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September 10, 2008

Five to Watch: Weekend features solid slate

All of the college football world is counting down the minutes for Super Bowl 42.5 between Ohio State and USC, but the rest of the weekend also will be full of quality matchups.

Games on Thursday and Friday match coaches who used to be on the same staff. Greg Schiano and Butch Davis coached together at Miami, and their current teams (Rutgers and North Carolina, respectively,) face off on Thursday night (ESPN, 7:30). However, their game didn't make the cut this week.

One that did matches former Kansas State assistants Jim Leavitt (USF) against Mark Mangino (Kansas) on Friday.

It's tough to imagine, but Michigan-Notre Dame will have second-class status this week. Still, it's a critical game for rebuilding programs for the second consecutive season.

And keep an eye out for two non-"Big Six" West Coast schools when Fresno State plays host to Wisconsin and BYU welcomes UCLA.

Here are the top five games for the third week of the season.

All times Eastern.


When: Friday, 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Sean McDonough play-by-play, Chris Spielman analyst
Line: USF by 3
Why you should watch: The teams last met in 2006, and the result was a 13-7 Kansas win in Lawrence. USF is 17-7 and KU 17-6 since. Last season, the Bulls used a non-conference victory over Auburn to propel them to No. 2 in the country. This season, USF has similar aspirations - as well as the (light)weight of the Big East on its back. Kansas is facing its toughest regular-season non-conference opponent since, well, USF. Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing is facing his first major test of the season, but the game may be won on the line where Jayhawks freshman offensive tackles will try to handle USF defensive end George Selvie.


When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Tom Hammond play-by-play, Pat Haden analyst
Line: Even
Why you should watch: Wake up the echoes or anybody, for that matter. No, this will not be the best game of the week after these two giants of college football dodged get this San Diego State and Miami University last week. Get ready for a low-scoring affair. At least USC and Ohio State fans can get together before their kickoff and root against rivals.


When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: Versus
Broadcasters: Joe Beninati play-by-play, Glenn Parker analyst
Line: BYU by 9
Why you should watch: Which team is tempting fate more? BYU needed a questionable penalty to beat Washington and keep its BCS hopes alive. UCLA defied all logic to defeat Tennessee on Labor Day. Which Kevin Craft will show up for UCLA the one who had a disastrous first half against the Volunteers or the one who led the Bruins to an overtime win? This is BYU's third game against UCLA in the past 13 months, but the first against the new coaching staff. UCLA won the regular-season game in 2007, then BYU won the Las Vegas Bowl meeting.


When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
Line: USC by 10.5
Why you should watch: Ignore Ohio State's lackluster performance against Ohio. Ignore that ludicrous point spread. This game is poised to be the game of the year and a possible national championship elimination game (or preview?). There are storylines galore: Chris Wells' foot, Mark Sanchez's campaign for the Heisman, James Laurinaitis vs. Rey Maualuga, USC speed vs. Ohio State's defense, Jim Tressel vs. Pete Carroll. Why bother with a Rose Bowl this season?


When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Dave Pasch play-by-play, Andre Ware analyst
Line: Wisconsin by 1.5
Why you should watch: Remember when Fresno State used to be the "it" underdog? Now there's East Carolina, BYU, Utah and Boise State. But some say this is Pat Hill's best team in the Valley. Wisconsin will find out Saturday. If you recall, the Badgers lost to a David Carr-led Fresno State team in 2001. This will be a throwback game between power-running teams. The over/under on combined touchdowns for goal-line machines P.J. Hill and Ryan Mathews is four.

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

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