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
USC at UCLA
>> Sam: Wait — the Bruins are ranked higher? They are. And though a great game may be in store, Matt Barkley gets a win in the Rose Bowl. USC 31-30
>> Dirk: How much fight does USC’s defense have left? Not enough for a motivated band of Bruins. UCLA 42-38
Ohio State at Wisconsin
>> Sam: The Buckeyes are underdogs, but it’s just hard to see how the Badgers’ third-string quarterback beats Braxton Miller, even with a home crowd. Ohio State 24-20
>> Dirk: Wisconsin’s running game is rolling, but it hasn’t beaten a good team all year. Ohio State is a big step up from Indiana. Ohio State 27-21
Oklahoma at West Virginia
>> Sam: You’ve seen the Mountaineers’ defense, right? Oklahoma 52-30
>> Dirk: What the heck happened to West Virginia? The Mountaineers were a national title threat, now they might not make a bowl. Oklahoma 49-34
Stanford at Oregon
>> Sam: The Cardinal couldn’t beat the Ducks the last two seasons with Andrew Luck. Without him? Heh. No. Oregon 42-21
>> Dirk: Oregon’s speed is way too much for Stanford’s defense. Big matchup. Big blowout. Oregon 52-35
Kansas State at Baylor
>> Sam: Collin Klein has a night that makes him the undisputed Heisman Trophy favorite. Kansas State 45-28
>> Dirk: Baylor’s defense is a mess. The ’Cats take another step toward the finish line. Kansas State 55-24
Northwestern at Michigan State
>> Sam: The Spartans finally get a bye week to rest, and use it to prepare to upend the Wildcats. Michigan State 21-14
>> Dirk: Northwestern has arguably outplayed every team on its schedule. But it hasn’t finished. It will this time. Northwestern 24-21
Last week: Sam: 4-2; Dirk: 4-2; Overall: Sam: 37-24; Dirk: 39-22
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THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
>> Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib: I like this guy. Three-year starter who’s thrown for 3,019 yards already this year. The Orange have an average defense, so Nassib has to win games with his arm.
>> Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones: He has 10.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. Your Butkus Award winner.
>> Washington State coach Mike Leach: He’s learning that routines like his go stale much quicker in the Pacific Northwest than they do in West Texas. Leach is a smart coach. Is he smart enough to change?
>> Oregon’s defensive line: The Ducks are beat up. If they lose to Stanford, it’s because they can’t stop the Cardinal run game.
>> Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin: These two don’t like each other one bit. Prepare for fireworks in the postgame handshake.
>> Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: The Heisman is within reach. How many yards will he put up against Sam Houston State?
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>> Sam: Iowa beats Michigan.
>> Dirk: Kansas beats Iowa State.