull. The senior leads the Big East with 211.5 yards passing per game. Against West Virginia last year, Stull went 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.
Figures
nia 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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