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November 2, 2007

South Carolina, Arkansas both need wins

Each Friday, Rivals.com's college football experts give fans five things to keep an eye out for over the course of the weekend.

The must-win game between South Carolina and Arkansas
Two teams starving for wins square off when South Carolina visits Arkansas. It will be interesting to see if desperation brings out the best or the worst in these teams.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt's fate depends on how his team fares the rest of the season. The Razorbacks probably need to split their last four regular-season games and may need to do even better for Nutt to stay around. That puts Nutt in a virtual must-win situation since the Razorbacks still must travel to Tennessee and LSU later this season.

South Carolina must win to avoid ending the season in a free-fall. The Gamecocks were ranked as high as sixth in the BCS standings before suffering back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

The Gamecocks now face the realistic possibility of ending the season on a five-game losing streak. South Carolina tries to stop the bleeding Saturday before ending the regular season with home games against Florida and Clemson.
Steve Megargee
The pass offenses in the Arizona State-Oregon game
While both teams must run effectively to win, watch the quarterbacks and the passing games. Oregon QB Dennis Dixon is going to have to continue avoiding interceptions (he has thrown just three) and make sure he spreads the ball around. WR Jaison Williams and TE Ed Dickson have been his favorite receivers; the other starting receiver is true freshman Aaron Pflugrad, who is in the lineup only because of season-ending injuries to two other receivers. Oregon's three leading tacklers are SS Patrick Chung, CB Walter Thurmond III and FS Matthew Harper, which means the Ducks expect their defensive backs to be active in run support. Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter could have success using play-action. While the Sun Devils don't have an elite receiver, as a whole ASU's receivers are better than Oregon's. TE Brent Miller is a guy to watch Saturday.
Mike Huguenin
Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are aiming to maintain at least a share of the lead in the Big 12 South when they play host to Texas on Saturday. The Cowboys (5-3) have won four of their past five, and a victory over the Longhorns would establish them as a bona-fide threat to Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. Oklahoma State TB Dantrell Savage has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past five games. Meanwhile, Texas' run defense has given up triple-digit rushing totals to UCF's Kevin Smith, Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray and Nebraska's Marlon Lucky; the Longhorns lost to OU and won the other two by three points each. The last time Oklahoma State beat Texas: 42-16 in 1997. That victory prompted fans to tear down the goal posts in Stillwater. If Savage finds room to run, the goal posts could come down again.
Olin Buchanan
The play of Michigan's offense against Michigan State
The resurgent Wolverines (7-2 overall, 5-0 in the Big Ten) are expected to get QB Chad Henne and TB Mike Hart back from injuries. Henne, who sat out last week's win over Minnesota, is coming back after hurting his shoulder against Illinois on Oct. 20. Hart, the Big Ten's second-leading rusher, has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. The Wolverines have reeled off seven consecutive victories and likely will be the last hurdle between Ohio State and a second consecutive BCS title game. Saturday should serve as a preview as to just how well Michigan can execute with its tops guns available.
Gerry Ahern
Glenn Dorsey and the LSU defense
Dorsey returned to practice Monday after the infamous chop block against Auburn. His status is still unclear for Saturday's game against Alabama, but his return would boost an LSU defense that hasn't played up to its potential in recent weeks. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 41-point, 510-yard performance against Tennessee. Even without Dorsey, LSU is much better than Tennessee on defense, but Dorsey's return can't hurt the Tigers' chances in Tuscaloosa.
David Fox



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