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October 26, 2011

Viewer's guide: No time to pout

After last week, fans everywhere have to be wondering, "What's next?"

Are more upsets on the way? Will the teams that suffered their first losses last week -- Oklahoma and Wisconsin -- rebound?

Oklahoma and Wisconsin have no time to rest as both go on the road. The Sooners face undefeated Kansas State in Manhattan, while Wisconsin visits Ohio State.

Stanford answered its first major test of the season last week by crushing Washington, but the next test -- a trip to 6-1 USC -- should be more daunting.

Michigan State now is the hunted in the Big Ten, and the Spartans won't have much time to celebrate their win over Wisconsin because they travel to Nebraska on Saturday. In a key SEC East race, Florida and Georgia meet in Jacksonville, with both hoping South Carolina slips.

Here's a look at the top televised matchups in Week 9.

All times Eastern.


BYU VS. TCU (in Arlington, Texas)
When: 8 p.m., ESPN
Broadcasters: Rece Davis play-by-play, Craig James and Jesse Palmer analysts
The line: TCU by 13
Why you should watch: The move to independence has benefited BYU at least from an exposure standpoint. The Cougars are making their third nationally televised appearance on a Friday night. The verdict on the on-field product remains a question, despite BYU's 6-2 record. None of BYU's six wins have come against teams with a winning record. This is a good (and perhaps last) opportunity for BYU to prove itself. BYU hasn't mustered more than a touchdown in any of its past three games against the Horned Frogs, all losses. BYU QB Riley Nelson is 52-of-80 for 795 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions since taking over for Jake Heaps midway through the Utah State game four games ago. The key matchup, though, will be on the ground. With its three-headed monster at tailback, TCU has topped 200 rushing yards in all but one game this season. BYU has held three of its past four opponents to fewer than 100 yards, but the Cougars were gashed in games against Utah and Utah State.


When: Noon, ESPN
Broadcasters: Dave Pasch play-by-play, Chris Spielman and Urban Meyer analysts
The line: Nebraska by 4
Why you should watch: Welcome to the ranks of the hunted, Michigan State. The Spartans lead the Big Ten Legends Division at 3-0, but they're being chased by Nebraska. Since a 48-17 loss to Wisconsin, Nebraska has won two in a row. This will be the first major test for Nebraska's defense without star T Jared Crick, who is injured. Perhaps more than that, it will be a test for quarterback Taylor Martinez. Michigan State's defense sacked Wisconsin's Russell Wilson three times and intercepted two of his passes, quite a feat considering that Wilson had been sacked just five times and intercepted only once before facing the Spartans. The Spartans also held Michigan's Denard Robinson to 165 yards of total offense two weeks ago. Look for Nebraska to try to control the game with Martinez and TB Rex Burkhead, who has rushed for 752 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

FLORIDA VS. GEORGIA (in Jacksonville)
When: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Broadcasters: Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst
The line: Georgia by 2.5
Why you should watch: Yes, we're asking you to watch an SEC game not involving Alabama, Arkansas or LSU. Georgia looks to be in prime position to win the East if South Carolina falters without TB Marcus Lattimore. But Georgia's four league wins have come against the Mississippi schools, in a close one over Vanderbilt and over Tennessee in a game in which Vols QB Tyler Bray got hurt. Florida expects to have starting QB John Brantley back from injury. The Gators' offense was awful without Brantley. Georgia has been solid against the pass, holding every opponent other than Boise State to less than 60 percent passing. Florida has a way of spoiling seasons for Georgia, as the Gators are 18-3 in the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" since 1990. If Florida loses, the Gators fall to 2-4 in the league, ensuring the Gators of their first back-to-back non-winning seasons in SEC play since 1986-87, when they were shackled by recruiting restrictions for NCAA violations.

When: 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Broadcasters: Sean McDonough play-by-play, Matt Millen analyst
The line: Oklahoma by 13.5
Why you should watch: So much for this game being a meeting of undefeated teams. Kansas State probably has what it least wanted to see in Manhattan - an angry Oklahoma team, potentially refocused after its loss to Texas Tech last week. Given Kansas State's strong rushing attack, an issue for OU is the health of LB Tom Wort (concussion) and DT Casey Walker (thumb). K-State has yet to crack 200 passing yards in a game, but the Wildcats have not needed to air it out. Will Kansas State be able to control the clock with the run?

When: 8 p.m., ABC regional/ESPN GamePlan
Broadcasters: Brent Musburger play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit analyst
The line: Stanford by 7.5
Why you should watch: Last week's rout of Washington may have answered some questions, but this road trip may be a more convincing opportunity for Stanford to quite its skeptics. This should be a showdown of two great quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley. USC has beaten California and Notre Dame on the road by a combined 61-26 in its past two games. A week after Stanford rushed for 446 yards and five touchdowns against Washington, the Cardinal faces a team that has been stout against the run. Cal rushed for just 35 yards against USC, Notre Dame for 41.

When: 8 p.m., ESPN
Broadcasters: Brad Nessler play-by-play, Todd Blackledge analyst
The line: Wisconsin by 7
Why you should watch: Last week, we learned that Wisconsin isn't invincible. This week, we should find out if the Badgers are resilient. Ohio State still isn't at full strength because of suspensions, but the return of OT Mike Adams and TB Dan Herron has provided a boost. After a bye week, it will be interesting to see if Ohio State sticks with its run-dominated offense or whether QB Braxton Miller can be more of a factor. Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson is looking to rebound from his worst game of the season.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com, and you can follow him on Twitter.

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