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November 16, 2007

West Virginia still has some work to do

Each Friday, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans five things to keep an eye out for over the course of the weekend.

Mike Hart, Lloyd Carr and Michigan
Hart, a senior, has been battling an ankle injury for several weeks, missing three of the Wolverines' past four games as well as parts of other games. Hart, the Big Ten's fourth-leading rusher despite the missed time, is as tough a back as there is in the nation. If he can get enough carries and overcome the pain, Michigan stands a chance against the Buckeyes.

Quarterback Chad Henne's shoulder is another big question for the Wolverines heading into the contest with Ohio State. He had to leave last week's loss to Wisconsin after throwing an interception early.
Gerry Ahern

Amid speculation that this could be the final game in Ann Arbor for Carr, I'm intrigued to see his strategy and how the Wolverines respond against Ohio State. Will he take more chances or have a conservative game plan? Will he be loose or uptight, and will the Wolverines' play mirror his mood?

Carr has had a successful career at Michigan, but his 1-5 record in the past six games against Ohio State has tarnished his legacy. Carr obviously wants to win every game, especially against Ohio State, but this one may mean the most to him. And it will be interesting to see when he reveals his plans for the future.
Olin Buchanan
The Big East race
The national perception might be that West Virginia shouldn't have much of a problem winning the Big East title. The reality is much less clear. West Virginia still controls its destiny in the Big East race, but plenty of other teams also remain in the hunt. The conference race could get even more muddled this weekend if the Mountaineers lose at Cincinnati, which has bounced back from a two-game skid by beating USF and Connecticut the past two weeks. A Cincinnati victory over West Virginia and a Connecticut win over Syracuse this weekend would put the Huskies back in sole possession of first place, though West Virginia and Cincinnati would remain in striking distance. Connecticut already lost to Cincinnati and closes the regular season at West Virginia next week. And don't count out Pittsburgh, which remains alive despite having a 4-5 overall record. The Panthers are 2-2 within the conference after splitting games with Connecticut and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh finishes its regular-season schedule at West Virginia.
Steve Megargee
Upset specials
We already know the final two weeks of the season will be chaotic, with Kansas-Missouri and conference championship games, but this Saturday could be stocked with importance in the national-title race as well. Including Oregon's game at Arizona on Thursday, six of the top seven teams in the BCS standings will be on the road. No. 1 LSU goes to Ole Miss, No. 4 Oklahoma to Texas Tech, No. 5 Missouri to Kansas State, No. 6 West Virginia to Cincinnati and No. 7 Ohio State to Michigan. All are favorites. Given the way this season has gone, all of the home 'dogs are worth watching. Kansas hosting 25-point underdog Iowa State, who defeated Kansas State and Colorado the last two weeks, might be worth a look, too, for upset potential.
David Fox
Clemson
Tommy Bowden's Tigers, as usual, got off to a fast start. Then, as usual, they hit a lull. But this season they've been able to overcome their stumbles and they play host to Boston College on Saturday night with the ACC's Atlantic Division title on the line. The winner will play the Virginia-Virginia Tech winner on Dec. 1 in Jacksonville for the ACC crown and the resultant BCS bid. Clemson QB Cullen Harper has been much more than a caretaker, throwing for 26 TDs against just four picks. Indeed, a big performance against BC and Eagles QB Matt Ryan could mean Harper becomes the first-team All-ACC quarterback. Still, Saturday's game likely comes down to how well the Tigers' tailback duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller performs against BC's rush defense, which allowed just 65.7 yards per game.
Mike Huguenin
Notre Dame vs. Duke
Are things so bad in South Bend that Notre Dame could actually lose to Duke? Don't be surprised if it happens. The Blue Devils are 1-9, but they've been competitive at times. Duke beat Northwestern on the road and lost by only five points against Wake Forest. There was also a 46-43 setback against the same Navy team that defeated Notre Dame two weeks ago. As bad as things have been for the Fighting Irish, losing to Duke at home would be the cherry on top of the most dreadful season in school history.
Jason King



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