The Sweep

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T1_sabanhatred
LSU fans will surely express their feelings toward Nick Saban Saturday, when the former coach returns to Baton Rouge.
AP

Five To Watch


No. 8 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Common sense would suggest that Texas Tech is due for a letdown after its incredible 39-33 win over Texas last week, but nothing Mike Leach or Texas Tech does could be described as "common." With its highest ranking in school history and playing this week's version of "the biggest game in school history," Tech should solidify itself as the best team in the country against an Oklahoma State side that is playing its third game in five weeks against a top-three opponent. Unfortunately for the Cowboys all those games have been on the road. 

No. 1 Alabama at No. 15 LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

With a BCS Bowl berth seemingly out of the picture this season, LSU fans will have to settle for the Saban Bowl, which might be just as sweet a win for some scorned fans in Baton Rouge. Alabama coach Nick Saban, who led LSU to a national championship in 2003, is downplaying his return to "Death Valley," but it won't be simply another game for the Tigers, who will look to turn around their season by upsetting No. 1 Alabama. After a 4-0 start, the Tigers have split their last four. Despite getting blown out by Florida and Georgia, something tells me they'll find a way to upset Alabama. 

No. 21 California at No. 7 USC, 8 p.m. ET, ABC 

Pete Carroll says he doesn't get the BCS. I'll try to explain it in layman's terms so he understands. If you play in a conference as bad as the Pac-10 and are gift-wrapped a No. 1 ranking, you can't afford to lose a game in conference, not when teams behind you are playing top-ranked teams every week. You especially can't get blown out 21-0 in the first half of a nationally televised game against Oregon State. I hope that helps. Now, onto the game at hand, this is probably the last ranked team the Trojans will play this season. And the game will mean nothing to those pesky computers next week, since the Golden Bears will probably fall out of the Top 25 after USC wins. Sorry, Pete, looks like another blowout win and another drop in the polls.

No. 22 Georgia Tech at No. 19 North Carolina, Noon ET, ESPN Gameplan

While North Carolina is in the midst of its best season in 11 years, this ACC Coastal battle may come down to who lines up under center for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt is questionable after suffering sprained ankle last week. Nesbitt's backup, Jaybo Shaw, lost a fumble and threw an interception in his only pass attempt. With rain in the forecast for Chapel Hill on Saturday, it could be a long day for Georgia Tech if Shaw is forced to play. With North Carolina's defense suffocating the run recently -- limiting its last three opponents to an average of 2.4 yards per carry and 62.3 per game -- the Tar Heels should get the job done.    

No. 12 Ohio State at Northwestern, Noon ET, ESPN2


Northwestern won its first game against a ranked opponent in its last nine tries -- a 24-17 road victory over then-No. 20 Minnesota last Saturday -- but don't look for the Wildcats to turn that into a winning streak. Not with Ohio State still seething after losing to Penn State two weeks ago. The Buckeyes have outscored the Wildcats 160-24 in three straight wins and should add to that lopsided total in winning a fourth straight.  

Two To Remember


No. 6 Oklahoma at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC


Life hasn't been fun for Oklahoma opponents since the Sooners lost to Texas on Oct. 11. Oklahoma has blown out its opponents 165-94 in its last three games, scoring 128 of those points in the first half. That run should continue against the Aggies, who have lost five straight to the Sooners.

No. 3 Penn State at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC 

Don't worry about polls and rankings right now, Penn State fans. If the Nittany Lions win their last three games, you'll be in Miami playing for the BCS championship. While Penn State closes out the season at home against a solid Michigan State squad, this is its last road game and probably last chance to get upset. Sorry Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and USC fans, it's not happening.  

One To Forget


Arizona State at Washington, 7 p.m. ET, FSN 

How bad are the Huskies this year? Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter, whose Sun Devils are 2-6 this season, was asked if he and his teammates might be overconfident in traveling to Washington to play the 0-8 Huskies, the only winless team in the FBS. "I hope guys aren't overconfident," said Carpenter. "They don't have a reason to be overconfident ... our team has lost six straight games." That said, the overconfident Sun Devils should break that streak against the dreadful Huskies.

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