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Top 25

By BOB HARIG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 16, 2001

No. 1 Miami (8-0) vs. No. 14 Syracuse (8-2)

Was last week's performance at Boston College a sign of weakness or simply an aberration? The Hurricanes are hoping it's the latter, that they got a scare and survived and will now take care of business. It's hard to believe quarterback Ken Dorsey could play so poorly again, and UM found that it can rely on tailback Clinton Portis, who rushed for 160 yards. Syracuse's Dwight Feeney has 161/2 half sacks, a big reason for the Orangemen's eight-game winning streak. 3:30 p.m, Ch. 28.

No. 3 Oklahoma (9-1) at Texas Tech (6-3)

The Sooners go up against old friend Mike Leach, the Texas Tech coach who was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in Bob Stoops' first season. The Red Raiders have been coming on of late, handling Kansas State at home and shutting out Texas A&M. Quarterback Kliff Kingsburg has completed 88 of 102 passes the last two weeks. The Sooners have been exceptional on defense, making up for some offensive shortcomings. This is the biggest hurdle remaining before a possible rematch with Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. 3:30 p.m., No TV.

No. 4 Florida (8-1) vs. No. 21 Florida State (6-3)

Had the Seminoles taken care of business last week against N.C. State, this game would again be matching top 10 teams. Instead, for the first time since 1989, both teams are not ranked among the top 10. It looks like a huge mismatch, with UF's high-powered offense and quarterback Rex Grossman picking apart a downtrodden FSU defense that coach Bobby Bowden admitted had him so worried last week he asked his offense to score on every possession. If that was the case last week, what happens tonight? Looks like FSU would do well to avoid a blowout. 8 p.m., Ch. 10.

No. 6 Tennessee (7-1) at Kentucky (2-7)

The Vols get a couple of warmup games before their showdown for the SEC title with Florida on Dec. 1, but in the meantime, their BCS ranking plummets. You think Tennessee wishes it could have that last series against Georgia back? That's the only thing standing between UT and an undefeated date with Florida. Travis Stephens is averaging 132 yards, but the defense will face a rejuvenated UK offense, which has seen quarterback Jared Lorenzen pass for 1,150 yards and 11 touchdowns since reclaiming the starting job. 12:30 p.m., No TV.

No. 8 BYU (10-0) vs. Utah (7-2)

A BYU victory clinches the Mountain West title and keeps the Cougars in contention for a BCS bowl berth. They are 13th in the BCS standings and need to finish in the top 12 to be considered. The problem is, they had trouble defeating UNLV, New Mexico and Wyoming, teams not exactly top-notch. And BYU will face a tough Utah defense, which is allowing 15.8 points and 296 yards per game. BYU quarterback Brandon Doman is having an excellent season, but he's helped greatly by running back Luke Staley, who is averaging 8.4 yards per carry and has 23 rushing touchdowns. That helps open up the passing game. 7 p.m., ESPN2.

No.9 Washington State (9-1) at No. 16 Washington (7-2)

The annual Apple Cup game has high stakes. Washington State can clinch at least a share of the Pac-10 title with a victory, and the winner will be assured of at least a spot in the Holiday Bowl. The teams have played 93 times. Washington's 51-3 victory last year was the biggest rout in series history. But it was just four years ago that WSU won at Washington to clinch a Rose Bowl berth. The Cougars are playing better than expected this season, with just a single defeat. A win over their biggest rival on the road would cap an incredible year. 3:30 p.m., No TV.

No. 10 Maryland (9-1) at N.C. State (6-3)

The Terps control their destiny. A victory over the Wolfpack means the outright ACC title, no matter what Florida State does against Georgia Tech on Dec. 1. But a loss opens the door for a shared title. And FSU did beat Maryland. Can N.C. State rebound after such an emotional win at FSU? The Wolfpack thoroughly confused FSU's defense. It makes you wonder why N.C. State struggled in other games this season. The home crowd in Raleigh should be pumped, which means Ralph Friedgen and Maryland will not get their ACC title without a fight. 7:45 p.m., ESPN.

No. 11 Michigan (7-2) at Wisconsin (5-5)

The Wolverines are two plays away from being in contention for the Rose Bowl, where the Big Ten winner is not headed this season. That's the site of the national championship game, and Michigan will have to settle for a Big Ten title and perhaps a spot in the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl. The Wolverines control their destiny, but Wisconsin is looking to salvage a lackluster season and perhaps get back into bowl consideration. Noon, No TV.

No. 12 Illinois (8-1) at No. 25 Ohio State (6-3)

Both teams can claim a share of the Big Ten title with victories in their last two games. That means one will be out of the picture by late afternoon. Much-maligned OSU quarterback Steve Bellisari has had 546 yards total offense while throwing five touchdown passes in the last two games. An Ohio State victory sets up the annual grudge match with Michigan. An Illinois victory turns the Illini into huge Buckeye fans when they face the Wolverines. Noon, ESPN.

No. 13 Stanford (6-2) vs. California (0-9)

The Big Game doesn't look so big. Stanford is trying to win its seventh straight in the 104th edition of the rivalry while Cal is trying to avoid its first winless season since 1897. The Cardinal is averaging 201.8 yards rushing. This one could get ugly. Cal coach Tom Holmoe has resigned effective at the end of the season, but he has a chance to go out with a victory -- next week against Rutgers. 3:30 p.m., No TV.

* * *

No. 2 Nebraska (11-0) is idle. The Cornhuskers play at No. 15 Colorado (8-2) on Nov. 23.

No. 5 Texas (9-1) is idle. The Longhorns play at Texas A&M on Nov. 23.

No. 7 Oregon (9-1) is idle. The Ducks play Oregon State on Dec. 1.

No. 17 Auburn (7-2) vs. Alabama (4-5): The Tide goes into the Iron Bowl trying to avoid consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1956-57. An Auburn win clinches the SEC West. 3:30 p.m., Ch. 10.

No. 18 Virginia Tech (7-2) at Virginia (4-6): The Hokies are trying for their third in a row over the Cavs, something they've not done since 1980-83. 3:30 p.m. ESPN.

No. 19 Louisville (9-1) played East Carolina on Thursday night.

No. 20 UCLA (6-3) at USC (5-5): Hard to believe, but this one could be for ... a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl. 6:30 p.m., FSN.

No. 22 South Carolina (7-3) vs. Clemson (5-4), 12:30 p.m.: Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses. Another makes for a disappointing season. 12:30 p.m., No TV.

No. 23 Georgia (5-3) at Mississippi (6-2): The Rebels are still in the SEC West race, but only with two more Auburn losses. 12:30 p.m., Ch. 38.

No. 24 Marshall (8-1) vs. Ohio (1-8): The Thundering Herd moved into the rankings this week and already has clinched a spot in the MAC title game. 3 p.m., No TV.

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