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November 8, 2005

 > Game of the Week

(10) LSU at (3) Alabama
Saturday 2:30 PM CST CBS The undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide returns home this weekend to battle the once-beaten LSU Tigers in a southeast showdown as big as any other we've seen yet this fall. The winner of Saturday afternoon's battle in Tuscaloosa, set to be televised nationally by CBS, will control their own destiny in the SEC West on the path to next month's SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

If Coach Mike Shula's squad is to remain perfect in 2005, his offense will undoubtedly have to perform better than they have in the Tide's last three conference games. In victories over Mississippi, Tennessee, and Mississippi State, 'Bama has mustered just one offensive touchdown. QB Brodie Croyle is completing 62% of his passes and has a respectable 12 to 4 touchdown to interception ratio, but the senior has not stepped up to lead his offensive unit to date. All-SEC RB Kenneth Darby has been the Tide's lone weapon since WR Tyrone Prothro was injured on the first day of October. The junior is just one long sprint from 1000 yards this season and is averaging nearly 108 yards per game on the ground. D.J. Hall and Keith Brown have been Croyle's favorite targets over the past month. The pair combines to bring in 135 receiving yards and about a touchdown per contest. But what Alabama fans like to talk about is their defense. The Tide stoppers are ranked number one in America, the only unit in the country to allow less than 10 points per game. UA allowed just 19 points in the entire month of October but will face one of their toughest tests this season on Saturday.

After defeating Florida and Auburn in consecutive weeks in mid-October, the LSU Tigers took a break from SEC play the past two weekends, combining for 80 points and a couple of home victories over North Texas and Appalachian State. Each of those previous four games have been at home, however, and this weekend's environment isn't likely to be as friendly. QB JaMarcus Russell has put up numbers similar to those of Bama's Croyle, and as frustrating as the sophomore has been, you can't overlook his intangibles, shown once when he pulled a game-winning TD pass out of his bag of tricks at Arizona State in September. RB Joseph Addai has carried the load and is averaging over 80 yards per game on the ground. Fellow backs Justin Vincent and Shyrone Carey combine to run for another 60 each night out as well. The Tigers have four huge threats in the WR department, the scariest of which is Skyler Green. The senior is an opposing coach's nightmare on both offense and special teams. Though not as stout as Alabama's defense, the Tiger unit has put up impressive numbers as well. LSU allows just 14 points and less than 300 yards per game.

This will undoubtedly be one of those old fashioned, low-scoring, hard-hitting matchups that true football fans really love. It's nearly impossible to choose a favorite. There is no doubt Alabama has the defensive edge, but can the Tide muster any points at all? How will the young JaMarcus Russell fare in perhaps the biggest (and toughest) game of his career? The Tide, like UCLA up until last week, has avoided upsets multiple times over the past two months. And like the Bruins, Alabama will see their streak come to an end here in November.

The Editor Says: LSU 16-10

 > Next Five

Boise State at (14) Fresno State
Thursday 7:00 PM CST ESPN The only two WAC teams without a loss in conference play meet in Fresno, CA on Thursday evening. The Broncos have gotten the train back on the tracks since early-season disappointments at Georgia and Oregon State. Likewise, FSU has won six straight since losing at Oregon in week two. Dawgs use the homefield advantage to take the win.

The Editor Says: Fresno State 35-31

Florida at South Carolina
Saturday 11:30 AM CST JP/GamePlan The ol' ball coach takes on his former team for the first time since becoming the Gamecocks' head coach. After starting off the season 2-3, USC has won four straight, including consecutive road wins over Tennessee and Arkansas. Spurrier already showed he could still take Fulmer. Look for him to work his magic against UF now.

The Editor Says: South Carolina 17-14

Georgia Tech at Virginia
Saturday 2:30 PM CST ABC/GamePlan Both of these squads have big-time wins on their resume, but they have also failed to capitalize on other winnable games along the way. Tech still has a shot to share the Coastal crown but likely won't make the ACC title game. UVA is looking for win number six to become bowl eligible and will get it at home Saturday afternoon.

The Editor Says: Virginia 17-13

(1) Southern Cal at California
Saturday 2:30 PM CST ABC/GamePlan It's back to Berkeley for the Trojans, the place they last lost a college football game more than 700 days and two seasons ago. The Bears, however, have lost three of their last four and seem to be limping (figuratively and physically) to the finish line. Look for the Trojans to run away from Cal early on Saturday.

The Editor Says: Southern Cal 51-23

Auburn at (6) Georgia
Saturday 6:45 PM CST ESPN Nearly any other week of the season, this Tiger/Bulldog showdown would likely be the national game of the week. Mark Richt's squad can all but officially secure a berth in the SEC title game with a win this weekend, but Tommy Tuberville's team still has SEC West aspirations. Georgia's defense will slow AU's ground game just enough.

The Editor Says: Georgia 20-17

 > Predicting the Rest

Southern Miss over Marshall
West Virginia over Cincinnati
Louisville over Rutgers
Florida State over Clemson
Michigan over Indiana
Minnesota over Michigan State
North Carolina over Maryland
Oklahoma over Texas A&M
Pittsburgh over Connecticut
Army over Massachusetts
Purdue over Illinois
Ohio State over Northwestern
Notre Dame over Navy
Kent State over Buffalo
LA-Monroe over Middle Tennessee
Florida Atlantic over North Texas
South Florida over Syracuse
Texas Tech over Oklahoma State
Missouri over Baylor
Mississippi over Arkansas
Nebraska over Kansas State
Vanderbilt over Kentucky
Western Michigan over Central Michigan
Tennessee over Memphis
Colorado State over San Diego State
Tulsa over East Carolina
Tulane over Rice
Texas over Kansas
Miami over Wake Forest
Wisconsin over Iowa
UAB over Central Florida
Nevada over New Mexico State
Louisiana Tech over Idaho
Arizona over Washington
Eastern Michigan over Ball State
BYU over Wyoming
Oregon State over Stanford
Utah over New Mexico
UCLA over Arizona State
Iowa State over Colorado
LA-Lafayette over Florida International
Arkansas State over Troy
Boston College over NC State
UTEP over Texas Southern
Oregon over Washington State
Hawaii over Utah State
Houston over Southern Miss

 > The Editor's Records

    Last Week: 36-15 (.706)
    To Date: 400-134 (.749)
    Game of the Week: 5-5 (.500)

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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