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November 12, 2008

Five to watch: Florida can't afford to fall

There is only one game between top-25 BCS teams this week No. 25 South Carolina at No. 4 Florida. The remaining ranked teams are on upset alert. Remember, it was around this time last season when Illinois upset Ohio State and Navy ended its losing streak to Notre Dame (Notre Dame and Ohio State get their chance for revenge this week).

The ACC and Big East could have new front-runners before the weekend when Virginia Tech goes to Miami on Thursday and Cincinnati goes to Louisville on Friday.

As for Saturday, key games in the ACC and Pac-10 could go a long way toward deciding conference championships, while one-loss Texas and Florida try to hang on to their national championship hopes.

All times Eastern.


When: 12:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Net
Broadcasters: Dan McLaughlin play-by-play, Dave Lapham analyst
Line: Texas by 13.5
Why you should watch: The Longhorns are third in the BCS standings, but their more pressing concern is the Big 12 South. They will be rooting against Texas Tech, and then hope they win one of the tie-breakers with the Red Raiders and Oklahoma. Kansas, meanwhile, is fighting to prove its 12-1 record last season wasn't a fluke. The Jayhawks are losing that argument, and a winning regular season is in doubt with Texas and Missouri left on the schedule. Kansas QB Todd Reesing is a native of Austin who wasn't recruited by Texas.


When: 3:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst
Line: Florida by 23
Why you should watch: The Ol' Ball Coach was nearly a stumbling block during Florida's run to the national championship in 2006; the Gators needed a blocked field goal to preserve a 17-16 win. Could Steve Spurrier have something similar in store for his old team this season? The Gamecocks have won six of seven since a 1-2 start. Florida is averaging 43.3 points in SEC games, but South Carolina likely has the best defense the Gators will see during the regular season. The quarterback position for both teams is back to normal: Tim Tebow has accounted for 14 touchdowns in the past three games, and Spurrier can't decide between Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley; he rotated them on a play-by-play basis last week.


When: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Joe Tessitore play-by-play, Rod Gilmore analyst
Line: Oregon State by 3
Why you should watch: After losing 17-3 to USC on Saturday, Cal appears to be out of the Pac-10 race. But this game is all about redemption for the Bears. A year ago, Cal went into a game with Oregon State ranked No. 2 in the country, but lost 31-28 when Kevin Riley made a poor decision to scramble instead of throwing the ball away. Riley and Nate Longshore struggled against USC. Oregon State backup Sean Canfield has led the Beavers to victories in the past two games, but starter Lyle Moevao could return from an injured shoulder.


When: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Brad Nessler play-by-play, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire analysts
Line: North Carolina by 2.5
Why you should watch: North Carolina looks like the team to beat in the ACC after convincing wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels are the highest-ranked team in the conference at No. 16 in the BCS. Maryland is coming off a discouraging 23-13 loss to Virginia Tech that puts the Terps in third place in the ACC Atlantic. Given the goings-on in the ACC this season, that means it will be a resounding win for Maryland. In all seriousness, the Terps must stop Heels TB Shaun Draughn, who has averaged 98.4 yards in the past five games. Maryland has the second-worst rush defense in the conference.


When: 8 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Terry Gannon play-by-play, David Norrie analyst
Line: Florida State by 7
Why you should watch: Boston College once again has one of the best defenses in the country. Last week's shutout of Notre Dame was BC's third of the season. Meanwhile, Florida State has fixed some of its offensive deficiencies. The Seminoles lead the ACC in scoring and yards per game. In the ACC race, Florida State is looking to hold onto its lead in the Atlantic Division, while a Boston College upset would lend hope for another trip to the conference championship game.

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



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