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Saturday's Top 25 football

Posted: September 13, 2013 - 12:08am
FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2012, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) outruns Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard (42) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban doesn't want his defensive backs watching A&M's electric quarterback when he's flushed from the pocket in Saturday's game. Too many things can happen, and most of them bad. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)  Dave Martin
Dave Martin
FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2012, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) outruns Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard (42) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban doesn't want his defensive backs watching A&M's electric quarterback when he's flushed from the pocket in Saturday's game. Too many things can happen, and most of them bad. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

No. 1 Alabama (1-0) at No. 6 Texas A&M (2-0), 2:40 p.m. (CBS)

Line: Alabama by 7 ½. This is the first game of the season with true national championship implications. Alabama is looking forward to the rematch after the Aggies handed the Crimson Tide its only loss in last year’s national championship season. The Aggies are out to prove that last year’s game, which helped Johnny Manziel become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, wasn’t a fluke. Manziel and A&M’s up-tempo offense vs. the Alabama defense. Alabama coach Nick Saban has complained about up-tempo offenses like the one Texas A&M uses. That doesn’t matter to A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, who laughed and said: “we’re going to go as fast as we possibly can,” when asked about it. Manziel threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 92 more to help A&M to the 29-24 victory in Tuscaloosa last year, and will likely need a similar performance Saturday. This is Alabama’s second trip to College Station and the first since 1988. ... Alabama has a 15-game winning streak away from Tuscaloosa, which is the longest active streak in the FBS. They haven’t lost away from home since Nov. 6, 2010 at LSU. ... The Aggies have won eight straight games. ... Alabama is 41-0 since 2008 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent. ... The Crimson Tide defense has held teams to less than 300 yards of offense in 53 of Saban’s 82 games. ... The Aggies are fifth in the country in total offense by averaging 600 yards a game.

Tennessee (2-0) vs. No. 2 Oregon (2-0), 3:36 p.m. ET (ABC)

Line: Oregon by 27½. Oregon’s high-powered blur offense gets another shot to measure up to a team from the Southeastern Conference. The Ducks defeated the Vols 48-13 in Knoxville in their only previous meeting in 2010. That season Oregon faced another SEC team, Auburn, in the BCS national championship game. Overall the Ducks are 4-5 against teams from the SEC, but they’ve won the last three of four — with the only loss coming against the Tigers in the title game. Tennessee’s defense against Oregon’s offense. The Vols are tied for first in the nation with nine forced turnovers and also are at the top of the list for interceptions with seven. Tennessee returned two interceptions for touchdowns last week against Western Kentucky. Oregon leads the Pac-12 in total offense, averaging 664.5 yards a game, and rushing offense, with 425 yards per game. Nationally, Oregon ranks second in rushing offense and third in total offense. Fifteen of Oregon’s 17 touchdowns drives have taken less than two minutes..

No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1), 7 p.m. (Fox)

Line: off. Ohio State is looking to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 15 games in its toughest nonconference test of the season. California is seeking its first win over a top 5 team in 10 years to give first-year coach Sonny Dykes a signature victory. Cal RB Brendan Bigelow vs. Ohio State defense. Bigelow shredded the Buckeyes a year ago in Columbus with TD runs of 81 and 59 yards as part of a four carry, 160-yard day. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has put an emphasis in practice on tackling ever since that game and the Buckeyes have allowed only one run of at least 10 yards so far this season. Cal won the first meeting between these schools in the 1921 Rose Bowl but lost the last six. ... The Buckeyes have not allowed a point in the first or fourth quarter this season.

No. 5 Stanford (1-0) at Army (1-1), 12:00 p.m. (CBS)

Line: Stanford by 29. The Cardinal entered the season with high expectations and the team’s highest preseason ranking. Army should be a tuneup. A victory over Stanford would be Army’s biggest win in decades. The Army triple-option ground game against the Stanford defense, which has almost every starter back from the Pac-12’s top unit a season ago. The Black Knights have led the nation in rushing the past two seasons, gaining more than 4,000 yards in each campaign. Stanford’s relentless front seven spends a lot of time in the backfield. Army is averaging 329 yards rushing and Stanford is allowed 35 yards on the ground in its one game against San Jose State.

No. 7 Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1), Noon (ESPN)

Line: Louisville by 13½. Louisville seeks its third straight win over in-state rival Kentucky and its second consecutive 3-0 start. Kentucky begins a four-game stretch against ranked teams over the next five weeks aiming to beat its first top-25 opponent since October 2010 (South Carolina). Louisville junior QB and Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater will try to use all of his receivers against a Kentucky secondary allowing just 147 yards per game and seeking its first interception. Kent State (1-1) at No. 8 LSU(2-0) , 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: LSU by 37½. LSU aims to build on its early season momentum in advance of its first Southeastern Conference game against Auburn the following week. The Tigers also cannot afford an upset to a five-TD underdog if they hope to retain their top-10 ranking. Kent State seeks a landmark first victory against an SEC team — after losing in 11 previous tries — in what is also the program’s first foray into Death Valley.

Nevada (1-1) at No. 10 Florida State (1-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Florida State by 33½. All the praise Florida State and quarterback Jameis Winston have gotten since the Seminoles trounced Pitt 41-13 in the season opener. Winston completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns on the road — the most productive start by a freshman QB in school history. Nevada QB Cody Fajardo vs. Florida State LB Christian Jones.

Akron (1-1) at No. 11 Michigan (2-0), 12:01 p.m. (BTN)

Line: Michigan by 37. Michigan seems to be set up for a 5-0 start with a relatively easy schedule before playing Oct. 12 at Penn State. The Zips and coach Terry Bowden, broke a 10-game losing streak last week. They haven’t won more than one game in a season in four years. This would qualify as the biggest win in school history. Michigan’s high-powered offense against Akron’s shaky defense.

Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1 SEC) at No. 13 South Carolina (1-1, 0-1), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: South Carolina by 13½. Staying alive in the Southeastern Conference East race since the loser will have two league losses three weeks into the season. The Gamecocks defense gave up their most points in two seasons and their most yards in three, surrendering 536 yards in a 41-30 loss to Georgia. South Carolina’s won four straight in the series, including a 21-3 victory here two years ago when the Commodores were held to 77 yards of total offense — only four of those on the ground.

Tulsa (1-1) at No. 14 Oklahoma (2-0), 11 a.m. (ESPN2)

Line: Oklahoma by 24½. Oklahoma wants to maintain momentum heading into a difficult three-game stretch following Saturday’s game, with contests at Notre Dame, at home against TCU and in Dallas against Texas. Tulsa, often an afterthought in a state with two Big 12 Conference teams, wants to strike a blow for the little guy. A win by the Golden Hurricane would help ease the sting of an embarrassing lopsided loss to Bowling Green in the opener and could cement their status as perhaps the team to beat in Conference USA. Oklahoma’s offense has relied heavily on the run in wins over Louisiana-Monroe (34-0) and West Virginia (16-7), rushing for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since doing so against Texas and Baylor in October 1997 - when John Blake was coaching the Sooners. The Sooners will debut a new starting quarterback in Blake Bell, who is known as a power runner. Will Tulsa’s defense, which held Colorado State to minus-3 yards in the fourth quarter of a 30-27 win, be up to the task of stopping the Sooners’ powerful ground game?

No. 16 UCLA (1-0) at No. 23 Nebraska (2-0), Noon (ABC)

Line: Nebraska by 4 ½. Last year’s 36-30 win was a breakthrough for UCLA and set the stage for its run to the Pac-12 South title in coach Jim Mora’s first season. The Bruins, favored to win the South again, can get a good measure of themselves playing in a tough environment. The Cornhuskers left the Rose Bowl embarrassed after UCLA rolled up 653 yards against them. Try as he might to downplay the revenge factor, you know coach Bo Pelini wants this one badly. Nebraska defense vs. UCLA offense.

Western Michigan (0-2) at No. 17 Northwestern (2-0), 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Line: Northwestern by 31. Northwestern is simply trying to keep the momentum going after winning at California and pounding Syracuse 48-27 at home last week. The Wildcats host Maine next week and are off before Ohio State visits Ryan Field on Oct. 5, a huge test for a team that wants to show it can beat the best in the Big Ten. So far, the Wildcats are looking good. They’re averaging 46 points and 544½ yards. Western Michigan is trying to regroup after losing to an FCS school, Nicholls State. Northwestern’s passing game vs. Western Michigan’s secondary.

No. 19 Washington (1-0) vs. Illinois (2-0), 6 p.m. (BTN)

Line: Washington by 9½. The Huskies try to protect their new Top 25 ranking and build momentum two weeks ahead of the Pac 12 opener against Arizona State. Illinois hopes to build on the surprise success of last week’s 45-17 win over Cincinnati, a win that was nothing short of a relief for what had been a struggling team. For the Illini, don’t underestimate the importance of playing well in this matchup in Chicago, too. The downstate school has struggled to win over Windy City fans. Washington’s defense, which shut down the normally high-powered Boise State attack in the season opener, against Illinois’ revived offense.

No. 20 Wisconsin (2-0) at Arizona St. (1-0), 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Arizona St. by 5 ½. After easy victories to open the season, both teams face their first real tests. The Badgers beat up Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech by a combined score of 93-0, the first time they’ve started a season with consecutive shutouts since 1958. The Sun Devils rolled over FCS school Sacramento State 55-0 in their opener. Arizona State’s speed vs. Wisconsin’s power.

No. 21 Notre Dame (1-1) at Purdue (1-1), 8 p.m. (ABC)

Line: Notre Dame by 20½. If Notre Dame has any chance of reviving its national title hopes, the Fighting Irish must avoid back-to-back regular season losses for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. Purdue wants to show a prime-time audience that it can compete with the nation’s top teams as coach Darrell Hazell chases a second straight win. Purdue’s defensive front vs. Notre Dame’s goal-line offense.

No. 25 Mississippi (2-0) at Texas (1-1), 7 p.m. (LHN)

Line: Texas by 2 ½. Mack Brown’s job? One game won’t decide it, but the pressure is rising in Austin after a blowout loss at BYU, pushing to the point where every game this season may be a referendum on Brown. For Mississippi, a quality road win over a wounded Texas would show the Rebels could be for real this season. In the trenches. BYU hammered Texas at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Texas couldn’t stop the run and struggled to protect its quarterback even when facing just three pass rushers. If the Rebels can manhandle Texas the way the Cougars did, expect another long night for the Longhorns. Ole Miss is ranked for the first time since ending the 2009 season No. 20 .

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