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October 22, 2010
Keep an eye on: What our guys are watching
Each week, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans things to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend. Here are some key things to watch this weekend.
Auburn QB Cameron Newton. He clearly has emerged as the Heisman leader. He's almost an unstoppable force as a rushing and passing threat, but LSU's defense is by far the best he will have faced. I'll be at the game and will see if Newton can continue his run toward the Heisman and keep Auburn unbeaten. Will LSU's defense rise to the challenge and derail Newton's Heisman candidacy and Auburn's perfect record? - OLIN BUCHANAN
Can Missouri's defense continue to shine? Missouri has been one of the nation's biggest surprises, surging to a 6-0 start for just the fifth time in school history. A big reason for the tremendous start is defense, which rarely is a strong suit in Columbia. But the Tigers pace the Big 12 and rank No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 10.8 ppg. And Mizzou ranks No. 3 in the Big 12 and 29th in the country in total defense (328.7 ypg). What makes this impressive is that the defense has excelled despite not having arguably its best player in E Aldon Smith, who has missed the past three games with a broken leg. But he may be back for this weekend's visit from Oklahoma in what will be one of the biggest games in Columbia in more than 25 years. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is 0-6 against the Sooners. But a win Saturday makes MU a national contender. And it could happen because of the defense.
- TOM DIENHART
How seriously should we take Kentucky or Georgia? Kentucky's Joker Phillips is either the only honest coach in the country or the only one who is actually "looking ahead." He said he is openly talking to his team about possibility of winning the SEC East. I love that confidence; whether it's misplaced or not, we'll find out. Kentucky's not a dominant team, and the Wildcats have rarely put together a full game this season. But when Kentucky's good, as in the second half against Auburn and South Carolina, Phillips' team can score with anyone. This week, Georgia visits Lexington. The Bulldogs, too, have new life after drubbing Tennessee and Vanderbilt by a combined 84-14 in Athens the past two weeks. The winner will at least make things interesting down the stretch in the SEC East.
- DAVID FOX
Iowa's defensive line. Wisconsin upset Ohio State last week because the Badgers' offensive line ruled the line of scrimmage. I don't think that happens against Iowa. The Badgers have to run effectively to set up the pass, so Iowa DTs Karl Klug and Christian Ballard need to hold their ground in the middle against the Badgers' punishing ground attack. I think Iowa is the best team in the Big Ten, and I'll be looking for them to prove that Saturday.
- MIKE HUGUENIN
Oklahoma State's offense vs. Nebraska's defense. This strikes me as one of the best unit matchups we'll see all season. Oklahoma State ranks second in the nation in total offense and scoring offense. The Cowboys have scored at least 34 points in each of their games and have cracked the 60-point mark twice. Nebraska is ninth in scoring defense and total defense, and the Huskers lead the nation in pass efficiency defense. This game also should feature an outstanding one-on-one confrontation between Biletnikoff Award candidate Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State and Thorpe Award contender Prince Amukamara of Nebraska. Blackmon has 57 catches for 955 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the nation in the latter two categories. Opponents rarely have bothered to throw in the direction of Amukamara, a probable first-round pick.
- STEVE MEGARGEE