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November 6, 2008

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com.
He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

The eyes of Texas and the rest of the nation once again will be on Lubbock, where top-ranked Texas Tech welcomes Oklahoma State in yet another Big 12 South showdown game. The one-loss teams in the BCS top 10 hope Mike Gundy's Cowboys can pull the upset.

This is an especially big weekend in the ACC. There are three games that match conference title contenders.

It's also a big day in the SEC West, with Nick Saban's top-ranked Alabama team invading Baton Rouge for a showdown with Saban's former team.

In the Big Ten, Penn State plays its final tough road game of the season in Iowa City.

Thursday night is huge in the Mountain West, as Utah plays host to TCU in what basically sets up as a BCS elimination game. The winner keeps its hopes alive for a BCS bid; the loser falls out of the mix and can start contemplating a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Here's a look at every game this weekend. And note that "the weekend" carries into next week because there are games Tuesday and Wednesday.

LAST WEEK: 33-16 overall, 22-25-2 against the spread.

SEASON: 430-126 overall, 230-234-9 against the spread (games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads).

SATURDAY'S GAMES
Wisconsin (4-5) at Indiana (3-6), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: A season of great potential for Wisconsin has turned into a nightmare. If the Badgers don't win this, getting to a bowl is going to be dicey.
The line: Wisconsin by 9.5. | The pick: Wisconsin 23-17.
Illinois (5-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-2) in Detroit, noon, ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is a nice matchup of quarterbacks. Illinois' Juice Williams has thrown for 2,441 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 509 yards and five scores. WMU's Tim Hiller has thrown for 2,856 yards and 28 touchdowns.
The line: Illinois by 7. | The pick: Illinois 28-24.
Georgia Tech (7-2) at North Carolina (6-2), noon, ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Think of this as an elimination game in the ACC Coastal Division. These are two of the five teams with two losses in the division. Then again, with the way things are going in the ACC, the loser may have the rest of the division just where it wants them.
The line: UNC by 3.5. | The pick: UNC 24-16.
Michigan (2-7) at Minnesota (7-2), noon, ESPN
The buzz: These teams play for the Little Brown Jug. Given the way Michigan's season has gone, the Wolverines will be lucky the jug doesn't break if they win. The Wolverines lead the "rivalry" 69-24-3, have won 18 of the past 19 and never have lost at the Metrodome (11-0).
The line: Minnesota by 7.5. | The pick: Minnesota 31-21.
Purdue (3-6) at Michigan State (8-2), noon, Big Ten Network
The buzz: The Spartans take a big step closer toward a New Year's Day bid if they can beat the Boilermakers. Purdue, meanwhile, must win out if Joe Tiller is to get to a bowl in his final season as coach.
The line: Michigan State by 9. | The pick: Michigan State 31-17.
Ohio State (7-2) at Northwestern (7-2), noon, ESPN2
The buzz: Ohio State leads the series 58-14-1, and this is just the third time in 46 seasons the teams have met with the Wildcats owning a similar or better record than the Buckeyes.
The line: Ohio State by 11.5. | The pick: Ohio State 23-14.
Baylor (3-6) at Texas (8-1), noon, Fox Sports Net
The buzz: The Longhorns will be looking to rebound after their first loss of the season. Texas has won 10 in a row in the series, and Baylor is 8-42-2 all-time in Austin.
The line: Texas by 27.5. | The pick: Texas 45-14.
Louisville (5-3) at Pittsburgh (6-2), noon, Big East syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Louisville has committed six turnovers in its five victories but 10 in its three losses. But Pitt has a minus-9 turnover margin. Pitt remains a legit contender for the Big East title with a victory.
The line: Pitt by 6. | The pick: Pitt 28-17.
Syracuse (2-6) at Rutgers (3-5), noon, ESPNU
The buzz: Rutgers has won two in a row despite its abysmal ground game. Syracuse RB Curtis Brinkley has five consecutive 100-yard games. That's a school record for one season, sort of unbelievable considering some of the running backs who have played for the 'Cuse.
The line: Rutgers by 14. | The pick: Rutgers 27-17.
Georgia (7-2) at Kentucky (6-3), 12:30 p.m., SEC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The Bulldogs are coming off a thrashing at the hands of Florida and need to bounce back quickly. Lucky for them that UK's offense isn't good.
The line: Georgia by 10.5. | The pick: Georgia 23-10.
Arkansas (4-5) at South Carolina (6-3), 1 p.m.
The buzz: The Gamecocks are in good shape for a New Year's Day bowl assuming they win this. The Gamecocks are vastly better defensively than the Hogs, and Arkansas QB Casey Dick's production against South Carolina's secondary will determine the outcome.
The line: South Carolina by 11.5. | The pick: South Carolina 27-17.
Wyoming (3-6) at Tennessee (3-6), 1 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Vols coach Phillip Fulmer is stepping down at the end of the season, and Cowboys coach Joe Glenn likely faces the same fate. Wyoming is 112th in total offense, Tennessee 115th.
The line: Tennessee by 26.5. | The pick: Tennessee 31-7.
Iowa State (2-7) at Colorado (4-5), 1:30 p.m., Versus
The buzz: The Buffs have fallen apart after a 3-0 start, and their offense has been woeful of late. But Iowa State has given up at least 34 points in six consecutive games. This is a must-win if Colorado wants to have any chance at a bowl.
The line: Colorado by 9.5. | The pick: Colorado 31-17.
Bowling Green (4-5) at Ohio U. (2-7), 2 p.m.
The buzz: Bowling Green was victorious last week, but hasn't won back-to-back games this season. This is the second of three consecutive home games for Ohio.
The line: Bowling Green by 3. | The pick: Bowling Green 24-16.
San Diego State (1-8) at BYU (8-1), 2 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: BYU WR Austin Collie has had seven consecutive 100-yard receiving games. He's one of the reasons BYU is converting a nation-best 59.2 percent of its third downs.
The line: BYU by 36.5. | The pick: BYU 48-10.
Utah State (2-7) at Boise State (8-0), 2 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The Broncos have won 30 in a row at home against WAC opponents. That streak is extremely likely extremely likely to get to 31.
The line: Boise State by 34.5. | The pick: Boise State 41-10.
Kansas (6-3) at Nebraska (5-4), 2:30 p.m.
The buzz: This will be the 115th meeting, making it No. 3 among most-played rivalries. In addition, it's the 103rd consecutive meeting, which is an NCAA record.
The line: Nebraska by 1. | The pick: Kansas 37-31.
Tennessee-Martin (7-2) at Auburn (4-5), 2:30 p.m.
The buzz: This is homecoming for Auburn, which has won its past 16 homecoming games by an average margin of 24.5 points. Thing is, it seems doubtful Auburn can score 24 points. UT-Martin is ranked in the top 20 in FCS (i.e., Division I-AA) polls.
The line: No line. | The pick: Auburn 23-7.
Memphis (4-5) at SMU (1-8), 3 p.m.
The buzz: Memphis is in good shape to go bowling for the fifth time in six seasons, assuming the Tigers win this game. Despite losing each one, SMU has played well in its past four Conference USA games.
The line: Memphis by 2. | The pick: Memphis 38-30.
Army (3-6) at Rice (6-3), 3 p.m.
The buzz: Army has completed 40 passes this season. Rice QB Chase Clement has 29 TD passes this season. Army, though, has a strong ground game, and the Owls have trouble stopping the run.
The line: Rice by 10.5. | The pick: Rice 40-24.
Southern Miss (3-6) at UCF (2-6), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: Southern Miss scored 70 points in thrashing UAB last week. Punchless UCF has scored 73 total points in its past four games. But UCF's defenses is miles better than Southern Mississippi's.
The line: Southern Miss by 3. | The pick: Southern Miss 19-17.
Marshall (4-4) at East Carolina (5-3), 3:30 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: Both teams have four league games left, but the winner of this one nevertheless takes a big step toward winning the C-USA East Division title.
The line: East Carolina by 8. | The pick: East Carolina 31-21.
Louisiana-Monroe (3-6) at Middle Tennessee (2-6), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: Each of ULM's past two games has been decided by one point. MTSU, meanwhile, has scored 21, 23 and 22 points in its past three games. So, will the Blue Raiders score 20 or 24 this week?
The line: Middle Tennessee by 4.5. | The pick: Middle Tennessee 24-17.
Western Kentucky (2-7) at Troy (5-3), 3:30 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast
The buzz: Troy is coming off an embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Monroe. But Western is coming off an even more embarrassing loss, to previously winless North Texas.
The line: Troy by 16.5. | The pick: Troy 44-17.
Alabama (9-0) at LSU (6-2), 3:30 p.m., CBS
The buzz: Nick Saban returns to Baton Rouge on the other sideline. Thank God for him this is not a night game. It's going to be ugly as it is in regards to the fans, but were it a night-time kickoff my, goodness. By the way, Alabama might be the only SEC team that scoffs at LSU's home-field advantage: The Tide are 24-8-2 all-time in Baton Rouge.
The line: Alabama by 3.5. | The pick: Alabama 23-17.
Clemson (4-4) at Florida State(6-2), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Clemson has won three in a row and four of the past five against the Seminoles. But FSU still is in the hunt for the ACC Atlantic title and Clemson isn't, which gives the Seminoles far more incentive.
The line: Florida State by 5.5. | The pick: Florida State 27-14.
Penn State (9-0) at Iowa (5-4), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN
The buzz: Both are solid on defense, especially against the run. Both have good running backs. And both are rarely penalized. The differences: Penn State throws the ball much better and is in the national title race. Iowa's four losses have come by a combined 12 points.
The line: Penn State by 7.5. | The pick: Penn State 21-16.
Oklahoma (8-1) at Texas A&M (4-5), 3:30 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: The Sooners have scored at least 45 points in seven games and scored 35 in the other games. A&M has surrendered at least 41 points four times.
The line: Oklahoma by 27. | The pick: Oklahoma 52-27.
Virginia (5-4) at Wake Forest (5-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: Another big one in the ACC this weekend, as both are in the running for the title in their respective divisions. This also is big in terms of bowl positioning within the league.
The line: Wake by 3.5. | The pick: Wake 23-21.
Stanford (5-4) at Oregon (6-3), 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: Oregon has won six in a row and seven of eight in the series. These are the Pac-10's two best rush offenses and two of the three best rush defenses. This is a big one for Oregon in terms of bowl positioning, while Stanford needs one more win to become bowl-eligible.
The line: Oregon by 14. | The pick: Oregon 38-21.
N. C. State (2-6) at Duke (4-4), 3:30 p.m.
The buzz: The Wolfpack have won 10 in a row in a series between schools about 30 minutes apart.
The line: Duke by 3.5. | The pick: Duke 20-17.
Hawaii (4-5) at New Mexico State (3-5), 4 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Hawaii is guaranteed a bowl bid at home if it's bowl-eligible and winning this game is vital if the Warriors want to be bowl-eligible. New Mexico State has scored just 28 points in its past three games.
The line: Hawaii by 3. | The pick: Hawaii 27-17.
North Texas (1-8) at Florida Atlantic (3-5), 4 p.m.
The buzz: North Texas is coming off its first victory of the season. FAU, meanwhile, has won two in a row.
The line: FAU by 22.5. | The pick: FAU 38-17.
Arizona (5-3) at Washington State (1-8), 5 p.m.
The buzz: Washington State had scored in 280 consecutive games before being shut out in each of its past two contests. The Cougars have been outscored 350-33 in six Pac-10 games. And look at that line. Arizona is good but not that good and it's a 41-point favorite!
The line: Arizona by 41. | The pick: Arizona 49-3.
Colorado State (4-5) at Air Force (7-2), 6 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: Air Force still is in the hunt for the Mountain West title and can't afford a loss. Colorado State, meanwhile, still has a shot at a bowl bid. A win in this one would enhance the Rams' hopes.
The line: Air Force by 9.5. | The pick: Air Force 31-20.
Oregon State (5-3) at UCLA (3-5), 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest*/Prime Ticket
The buzz: UCLA has owned this series of late, winning five in a row and seven of the past nine. Three of the past four wins have come when the Beavers were favored. UCLA won 40-14 last season, thanks to 28 fourth-quarter points.
The line: Oregon State by 8. | The pick: Oregon State 27-21.
Arkansas State (4-4) at Florida International (3-5), 7 p.m.
The buzz: Arkansas State is in the midst of a stretch that sees the Red Wolves play five of their final six regular-season games on the road.
The line: Arkansas State by 2.5. | The pick: Arkansas State 24-16.
Kansas State (4-5) at Missouri (7-2), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: K-State is looking for a new coach; Missouri is looking for another Big 12 North title.
The line: Missouri by 27. | The pick: Missouri 56-24.
Arizona State (2-6) at Washington (0-8), 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net Northwest*/FSN Arizona
The buzz: The hounds make their way to Seattle. There will be some beautiful scenery, but not much else. This is the dog of the week.
The line: Arizona State by 14.5. | The pick: Arizona State 35-17.
UTEP (3-5) at Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3), 7 p.m., Comcast-Charter Sports Southeast/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: ULL is third nationally in rush offense at 301.3 yards per game. UTEP's rush defense is 110th, at 210.0 yards per game. But UTEP's pass offense is going to pose problems for ULL's secondary.
The line: ULL by 9. | The pick: ULL 37-30.
Cincinnati (6-2) at West Virginia (6-2), 7 p.m., ESPNU
The buzz: A big one in the Big East. If West Virginia wins this, it basically makes it a two-team race for the league title between the Mountaineers and Pitt (assuming Pitt wins over Louisville).
The line: WVU by 7. | The pick: WVU 26-21.
Tulane (2-6) at Houston (4-4), 8 p.m., CBS College Sports
The buzz: Houston QB Case Keenum has thrown for 300 yards in nine consecutive games, but the Green Wave leads C-USA in pass defense. Tulane is allowing just 164.1 passing yards per game.
The line: Houston by 16. | The pick: Houston 41-21.
Florida (7-1) at Vanderbilt (5-3), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: The Gators, who have won their past four games by a combined 201-43, clinch the SEC East title with a victory. Florida has won 17 in a row in this series.
The line: Florida by 24. | The pick: Florida 38-10.
Notre Dame (5-3) at Boston College (5-3), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: BC has won five in a row and six of the past seven in the series between the only two Catholic-affiliated schools that play major-college football. Notre Dame's offense is better than BC's offense, but BC's defense is better than Notre Dame's.
The line: BC by 3. | The pick: Notre Dame 23-21.
Oklahoma State (8-1) at Texas Tech (9-0), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is another tough game for Texas Tech, which is in the midst of a brutal three-game stretch. Tech's defense did a great job last week. Will Oklahoma State's run-oriented attack pose any problems? We think so.
The line: Texas Tech by 3.5. | The pick: Oklahoma State 37-35.
California (6-2) at USC (7-1), 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: Both can win the Pac-10, but Cal is the only one that controls its destiny. The Golden Bears get USC this week and league co-leader Oregon State next week. USC has won four in a row and six of the past seven in the series, which began in 1915.
The line: USC by 20.5. | The pick: USC 24-13.
Louisiana Tech (4-4) at San Jose State (6-3), 8 p.m.
The buzz: San Jose State is 15-3 in its past 18 home games. Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, has lost six in a row on the road. San Jose looks like the second-best team in the WAC.
The line: San Jose State by 7. | The pick: San Jose State 26-17.
New Mexico (4-6) at UNLV (3-6), 10 p.m., The mtn.
The buzz: UNLV will be without starting quarterback Omar Clayton, who has a knee injury. New Mexico has lost four consecutive Mountain West Conference road games.
The line: New Mexico by 3.5. | The pick: New Mexico 28-20.
TUESDAY'S GAME
Ball State (9-0) at Miami University (2-7), 7 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: The Cardinals are steaming toward an unbeaten season. But they remain a long shot to get into the BCS.
The line: Ball State by 19.5. | The pick: Ball State 38-13.
WEDNESDAY'S GAMES
Temple (3-6) at Kent State (2-7), 8 p.m.
The buzz: Temple isn't that far from 6-3; the Owls have lost three games on the final play. Kent State, on the other hand, is a long way from 7-2 . Five of Kent State's losses have been by double-digits.
The line: Temple by 2.5. | The pick: Temple 17-13.
Central Michigan (7-2) at Northern Illinois (5-4), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: It's looking increasingly likely that Central's game with Ball State will determine the MAC West title and who gets to be called the league's best team.
The line: NIU by 3. | The pick: Central Michigan 27-21.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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



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