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College football: The week ahead

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Michigan State and Oregon play Saturday in Eugene, Ore.
USC's up-tempo offense meets Stanford's tempo-killing defense in Palo Alto

Five things to watch this week in college football:

1. Michigan State and Oregon play Saturday in Eugene and wouldn't mind meeting again Jan.1 at a national semifinal (Rose or Sugar bowl). Oregon could probably survive a close loss if doesn't lose again on its way to the Pac-12 title. Michigan State may need to finish undefeated in the weaker Big Ten.

2. USC against Stanford has been compelling since the Cardinal's epic 2007 upset of Pete Carroll's Trojans at the Coliseum. The added wrinkle this week at Palo Alto is USC Coach Steve Sarkisian's up-tempo offense going against Stanford's tempo-killer defense.

3. Brigham Young quarterback Taysom Hill's 259 rushing yards against Texas ranks as one of the jaw-dropping performances of 2013. Texas, under first-year Coach Charlie Strong, gets a second chance at chasing down Hill when the Longhorns host BYU in Austin.

4. Michigan at Notre Dame is a terrific rivalry tainted only by the artificial turf that now covers Notre Dame Stadium. Irish Coach Brian Kelly thought the synthetic stuff helped his players get cleaner cuts in Saturday's opener against Rice. Still, it just doesn't seem right.

5. Ohio State's obituary may have been premature after losing quarterback Braxton Miller to a season-ending knee injury. The Buckeyes overcame a slow start to defeat pesky Navy on Saturday. This week's test is visiting Virginia Tech, coming off a win over William & Mary.

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