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November 20, 2009

Keep an eye on ... coaches on hot seat

Each week, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans some things to keep an eye on over the course of the weekend.

Can Texas A&M become bowl eligible? Texas A&M warrants keeping an eye on this weekend because the Aggies still need a victory to become bowl eligible. If they don't make it, the fallout will be interesting. Texas A&M's best chance to get the requisite sixth win is Saturday against Baylor. The Aggies don't want their postseason hopes to be dependent on beating Texas in their regular-season finale. Beating Baylor is vital, and it's definitely not a sure thing based on the play of Texas A&M's defense. If Texas A&M loses to Baylor for a second consecutive season - and at Kyle Field, no less - there likely will be ramifications. Fans of the Aggies already are annoyed that their football program has fallen to third among Big 12 schools in their state. Losing to Baylor is unacceptable. Losing to the Bears two times in a row would be devastating. Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is in his second season, and it would be unfair - and expensive - to replace him so quickly. But if the Aggies lost to Baylor and failed to become bowl eligible this season, it's possible Texas A&M could make a move - especially with Tommy Tuberville available.

- OLIN BUCHANAN

Can Arizona keep alive its Rose Bowl hopes? The Wildcats are coming off a disappointing 24-16 loss at California. Still, at 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-10, Arizona controls its destiny in the Pac-10 race. Before finishing with season-ending games at Arizona State and USC, Arizona plays host to Oregon in a huge Pac-10 contest Saturday. Arizona's offense and defense rank No. 2 in the Pac-10, while the Ducks' offense and defense are ranked third. The Wildcats will get a boost from the return of running back Nic Grigsby, who missed the Cal game with injury. A big key for Arizona's defense will be to contain Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who thrives on improvisation and must be contained. It's do-or-die time for Arizona and its Pac-10 dreams.

- TOM DIENHART

Kansas at Texas. Mark Mangino is being investigated for his treatment of players, but he insists he hasn't lost his team. We'll see. Few were giving the slumping Jayhawks a chance to upset Texas this week, and that was before the recent controversy. If the players have given up on the season - and given up on Mangino - the game will get ugly.

- DAVID FOX

LSU at Ole Miss. Ole Miss began the season with high expectations, but the Rebels have underachieved and fallen off the national radar. LSU, meanwhile, has lost twice - to unbeatens Alabama and Florida. LSU is No. 8 in the BCS this week and has its eyes on a Capital One Bowl bid. But the Tigers have been spotty on offense all season, ranking 11th in the SEC and 107th nationally in total offense. Ole Miss has battled offensive inconsistency, as well, though RB Dexter McCluster has revitalized the unit of late - once the coaching staff decided to get him the ball more often. Both defenses have been steady all season, with LSU No. 21 nationally and Ole Miss 23rd. Ole Miss can regain some lost luster - and perhaps become the front-runner for the Cap One bid - if it can beat the Tigers at home. Ole Miss won at LSU last season, and if the Rebels win for a second time in a row, expect LSU coach Les Miles to start feeling some heat.

- MIKE HUGUENIN

Can Michigan salvage its season? These aren't great times in Ann Arbor. After winning its first four games, Michigan has lost six of its past seven and needs to upset Ohio State this week just to become bowl eligible. Rich Rodriguez already is under pressure just two years into his tenure because of the Wolverines' 8-15 record. Assuming Rodriguez returns next season, he likely would find himself occupying the hottest seat in college football. Of course, all that could change with an inspired performance Saturday. Michigan fans are desperate for a victory over Ohio State after losing to the Buckeyes five consecutive times. If Michigan can pull off a stunning victory in one of college football's most heated rivalries, Rodriguez likely will be forgiven for many of the mistakes he has made the past two seasons.

- STEVE MEGARGEE



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