Today's key national games

December 04, 2004|By Orlando Sentinel

No. 19 Pittsburgh at South Florida

Time: 11 a.m.


The buzz: Pittsburgh seals a BCS berth with a win; actually, the Panthers likely will go even if they lose. Panthers QB Tyler Palko has played superb football the past month, and he and WR Greg Lee are a dangerous duo. USF's offense is centered on TB Andre Hall, and if Pittsburgh slows Hall, USF has no shot.

The line: Pittsburgh by 7.

The pick: Pittsburgh, 28-16.

No. 1 Southern Cal at UCLA

Time: 4:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 2, 7.

The buzz: USC looks to finish the regular season where it began - at No. 1 - and would lock up a spot in the national title game with a victory. The Trojans, who have won 20 in a row, are 15th nationally in total offense (439.6 ypg) and fifth in total defense (269.5 ypg). QB Matt Leinart (249.8 ypg, 28 TDs, five picks) has a plethora of weapons. UCLA has a powerful offense of its own, ranking 18th overall thanks to a strong ground game led by TBs Maurice Drew and Manuel White. But the defense is a sieve.

The line: Southern Cal by 23.

The pick: Southern Cal, 37-23.

No. 15 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Auburn

Time: 6 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9

The buzz: Auburn hammered the Vols, 34-10, in Knoxville on Oct. 2, and the Tigers need to win again in the SEC title game to have any shot at playing in the Orange Bowl. TBs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown make the offense go, and QB Jason Campbell has been superb despite playing for his fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons. The defense is quick and aggressive and knows that if it shuts down the Vols' running game, this has the potential to be another rout. With third-string QB Rick Clausen at the controls, the Vols need to control the ball on the ground with TBs Cedric Houston and Gerald Riggs Jr. The defense has been awful of late.

The line: Auburn by 15.

The pick: Auburn, 35-17.

No. 4 California at Southern Mississippi

Time: 7:45 p.m.


The buzz: This game was rescheduled because of Hurricane Ivan. Cal looks like a BCS lock if it wins, and given its nice balance (fifth nationally in offense, 11th in defense), it should win today as long as it doesn't implode. TB J.J. Arrington (158.4 ypg) has rushed for at least 100 yards in each game and may be the nation's most underrated player. Southern Miss doesn't have the offensive firepower to keep up, so the Golden Eagles' defense must come to play.

The line: Cal by 24.

The pick: Cal, 41-14.

Colorado vs. No. 2 Oklahoma

Time: 8 p.m.

TV: Chs. 2, 7

The buzz: Oklahoma almost certainly heads to the Orange Bowl with a victory in the Big 12 title game, and the Sooners look to have way too much offense and defense for a Buffs team that won the Big 12 North simply because it was, well, not as bad as the division's other teams. OU QB Jason White, TB Adrian Peterson, T Jammal Brown and WR Mark Clayton are among the nation's best at their positions. Colorado must force a bunch of turnovers, play turnover-free ball itself and have TB Bobby Purify run wild.

The line: Oklahoma by 22.

The pick: Oklahoma, 34-7.

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