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Five games to watch

By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006


FLORIDA STATE AT MIAMI, MONDAY

The Hurricanes have been team turmoil, beginning with a staff shake-up after an embarrassing 40-3 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl. A loss could mean a free fall. If the Seminoles are to build on a strong finish and re-enter the national championship picture, Labor Day better not mean labor pains.

PENN STATE AT NOTRE DAME, SEPT. 9

Is QB Brady Quinn a Heisman favorite? Are the Irish a legit national title contender? Was Penn State's and coach Joe Paterno's resurgence last season a one-year wonder? Questions galore. Answers start with this matchup.

OHIO STATE AT TEXAS, SEPT. 9

A year ago, the Longhorns stamped themselves as a championship-caliber team by going into Columbus and overcoming a 22-16 deficit with nine points in the final 2:37 for a 25-22 win. Ohio State looks to reverse those roles, and Texas looks to stay on a roll.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT FLORIDA, NOV. 11

Florida will be coming off a brutal seven-week stretch with five huge games. But this is hardly a break. Not with the Ol' Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, returning to his ol' stomping grounds for the first time. If the Gamecocks upset the Gators again, Urban Meyer and Jeremy Foley should avoid their e-mails for a while.

NOTRE DAME AT USC, NOV. 25

Before the BCS finale in the Rose Bowl, last year's USC-Notre Dame showdown was the game of the year. When push came to shove (hello, Reggie Bush), the Trojans won a 34-31 thriller in South Bend. The hype this time around could be even greater if one or both of the teams are still in the title hunt.

- BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer