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October 6, 2006 The Red River Shootout is always an important game, but it may be even bigger in 2006. Why? Because this weekend's loser will remove themselves from the national title chase. That's just one thing to keep an eye on throughout the upcoming weekend. Also watch to see how the SEC's big games turn out as LSU visits Florida and Georgia plays host to Tennessee. The Gators and Bulldogs are just two of several undefeated teams who will take on weekend opponents capable of giving them their first loss of the year. And finally, though it may not be the most pretty race in the land, keep an eye on the Big XII North favorites over the upcoming weekend. TITLE CONTENDER EXITING THE STAGE

Though neither team is ranked as highly as they have been in recent matchups, this weekend's Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma might be one of the biggest yet. Why, you ask? Because both teams already have one loss on the season, the Longhorns falling to Ohio State and the Sooners finding bad luck on the road at Oregon back in September. That being the case, this Saturday's loser in Austin will be removed from the national title chase here in early October. It's not a situation either has been in recently, so that certainly puts a bit more pressure on both teams heading into the weekend. Who prevails and who starts thinking about their New Year's Day destination? TESTING THE UNBEATENS

There are still quite a few unbeatens left across the country, 13 to be exact, and several of those squads will take on opponents capable of ending that streak this weekend. Perhaps the most surprising of the bunch is Wake Forest. The Deacons have started the season with 5 straight victories but will host Clemson, who is probably the Atlantic division favorite at this point, on Saturday. Oregon, meanwhile, has looked extremely impressive to date but will face arguably their toughest test yet this weekend. That's when the Ducks will head southward to California to take on a Bears squad we picked to win the PAC 10 in the prseason. Cal began the season with a loss at Tennessee but has dominated in four wins since. And finally, USC will play host to Washington on Saturday. The Huskies have played surprisingly well thus far, and the Trojan faithful can't be all that comfortable with the way their team has played against the likes of Arizona and Washington State the past couple of weeks. UW isn't one of the conference's best teams, but USC's schedule isn't going to get any easier from here on out. SEC SHOWDOWNS

Get used to this theme: it's a big week in the SEC. The conference has two teams in the top five, four in the top ten, and makes up one-third of this week's Fab 15. Two of those top ten squads, LSU and Florida, will get together in Gainesville this weekend. In my opinion, those two are the favorite in their respective divisions at this point, but more importantly, both still have national title aspirations. UF has yet to lose, while the Tigers' lone loss was at Auburn. And speaking of those other Tigers, AU will play host to Arkansas on Saturday. It's a game Tommy Tuberville's team should win, but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on. The other game of note in the SEC this weekend has East rivals Tennessee and Georgia getting together in Athens. Both are ranked in the Fab 15, and there's only one loss between them (UT's home setback to Florida a few weeks back). Strangely enough, though, it's the Vols who have been the most impressive this season as the Dogs' offense leaves much to be desired. A UT win keeps the East race wide open, but if Phil Fulmer's squad falters, it'll be a Dog-Gator fight to the end. THE ALWAYS-INTERESTING BIG XII NORTH

Sure, it's never pretty. But it is always interesting. What do we speak of? The Big XII North, of course. The race always goes down to the wire, and much of the same is expected this fall. The early favorites look to be Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa State, and the latter two will get together in Ames over the weekend. NU has yet to lose a league game, while the Cyclones can't afford another loss this early in the season if they want to keep their hopes alive. Missouri, meanwhile, has been ultra-impressive thus far, winning all five games to date. This weekend's test at Texas Tech will be their toughest yet, though. There's still a long way to go, but we'll certainly have a little better feel for how things stand in the Big XII North after the weekend is complete.


Steve Spurrier's squad looked pretty good in a near-upset of Auburn a week ago, but the Gamecocks are still just 3-2 on the season. USC will venture to SEC East rival Kentucky on Saturday, and the Wildcats, surprisingly enough, haven't looked all that bad this season. It may not be the most likely of upsets, but a loss at UK would put a huge damper on Spurrier's bowling hopes in 2006 considering USC's upcoming SEC schedule.

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