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October 22, 2008

Five to watch: Weekend filled with key games

Get ready for a long Saturday.

The top games won't be crammed into the 8 p.m. Eastern time slot, as they have been in recent weeks. Instead, it will be an all-day smorgasbord.

Texas Tech and Kansas start things off at noon Eastern in what's sure to be another showcase for Big 12 offenses. The day ends with USC and Arizona battling to remain in the Pac-10 lead at 10:15 p.m. In between are marquee matchups in the SEC (Georgia at LSU, 3:30 p.m.), Big 12 (Oklahoma State at Texas, 3:30 p.m.) and Big Ten (Penn State at Ohio State, 8 p.m.).

All times Eastern.


When: Noon
Broadcasters: Dave Pasch play-by-play, Andre Ware analyst
Line: Kansas by 1
Why you should watch: Texas Tech has made it through the easy part of its schedule unscathed. Now comes the tough part for the Red Raiders: A brutal stretch against Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Kansas is looking to restore a little credibility to the Big 12 North, which is 1-7 against the South. The Jayhawks' offense has been good enough to win every game this season, but coach Mark Mangino is looking for more out of a defense that has allowed a combined 1,132 yards in losses to USF and Oklahoma. A place to start for Kansas would be the pass rush. Jake Laptad is the only Jayhawk with more than two sacks (he has five). Texas Tech has allowed only one sack this season despite attempting an average of 49 passes per game.


When: 3:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst
Line: LSU by 2.5
Why you should watch: What once looked like a can't-miss game now has undercard status to the weekly slugfest in the Big 12. This still is a big one, though, because the loser almost certainly falls out of the national title race and possibly even the SEC race. LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson (four sacks in the past two games) is starting to heat up, which is bad news for a Georgia offensive line that is starting three freshmen and two sophomores.


When: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Brad Nessler play-by-play, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire analysts
Line: Texas by 13
Why you should watch: Oklahoma State and Texas have three things in common: Each is undefeated, each beat Missouri and each has a roster full of Texans. Colt McCoy has become the Heisman front-runner after leading the Longhorns to wins over Oklahoma and Missouri in the past two weeks. Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter leads the nation's fifth-ranked rushing attack with 955 yards and nine touchdowns. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has been even more productive than Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin. One spot where Texas and Oklahoma State aren't comparable is recent history: Mack Brown is 10-0 against the Cowboys.


When: 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
Line: Penn State by 2.5
Why you should watch: This is one of two games between teams in the BCS top 10 (Oklahoma State-Texas is the other). This game basically seems to be a de facto Big Ten title game. Five of the six BCS computer rankings have Ohio State ahead of Penn State despite the Buckeyes' loss to USC. Penn State is looking to win in Columbus for the first time since 1978, when Penn State went 11-1 and lost in the Sugar Bowl to Alabama. Ohio State's defense will need a repeat performance from last week's destruction of Michigan State. The Buckeyes held Javon Ringer to 67 yards and knocked Spartans quarterback Brian Hoyer out of the game.


When: 10:15 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Net
Broadcasters: Barry Tompkins play-by-play, Petros Papadakis analyst
Line: USC by 15
Why you should watch: USC distanced itself from the rest of the Pac-10 in non-conference play, but the Trojans are one of four teams tied for first place in the conference at 3-1. Arizona is one of the others. The Wildcats are a win away from bowl eligibility and they're also close to being 7-0. But Arizona lost 36-28 to New Mexico and allowed a touchdown with 25 seconds left in a 24-23 loss to Stanford. USC has been dominant on both sides of the ball in the past three games. Since halftime of the Oregon game on Oct. 4, the Trojans have outscored opponents 114-0. This is USC's toughest remaining road test, and it comes against a team that has a history of knocking off highly ranked teams in the second half of the season (No. 2 Oregon last season, No. 8 California in 2006, No. 7 UCLA in 2005 and No. 18 Arizona State in 2004).

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

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