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November 5, 2008

Five to watch: Big 12 provides action

It's going to be hard for any game Saturday to top the wild finish in last week's game between Texas Tech and Texas.

In one of the late games Saturday, Texas Tech will be the favorite when it plays host to Oklahoma State, which suffered its only loss this season by four points at Texas. Expect another shootout from the Big 12 South foes.

In the SEC, Alabama will have to put emotions aside and attempt to ignore a vicious LSU crowd in Nick Saban's return to Baton Rouge.

In the Big Ten, Penn State leapfrogged by Texas Tech in the BCS standings makes its last road trip of the season, to Iowa.

And in the Pac-10 and ACC, there are key matchups between league contenders.

All times Eastern.


When: Noon
TV: ACC syndication/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Steve Martin play-by-play, Rick Walker analyst
Line: North Carolina by 4
Why you should watch: Fortunes in the ACC can change from week to week, but this game is as good a bet as any to determine one of the participants in the conference championship game. The Yellow Jackets and Tar Heels have been as consistent as anyone in the league and both feature dynamic playmakers in Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer and UNC WR Hakeem Nicks. Florida State's defense is full of juniors and seniors, yet Georgia Tech rushed for 288 yards last week against the Seminoles. How will North Carolina's younger "D" fare?


When: 3:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst
Line: Alabama by 3
Why you should watch: Think there will be some venom for Nick Saban in this one? You bet. The crowd shots will be just as entertaining as the game, maybe more if LSU's defense plays as it did against Florida and Georgia. Lundquist and Danielson would be wise to stay quiet long enough to accentuate the raucous Death Valley crowd. LSU has won five in a row over Alabama and seven of the past eight. The past three wins belong to Les Miles. Beyond the Saban-Miles drama, this is Alabama's last road trip of the regular season. The Crimson Tide will get DT Terrence Cody back from a knee injury just in time to face Tigers TB Charles Scott, who has averaged 132 rushing yards in home games this season.


When: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN
Broadcasters: Brad Nessler play-by-play, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire analysts
Line: Penn State by 7
Why you should watch: USC and teams in the Big 12 and SEC will be pulling for Iowa in this one. The Nittany Lions are third in the BCS standings, and a loss almost certainly would knock Penn State out of the national title picture. The Hawkeyes have the nation's seventh-ranked scoring defense, and junior TB Shonn Greene has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season. Penn State's defense, statistically, is better than Iowa's, and the Nittany Lions' passing attack is a lot better than the Hawkeyes'.


When: 8 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Sean McDonough play-by-play, Chris Spielman analyst
Line: USC by 17
Why you should watch: If not for an early season loss to Oregon State, USC likely would be ranked No. 1. Now, the Trojans need to win out and get a lot of help. The Trojans' defense has been downright dominant since Oregon State TB Jacquizz Rodgers gashed it in Corvallis: USC has allowed two touchdowns in the past five games. Cal still has a chance to win the Pac-10 after last week's rain-soaked victory over Oregon. To do so, the Bears must hope USC which is 24-0 in November under Pete Carroll comes out flat.


When: 8 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
Line: Texas Tech by 3.5
Why you should watch: The Big 12 South has provided ABC with its most compelling weekly programming since the "Lost" season finale. After beating Texas last week, Texas Tech gets Oklahoma State on Saturday and Oklahoma on Nov. 22 (with a bye week in between). Can either secondary cover the other team's star receiver? Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant has two 200-yard games, five multi-touchdown games and two punt returns for touchdowns this season, while Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree had the winning touchdown against Texas last week. Oklahoma State won 49-45 last season in a game decided in the final seconds, but it's more likely you remember Mike Gundy's infamous postgame news conference than the game itself.

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

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