World-Herald writers Sam McKewon and Dirk Chatelain take an early look at this weekend's college football games.
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SIX BIG GAMES
Mississippi State at Alabama
>> Sam: The Bulldogs are 7-0, but the best opponent they’ve played is 3-4 Tennessee. Get ready for a Bama beatdown. Alabama 45-10
>> Dirk: Will the Tide be looking ahead to LSU? It won’t matter if they do. Alabama 38-14
Texas Tech at Kansas State
>> Sam: The Red Raiders outplayed the Wildcats last year, but lost because of a ton of turnovers. KSU is better in 2012. Kansas State 34-27
>> Dirk: Two of the nation’s biggest surprises. Collin Klein’s Heisman march continues. Kansas State 31-21
Notre Dame at Oklahoma
>> Sam: The Fighting Irish remain unsettled at quarterback — at least in terms of consistent play — and OU coach Bob Stoops won’t let his team overlook this game. Oklahoma 34-17
>> Dirk: I can’t wait to see these two iconic uniforms on the same field. Notre Dame’s defense must play close to perfect. It won’t. Oklahoma 27-20
Florida vs. Georgia
>> Sam: I’ll take the upset and the Bulldogs, whose downfield passing game cracks the Gator defensive code. Georgia 24-23
>> Dirk: Florida gets better by the week. The concern is mental fatigue after so many big games. Still, I’ll take the Gators’ ground game. Florida 33-24
Ohio State at Penn State
>> Sam: The Buckeyes’ tank is on “I” for injury and “E” for empty. This is the Nittany Lions’ bowl game, and PSU plays with surprising discipline. Penn State 23-20
>> Dirk: The Ineligi-bowl! After watching last week’s results — Ohio State barely beat Purdue, Penn State crushed Iowa — you’d be crazy to pick the Buckeyes. I will anyway. Ohio State 17-14
Iowa at Northwestern
>> Sam: The Hawkeyes have one shot north of Chicago to stay in the Big Ten race. The Wildcats push the door close, but it’s a fight. Northwestern 28-17
>> Dirk: Iowa’s season took a horrible turn last week at home. Can it recover? Not against an improved Northwestern defense. Northwestern 35-14
Last week: Sam: 5-1; Dirk: 3-3; Overall: Sam: 25-18; Dirk: 26-17
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THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
>> Wisconsin running back Montee Ball: He switched the pronunciation of his first name again. Just in time to make a legitimate run at 2,000 yards. He’s at 982 now through seven games. He’ll get seven more.
>> Duke punter Will Monday: The Blue Devils could win the ACC, so I figured I’d highlight their best player. Averages nearly 46 yards per boot.
>> Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater: Completing 73 percent of his passes for the undefeated Cardinals. Big game versus Cincinnati this weekend.
>> Washington quarterback Keith Price: During the Huskies’ three-game losing streak, Price has 10 turnovers. To upset Oregon State, UW needs him to return to last year’s form.
>> Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and Auburn coach Gene Chizik: If Dooley wants to keep his job, he probably needs to beat South Carolina. Same goes for Chizik against Texas A&M.
>> Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin: All of the focus will be on Braxton Miller’s health, but McGloin has been brilliant. He has 14 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.
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>> Sam: Auburn beats overrated Texas A&M.
>> Dirk: After two thrilling games last year, Wisconsin and Michigan State will score three touchdowns — combined.