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
Alabama at LSU
>> Sam: The Crimson Tide’s advantages at quarterback and head coach are enough to overcome a crazy crowd in Death Valley. Alabama 20-9
>> Dirk: How is LSU’s mediocre offense going to score? Until someone answers that question, it’s easy to pick a winner. Alabama 24-10
Oregon at USC
>> Sam: Arizona’s spread offense ran through the Trojans like you-know-what through a goose. Ducks are in the same animal family. Oregon 50-35
>> Dirk: Monte Kiffin doesn’t have the manpower to slow down Chip Kelly’s running game. Matt Barkley must play the game of his life. Oregon 56-45
Oklahoma State at Kansas State
>> Sam: The Wildcats are outscoring opponents 216-67 in the second half. Kansas State 38-20
>> Dirk: Okie State has won three straight, but this will be another easy day at the office for Collin Klein. Kansas State 42-17
Texas A&M at Mississippi State
>> Sam: Winner goes to the Cotton Bowl? The Aggies have more athletes, says the dummy who picked them to lose to Auburn last week. Texas A&M 31-28
>> Dirk: How do the Bulldogs respond to a beating at Alabama? Not well enough. Johnny Football gets 300 yards. Texas A&M 38-30
Texas at Texas Tech
>> Sam: Mack Brown’s not gonna retire! Might want to check with him — and UT fans — after a trip to Lubbock. Texas Tech 27-20
>> Dirk: Let’s see here, Texas almost lost at Kansas last week. Now the ‘Horns are going to Lubbock? This might be a blowout. Texas Tech 38-24
Arizona at UCLA
>> Sam: Late-night fireworks in the Rose Bowl. Arizona 42-35
>> Dirk: Can Rich Rod’s offense play at the level it did against USC? I say UCLA’s offense outplays them. UCLA 34-31
Last week: Sam: 4-2; Dirk: 4-2; Overall: Sam: 29-20; Dirk: 30-19
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THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
>> Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz: The Cyclones QB roulette wheel settles on the senior for Oklahoma week.
>> Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson: If the true freshman who grew up a Wisconsin Badger fan can deliver an upset over Michigan, he might get the Little Brown Jug for life.
>> Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz: Don’t lose to Indiana, Kirk. Don’t lose to Indiana. Run some trick plays if you must.
>> Missouri quarterback James Franklin: The Tiger starter hasn’t played significant time in a month. And now he steps into the Swamp against an angry Florida team. I don’t envy him.
>> West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith: Can the former Heisman front-runner respond to consecutive losses? Gary Patterson’s defense will put up a fight.
>> Indiana running back Stephen Houston: The Hoosier sophomore scored three touchdowns at Illinois last week. IU will need a running game to beat Iowa.
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>> Sam: Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri does his best Glenn Foley impression and takes down Notre Dame. (I interpret bold as inspired yet borderline nuts).
>> Dirk: Michigan needs a last-minute, fourth-down stop to avoid an upset at Minnesota.