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November 26, 2008

Five to Watch: Thursday and Friday

The Thanksgiving weekend will be a feast of high-profile football games from Thursday through Saturday.

To help you navigate through the week's story lines, we're bringing you two installments of the Five to Watch. The first will highlight the Thursday and Friday games. The second will feature the top five games for Saturday.

All times Eastern.

WEEK 13 THURSDAY/FRIDAY FIVE TO WATCH
TEXAS A&M AT TEXAS

When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
TV: ESPN
Broadcasters: Chris Fowler play-by-play, Craig James and Jesse Palmer analysts
Line: Texas by 34
Why you should watch: The Big 12 South is the center of BCS discontent as Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech each have one loss. The Aggies could help send Oklahoma to the conference title game and perhaps the national championship with an upset. The Aggies have upset Texas in each of the past two seasons, but they were 13- and seven-point underdogs, respectively. With Aggies quarterback Jerrod Johnson throwing six interceptions in the past two games and star running back Mike Goodson hobbled, the 34-point spread looks appropriate. The rivalry game will be played on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1993.

WEST VIRGINIA AT PITTSBURGH

When: Friday, noon
TV: ABC
Broadcasters: Dave Lamont play-by-play, Brock Huard analyst
Line: West Virginia by 3
Why you should watch: "The Backyard Brawl" was one of last season's biggest upsets, with Pitt winning 13-9 to knock the Mountaineers out of the national championship game. WVU quarterback Pat White rushed for 200 yards, passed for 122 and accounted for five touchdowns against Louisville last week in his finest performance of the season. WVU still has a shot at a BCS bid, but the Mountaineers need Cincinnati to lose at home to Syracuse.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT OLE MISS

When: Friday, 12:30 p.m.
TV: SEC syndication
Broadcasters: Dave Neal play-by-play, Dave Archer analyst
Line: Ole Miss by 13
Why you should watch: The Egg Bowl will feature a ranked team for the first time since 2003. After beating LSU 31-13 last week, Ole Miss is 25th in the Associated Press poll. In 2003, Eli Manning led No. 17 Ole Miss to a 31-0 win over the Bulldogs, the last time the Rebels went to a bowl. This season, Ole Miss which has allowed just two touchdowns in the past three games has a good shot at the Cotton Bowl if it can win this game.

COLORADO AT NEBRASKA

When: Friday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC
Broadcasters: Ron Franklin play-by-play, Ed Cunningham analyst
Line: Nebraska by 15
Why you should watch: Colorado clinched a bowl bid and knocked Nebraska out of the postseason with a wild 65-51 victory in Boulder a year ago. The two aren't as closely matched this time around. Nebraska (7-4) is hoping for a New Year's bowl, and Colorado (5-6) is seeking bowl eligibility. The Huskers' only loss in the Big 12 North this season came against Missouri, a year after the Huskers went 2-3 against the division. A loss would seal Dan Hawkins' third consecutive losing season at Colorado and drop him to 8-16 in the Big 12.

FRESNO STATE AT BOISE STATE

When: Friday, 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN2
Broadcasters: Joe Tessitore play-by-play, Rod Gilmore analyst
Line: Boise State by 20.5
Why you should watch: Tune in to see who is more motivated. Boise State is 11-0 but basically has no shot at a BCS bid. The Broncos likely will go to the Poinsettia Bowl win or lose. As for Fresno State, the Bulldogs were expected to be a legit contender for a BCS spot, but they've lost four games - including three in the WAC. Fresno State has held its past two opponents to minus-14 rushing yards. Fresno State must have that kind of defensive performance if it wants to beat Boise for only the second time since 2001.

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



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