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October 3, 2007

Super Saturday still somewhat intact

A weekend full of upsets claimed five top-10 teams last week and sapped some of the energy from the top clashes on the first Saturday of October.

Florida's trip to LSU and the meeting between Oklahoma and Texas in Dallas lost some luster, with only the Tigers escaping September undefeated.

In the process, the upheaval from last week set up another critical week of the season now that the calendar has turned. This week features seven games between ranked teams, starting Thursday when No. 8 Kentucky visits No. 11 South Carolina.

In addition, four more ranked teams No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 West Virginia and No. 18 Arizona State go on the road for conference games.

The final week of September brought the upsets, but conference races will be set into motion by the end of the day Saturday.

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

All times Eastern.

No. 19 Texas (4-1, 0-1 Big 12) vs. No. 10 Oklahoma (4-1, 0-1 Big 12) in Dallas

Time: 3:30 p.m.
Network: ABC (available in HD)
Storylines: The result will be uncharted territory for one coach: Texas hasn't been 0-2 in conference play since the formation of the Big 12, and Oklahoma hasn't dropped its first two conference games since Bob Stoops arrived. Either Oklahoma State or Texas A&M will go 2-0 in the Big 12 on Saturday, but odds are the Big 12 South champion still comes from this game. The last time neither the Sooners nor the Longhorns went to the Big 12 title game was 1998.
Player to watch: For the first time all season, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford looked like a freshman in last week's 27-24 loss at Colorado. A matchup against Texas isn't exactly the ideal bounce-back game. Bradford still leads the nation in passing efficiency, though.
Best matchup: Texas' rush defense vs. Oklahoma's rush game. The Longhorns know shutting down Allen Patrick and DeMarco Murray could be the key in rattling Bradford and forcing turnovers.

No. 9 Florida (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at No. 1 LSU (5-0, 2-0 SEC)

Time: 8 p.m.
Network: CBS (available in HD)
Storylines: What was set to be an epic game between two powerhouses has been dulled a little following the Gators' 20-17 loss to Auburn last week and LSU's sluggish effort against Tulane. Florida coach Urban Meyer has lost back-to-back games only once in his career, in 2002 at Bowling Green. What impact will the potential return of two veteran wide receivers, LSU's Early Doucet and Florida's Andre Caldwell, have on the game?
Player to watch: Florida has used Tim Tebow with great success as a running specialist at quarterback. New LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, who did the same at Oregon, is again toying with the two-quarterback system. Tebow was the difference in last year's matchup, with three total touchdowns. Tigers backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux could be in position return the favor this year.
Best matchup: LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey vs. the Florida running game (read: Tebow). Tebow has run the ball 33 more times than starting tailback Kestahn Moore. The LSU defense, led by Dorsey, will be the most punishing defense Tebow has faced in his career. Florida will need other contributors in the run game to keep the Tigers from abusing Tebow.

No. 4 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at No. 23 Purdue (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)

Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ABC (available in HD)
Storylines: Purdue's appearance in the 2000 Rose Bowl has become a distant memory. Is undefeated Purdue for real, or a product of a soft early season schedule? The Boilermakers will find out against Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in all major defensive categories, allowing only Washington to score more than one touchdown. Meanwhile, Purdue's spread offense leads the league in yards, scoring and passing.
Player to watch: Could it be that the most Ted Ginn-like player in this game plays for Purdue? Dorien Bryant has 450 receiving yards and four touchdowns, he averages 32 yards per kickoff return with one touchdown and he runs the ball from time to time.
Best matchup: The Purdue defense vs. Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman. The Boilermakers' defense was the team's Achilles' heel last year. The defense is better this season, but Purdue still ranks 10th in the league in total defense and pass defense. Boeckman has been solid, and he has generally avoided mistakes in his first season as the starter.

No. 21 Rutgers (4-1, 0-0 Big East) at No. 20 Cincinnati (5-0, 0-0 Big East)

Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN2 (available in HD)
Storylines: Move over Rutgers, the Big East has a new darling in USF. If Cincinnati beats the Bulls, it could assume that role. The Bearcats have not been ranked in the top 20 since 1976. It's a revenge game for the Scarlet Knights, who saw last season's 9-0 start end with a 30-11 loss in Cincinnati.
Player to watch: Quarterback Mike Teel used Rutgers' soft early schedule to build impressive passing numbers. After a loss to Maryland, Teel will have to show his improvement this year hasn't been all smoke and mirrors.
Best matchup: Rutgers tailback Ray Rice vs. Cincinnati's run defense. The Bearcats held Rice to a season-low 54 yards in last season's meeting and have continued their stout play against the run this season. Cincinnati shut down the only premier back it has faced, holding Oregon State's Yvenson Bernard to 30 yards. In Rice's favor is that Rutgers looks to have a better passing game helping him out this season.

No. 25 Nebraska (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) at No. 17 Missouri (4-0, 0-0 Big 12)

Time: 9:15 p.m.
Network: ESPN (available in HD)
Storylines: It turns out the most important game in the Big 12 might match the top two teams in the improving North Division. Missouri is 2-18 in its past 20 games against Nebraska, but the victories have come in the past two meetings in Columbia.
Player to watch: Missouri added a new playmaker to its already potent offense in redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclin, who leads the country in all-purpose yards. He's a threat as a receiver, runner, punt returner and kickoff returner. He has scored six touchdowns, and has done so in in three different ways (three receiving, two punt returns, one rushing).
Best matchup: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel vs. Nebraska's pass defense. Ball State can tell you how much the Huskers have struggled to defend the pass, but Daniel has unpleasant memories of last season's meeting. He threw two interceptions in the 34-20 loss to Nebraska last year, a defeat that fell in the middle of a 1-4 tailspin for the Tigers.

Other games to watch
No. 8 Kentucky (5-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 11 South Carolina (4-1, 2-1 SEC), 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, ESPN
Suddenly, this is a key meeting the SEC East. The winner has its sights set on a later meeting with Florida.

No. 5 Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten), noon, ESPN
Shock of the week: Illinois is favored by 2.5. Ron Zook calls it ludicrous that his team is favored.

Kansas (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) at No. 24 Kansas State (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) , noon, Fox Sports Net
The "Sunflower Showdown" matches the nation's No. 3 offense and a team that just upset Texas in Austin.

No. 12 Georgia (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC), 3:30 p.m., CBS
What does this say about the SEC that this is the third-best game in the league this week?

No. 15 Virginia Tech (4-1, 1-0 ACC) at No. 22 Clemson (4-1, 2-1 ACC), 6 p.m., ESPN
The loser of this game might be on its way to earning the title of ACC flop of the year.

Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-0 Big 12) at Texas A&M (4-1, 1-0, Big 12), 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
Dennis Franchione was critical of players in his secret newsletter. Will Mike Gundy tell him what he thinks of that?

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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