Alabama and Tennessee, on course to play for the Southeastern Conference's Sugar Bowl berth, may get stronger with returns by key people this weekend.
Marshall Faulk of San Diego State also returns after a week off, and the nation's leading rusher will be looking to atone for his worst day as a college starter when the No. 21 Aztecs square off against No. 11 UCLA.Alabama, 3-0, ranked No. 7 in the country and leading the SEC West Division, gets wide receiver-kick returner David Palmer back from a three-game suspension prompted by two drunk driving arrests.
Tennessee, 3-0, ranked No. 8 and the leading the SEC East Division, gets Johnny Majors back after a three-week absence caused by heart bypass surgery.
After the regular season is over, the SEC will hold a playoff between the East and West Division winners for the right to play in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide and Vols meet on Oct. 17 at Tennessee, but may play again in the playoff.
The Crimson Tide, winners of 13 in a row, will have Palmer for the first time this season when they meet Louisiana Tech, which had a 12-game win streak snapped 16-13 by Southern Mississippi last week.
The Volunteers, surprise winners against No. 18 Georgia and No. 13 Florida already this season, will have Majors on site for the first time this season.
In other games involving top 25 teams, Arizona is at No. 1 Miami; Wake Forest is at No. 3 Florida State; Houston is at No. 4 Michigan; Purdue is at No. 6 Notre Dame; Maryland is at No. 9 Penn State; and Iowa is at No. 10 Colorado.
Also, No. 14 Virginia is at Duke; Arizona State is at No. 15 Nebraska; No. 16 Clemson is at Georgia Tech; Mississippi is at Georgia; San Jose State is at No. 19 Stanford; No. 23 North Carolina State is at North Carolina; and Michigan State is at No. 25 Boston College.
At Los Angeles, Faulk will show up with impressive credentials - 519 yards and six touchdowns in two games - and bad memories - 79 yards on 15 carries in a 37-12 loss last season - as the Aztecs seek to break through against UCLA.