October 11, 2006

Teams face weekend of wills

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Two of the themes involving this week's games are injured players and injured pride.

Florida is in a spot that will seem familiar to its opponent this week: Ranked No. 2 and preparing to play at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Last week it was Auburn sitting at No. 2, but it lost at home to upstart Arkansas.

The way the Tigers lost to the Razorbacks will go a long way toward making Florida's visit to the Plains even more contentious. One more loss probably eliminates Auburn from the SEC West race, and Florida wants to stay unbeaten and in control of the SEC East.

At about the same time Saturday evening, Michigan faces a tough road test at Penn State. The story here: The Wolverines' super sophomore Mario Manningham will not play, having undergone knee surgery earlier this week. That's a big loss when you head to Happy Valley, especially when you consider the Nittany Lions are still angry over a last-minute loss in 2005 that destroyed their dreams of a perfect season.

Out West, Arizona State takes its Sun Devil soap opera into Los Angeles - where ASU coach Dirk Koetter will ask struggling quarterback Rudy Carpenter to face the Southern Cal defense.

In ACC action, the eyes of the conference and many in the nation will be focused on the Virginia Tech-Boston College game Thursday night. Both teams are looking to bounce back after falling in their most recent conference outings.

Missouri and Texas A&M tussle in the Big 12, as do Texas and Baylor. The Longhorns and Bears are vying for the top spot in the division, but realistically Texas should romp. Missouri and A&M are off to fine starts against suspect competition. Saturday's winner could earn some validation.

Finally, Big East darling Rutgers is set to take on Navy. These two teams will try to run it down each other's throats, with the winner becoming bowl eligible in early October.

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