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October 12, 2007

Tar Heels look to keep building

Each Friday, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans five things to keep an eye out for over the course of the weekend.

North Carolina's performance
UNC earned its first signature victory of the Butch Davis era last week with its 33-27 upset of Miami. If the Tar Heels manage to stay competitive against South Carolina this week, it could provide more evidence that Davis' rebuilding project is running ahead of schedule.

Although UNC is 2-4, three of its losses came by a total of 12 points. The contributions of freshmen Marvin Austin, Johnny White, T.J. Yates and Anthony Elzy give UNC plenty of hope for the future. Yates has cooled a bit after a hot start, but he'll need to regain his early season form for North Carolina to have a chance against a South Carolina team that leads the nation in pass defense.

If Yates and Co. deliver Saturday, it will give Heels fans one more reason to believe they'll be contending for ACC titles sooner rather than later.
Steve Megargee
USC's response
The team that was supposed to cruise into the BCS championship game instead was derailed by Stanford, and now must get back on its feet against a mediocre Arizona team. The Wildcats can throw the ball, but that's about it. Their defense is nothing special, which means this is a chance for USC's offense no matter who is at quarterback to start to feel good about itself again. It's obvious there aren't the same type of offensive playmakers that were sprinkled throughout recent USC teams. But that doesn't mean this team can't put a whipping on Arizona and after last week, a rout is needed.
Mike Huguenin
Dennis Franchione and Texas A&M
Franchione's job security is in question following a series of underwhelming seasons and the recent revelation that he had a private newsletter he was selling to boosters. His detractors will only increase if the Aggies sustain a lopsided loss to high-scoring Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday.

Red Raiders standouts Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree form one of the most prolific pass-catch duos in the country, which could spell disaster for the Aggies' weak secondary. Even more disheartening for A&M faithful is that this could be the first in a string of ugly losses for the Aggies, who finish their season against Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas.

My guess: the 2007 season will be Franchione's last in College Station or at least it needs to be.
Jason King
Oklahoma's pass defense
The Sooners' secondary has been vulnerable, allowing more than 300 passing yards passing to Texas and Tulsa and giving up two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter in a loss to Colorado. Missouri, which ranks fifth in the nation in passing offense, is easily the most dangerous offensive team the Sooners will have faced. Mizzou QB Chase Daniel is averaging 342.4 passing yards per game and has 15 TD passes.
Olin Buchanan
How Michigan State's defense responds
The Spartans yielded 37 points and 461 yards to Wisconsin, then returned home and were carved up for 48 points and 611 yards by Northwestern. The surprising Hoosiers, who like Northwestern use a spread attack, are averaging 37.5 points and 448 yards per game. However, IU hasn't seen much top competition. Michigan State can get its season back on track by pressuring multi-talented quarterback Kellen Lewis and slowing the Hoosiers' quest for bowl eligibility. Look for a big game from DE Jonal Saint-Dic and a better effort from the Spartans' secondary.
Gerry Ahern
The battle for mid-state supremacy in Florida
USF is in a BCS conference, and the Bulls haven't hesitated to rub that in the face of the school to the East of it on Interstate 4.

UCF might lose the battles for TV exposure and national rankings, but you can bet the Knights and their fans would like to win the battle on the field. On the other side, USF would like to hang on to its status as the top-ranked team in Florida. That won't happen if the Bulls have another letdown as they did last week against FAU.

UCF has the nation's leader in rushing, Kevin Smith, and is equipped for the upset after taking Texas to the wire in Week Two.
David Fox



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