5 games to watch: BCS time running out

College Football

November 25, 2009

As the regular season draws to a close, several teams continue their campaigns for a BCS berth. While either Florida or Alabama should end up in the hunt for the national title, their opponent is a bigger question.

Texas (11-0) at Texas A & M (6-5)
Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN

The buzz: All eyes will be on College Station, where the Longhorns control their own destiny. A victory over the Aggies and then over Nebraska in the Big 12 championship, and Texas is back in the BCS title game in Pasadena. But one slip, and TCU and Cincinnati will be there to swoop in.

Illinois (3-7) at Cincinnati (10-0)
Friday, noon, ABC

The buzz: On paper, this one doesn't look like much. But the BCS isn't figured out on paper. Computers are involved, I think. With two games remaining, QB Tony Pike's Bearcats play the Illini Friday and No. 9 Pittsburgh Dec. 5 for what most likely will be the Big East title. TCU ends its regular season against New Mexico (1-10) Saturday. Cincinnati can leap-frog the Horned Frogs into the No. 4 spot in the BCS rankings. Which means the Bearcats are only a Texas loss away from playing in Pasadena.

Alabama (11-0) at Auburn (7-4)
Friday, 2:30 p.m., CBS

The buzz: The Iron Bowl renews with extra added incentive. The Tide already have a spot in the SEC title game against Florida, with the winner headed to the BCS. But a loss to the up-and-coming Tigers could knock Nick Saban and Alabama out of the national championship game. The Tide will rely on a vaunted defense and the running game of Heisman Trophy candidate Mark Ingram to guarantee at least a shot at a trip to Pasadena.

Notre Dame (6-5) at Stanford (7-4)
Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC

The buzz: Would a victory over the Cardinal be enough to keep Charlie Weis in South Bend? Probably not. But it might soften the blow of his demise. With the Rose Bowl out of the picture for Stanford, now Jim Harbaugh's crew must focus on an upper-tier bowl game. Toby Gerhart leads the Pac-10 in rushing and could claim the national rushing leadership against an Irish defense that ranks 80th in the country.

- Matt Murschel, Tribune newspapers

Florida State (6-5) at Florida (11-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS

The buzz: Break out the Kleenex. Saturday's intrastate rivalry game between the Gators and the Seminoles will be Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow's last home game. It could very well be the last regular-season game of Bobby Bowden's career at Florida State. Bowden hasn't committed to this or next year being his last, but a win over Urban Meyer and the Gators would be the perfect capper to his illustrious career.

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