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October 19, 2007

Jayhawks still have questions to answer

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

Kansas
The Jayhawks have climbed to No. 15 in the polls, their highest ranking since starting 6-0 in 1995, but they haven't really been tested.

True, the unbeaten Jayhawks defeated Sunflower State rival Kansas State (4-2) by a touchdown a week after the Wildcats upset Texas in Austin, but Kansas also did that in 2006 and certainly didn't qualify as an elite team.

Kansas has played only one other team with a winning record (4-3 Central Michigan in the season opener), so there are questions about its legitimacy.

Winning on the road against Colorado on Saturday, which upset Oklahoma earlier this season in Boulder, could eliminate some doubts surrounding the Jayhawks.
Olin Buchanan
The quarterbacks in the Florida-Kentucky game
If the Heisman Trophy is going to be awarded to an SEC player, the outcome of this game may determine the winner. Andre' Woodson and Tim Tebow guide the Nos. 1 and 3 offenses in the SEC, respectively, and both teams put many of the responsibilities on the shoulders of the quarterback. Each team's weaknesses on defense Florida against the pass and Kentucky against the run play right to the strength of the opposition's quarterback. Woodson and Tebow could be poised for big numbers.
David Fox
How Illinois responds
The Illini moved into the top 25 last week, then promptly lost at Iowa despite allowing only 10 points. This week, the Illini are back at home, against Michigan. Thing is, Illinois hasn't beaten the Wolverines in Champaign since 1983. Still, the home crowd should be a plus. A bigger plus would be getting production from TB Rashard Mendenhall, who was shut down last week. If he can reach his average (119.9 ypg) against a nothing-special Michigan run defense, the Illini can win. If he reaches his average and the Illini keep their turnovers to a minimum (one or less), Illinois will win. Michigan leads the Big Ten with 23 forced turnovers.
Mike Huguenin
Missouri vs. Texas Tech
This could be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. The Tigers and Red Raiders feature two of the top three quarterbacks in the Big 12 (Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is the other). Considering neither team features a strong secondary, this could be one of the more high-scoring contests of the Big 12 season. The game is particularly huge for Missouri, which will have a relatively easy schedule heading into its regular-season finale against Kansas at sold-out Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Beat the Red Raiders on Saturday, and Missouri should enter its game against the Jayhawks with a 10-1 record and all the momentum it needs to take home the Big 12 North title.
Jason King
Tommy Tuberville testing his mastery against top-five teams again
Tuberville has established himself as king of the upset. Auburn's 20-17 victory over No. 4 Florida last month improved Tuberville's record to 3-0 against top-five teams since arriving at Auburn in 1999. Auburn also defeated a top-ranked Florida team 23-20 in 2001 and won 27-17 last year over a Gators squad that was ranked second in the nation. Now the Tigers will try to beat a top-five team that doesn't wear blue and orange. And this could represent Tuberville's toughest test yet. Auburn heads to Death Valley to face an LSU team that's coming off a heartbreaking 43-37 triple-overtime loss to Kentucky. That loss should only add to the incentive of a team eager to avenge a 7-3 loss at Auburn last season a defeat that cost LSU the SEC Western Division title. A victory at LSU would add to Tuberville's reputation as a giant killer and it would make disgruntled Texas A&M fans even more hopeful he might have an interest in coming to College Station.
Steve Megargee
Can the Spartans join the upset brigade?
In 1998, under Nick Saban, 4-4 Michigan State went to Columbus, Ohio, and stunned top-ranked Ohio State 28-24. The Spartans victory shredded the Buckeyes' national-title hopes. MSU, a 17.5-point underdog this time, probably has more firepower offensively in TB Javon Ringer and WR Devin Thomas vs. TB Sedrick Irvin and WR Plaxico Burress in '98. But Ohio State's current defense, anchored by LB James Laurinaitis, is probably better than the '98 unit. The "X"-factor might be Buckeyes QB Todd Boeckman, who quietly has become the Big Ten's leader in passing efficiency against less-than-stellar opposition. But Jim Tressel isn't John Cooper, so this upset isn't happening.
Gerry Ahern



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