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Posted: November 28, 2013 - 1:06am
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Joanie Graham, right, an Auburn fan, and her husband Allen Graham, an Alabama fan, both put down their own doormats in front of their RV at the tailgate Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, at the Auburn University's hayfields in Auburn, Ala. Auburn hosts Alabama for the Iron Bowl football game on Saturday, Nov. 30. (AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare)  Albert Cesare
Albert Cesare
Joanie Graham, right, an Auburn fan, and her husband Allen Graham, an Alabama fan, both put down their own doormats in front of their RV at the tailgate Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, at the Auburn University's hayfields in Auburn, Ala. Auburn hosts Alabama for the Iron Bowl football game on Saturday, Nov. 30. (AP Photo/Opelika-Auburn News, Albert Cesare)

No. 1 Alabama (11-0, 7-0 SEC) at No. 4 Auburn (10-1, 6-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (CBS)

Bragging rights, the SEC West title and a spot in the league championship game are on the line. Alabama and Auburn are both also trying to keep their national title hopes alive in a state that has claimed the last four BCS championships.

Auburn’s running game versus Alabama’s run defense. The Tigers rank second nationally in rushing, averaging 320.3 yards on the ground with 37 touchdowns. Tre Mason is the SEC’s No. 2 rusher and quarterback Nick Marshall ranks sixth and keeps defenses guessing with the zone read. Crimson Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley leads a run defense that is fifth in the nation, allowing 91.3 rushing yards per game with five touchdowns.

This is only the second top-five Iron Bowl matchup. No. 3 Alabama beat No. 5 Auburn 31-7 in 1971. The last time the teams had one combined loss or fewer was 1994 when Alabama was 10-0 and Auburn 9-0-1. ... The Tigers are the highest ranked opponent Alabama has faced in the regular season when ranked No. 1. The previous high was No. 5 LSU last season. ... Auburn is 3-8 against No. 1 teams and 1-2 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. ... Alabama hasn’t given up an offensive touchdown in the last two meetings, winning 49-0 and 42-14 while allowing one special teams TD and a defensive score. ... This is the first season Auburn has played both Georgia and Alabama at home.

No. 2 Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7), Saturday, Noon (ESPN)

Florida State’s national championship hopes. The Seminoles are on track to play for the title, but first need to get past rival Florida and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division champion. Florida, meanwhile, is treating this like a bowl game. The Gators have lost six consecutive games, secured their first losing season since 1979 and will miss a bowl for the first time since 1990.

Florida State’s high-scoring offense vs. Florida’s sometimes-stout defense. The Seminoles rank second in the nation in scoring, averaging 55.2 points a game, and have won every game by at least 15 points. The Gators rank second in the Southeastern Conference and seventh nationally in total defense. But the unit also allowed game-clinching drives against Georgia and Georgia Southern this month.

FSU has scored 40 or more points in 11 consecutive games, tying the FBS record set by Texas in 2005. The Seminoles lead the nation with 23 interceptions. ... FSU is the only team in the country to rank in the top five in both scoring offense and scoring defense. They are second in both. ... The Seminoles have scored 71 offensive touchdowns this season. The Gators have 89 in coach Will Muschamp’s three seasons. ... Winston has 3,289 total yards this season — only 416 less than Florida’s entire team in 2013. ... Florida will honor 17 seniors playing their finale before Saturday’s game. ... The Gators are so banged up that just five players who also started the Sugar Bowl in January will start against FSU.

No. 3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) at Michigan (7-4, 3-4), Saturday, noon EST (ABC)

Ohio State needs to stay unbeaten to have a shot at playing in the BCS national championship game. Michigan is playing for pride and postseason positioning.

The Wolverines will likely have to figure out a way to block standout LB Ryan Shazier to have any success on offense. And if that happens, it would be surprising. Michigan has struggled to protect Devin Gardner in the passing game and to open up holes in the running game. Shazier is one of the best linebackers in college football. The Butkus Award finalist leads the Big Ten with 108 tackles, 19.5 for losses and four forced fumbles.

Ohio State has won a school-record 23 straight games since losing to Florida in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012, and at Michigan to close the 2011 regular season. ... Since the Wolverines won their last Big Ten title in 2003, they have lost eight of nine games against the Buckeyes. ... Ohio State is averaging a Big Ten-best 48.7 points per game, ranking third in the nation. ... Devin Funchess has 686 yards receiving, a single-season record for a Michigan tight end. ... Ohio State will meet Michigan State for the Big Ten title next week in Indianapolis. ... Michigan is hoping for its biggest upset in the rivalry since it was a 17-point underdog and beat Ohio State 13-9 at home in 1996.

No. 19 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC) at No. 5 Missouri (10-1, 6-1), Saturday, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Missouri controls its destiny. Win, and the Tigers take the SEC East and advance to the conference championship game Dec. 7 in Atlanta. Lose, and South Carolina gets the nod based on head-to-head competition. Texas A&M seeks to right the ship and improve bowl position after getting beat 34-10 at LSU last week.

Missouri defense vs. QB Johnny Manziel. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner directs one of the best offenses in the country, but he had one TD pass with two interceptions last week in a game that ended a run of three straight 50-plus point totals. Manziel was dazzling in a 59-29 victory over Missouri in 2012, throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more. A&M leads the SEC with a 45.7-point average, and Missouri’s defense is second in the SEC at 19 points.

Schools joined SEC same year after 16 seasons together in Big 12. ... This will be Missouri’s first home game in series since 2007 after three straight in College Station, Texas. ... Texas A&M is 11-0 at night last two seasons. ... Texas A&M surrendered 324 yards rushing and 517 total yards last week and had possession for just 19:41. ... Manziel, a redshirt sophomore, reportedly will decide whether to enter the 2014 NFL draft before the school’s bowl game. ... Missouri has four double-digit win seasons, three under coach Gary Pinkel. Pinkel is 100-62 in 13 seasons and needs one more win to tie Don Faurot for the most in school history.

No. 6 Clemson (10-1) at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2), Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Palmetto Bowl rivals need victories to shore up BCS hopes. Clemson could cement a second BCS game in three seasons with its first victory over South Carolina since 2008. Though even with a loss the Tigers could end up in the BCS. The Gamecocks would see their chances boosted with a win, although they are also still alive for the SEC East crown.

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd vs. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney. A year ago, Clowney got 4 1-2 sacks on Boyd in the Gamecocks 27-17 victory. This summer, Clowney jabbed Boyd was among quarterbacks who were scared of him. Boyd’s largely laughed off the comments. Clowney has struggled this season with just two sacks. Boyd’s struggled against South Carolina, throwing for 339 yards and taking 14 sacks in three appearances.

This is the first time Clemson and South Carolina have both been ranked in the top 10 when they’ve played. ... South Carolina carries a program-record 17-game home winning streak into Saturday night. A year ago, Clemson had won 13 straight at home before the Gamecocks’ 27-17 victory at Death Valley. ... South Carolina QB Connor Shaw has not lost at home in his career and carries a school-record, 25-5 mark as a starting quarterback. Shaw surpassed ex-Gamecocks passer Todd Ellis for most victories last week. ... The Gamecocks last four-game win streak in the series was from 1951-54. They’ve never won five straight over Clemson. ... Clowney and fellow DE Kelcy Quarles, both juniors, will take part in South Carolina’s Senior Day ceremonies.

No. 25 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 8 Stanford (9-2), Saturday, 7 p.m. (Fox)

Pride, bragging rights and some bowl positioning. Unlike last year’s matchup, both teams are already out of the national title picture, and the only way Stanford makes the Rose Bowl — or any BCS bowl — is by beating No. 13 Arizona State next week in the Pac-12 championship game.

Stanford’s run defense vs. Notre Dame’s run offense. Stanford is third in the nation against the run, giving up just 89.5 yards per game. Notre Dame ranks 78th in the country in rushing, averaging 157.1 yards. The last Fighting Irish running back to score a touchdown rushing against the Cardinal was Armando Allen in 2008.

Stanford has won 15 straight home games. ... Notre Dame has defeated three teams currently ranked in the AP poll: No. 11 Michigan State, No. 13 Arizona State and No. 23 Southern California. ... Stanford has beaten three teams currently ranked: No. 12 Oregon, No. 13 Arizona State and No. 22 UCLA. ... The teams are 6-6 against each other at Stanford Stadium. ... The Legends Trophy is awarded to the winner of the game. ... The teams have met every year since 1988, with the exception of the 1995 and 1996 seasons.

No. 9 Baylor (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) at TCU (4-7, 2-6), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Baylor’s national championship hopes ended with a 49-17 loss last weekend at Oklahoma State, but the Bears can still share in their first Big 12 title — or even clinch it outright and get a Fiesta Bowl bid by winning their last two games if the Cowboys lost their season finale. The Horned Frogs will wrap up their first losing season since going 5-6 in 2004, but the last time they finished with fewer than five wins was a 1-10 record in 1997.

Shock Linwood and the Baylor ground game that gains a Big 12-best 280 yards rushing per game against the Big 12’s top rushing defense (127.8 yards rushing per game). Can Linwood have a bounce-back game against the Frogs? Linwood, effectively the Bears’ third-string running back before injuries to Big 12 rushing leader Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, had three consecutive 100 yards games before 14 carries for 29 yards with two fumbles against Oklahoma State. As for Seastrunk (groin) and Martin (knee), coach Art Briles said there is a “good chance that one” of them will be back at TCU.

Baylor still leads the nation with 56.8 points a game, which is more than the NCAA single-season record of 56.0 by Army in 1944. ... The Bears’ 568 points are only 21 shy of tying the school record set in 2011. ... TCU has won its last eight games following an open date, including one earlier this season. ... TCU coach Gary Patterson is 4-1 as a head coach against Baylor, and 4-1 against Bears coach Art Briles (2-0 at Houston, 2-1 at Baylor).

Minnesota (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) at No. 11 Michigan State (10-1, 7-0), Saturday, 12 p.m., Big Ten Network

Michigan State has already wrapped up the Legends Division title, and the Spartans will play Ohio State in the conference championship game. Win that, and Michigan State will finally reach the Rose Bowl again after narrowly missing out in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Of course, the Spartans would still like to go to a prestigious bowl even if they lose the Big Ten title game — so they don’t want a slip-up here against the Golden Gophers.

Minnesota RB David Cobb vs. Michigan State’s top-ranked defense. The Spartans are ranked No. 1 in the country in total defense. The only team that’s been able to move the ball against them with consistent success lately was Nebraska, with its strong running game. Cobb has rushed for 1,010 yards this season.

Minnesota has won eight games for the first time since the 2003 team went 10-3. . Michigan State is trying to finish unbeaten at home for a third time in four years. The Spartans also pulled it off in 2010 and 2011. . Minnesota’s Marcus Jones has returned both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns this season, the first player in school history to do that. . Michigan State’s Mike Sadler has had 34 percent of his punts downed inside the 10-yard line.

Oregon State (6-5, 4-4) at No. 12 Oregon (9-2, 6-2), Friday, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

Both Oregon and Oregon State have slumped in recent weeks. The Beavers have lost four straight after a six-game winning streak, and may be shut out of one of the Pac-12’s seven bowl games. The Ducks were ranked No. 2 and vying for a spot in the national championship game when they lost to Stanford on Nov. 7. After a rebound victory at home over Utah, the Ducks were stunned by a 42-16 loss at Arizona last weekend, which dropped them out of a shot at the Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl berth.

Oregon’s run against Oregon’s State porous rush defense. Despite the downturn, the Ducks are still ranked in the top 10 nationally with an average of nearly 278 yards per game. The Ducks are ranked No. 3 in total offense with 573.5 yards a game. The Beavers allowed Washington 530 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns in a 69-27 loss last weekend.

The Ducks have won the last five straight Civil Wars, including the last two in Eugene. ... This will be the 117th edition of the annual rivalry game. ... A win would make the Ducks undefeated at Autzen for the first season since 2010. ... Oregon State is looking to avoid a five-game losing streak, it’s longest since the Beavers lost six straight in 1997. ... A win would give Oregon its sixth straight 10-win season. No. 13 Arizona State vs. Arizona, 9:30 p.m.

Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) at No. 13 Arizona State (9-2, 7-1), Saturday, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

Both teams are coming off their biggest wins of the season, adding a level of hype to the annual battle for the Territorial Cup. The Sun Devils wrapped up the Pac-12 South Division by beating UCLA last Saturday and can host the title game against No. 8 Stanford with a win over the Wildcats, who knocked off Oregon.

Arizona State’s run defense against Arizona RB Ka’Deem Carey. The task for every team that faces Arizona is to slow down Carey and no one has been able to do it yet. An All-American last season, he is second nationally with 155.9 yards per game and has rushed for at least 119 yards in all 10 games this season. After struggling early in the season, the Sun Devils have been much better at stopping the run lately.

The Territorial Cup is the oldest rivalry trophy in college football, dating back to 1899. Saturday’s game will be the 89th all-time meeting between the in-state rivals. ... Arizona State won last year’s game in Tucson 41-34 by scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter. The road team has won fourth straight in the series... Sun Devils RB Marion Grice could be out of the lineup after suffering a leg injury against UCLA last week. He is No. 4 nationally with 176 all-purpose yards per game and has scored 20 TDs. ... Arizona has 15 interceptions this season after getting 12 last year. ... Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez has made 15 straight field goals, two short of the school record set by Thomas Weber in 2007.

Penn State (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten) at No. 14 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Unable to go to a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, Penn State can avoid a .500 record and enter the offseason on a high note with a statement win over Wisconsin. The Badgers look to keep rolling, one spot from a top 14 BCS ranking that would make them eligible for an at-large berth in one of the big-money bowl games.

Penn State WR Allen Robinson vs. Wisconsin secondary. To have a chance, the Nittany Lions must cause turnovers and force Wisconsin to play catch-up with inconsistent sophomore QB Joel Stave. The explosive Robinson presents Penn State’s best shot to get into the end zone in a hurry. Speedy freshman Sojourn Shelton has been the best corner, or the creative Badgers could get more physical by putting 6-foot-2 senior S Dezmen Southward on Robinson.

Robinson is 10 catches shy of Deon Butler’s school career record of 179 receptions (2005-8). ... QB Christian Hackenberg has eight 200-yard passing games this year to break the Penn State freshman record. ... Penn State is 7-1 in its next game after a loss under coach Bill O’Brien. ... The Nov. 30 game will be the latest home game in Badgers history. ... Wisconsin has allowed just three TDs in six home games this season, giving up 6.0 points per game at Camp Randall Stadium. ... Borland is averaging 12.2 tackles over his last five full games, recording three sacks and recovering two fumbles. ... Badgers are only team in country with two 1,000-yard rushers in RBs Melvin Gordon (1,375 yards) and James White (1,281 yards).

Arkansas (3-8, 0-7 SEC) at No. 15 LSU (8-3, 4-3), Friday, 2:30 ET (CBS)

LSU wants to finish in the top 14 in the BCS standings in order to have an outside chance at a Sugar Bowl bid, or otherwise receive the best non-BCS bowl bid it can get. Arkansas seeks to avoid its first winless Southeastern Conference mark since the Razorbacks joined the conference in 1992.

Arkansas’ strong running game, which has amassed more than 200 yards in seven games this season, against LSU’s interior defensive line, which has had an inconsistent season and struggled to stop the run two games ago against Alabama, yielding 213 yards.

The game marks the 18th meeting since the winner began receiving the Golden Boot, a 175-pound trophy, standing about 4 feet tall, in the shape of the states of Arkansas and Louisiana. LSU has won 11 of the previous 17 “battles for the Golden Boot.” ... LSU is 6-0 in Tiger Stadium this season and has won 30 of its past 31 home games, the lone loss coming last season against Alabama in the final minute of that game. ... Collins is 2 yards from becoming only the second player in Arkansas history to top 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman, joining Darren McFadden. ... Arkansas center Travis Swanson is slated to make his 50th start, which would mean he started every game of his career since redshirting in 2009. ... Arkansas has never lost nine games in one season. ... LSU WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry entered this week as the only 1,000-yard receiving duo in the nation. Beckham has 56 catches for 1,101 yards and eight TDs, while Landry has 67 catches for 1,059 yards and 10 TDs.

No. 16 Fresno State (10-0, 7-0 Mountain West) at San Jose State (5-6, 4-3), Friday, 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Fresno State needs a win to keep alive its hopes for making a BCS game and might need to impress voters as well as the Bulldogs also will need to pass Northern Illinois in the BCS standings to reach their goal. San Jose State needs a win to become eligible as the Spartans look to play in a bowl in consecutive years for the first time since 1986-87. Bulldogs are looking to complete the third perfect regular season in school history, joining the 1930 and ‘61 teams. ... Fresno State LB Ejiro Ederaine has a sack in five straight games. ... The Bulldogs are averaging 630.3 yards and 48.7 points per game in their last six contests. ... San Jose State has lost three straight following a four-game winning streak. ... The Spartans have lost 21 straight games against ranked teams since beating No. 9 TCU 27-24 on Nov. 4, 2000. ... San Jose State has gained at least 600 yards a school-record three times this season.

USF (2-8, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) at No. 17 UCF (9-1, 6-0), Friday, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

The Knights, riding a six-game winning streak, have a simple path to earning the outright American Athletic Conference title and a trip to the program’s first BCS bowl: Just win their final two games. With a win Friday night against the Bulls, the Knights will lock up no worse than a share of the league title. The Bulls are trying to play spoiler against its nearby rival, having beaten the Knights in all four of their previous meetings from 2005-08.

UCF passing attack vs. USF defense. For all of its struggles this season, USF has had one of the conference’s top defenses. The Bulls rank 30th nationally in total defense (355.8 yards per game), but will be facing a Knights’ team that is tops in the conference, scoring 35.8 points per game. UCF also ranks third in the American in total offense, racking up 455 yards per game.

UCF’s six consecutive wins is one shy of matching the school record of seven set in 2007. ...The Knights are ranked No. 19 in this week’s BCS standings. ... A win over USF would secure double-digit victories for the second straight season and the third time in the last four years.... USF is averaging 14 points per game. ... The Bulls are minus-3 in turnover margin this year, and seventh in the nation in punt returns and 13th in tackles for loss. ...Friday’s game is the 200th in USF program history and 400th in UCF program history.

No. 22 UCLA (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at No. 23 USC (9-3, 6-2), Saturday, 8 p.m. (ABC)

The Victory Bell goes to the winner of Los Angeles’ annual crosstown showdown. USC attempts to solidify its resurgence under interim coach Ed Orgeron with his seventh win in eight games, while UCLA looks for a second straight win over the long-dominant Trojans.

USC QB Cody Kessler vs. UCLA LB Anthony Barr. Kessler was watching from the sidelines last year when Barr ended Matt Barkley’s college career with a crushing sack. The Bruins’ pass rush will be a key to slowing down USC’s improved offense led by the unsung Kessler, who has completed 73 percent of his passes in the last four weeks.

USC had won 12 of 13 in the rivalry before UCLA’s 38-28 victory at the Rose Bowl last year in Bruins coach Jim Mora’s debut season. ... UCLA hasn’t won in the Coliseum since 1997. ... Both teams were eliminated from the Pac-12 South race last week with Arizona State’s win at UCLA, but both are headed to bowl games. ... Mora’s parents both attended USC. ... UCLA’s Myles Jack is expected to play on defense this week after suiting up exclusively on offense against the Sun Devils. The remarkable freshman has rushed for 265 yards and six TDs in just three games in the Bruins’ backfield. ... The Trojans and Bruins haven’t been next to each other in the AP rankings for their rivalry game since 1976, when No. 3 USC beat No. 2 UCLA 24-14. ... USC has blocked a kick or punt in four consecutive games.

No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) at North Carolina (6-5, 4-3), Saturday, Noon (ESPN2)

Duke can complete its surprising run to the ACC’s Coastal Division championship and earn a berth in the league championship game against No. 2 Florida State with a second straight win against the rival Tar Heels. UNC has won five straight after a 1-5 start to reach bowl eligibility and can claim a share of the division title, not to mention avenge a last-second loss to the Blue Devils last year.

Duke’s offensive line vs. North Carolina’s defensive front. The line helped the Blue Devils run for 358 yards in the win against Miami but only 121 last week against Wake Forest. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, have improved significantly on defense during their winning streak and have 17 of their 26 sacks in the past five games.

There is some disagreement on the record in the long rivalry. Both schools claim a 1-0 victory by forfeit against the other in 1889. ... Duke has already clinched its first winning season since 1994 and matched a school record with nine wins, something it hadn’t done since 1941. ... The Tar Heels scored a program-record 80 points in last week’s win against Old Dominion. ... UNC is looking to win six straight games for the first time since Mack Brown’s final season in 1997. ... UNC has gone young this year, with 39 of the team’s 47 touchdowns this season being scored by freshmen or sophomores.

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