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October 29, 2008

Five to watch: Pair of must-see games

If you have errands to run Saturday, do them in the morning. You can probably give your remote control a rest, too.

Beyond two must-see games Florida-Georgia at 3:30 p.m. and Texas-Texas Tech at 8 p.m. it's a quiet week.

Penn State is off. It's homecoming for Alabama and USC. Even ESPN's Thursday night Big East game is subpar Cincinnati and South Florida lost last week.

All times Eastern.

GEORGIA VS. FLORIDA (in Jacksonville)

When: 3:30 p.m.
Broadcasters: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst
Line: Florida by 5.5
Why you should watch: The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun is calling this the biggest Florida-Georgia game in history, and that might not be that much of an exaggeration. The winner likely heads to the SEC title game to face Alabama. Tune in to see what happens after the first score of the game. Last season, the Bulldogs stormed the field after a Knowshon Moreno touchdown run. Stay for the matchup of Moreno vs. Florida LB Brandon Spikes and Tim Tebow vs. the nation's No. 6 rush defense.


When: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Terry Gannon play-by-play, David Norrie analyst
Line: California by 3
Why you should watch: Before its late-season collapse in 2007, Cal beat Oregon 31-24 on the way to a short-lived No. 2 ranking. The two meet with different stakes this season. The winner still has an outside shot at the Rose Bowl, while the loser can start thinking about the Las Vegas Bowl. After quarterback troubles early in the season, Oregon has become a run-oriented team. The Ducks have rushed for 627 yards and eight touchdowns in wins over UCLA and Arizona State in their past two games. Cal still has issues at quarterback, but sophomore Kevin Riley engineered the win last week over UCLA, meaning he could stay under center for at least one more week. Either way, expect a close one. Four of the five Mike Bellotti-Jeff Tedford matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less.


When: 3:30 p.m.
TV: ABC regional/ESPN/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Brad Nessler play-by-play, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire analysts
Line: Florida State by 2
Why you should watch: Go ahead and bash the ACC because it doesn't have an elite team. Week to week, though, no conference undergoes more upheaval. Georgia Tech looked like an ACC front-runner at one point, but is coming off a 24-17 home loss to Virginia. Rick Trickett has worked wonders with a young Florida State offensive line, allowing QB Christian Ponder to emerge and RB Antone Smith to realize his potential. A nice game-within-the game will be Georgia Tech's triple-option offense going against Florida State's seventh-ranked rush defense. One thing Tech has in its favor: Florida State's ranking. Ranked ACC teams are 1-5 in the past two weeks.


When: 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
Line: Texas by 6
Why you should watch: Another week, another marquee game for Texas. Including the Red Raiders, the Longhorns' past four opponents are a combined 28-4. The trip to Lubbock might be the toughest test. Can the Longhorns keep up the intensity for one more week? Meanwhile, Texas Tech is just starting its high-stakes run through the Big 12 South, with games against Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in the next month. The key matchup will be DE Brian Orakpo (8.5 sacks) against a Tech offensive line that has allowed only three sacks (including two last week against Kansas). The Longhorns' pass defense, ranked 10th in the Big 12, will be tested again.


When: 8 p.m.
Broadcasters: Mike Patrick play-by-play, Todd Blackledge analyst
Line: Oklahoma by 21
Why you should watch: Yep, the Big 12 North still plays football. The former fierce Big Eight rivals meet for just the seventh time since the formation of the Big 12 and the first time in the regular season since 2005. The Sooners are favored by three touchdowns, but might have to top 40 points to cover the spread. This should be a high-scoring affair. Nebraska has topped 30 points and Joe Ganz has passed for more than 300 yards in each of the past three games, and Kansas' Todd Reesing and Kansas State's Josh Freeman had great success throwing against the OU defense. While the Sooners will be watching the scoreboard to see what's happening in Lubbock, Nebraska will try to break the three-way tie atop the North Division - where the Huskers, Kansas and Missouri share a 2-2 league record.

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

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