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December 3, 2010

Roundtable: The overlooked storylines

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

TODAY'S QUESTION: With the league title games hogging most of the attention, what big storyline might overlooked this weekend?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
UCLA's offense. UCLA had scored 21 or fewer points for five consecutive games before managing 34 in last week's loss to Arizona State. I'm interested in whether the Bruins can put together another strong offensive showing against USC. Whether they can may determine whether Norm Chow returns as the Bruins' offensive coordinator.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
A positive finish for either UCLA or USC. UCLA (4-7) has lost five of its past six games; USC (7-5) has dropped three of its past five. Each program desperately needs to finish the season with a win. There may be more of a sense of urgency for the Bruins because Rick Neuheisel is in his third season and has a 15-21 record (8-18 Pac-10) with just one bowl. Conversely, Lane Kiffin is just finishing his first season with the Trojans but still is under scrutiny as he works for an athletic director (Pat Haden) who didn't hire him. While USC is guaranteed to finish with a winning mark, it can't go to a bowl because of probation. No matter the outcome, each coach will enter the 2011 season on a hot seat. So it would nice to nice to enter the offseason on a positive note.

David Fox's answer:
USF's quarterback situation. Connecticut wins the Big East's BCS bid with a win at USF, but the Huskies have had to game-plan for two quarterbacks. True freshman walk-on Bobby Eveld came in for an injured B.J. Daniels last week against Miami and guided USF to the win. Coach Skip Holtz said Daniels still is recuperating and that the Bulls were preparing as if Eveld would start. A strong performance by Eveld, should he start, could knock UConn out of the BCS and could make for an interesting offseason in Tampa.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Can Oregon survive? There is a lot on the line in this season's "Civil War." Oregon, of course, moves on to the national title game if it can get past its archrival on the road. Oregon State, meanwhile, becomes bowl-eligible with a victory. An even bigger carrot is that the Beavers can knock the Ducks out of the title game. There would be no better salve for a mediocre season than wrecking the Ducks' national championship hopes. The few times this season Oregon has been tested, the challenges have come away from home.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Can Nevada avoid a letdown? Nevada finally captured the nation's attention last week and made the most of the opportunity by upsetting Boise State 34-31 in overtime to improve to 11-1. Now the Wolf Pack must prove they can deal with prosperity. We saw TCU struggle to beat San Diego State the week after its rout of Utah. Nevada must avoid a similar situation this week at Louisiana Tech. All the elements are in place for an upset. Nevada can clinch at least a share of the WAC title with a win, but the result of this game won't significantly impact the Wolf Pack's bowl position. Win or lose, Nevada is assured of a bowl bid and isn't getting a BCS invitation. But this game means plenty to Louisiana Tech, which must win to become bowl-eligible. There is plenty at stake for Nevada as well, even though it isn't tangible. A win might not earn Nevada a better bowl bid, but an upset would cause the Wolf Pack to lose much of the national respect they gained last week. Nevada's record shows the Wolf Pack are much more than a one-week wonder, but some critics will write them off with that label if they lose at Louisiana Tech.

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