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November 25, 2011

Viewer's guide, Part II: No leftovers here

Any great Thanksgiving comes with a generous helping of seconds.

That's why we're taking two looks at the top TV games this week. We already profiled the top five games on Thursday and Friday; now here's our look at the top five games for Saturday.

These games aren't leftovers, though.

Rivalry Week brings yet another "Iron Bowl" with national championship implications with Alabama visiting Auburn as the Crimson Tide try to remain in line for a berth in the national title game.

[Video: Alabama wants Iron Bowl revenge]

Michigan looks to have a great chance to end its seven-year drought against Ohio State. The Wolverines have the better record, a veteran quarterback and the home-field advantage. The losing streak is the longest such streak in the series, though Ohio State went 0-6-1 against Michigan from 1945-51.

Other regional rivalry games are important in league championship races: Virginia and Virginia Tech will play for an ACC divisional title, while UCLA can clinch the Pac-12 South with a win over USC.

Here's a look at those games and the other top Saturday matchups in Week 13.

All times Eastern.


When: Noon, ABC
Broadcasters: Dave Pasch play-by-play, Chris Spielman analyst
The line: Michigan by 8
Why you should watch: On paper, the long wait for Michigan might be over. The Wolverines have not defeated Ohio State since 2003, a span that has included three coaches for Michigan. In the Wolverines' most recent win over Ohio State, Chris Perry scored the winning touchdown, the quarterbacks were John Navarre and Craig Krenzel and the star receivers were Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. For the first time since 2004, Michigan has a better overall and conference record compared to Ohio State. The Wolverines are 9-2 and will be a viable candidate for a BCS at-large berth with a victory. Michigan's defense has held its past five opponents to fewer than 350 yards of offense. That's bad news for Ohio State's offense. Freshman QB Braxton Miller can be dazzling at times, but mostly he is inconsistent. Since starting his first game against Colorado on Sept. 24, Miller has accounted for 14 touchdowns (eight passing and six rushing), but he's completed only 46.2 percent of his passes. (An interesting TV note: Urban Meyer has been an analyst with Pasch and Spielman all season. But Meyer is rumored to be a candidate for the Ohio State coaching job and isn't on the broadcast team this week.)

When: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Broadcasters: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst
The line: Alabama by 21
Why you should watch: For the fourth consecutive season, the "Iron Bowl" features a team hoping to play for a national title. In the past two meetings, the national championship contender has needed a comeback to seal the win. In 2009, Alabama trailed by 14 in the third quarter before scoring the game-winning touchdown with 1:24 left. Last season, Auburn trailed 24-0 in the second quarter before pulling out a 28-27 win. This season, both teams are coming off uninspiring performances against FCS opponents. Alabama allowed 302 rushing yards to Georgia Southern's triple-option offense; Auburn needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to put away Samford. With Alabama in position for a title game rematch with LSU, expect the microscope to be on the Crimson Tide against an Auburn team that hasn't won consecutive games since beating FAU on Sept. 24 and South Carolina on Oct. 1. And in a wide-open Heisman race, Tide TB Trent Richardson has a chance to improve his credentials against the SEC's 10th-ranked rush defense. Richardson has rushed for 1,380 yards and accounted for 23 total touchdowns, three more than Mark Ingram in his 2009 Heisman-winning season.

When: 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Broadcasters: Joe Tessitore play-by-play, Rod Gilmore analyst
The line: Virginia Tech by 5
Why you should watch: Virginia (8-3) is one of the nation's surprise teams. Last week's 14-13 win at Florida State, the Cavs' first victory in Tallahassee, means this season's Commonwealth Cup is for a trip to the ACC championship game. The Hokies have won seven in a row in the series, including a winner-wins-the-division game in 2007. After losses to North Carolina, Southern Miss and North Carolina State, Virginia's season turned around once it settled on a quarterback. Michael Rocco has completed 62 percent of his passes, for 962 yards with seven touchdowns and an interception, since taking over sole quarterback duties four games ago, all wins. Rocco, though, will encounter perhaps the top pass defense he has faced this season.

When: 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Broadcasters: Sean McDonough play-by-play, Matt Millen analyst
The line: Wisconsin by 14.5
Why you should watch: Penn State remained in the Big Ten title hunt with last week's 20-16 win at Ohio State, and this game is for the Big Ten Leaders Division title. Against the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions scored 20 points for only the fifth time this season and the third time in Big Ten play. What was once a one-man offense led by TB Silas Redd, Penn State rushed for 239 yards against Ohio State despite only 63 yards from Redd. Stephfon Green rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns, and the Nittany Lions added a "wildcat" package to boost the run game. Will Penn State have any other surprises for the Badgers' defense? Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson and TB Montee Ball are going against one of the Big Ten's best defenses. Ball has 30 total touchdowns, joining Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders (39 touchdowns in 1988), Boise State's Brock Forsey (32 in 2002), Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards (31 in 1998) and UCF's Kevin Smith (30 in 2007) as the only members of the 30-touchdown club. Meanwhile, Wilson has a good shot at the single-season pass efficiency record. Hawaii's Colt Brennan had a 186.0 rating in 2006. Wilson's rating is 199.27.

When: 10 p.m., Fox Sports Net
Broadcasters: Craig Bolerjack play-by-play, Joel Klatt analyst
The line: USC by 14.5
Why you should watch: UCLA takes the Pac-12 South Division title with a win over USC, which defeated Oregon last week. UCLA can lose to USC, finish 6-6 but still go to the Pac-12 title game if Arizona State beats Cal and Colorado beats Utah. The Bruins need a repeat of the offensive magic from last week, when TB Johnathan Franklin rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown and QB Kevin Prince was 15-of-19 for 225 yards and four touchdowns. USC allowed 474 yards and 35 points to Oregon at Autzen last week, but the Ducks' 5.78 yards per play was their second-lowest average of the season (LSU held Oregon to 4.1 yards per play. USC junior QB Matt Barkley is garnering Heisman mention after passing for 323 yards and four touchdowns against Oregon last week. Will this be his final game at USC? /p>

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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