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November 17, 2006 So you're wondering what to watch this weekend, right? That, after all, is the general purpose of this weekly piece, a way of separating the important from the meaningless. But in this week's case, there's little I can say that hasn't already been said. Michigan-Ohio State is as big as it gets. Period. Sure, there are other games to keep an eye on, like those that will help decide the ACC race, those that involve teams scrambling to take the BCS spot the UM-OSU loser leaves up for grabs, and various other rivalry matchups on the slate. Luckily for you, we preview it all here, Wolves-Bucks included! ILLINOIS AT NORTHWESTERN

Riiight! So I got my Big Ten rivalries mixed up just a bit. There has rarely - if ever - been a college football game as big as the one set for this Saturday afternoon in Columbus. It's the top two ranked teams in the country with a berth in the national championship game on the line. As I suggested to one colleague earlier this week, wouldn't it be best to just postpone this contest, move it to January, and settle the title on the field then? Well, yes and no. While I feel these two teams are indeed the best college football has to offer this season, playing a game like this in a true home field, college setting is what makes this game as special as it will be. More than 100,000 people will witness in person what they may never have the opportunity to see again. One team will win this game, and consequently earn a berth in the BCS title game. The loser? Well, that is very much up in the air, but they too could end up in Glendale if things work out just right. It is my belief that should this weekend's battle turn into a very close, down to the wire game, these two teams may deserve a rematch in Glendale (especially if UM is the victim since they are having to play this one on the road). But that sort of thing will be for post-Game talk, so to say. MEANWHILE...

While the Wolves and Bucks will be fighting it out for number one, there are a number of other teams hoping to make their case for that second slot and a berth in the national title contest. USC vaulted to number three in the BCS this past week, but the Trojans have an extremely tough test at home against Cal on Saturday. Florida did not look impressive last weekend but still appears ready to step into place if USC should falter. The Gators will be out-of-conference against Western Carolina this weekend, and though that should undoubtedly be an easy victory, it will be interesting to see if that D-IAA matchup affects UF's strength of schedule power ranking in a negative fashion. Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Rutgers follow Florida. The Irish are at home against Army this Saturday, while both UA and RU are away from home, the Hogs at Mississippi State and the Knights at Cincinnati. ACC UP FOR GRABS

While Georgia Tech is almost assured of locking up the ACC Coastal title with a home win over Duke this weekend, the Atlantic side of the conference is still very much up for grabs. Wake Forest and Maryland are currently knotted up with 5-1 league marks, while Boston College is a game behind at 4-2. The Terps and Eagles will go head-to-head on Saturday, while the Deacons (who hold the tiebreaker over BC) are at home against Virginia Tech. A Maryland victory knocks Boston College out of the picture, of course, setting up a huge WF-UM showdown next weekend with the title on the line (regardless of what the Deacons do against VT this weekend). A BC victory over the Terps, though, makes things a bit more complicated. The Eagles would have to win at Miami on Thanksgiving evening to stay alive. Should that happen, that aforementioned WF-UM battle would decide how things turn out. A Terp victory would give the title to BC, while a Wake win would give the Deacons the berth into the championship game (again, regardless of their outcome against VT this Saturday). RIVALRY WEEKEND

In addition to the Michigan-Ohio State and Cal-USC showdowns already mentioned, there are also numerous other big-time rivalries set to take place this weekend, including the Iron Bowl featuring the struggling Alabama and Auburn. Others on the slate this weekend include NC State-North Carolina, Indiana-Purdue, Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Illinois-Northwestern (yes, they really do play this weekend), Kansas State-Kansas, and Washington-Washington State. Of these, only IU-PU and KSU-KU have any real implications outside of the rivalry itself. Both the Hoosiers and Jayhawks need the win to become bowl eligible, while their rivals have both already clinched a winning record.


Could Auburn go from a national title contender to a three-loss team in a matter of eight days? Most definitely. After getting throttled at home against Georgia last week, the Tigers are forced to travel cross-state to take on Alabama this Saturday, and though the Tide has not looked good in recent weeks, they haven't been more ready for a game this year than they will be this weekend. If Tommy Tuberville's squad comes in feeling as if they have little left to play for (on the national scale), that could give Bama an advantage, and if they get out to an early lead, the crowd will become a factor. (Those Tuscaloosa folks don't like Auburn, in case you haven't heard.)

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