Today's key national games

College Football

October 02, 2004|By Orlando Sentinel

No. 6 West Virginia at Virginia Tech

Quick slant: This appears to be the only obstacle between West Virginia and an 11-0 regular season.

About West Virginia: The Mountaineers have a powerful rushing attack keyed by RB Kay-Jay Harris. QB Rasheed Marshall is dangerous when he runs, but if you can keep him in the pocket, his effectiveness drops. WR Chris Henry is the receiver to watch.

About Virginia Tech: The Hokies are coming off a loss to N.C. State in which QB Bryan Randall was sacked 10 times, so you have to expect WVU to come after Randall with a lot of blitzes.

The buzz: Both teams are going to have trouble running the ball, so the onus falls on Marshall and Randall to produce in the air.

The line: Va. Tech by 3

The pick: Va. Tech, 23-21

No. 4 Miami at Georgia Tech

Quick slant: This is Miami's first ACC road game.

About Miami: The defense ranks third overall in the nation. T Orien Harris and CB Antrel Rolle are the headliners, but the whole unit has great speed. RBs Frank Gore and Tyrone Moss are a nice duo.

About Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets must avoid turnovers and hope that this is a low-scoring game. The run defense has been shaky, and that's bad news. Perhaps the return of star DE Eric Henderson from injury will help.

The buzz: Tech must run effectively - about 150 yards - to have a chance at the upset.

The line: Miami by 14

The pick: Miami, 24-7

No. 15 Purdue at Notre Dame

Quick slant: Purdue broke a three-game losing streak to the Irish with a victory last season.

About Purdue: QB Kyle Orton has been fabulous (327.3 ypg, 13 TDs, no picks), and his favorite receiver is Taylor Stubblefield (21 catches, with eight for TDs). RB Jerod Void is a nice complement to the running game. The defense is a big-time concern.

About Notre Dame: The Irish have won three in a row after looking bad in their opener at BYU. RBs Darius Walker and Ryan Grant are an effective duo, and QB Brady Quinn is an effective passer when opposing defenses worry about the run.

The buzz: Purdue must stop the run. Conversely, Notre Dame must get consistent pressure on Orton. This is the first real test for Purdue, which really hasn't played anybody yet.

The line: Purdue by 2 1/2

The pick: Purdue, 28-21

Texas Tech at No. 2 Oklahoma

Quick slant: The Sooners have hammered the Red Raiders by a combined 76 points the past two seasons.

About Texas Tech: The Red Raiders lead the nation in passing offense and are 99th in rushing offense. But RB Taurean Henderson has some skills and can surprise teams if they're too worried about the pass.

About Oklahoma: QB Jason White heads a strong passing attack, and TBs Kejuan Jones and true freshman Adrian Peterson give OU a nice running attack, too. WR Mark Clayton should light up Tech's secondary. S Donte Nicholson and FS Brodney Pool are the best safety duo in the nation.

The buzz: This is the fourth home game in a row for OU.

The line: Oklahoma by 25 1/2

The pick: Oklahoma, 52-28

No. 8 Auburn at No. 10 Tennessee

Quick slant: The biggest game in the nation today.

About Auburn: The Tigers, who have won six in a row dating to last season, have a devastating 1-2 punch at tailback with Carnell "Cadillac" Williams (who originally committed to Tennessee) and Ronnie Brown. When those guys get it going, this offense is tough to stop. QB Jason Campbell is effective only when the Tigers are running well.

About Tennessee: The Vols have received sterling play from their freshman quarterbacks (Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer), and they lead the SEC in rushing offense and total offense. As many as four tailbacks could see time today, with Cedric Houston the main guy.

The buzz: This is the fourth home game in a row for the Vols, who go on the road for the first time next week when they play Georgia.

The line: Tennessee by 2

The pick: Auburn, 24-21

No. 13 LSU at No. 3 Georgia

Quick slant: LSU won both meetings last season, including a 34-13 rout in the SEC championship game.

About LSU: The Tigers must get a great performance from their defense because their offense is going to have all sorts of trouble moving the ball consistently. It's vital that RB Justin Vincent come up big because if the Tigers have to throw, they have no chance at all. DE Marcus Spears is a beast who headlines a stout defense.

About Georgia: The Bulldogs have been stingy on defense but shaky on offense. DE David Pollack and FS Thomas Davis are among the nation's best at their positions, and the Bulldogs welcome back stud LB Odell Thurman, who was suspended for the first three games.

The buzz: Don't expect a lot of points. Neither is going to have much success on the ground, but Georgia has a big advantage in the passing game. Yes, Greene has struggled a bit, but he's still miles better than his LSU counterparts.

The line: Georgia by 2 1/2

The pick: Georgia, 16-10

- Orlando Sentinel

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