Tennessee (3-4) at No. 8 Notre Dame (5-2)
Time: 11:30 a.m. Turf: Grass. Line: Notre Dame by 9.
Analysis: The Volunteers have lost three in a row for the first time under coach Phillip Fulmer. The disappointment is as plain as Steve Spurrier’s smirk. Last Saturday, host Tennessee lost to Spurrier’s South Carolina team 16-15. Spurrier, a former Florida coach, is 8-2 against Fulmer. As for this season’s woes, don’t blame the Tennessee defense — it has yielded a total of five touchdowns in the four losses. Notre Dame could easily win out and earn a bid to one of the four lucrative Bowl Championship Series games, which might get first-year coach Charlie Weis yet another contract extension.
No. 14 Wisconsin (8-1) at No. 10 Penn State (8-1)
Time: 12:30 p.m. Turf: Grass. Line: Penn State by 11.
Analysis: In the summer, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said this was his final season. A lot of people thought Penn State coach Joe Paterno should have been gone already. But their teams are tied atop the Big Ten at 5-1, a half-game ahead of Ohio State. Paterno has been planting seeds about several “questionable” Wisconsin hits during last season’s meeting. Each team is close to a perfect record. Wisconsin’s loss was 51-48 at Northwestern. Penn State lost 27-25 at Michigan.
No. 23 California (6-2) at No. 15 Oregon (7-1)
Time: 12:30 p.m. Turf: Artificial. Line: Oregon by 1-½.
Analysis: Quarterback Kellen Clemens and Oregon were rather quietly having impressive seasons. Then Clemens went down with a fractured ankle. The Ducks have had a bye week to cope with his absence. Sophomore Dennis Dixon gets to navigate Oregon’s spread option. California leads the Pac-10 in pass-efficiency defense. The Golden Bears’ homestretch features teams with a combined record of 19-4. Cal hasn’t won in Eugene, Ore., since 1987; it has lost six in a row at Autzen Stadium. The Golden Bears’ Jeff Tedford, a two-time Pac-10 coach of the year, was Oregon’s offensive coordinator from 1998 through the 2001 season.
No. 4 Alabama (8-0) at Mississippi State (2-6)
Time: 12:30 p.m. Turf: Grass. Line: Alabama by 16.
Analysis: They are talking about the chances for Southeastern Conference championships, undefeated seasons and BCS bowls at Alabama — not about the coach who got away. Coach Sylvester Croom is focusing on rebuilding struggling Mississippi State, not on what might have been at his alma mater. A year after Croom’s emotional homecoming in Tuscaloosa, and as he prepares his new team to play host to his old school for the first time, both he and the Crimson Tide are looking forward rather than behind. “The game is not about me,” Croom said. “It’s about the players in the game.” Alabama, coached by Mike Shula, is one of five undefeated teams in Division I-A and leads the SEC West by a game over Louisiana State and Auburn.
No. 5 Miami (6-1) at No. 3 Virginia Tech (8-0)
Time: 4:45 p.m. Turf: Grass. Line: Virginia Tech by 6-½.
Analysis: The Hurricanes’ defense gets a formal introduction to Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick, and vice versa, in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown with BCS implications. Virginia Tech scored a total of 85 points in games against West Virginia and Georgia Tech — which have defenses ranked among the nation’s top 20. But Miami ranks first nationally in total defense. Vick’s counterpart, Miami’s Kyle Wright, must contend with the Hokies’ No. 1 scoring defense. The last time these teams met in Blacksburg, Va., Tech romped 31-7 in 2003.
Stanford (4-3) at No. 1 USC (8-0)
Time: 7 p.m. Turf: Grass. Line: USC by 34.
Analysis: Can a team that lost to UC-Davis, as Stanford did in its second game, stop USC? Probably not, although first-year coach Walt Harris has taken Stanford further than most expected. The Cardinal built a 21-point lead on unbeaten UCLA in the fourth quarter last Saturday before wilting and losing in overtime. One of many USC streaks to consider: Coach Pete Carroll is 13-0 in November.
The Dallas Morning News and The Associated Press
|Today’s televised games|
|9 a.m.||Iowa at Northwestern||ESPN|
|9 a.m.||Minnesota at Indiana||ESPN2|
|9:30 a.m.||Texas at Baylor||FSN|
|11:30 a.m.||Tennessee at Notre Dame||Ch. 5|
|12:30 p.m.||California at Oregon||Ch. 4|
|12:30 p.m.||Alabama at Mississippi State||Ch. 7|
|12:30 p.m.||Illinois at Ohio State||ESPN|
|3:30 p.m.||Oregon State at Washington||FSN|
|4:15 p.m.||Vanderbilt at Florida||ESPN2|
|4:45 p.m.||Miami at Virginia Tech||ESPN|
|7 p.m.||Stanford at USC||TBS|
|***Must see **Worth watching *Only if you’re bored|