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November 26, 2009

Weekend primer: Rivalry games are everywhere

This is the final full week of the regular season, and rivalry games are everywhere.

The weekend gets off to a big start Thanksgiving night, when unbeaten Texas plays at Texas A&M. While most Texas fans consider Oklahoma to be the Longhorns' biggest rival, there is no question that No. 1 on the Aggies' hit list is the Longhorns.

The "Iron Bowl" and "Backyard Brawl" are Friday, along with a game - Temple at Ohio - that will determine the MAC East title.

The action continues with numerous rivalry games Saturday, including the "Holy War," the "Bedlam Game," the "Egg Bowl" and the Florida-Florida State showdown, which will be Tim Tebow's last home game.

Here's a look at each game this weekend involving an FBS team.

SATURDAY'S GAMES

Clemson (8-3) at South Carolina (6-5), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: Clemson has won six of the past seven and 10 of the past 12 in the series. The Tigers have clinched a spot in the ACC championship game. The Gamecocks have lost three in a row overall and have scored just 63 points combined in their past five games.
THE LINE: Clemson by 3. THE PICK: Clemson 21-20.

North Carolina (8-3) at N.C. State (4-7), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: N.C. State has won two in a row in the series and hasn't won three in a row over the Tar Heels since winning five consecutive games from 1988-92. UNC has won four in a row and five of six overall. This is the first time since 1998 these rivals have closed out the regular season against each other.
THE LINE: North Carolina by 5.5. THE PICK: North Carolina 24-16.

Wake Forest (4-7) at Duke (5-6), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Wake has won nine in a row in the series. Expect a ton of passes: Duke's Thaddeus Lewis has a good chance to finish as the ACC's No. 2 career passer, and Wake's Riley Skinner has a good chance to finish as the ACC's No. 4 career passer.
THE LINE: Wake Forest by 4.5. THE PICK: Wake Forest 34-26.

Syracuse (4-7) at Connecticut (5-5), noon, Big East syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: UConn, coming off an emotional victory at Notre Dame, is one win away from bowl eligibility. You'd think the Huskies could get the necessary win against the Orange. Syracuse, though, upset Rutgers last week and plays solid run defense. Syracuse leads the Big East and ranks ninth nationally against the run.
THE LINE: UConn by 13.5. THE PICK: UConn 24-14.

Ole Miss (8-3) at Mississippi State (4-7), 12:20 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: The home team has won nine of the past 10 in the series. Mississippi State is playing for respect; Ole Miss is playing for a likely bid to the Capital One Bowl.
THE LINE: Ole Miss by 8. THE PICK: Ole Miss 34-23.

Oklahoma State (9-2) at Oklahoma (6-5), 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: There will be bedlam, indeed, if Oklahoma State wins to complete a 10-win regular season. In that scenario, not only does Oklahoma drop to 6-6 but also the Cowboys keep their BCS at-large hopes alive. The Sooners haven't had a six-loss season since 1998, which was the final season of John Blake's coaching tenure. OU has won 29 in a row at home, the nation's longest home winning streak.
THE LINE: Oklahoma by 9.5. THE PICK: Oklahoma 20-17.

New Mexico (1-10) at TCU (11-0), 1 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: The Lobos are coming off their first win of the season, a last-second affair against Colorado State. TCU remains in the national title hunt and has won the past four in this series by an average score of 35-12.
THE LINE: TCU by 44.5. THE PICK: TCU 49-0.

Southern Miss (7-4) at East Carolina (7-4), 1:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
THE BUZZ: This will determine the C-USA East Division representative in the league championship game. ECU knows that if it wins the division, it plays host to next week's title game. Southern Miss RB Damion Fletcher is 123 yards away from becoming just the eighth player in major-college history to have four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
THE LINE: ECU by 6. THE PICK: ECU 27-17.

UCF (7-4) at UAB (5-6), 1:30 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UAB still needs one more win for bowl eligibility, but even if they're eligible, the Blazers may not go bowling. UCF has a chance to share the C-USA East title if it wins this and Southern Miss beats ECU.
THE LINE: UCF by 3. THE PICK: UCF 21-16.

Marshall (6-5) at UTEP (3-8), 3 p.m.
THE BUZZ: UTEP has had a disappointing season, but coach Mike Price will return next season. Marshall, meanwhile, is bowl eligible for the first time under fifth-year coach Mark Snyder. A seventh victory would make the Herd even more attractive to bowl organizers.
THE LINE: UTEP by 1.5. THE PICK: Marshall 38-32.

Tulane (3-8) at SMU (6-5), 3 p.m.
THE BUZZ: SMU blew its chance to control its destiny in the C-USA West race with a loss to Marshall last week, but the Mustangs still are in great shape to go bowling for the first time since 1984. They went to the Aloha Bowl that season, and a trip to the Hawaii Bowl this season beckons.
THE LINE: SMU by 17.5. THE PICK: SMU 44-23.

North Texas (2-9) at Arkansas State (2-8), 3 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Despite its record, North Texas has improved from last season. On the other hand, Arkansas State's record makes it the most disappointing team in the Sun Belt - by far.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 7.5. THE PICK: Arkansas State 27-24.

Florida State (6-5) at Florida (11-0), 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Florida owns the nation's longest winning streak at 21 games and will play for the national title with a win in this one and next week over Alabama in the SEC championship game. The Gators have won five in a row in the series; they haven't won six in a row over the Seminoles since 1981-86.
THE LINE: Florida by 24.5. THE PICK: Florida 38-16.

Miami (8-3) at USF (7-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is just the second meeting between the schools; UM won the first, in 2005. USF already has beaten Florida State this season, and a sweep of Florida's two ACC schools would provide a huge boost on the recruiting trail for the Bulls. USF is 4-1 at home this season, with the only loss coming to unbeaten Cincinnati.
THE LINE: Miami by 5.5. THE PICK: Miami 27-23.

Boston College (7-4) at Maryland (2-9), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Neither team is that proficient offensively; BC ranks 99th in the nation in total offense, while Maryland is 101st. But BC is much better defensively; the Eagles are 28th in total defense, the Terps 88th.
THE LINE: Boston College by 6. THE PICK: Boston College 27-17.

Arizona (6-4) at Arizona State (4-7), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Arizona needs to bounce back quickly from last week's heartbreaking double-OT loss to Oregon that ended the Wildcats' Rose Bowl hopes. Arizona State leads the Pac-10 in total defense, and Arizona is second.
THE LINE: Arizona by 3. THE PICK: Arizona 20-14.

Kansas (5-6) vs. Missouri (7-4) at Kansas City, Mo., 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: This will be the 118th meeting in the series (that's second only to the 119 meetings of Minnesota and Wisconsin), and the series is tied 54-54-9. KU comes in riding a six-game losing streak, and this could be the final game for Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino, who is being investigated for his treatment of his players.
THE LINE: Missouri by 3. THE PICK: Missouri 38-30.

Virginia Tech (8-3) at Virginia (3-8), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN
THE BUZZ: This seems as if it will be the final game for Virginia coach Al Groh, whose team is destined for its third losing record in the past four seasons. The Hokies have a five-game winning streak in the series.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 16. THE PICK: Virginia Tech 40-21.

Western Kentucky (0-10) at Florida Atlantic (3-7), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Western Kentucky has two coaches - David Elson, who has been fired but is finishing out the season, and Willie Taggart, who was hired off Stanford's staff to be the new coach on Monday. This has not been a good season for FAU, which had been to bowls in each of the past two seasons.
THE LINE: FAU by 14. THE PICK: FAU 38-20.

Middle Tennessee (8-3) at Louisiana-Monroe (6-5), 4:30 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Middle Tennessee is in great shape for a bowl bid. ULM can put itself in that mix if it can cool off the Blue Raiders, who have won five in a row.
THE LINE: MTSU by 3.5. THE PICK: MTSU 30-21.

Utah State (3-8) at Idaho (7-4), 5 p.m., Altitude/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Utah State has lost 12 in a row on the road. Neither defense is that good, but both offenses have had their moments. In glancing at their records, it's obvious Idaho's offense has had more "moments" than Utah State's.
THE LINE: Idaho by 3. THE PICK: Idaho 34-28.

Utah (9-2) at BYU (9-2), 5 p.m., CBS College Sports/The mtn.
THE BUZZ: This will be the 91st edition of "The Holy War." Unless TCU loses to New Mexico, one of these teams will be bowling in Las Vegas and the other in San Diego.
THE LINE: BYU by 7.5. THE PICK: BYU 27-21.

Texas Tech (7-4) vs. Baylor (4-7) in Arlington, Texas, 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Texas Tech has won 13 in a row in the series. These teams first played in 1929, and this marks the first time they have met at a neutral site.
THE LINE: Texas Tech by 20.5. THE PICK: Texas Tech 45-20.

Washington State (1-10) at Washington (3-7), 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest
THE BUZZ: Washington State won last season's Apple Cup, which - frankly - might be the only good thing that has happened for the Cougars in the past two seasons. Washington State is last in the Pac-10 in every major offensive and defensive statistical category.
THE LINE: Washington by 24.5. THE PICK: Washington 41-13.

Arkansas (7-4) at LSU (8-3), 7 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: LSU coach Les Miles is looking forward to the kickoff, if for no other reason than people will stop talking about LSU's bad-beyond-belief clock management at the end of last week's loss to Ole Miss. Arkansas has won two in a row in the series, and the last time the Hogs won three in a row over the Tigers was 1927-29.
THE LINE: LSU by 3.5. THE PICK: LSU 20-17.

Tennessee (6-5) at Kentucky (7-4), 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Kentucky already has broken two long droughts this season; it won at Auburn for the first time since 1966 and it won at Georgia for the first time since 1977. The Wildcats haven't beaten the Vols since 1984. That 24-game winning streak is the longest active streak in major-college football among opponents who play annually.
THE LINE: Tennessee by 3. THE PICK: Tennessee 22-17.

Troy (8-3) at Louisiana-Lafayette (6-5), 7 p.m.
THE BUZZ: Troy already has clinched at least a share of its fourth consecutive Sun Belt title; if the Trojans win this, they win the crown outright. ULL - which beat Kansas State in early September - puts itself in the bowl conversation if it can upset the Trojans.
THE LINE: Troy by 9.5. THE PICK: Troy 35-23.

Notre Dame (6-5) at Stanford (7-4), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Is this it for Charlie Weis? You certainly have to think it is. Notre Dame's defense has all sorts of issues, so how in the world are the Irish going to be able to handle Stanford's balanced attack? That said, Irish QB Jimmy Clausen should have success against a so-so Stanford secondary.
THE LINE: Stanford by 10. THE PICK: Stanford 44-31.

Georgia (6-5) at Georgia Tech (10-1), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The Yellow Jackets won last season to snap a seven-game losing streak in the series. Tech is looking for its first two-game winning streak in the series since 1998-2000, when it won three in a row. Georgia is trying to avoid its first six-loss season since 1996, which was Jim Donnan's first season as coach.
THE LINE: Georgia Tech by 7.5. THE PICK: Georgia Tech 38-24.

New Mexico State (3-8) at San Jose State (1-9), 8 p.m., Altitude2/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: We sure hope the hounds know the way to San Jose. This is the dog of the week. New Mexico State has lost five in a row, San Jose State six in a row.
THE LINE: San Jose State by 10.5. THE PICK: San Jose State 20-14.

Rice (2-9) at Houston (9-2), 8 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Houston clinches the C-USA West Division title if it beats its in-city rival. Houston leads the league in scoring offense and Rice is last in the league in scoring defense.
THE LINE: Houston by 29.5. THE PICK: Houston 56-28.

San Diego State (4-7) at UNLV (4-7), 9 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: San Diego State has won six of the past seven meetings with UNLV. This is the final game for UNLV coach Mike Sanford, who already has been fired. He has won 15 games in his five seasons.
THE LINE: UNLV by 6.5. THE PICK: San Diego State 33-28.

UCLA (6-5) at USC (7-3), 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: USC closes the regular season with home games against UCLA and Arizona, and the Trojans have won 47 of their past 49 home games. UCLA has won three in a row to become bowl eligible, and the Bruins are trying to beat the Trojans for just the second time this decade.
THE LINE: USC by 13. THE PICK: USC 27-16.

Navy (8-3) at Hawaii (5-6), 10:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE BUZZ: Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo was a backup quarterback at Hawaii from 1987-89. His team is third in the nation in rushing offense and already has accepted a Texas Bowl bid. Hawaii has won three in a row after a six-game losing streak and must beat Navy this week and Wisconsin next week to become bowl eligible.
THE LINE: Navy by 9.5. THE PICK: Navy 38-27.

LAST WEEK

40-12 straight up, 30-21 against the spread.

YEAR TO DATE

542-165 straight up, 300-305-6 against the spread.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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