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October 21, 2009

Viewer's guide: TCU-BYU may be hard to find

All eyes will be on the TCU-BYU game this week.

Scratch that. Only some eyes will be on the game in Provo, Utah, the only matchup this week between two top-25 teams in the BCS standings.

The Mountain West matchup will air on Versus, the Comcast-owned TV network that is not available to DirecTV subscribers because of a contract dispute.

Outside of the MWC showdown, there are few marquee matchups this week. USC and Oregon will be on upset alert before they face each other in Eugene next week in a game that could determine the Pac-10 title. Texas and Penn State have not been impressive through the first half of the season, and both go on the road against upset-hungry conference opponents.

Here is a breakdown of the top five games to watch Saturday and a look at Thursday's nationally televised game.

All times Eastern.


When: 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Terry Gannon play-by-play, David Norrie analyst.
Line: Oregon by 7.
Why you should watch: With Washington playing, we know this one will come down to the final minute. The Huskies have had back-to-back bizarre finishes against Arizona (for a win) and Arizona State (for a loss), won on a late field goal against USC and lost a nail-biter to LSU. Oregon heads into the game with Pac-10 title hopes. USC got a little too comfortable in Husky Stadium on Sept. 19. Could the same happen to the Ducks, who play host to USC on Halloween? Ducks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is expected to return after missing a game with a knee injury.

When: 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN.
Broadcasters: Sean McDonough play-by-play, Matt Millen analyst.
Line: Penn State by 4.5.
Why you should watch: Michigan will play its first home Big Ten game since squeaking out a 36-33 win over Indiana on Sept. 26. That's also the Wolverines' last Big Ten win; they are coming in off back-to-back road losses to Michigan State and Iowa. After suffering a concussion against the Hawkeyes, freshman quarterback Tate Forcier started last week against overmatched Delaware State. Penn State, which has not won at Michigan since 1996, expects star linebacker Sean Lee to play.

When: 7:30 p.m., Versus.
Broadcasters: Joe Beninati play-by-play, Glenn Parker analyst.
Line: TCU by 1.
Why you should watch: TCU is eighth in the first BCS standings. The problem is that Boise State ranks four spots higher. Conventional wisdom says TCU can close the gap if it remains undefeated against stronger Mountain West Conference opponents. TCU's remaining opponents are 19-20; Boise State's opponents are 19-25. The Horned Frogs would get a major boost by defeating BCS No. 16 BYU on the road. The Cougars will be the toughest test for TCU, ranked fourth in the nation in total defense. TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes had four sacks and two forced fumbles in a rout of BYU last season; Hughes has eight sacks this season. Jeremy Kerley has been TCU's secret weapon (22.6 yards per punt return, two touchdowns).

When: 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan.
Broadcasters: Mike Patrick play-by-play, Craig James analyst.
Line: USC by 20.5.
Why you should watch: This matchup has upset potential based on the Beavers' 2006 and 2008 upsets of USC. Oregon State coach Mike Riley is one of only two coaches who have defeated Pete Carroll twice (the other is Kansas State's Bill Snyder). Both of those wins, though, have come in Corvallis. USC has won its past three home games over Oregon State by an average margin of 22.3 points. Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns against the Trojans last season; if he has similar success this season, he should become a serious Heisman contender.

When: 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan.
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst.
Line: Texas by 13.5.
Why you should watch: Texas has been a slow starter for most of the season, and the Longhorns' play in the first half the past two weeks definitely has made fans squirm. Texas trailed at halftime against Oklahoma and Colorado and failed to get a first-quarter first down against the Sooners. Now, Texas must play only its second true road game (its first was at Wyoming, where the Longhorns held only a 13-10 halftime lead). Missouri is 0-2 in Big 12 play after giving up 27 fourth-quarter points to rival Nebraska two weeks ago and being shut out in the second half by Oklahoma State last week.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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