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September 22, 2006 The calm after the storm, that's where we find ourselves one week after Showdown Saturday. No matchup this weekend is as big-time as any of the top five or six last Saturday, yet sometimes it's a weekend like this when fans, and their teams, should keep their eyes open for the possibility of one of those really huge upsets, one that ends a squad's national title hopes. Might it be in the Big Ten? It very well could be, as there are a number of critical matchups in that conference this weekend, making it the one league we suggest keeping a close eye on as Saturday progresses. Also keep an eye out west as Arizona State battles California, both hoping to become USC's biggest challenger in the PAC-10 this fall. BIG WEEK IN THE BIG TEN

It's quite a huge week in the Big Ten, as many of the conference's top contenders will be taking on worthy opponents on Saturday. Michigan is fresh off that huge road victory at Notre Dame, so it will be interesting to see how the Wolves come out at home against unproven Wisconsin. Iowa, who picked up an close win over in-state rival Iowa State last Saturday, shouldn't have trouble on the road at Illinois, but that's why they play the games. Minnesota and Purdue, meanwhile, both have hopes of playing the role of the conference's surprise team this fall, and they'll get together in West Lafayette on Saturday to see who gets off to the good early-season conference start. Though it's a non-conference game, Michigan State hopes to follow up last week's road thrashing of Pittsburgh with a home victory over the now-reeling Fighting Irish. And finally, Penn State didn't have much success the last time they left home, taking a beating at Notre Dame two weeks ago, but the Nittany Lions will try their luck at Ohio State Saturday evening. Will the Buckeyes, Wolverines, or Hawkeyes go down? Will a new contender emerge? THE CALM AFTER THE STORM

Last weekend was much-hyped and certainly provided plenty of entertainment is places like Eugene, Oregon and Auburn, Alabama. So this weekend, at first glance, looks a good bit calmer, though most knowledgeable college football fans know what that means: beware. You highly-ranked teams, especially those of you who survived Showdown Saturday, should watch out. Just when the college football world bats an eye is generally when things being going crazy. With that in mind, be on the lookout for an upset or two this weekend. Your guess is as good as mine as to who might be going down...but just beware. WHO'S GOING TO CHALLENGE USC?

Arizona State and California will do battle in Berkeley on Saturday, each coming in with hopes of being USC's biggest challenger in the PAC-10 race this season. The Sun Devils have yet to lose but haven't been all that impressive in their victories either. Cal, meanwhile, was throttled by Tennessee in the opener but seems to have rebounded. On paper, the Bears are probably the closest to the Trojans, so it will be interesting to see how both of those teams fare this weekend. Also keep an eye on UCLA and Washington in Seattle. Few people expect either to be near the top of the league standings, but they're all still equal at this point. (USC, meanwhile, will be on the road at Arizona.) REPLAY

After last weekend's debacle in the Oklahoma/Oregon game, will the replay system rear its ugly head once again? Now first of all, I must mention I'm largely in favor of the whole replay concept...when it's used appropriately. And in most cases it is. Yet when something happens like it did last weekend in Eugene, it only brings that much more scrutiny to the system, and certainly any controversies this weekend will be magnified.


Vanderbilt nearly took down Arkansas last weekend, easily the closest one of these "huge upset" predictions has come to happening. This week, watch out for Boston College's trip to NC State. Sure, the Pack is reeling after two straight losses, but neither was to a bad team. Boston College, meanwhile, has had a pretty impressive early season, though their opening road trip to Central Michigan was only won by a single TD. The Eagles appear to be a legitimate contender in the ACC's Atlantic Division, especially with the way Florida State has looked thus far. A loss at NCSU would be terribly detrimental to those title hopes, but a win could help vault them towards a two game stretch vs Virginia Tech and at Florida State that begins in two weeks.

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