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November 19, 2008

Five to watch: Turning point in Big East race

Even though the weather is growing less and less pleasant in much of the country, this still would be a good Saturday to get out of the house.

Some of the nation's best games will be tough to find on your standard cable TV service. Be sure to call your neighbor with satellite television or local watering hole ahead of time, though.

Texas Tech's game against Oklahoma will be ABC's national broadcast. Michigan State - Penn State will be a national game, too. The rest isn't so certain. Once again, one of the Mountain West's top games will be on a premium network, The mtn. Oregon State's bid for the Rose Bowl will continue on Versus.

All times Eastern.


When: 3:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Mike Patrick play-by-play, Todd Blackledge analyst
Line: Penn State by 14.5
Why you should watch: The Big Ten title will be decided on the final day of the league's regular season. If Penn State wins, the Nittany Lions earn a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995. To get to Pasadena, Michigan State must win this one and have Michigan upset Ohio State. The Spartans will try to use the same formula Iowa used two weeks ago to upset the Nittany Lions: control the ball on the ground. Iowa did it with Shonn Greene ; the Spartans will try with Javon Ringer. Two problems for Michigan State though: The Spartans' defense isn't as good as Iowa's and the game is at Penn State.


When: 6 p.m.
TV: The mtn.
Broadcasters: Rich Cellini play-by-play, Jon Berger and Blaine Fowler analysts
Line: Utah by 6.5
Why you should watch: The Holy War is one of college football's most underrated rivalry games. This season, the stakes are as high as they've ever been, with one combined loss between the teams. It's only the second time that the teams are meeting when both are ranked. A Utah win would end BYU's bid for at least a share of its third consecutive Mountain West title and almost certainly would send the Utes to a BCS game for the second time in five seasons. BYU has won the past two meetings by a total of nine points.


When: 7 p.m.
TV: Versus
Broadcasters: Ron Thulin play-by-play, Kelly Stouffer analyst
Line: Arizona by 3
Why you should watch: Oregon State's bid to go to the Rose Bowl looks a little more plausible after the Beavers beat California 34-21 last week. But Arizona has beaten a ranked team in November in each of the past four seasons and a top-10 team in each of the past three. Bad news for Oregon State: The No. 21 Beavers are the only ranked opponent for Arizona during the month. Arizona has put up 1,058 yards in its past two games, but one game was against Pac-10 bottom-feeder Washington State. The Wildcats defense gave up 504 yards and 55 points in the other game against Oregon. Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of the past eight games.


When: 7:15 p.m.
Broadcasters: Mark Jones play-by-play, Bob Davie analyst
Line: Cincinnati by 5
Why you should watch: This will be the defining game in the Big East race. A Cincinnati victory all but locks up the conference title and a BCS bid, because the Bearcats' only remaining conference game is against Syracuse. A Pittsburgh win would put the Panthers in the league lead with games remaining against rival West Virginia and Connecticut. Cincinnati hasn't won a conference title of any kind since sharing the Conference USA crown in 2002 and hasn't won a league outright since winning the Missouri Valley in 1964.


When: 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
Line: Oklahoma by 6.5
Why you should watch: After a relatively quiet week in the Big 12 last weekend, Texas Tech and Oklahoma put the league back in the national spotlight in what's likely to be an offensive showcase. Texas Tech hasn'talways been sharp on the road this season, and Oklahoma is 59-2 in Norman under Bob Stoops. A Texas Tech win all but ensures the Red Raiders' place in the Big 12 Championship Game and would cement Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree as Heisman front-runners. An Oklahoma win throws the Big 12 South into a muddled mess. Texas Tech beat the Sooners last season, when OU quarterback Sam Bradford was knocked out after sustaining a concussion in the first quarter. The Bradford-Harrell matchup is intriguing, but the outcome likely will determined by which defense makes a key stop or two.

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

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