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October 10, 2007

Big 12, SEC set to share spotlight again

There were some big games last week in the Big 12 and Southeastern conferences, and the same holds true this week.

Kentucky, LSU, Missouri and Oklahoma played in some of last week's most important games, and they'll do so again this week and against each other. Missouri travels to Oklahoma, and LSU plays at Kentucky in two of this week's best games.

There are showdowns elsewhere in those leagues, too, with Texas Tech playing host to Texas A&M in the Big 12 South, and Arkansas hosting Auburn in a key SEC West contest.

League races began to take shape on the first weekend in October. This weekend, we'll find out more about some of the top teams.

Rivals.com will help you sort out the top games and top matchups of the week in the Five to Watch.

All times Eastern.

THURSDAY
Florida State (4-1, 2-1 ACC) at Wake Forest (3-2, 2-1 ACC)

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN
Storylines: Wake hammered FSU 30-0 in Tallahassee, Fla., last season, so the Seminoles are looking for payback. Both already have an ACC loss, and another setback essentially ends any hope for an Atlantic Division title.
Player to watch: Florida State QB Xavier Lee will be making his second consecutive start. He was shaky last week against North Carolina State, and he'll need to avoid mistakes against an opportunistic Wake Forest defense; the Demon Deacons have five defensive TDs already.
Best matchup: Lee vs. Wake's secondary. While the Demon Deacons have nine interceptions, they also have allowed a league-high 10 TD passes. That has to make Lee and WRs Greg Carr and De'Cody Fagg happy.

SATURDAY
LSU (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Kentucky (5-1, 1-1 SEC)

Time: 3:30 p.m.
Network: CBS
Storylines: This is the second game in a tough three-game stretch for UK. The Wildcats lost to South Carolina last week, play host to the nation's top-ranked team this week, then play host to Florida next week. LSU, meanwhile, can't rest on its laurels after beating the Gators last week or be looking ahead to next week's SEC West showdown with Auburn.
Player to watch: Kentucky QB Andre' Woodson played relatively poorly in last week's loss, and he'll be going against a tougher defense this week. For UK to win, Woodson has to have a monster game.
Best matchup: Kentucky TB Rafael Little vs. LSU's defensive front seven. Little can give Woodson a lot of help, presuming he has room to run. Florida ran effectively against LSU last week, but that was with more of a power game. LSU knows that if it can shut down Little, it will feast on Woodson.

Texas A&M (5-1, 2-0 Big 12) at Texas Tech (5-1, 1-1 Big 12)

Time: 3:30 p.m.
Network: ABC regional/GamePlan
Storylines: Texas A&M is the only Big 12 South team unbeaten in league play, but the Aggies haven't exactly had a lot of success in Lubbock of late. A&M has lost its past six at Tech. In their last five games against the Red Raiders, the Aggies have allowed 43.8 points per game.
Player to watch: Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane has guaranteed a victory. He shares time with Michael Goodson, and they are going to have to be productive to make sure A&M keeps the ball away from Tech's high-powered offense.
Best matchup: Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell vs. Texas A&M's secondary. Miami QB Kyle Wright torched the Aggies, and that can't be a comforting thought for A&M coaches. The Hurricanes' pass offense isn't anything close to Tech's. A&M is 76th nationally in pass defense, allowing 237.5 ypg. That's usually a good half for Harrell.

Missouri (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) at Oklahoma (5-1, 1-1 Big 12)

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Network: Fox Sports Net
Storylines: Missouri took a big step toward legitimacy by blasting Nebraska at home last week. Still, there are questions about the Tigers. Winning in Norman would erase those questions.
Player to watch: Missouri QB Chase Daniel was a one-man offensive wrecking crew last week, with 473 yards of total offense. Teams have had some success in the air against the Sooners, and Daniel must have it, too, if the Tigers are to pull the upset.
Best matchup: Daniel vs. Oklahoma's linebackers. Curtis Lofton, Ryan Reynolds and Lewis Baker have to worry about Daniel, TB Tony Temple (questionable with an ankle sprain) and TEs Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker. The key is making sure Daniel doesn't hurt OU with his running ability.

Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC) at Arkansas (3-2, 0-2 SEC)

Time: 7:45 p.m.
Network: ESPN
Storylines: Auburn has righted itself after a bad start, and the Tigers have been playing like the second-best team in the SEC West, behind LSU. Arkansas, meanwhile, has fattened up on patsies the past two weeks; the Hogs play with the big boys again this week.
Player to watch: Arkansas TB Darren McFadden, who else? McFadden is the nation's best tailback and may be the best player. He'll be going against the best defense he has seen thus far. Can he and backup TB Felix Jones do enough damage to lead the Hogs to the upset?
Best matchup: Arkansas offensive line vs. Auburn defensive line. This one will be decided in the trenches. Arkansas has no shot if McFadden and Jones are kept somewhat under control, so watch the line play.

Other games to watch
Boston College (6-0) at Notre Dame (1-5), 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Talk about bizarre story lines: BC is in the hunt for a BCS berth and the Irish just are looking to gain some respect.

Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) at Penn State (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten), 3:30 p.m., ESPN
The Badgers' 14-game winning streak was snapped last week, and they'll be looking to start a new one against a tough Nittany Lions defense.

Connecticut (5-0) at Virginia (5-1) , 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
Yes, they're a combined 10-1, but nonconference foes for these teams have included I-AA Maine, Temple, Duke, Wyoming and Middle Tennessee State.

Arizona (2-4, 1-2 Pac-10) at USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-10, 3:30 p.m., ABC
If Stanford can do it, why not Arizona? A victory here would go a long way in helping Wildcats coach Mike Stoops keep his job.

Purdue (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) at Michigan (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten, noon, Big Ten Network
Purdue looked horrible last week in losing at home to Ohio State. Think of this as a second chance for the Boilermakers to make a good first impression and in the Big House, no less.

Mike Huguenin is the national college editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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