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SIX GAMES TO WATCH

No. 1 USC (3-0)

at No. 14 ARIZONA STATE (3-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. PDT.

TV: Channel 7.

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Line: USC by 17.

USC update: The Trojans responded to adversity last week by reeling off 45 consecutive points after falling behind Oregon, 13-0. Reggie Bush amassed 267 all-purpose yards, but credit goes to the USC defense, which shut down the Ducks over the final 2 1/2 quarters.

Arizona State update: The Sun Devils feature a potent passing attack led by quarterback Sam Keller, who is averaging 360.8 yards a game and has no interceptions in his last 124 attempts. Keller’s favorite target is Derek Hagan, who is the school’s all-time leader with 207 receptions.

Story line: Two of the nation’s most prolific offenses tangle in Tempe, where the Sun Devils ended Nebraska’s bid for a third consecutive national title in 1996.

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The pick: USC. The Trojans extend their winning streak to 26 games at the site where it all started two years ago.

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No. 5 FLORIDA (4-0)

at No. 15 ALABAMA (4-0)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. PDT.

TV: Channel 2.

Line: Florida by 3 1/2 .

Florida update: The Gators scored touchdowns on seven consecutive first-half possessions against Kentucky last week en route to a 49-28 victory. None of Chris Leak’s 114 passes has been intercepted, making Florida one of five Division I-A teams without an interception.

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Alabama update: Running back Kenneth Darby is averaging 103 yards a game, and the Crimson Tide defense is holding opponents to an average of 13.8 points. Alabama is 0-5 against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents at home under second-year Coach Mike Shula.

Story line: Florida Coach Urban Meyer’s teams have won 10 consecutive road games, a streak topped only by USC’s 12 consecutive road victories.

The pick: Florida. Meyer joins Charles Bachman (1928), Galen Hall (1984) and Steve Spurrier (1990) as the only Gator coaches to start their Florida careers with five victories.

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No. 13 NOTRE DAME (3-1)

at No. 22 PURDUE (2-1)

Kickoff: 4:45 p.m. PDT.

TV: ESPN.

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Line: Purdue by 3.

Notre Dame update: Brady Quinn threw for 327 yards last week against Washington, becoming the first quarterback in Fighting Irish history to throw for at least 300 yards in consecutive games. Not to be outdone, Darius Walker notched his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, a school record to start a season.

Purdue update: The Boilermakers yielded 572 yards to Minnesota last week during a double-overtime loss. Charles Davis caught five passes for 100 yards but could not hold on to the one that mattered most on a fourth-and-two play in the second overtime. Safety Kyle Smith had the first two interceptions of his career.

Story line: A Purdue pass defense that is giving up 305.3 yards a game must stiffen to contain the vastly improved Quinn.

The pick: Notre Dame. The Irish relish the calm before the storm that is USC on Oct. 15.

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WASHINGTON (1-3)

at No. 20 UCLA (3-0)

Kickoff: 7:15 p.m.

TV: FSN West 2.

Line: UCLA by 21 1/2 .

Washington update: You know things are bleak for the Huskies when the school-issued media release plays up the fact that they are averaging only 41.25 penalty yards per game. More impressive is the play of junior quarterback Isaiah Stanback, who threw for a career-high 353 yards last week during Washington’s 36-17 loss to Notre Dame.

UCLA update: The undefeated Bruins are starting to resemble a big-time program in every way except at the turnstiles: They have averaged 50,665 fans for two games, including one against a nationally ranked Oklahoma team that brought a large cheering section.

Story line: UCLA will try not to overlook the struggling Huskies with next week’s big game against California looming.

The pick: UCLA. The Bruins won’t need Maurice Drew to pile up 322 yards -- his rushing total last season against the Huskies -- to win this one.

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No. 3 VIRGINIA TECH (4-0)

at WEST VIRGINIA (4-0)

Kickoff: 9 a.m. PDT.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Virginia Tech by 10.

Virginia Tech update: The Hokies scored two touchdowns on interception returns and another on a blocked field goal return last week during a 51-7 rout of Georgia Tech. Quarterback Marcus Vick has thrown for 703 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception. Vick has scored by running, passing and receiving in his career.

West Virginia update: A sack by defensive tackle Keilen Dykes on the game’s final play last week preserved a 20-15 victory over East Carolina. Two of quarterback Pat White’s passes were intercepted after he replaced the injured Adam Bednarik, who had one interception and a fumble. Bednarik is expected to play.

Story line: The Mountaineers are looking for payback after entering last season’s game ranked sixth and being upset, 19-13.

The pick: Virginia Tech. The Hokies have too much firepower for their former Big East and Southern conference rivals.

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INDIANA (3-0)

at No. 17 WISCONSIN (4-0)

Kickoff: 9 a.m. PDT.

TV: ESPN2.

Line: Wisconsin by 17 1/2 .

Indiana update: The Hoosiers are 3-0 for the first time since 1994, but the wins have been against Central Michigan, Nicholls State and Kentucky. Blake Powers is the first quarterback in school history to throw at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games.

Wisconsin update: Can anyone stop junior running back Brian Calhoun? Michigan certainly couldn’t last week, when Calhoun gained 155 yards and scored a touchdown during the Badgers’ 23-20 victory. Calhoun is third in the nation in rushing, averaging 156.5 yards a game.

Story line: Indiana needs a fast start to have a chance against the Badgers, who have given up only 16 second-half points and none in the third quarter.

The pick: Wisconsin. Calhoun and the Badgers run roughshod and end the Hoosiers’ two-game winning streak in the series.

-- Ben Bolch


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