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December 4, 2008

Primer: USC has one more hurdle left

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com.
He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

Sad but true: This is the final weekend of the season. (We'll pause a moment to let you collect your thoughts.) At least the regular season is going out with a bang.

There are five conference championship games, including what might be the most-hyped SEC title game ever.

LAST WEEK: 26-13 straight up, 18-20-1 against the spread.

SEASON: 556-183 straight up, 308-344-11 against the spread.

SATURDAY'S GAMES
Pittsburgh (8-3) at Connecticut (7-4), noon, ESPN
The buzz: Pitt is looking for its first nine-win season since 2002. UConn is 4-1 at home this season � and Pitt is 4-1 on the road. UConn has thrown just four TD passes all season. The line: Connecticut by 3. | The pick: Pitt 23-17.
C-USA title game: East Carolina (8-4) at Tulsa (10-2), noon, ESPN2
The buzz: This matches a powerful offense (Tulsa) against the league's best defense (East Carolina). Conversely, the Tulsa defense and ECU offense struggle at times.
The line: Tulsa by 13. | The pick: Tulsa 42-31.
Army (3-8) vs. Navy (7-4) in Philadelphia, noon, CBS
The buzz: Navy has won six in a row in the series, the longest winning streak by either team in the 108-game series. In addition, the Midshipmen have won 12 in a row over other service academies.
The line: Navy by 11. | The pick: Navy 34-21.
ACC title game: Boston College (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4) in Tampa, Fla., 1 p.m., ABC
The buzz: This is the fourth meeting between these two teams in less than 18 months. Last season, BC won in the regular season, but Virginia Tech won the rematch in the league title game. This season, BC beat the Hokies in October; can the Eagles double-up?
The line: Pick 'em. | The pick: Boston College 20-17.
Washington (0-11) at California (7-4), 3 p.m., Fox Sports Net
The buzz: Cal looks set for a trip to the Emerald Bowl. Washington, meanwhile, can't wait to get this season from hell over with.
The line: Cal by 35.5. | The pick: California 49-10.
SEC title game: Alabama (12-0) vs. Florida (11-1) in Atlanta, 4 p.m., CBS
The buzz: This is the sixth time the Tide and Gators have met for the SEC title, and it's just the second time in the game's 17-year history that two top-five teams have met for the crown. Can the Tide's defense stop Florida's high-powered offense? Can the Gators slow the Tide's power-running attack?
The line: Florida by 9.5. | The pick: Florida 28-17.
USC (10-1) at UCLA (4-7), 4:30 p.m., ABC
The buzz: USC locks up the Pac-10 title and the Rose Bowl bid with a victory over its crosstown rival. The Trojans have won eight of the past nine in the series; the loss came in their last regular-season trip to the Rose Bowl, in 2006.
The line: USC by 33. | The pick: USC 35-7.
Western Kentucky (2-9) at Florida International (4-7), 7 p.m.
The buzz: Western still is looking for its first win this season over a Football Bowl Subdivision (i.e., Division I-A) opponent. FIU, meanwhile, is looking to tie the school record for wins in a season.
The line: FIU by 7.5. | The pick: FIU 28-16.
Arkansas State (6-5) at Troy (7-4), 7 p.m., ESPN GamePlan
The buzz: This is for the Sun Belt title and the resultant New Orleans Bowl berth. Troy will go to a bowl even if it loses; the same can't be said for the Red Wolves.
The line: Troy by 11. | The pick: Troy 30-17.
Big 12 title game: Missouri (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (11-1) in Kansas City, 8 p.m., ABC
The buzz: OU, which is looking for its third win over the Tigers in two seasons, will head to the national title game with a victory. Texas fans, meanwhile, are hoping for an early Christmas present � a Mizzou upset.
The line: Oklahoma by 17. | The pick: Oklahoma 52-31.
Arizona State (5-6) at Arizona (6-5), 8 p.m., ESPN
The buzz: Arizona State knows that if it wins, it gets to go to a bowl. Arizona, though, would like nothing better than to keep its archrival home for the holidays.
The line: Arizona by 10.5. | The pick: Arizona 28-21.
USF (7-4) at West Virginia (7-4), 8 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: USF has been a disappointment. But so has WVU, so just call this the "What Should've Been Bowl." No Big East player ever has reached 10,000 career yards, but WVU quarterback Pat White (9,961) and USF QB Matt Grothe (9,670) are within reach.
The line: WVU by 7.5. | The pick: USF 26-24.
Cincinnati (10-2) at Hawaii (7-4), 11:30 p.m., ESPN2
The buzz: Cincinnati already has won the Big East title and locked up a BCS bid. If the Bearcats are interested in the outcome of this game, they will win. If they mess around and act like they're on vacation, though, they will lose.
The line: Cincinnati by 7. | The pick: Cincinnati 27-17.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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