No one is more interested in today's dream matchups of four unbeaten college football teams than a fifth one - No. 1 Nebraska.
While No. 2 Penn State plays No. 4 Michigan and No. 3 Florida State visits No. 5 North Carolina, Nebraska will be watching the results.The Cornhuskers play at Missouri, a simpler task than any of the four teams directly behind them face.
Nebraska (8-0 overall, 5-0 Big 12) has beaten Missouri 19 straight times and goes into this game a 29-point favorite. The Huskers have won the last four games in the series by an average score of 50-5, and haven't allowed Missouri more than one touchdown in a game since 1992.
The oddsmakers expect the two big games to be closer. Penn State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) is a 3-point favorite at home against Michigan (8-0, 5-0), and Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC) is a 7-point pick at North Caroliona (8-0, 6-0).
In Saturday's other Top 25 games, Oregon is at No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Ohio State visits Minnesota, No. 8 Tennessee is home for No. 24 Southern Mississippi, No. 11 Kansas State entertains Kansas, and No. 12 Iowa plays at Wisconsin.
Nebraska has direct interest in Saturday night's Florida State-North Carolina matchup because the winner gets the top spot in the ACC and could be headed for the Orange Bowl, which has this year's top alliance game. If Nebraska wins the Big 12 championship, the Huskers could take the top ranking into that game.
Missouri looks to be a pushover for Nebraska, which beat Oklahoma 69-7 a week ago for coach Tom Osborne's 250th victory. But the Tigers are 6-3 and have clinched their first non-losing season since 1983.
"They certainly are a team that has steadily improved through the season," Osborne said. "Right now, they're playing well and keeping the ball away from people."
The winner of the Penn State-Michigan game moves into first place in the Big Ten and takes a major step toward the Rose Bowl. Joe Paterno, who is three wins away from 300 for his career at Penn State, is excited about the matchup, as much out of curiousity as anything else.
"I am excited about playing a club like Michigan at this time of the year when we are having a good year and they are having a good year," he said.
Michigan has the nation's No. 1 defense, spearheaded by cornerback Charles Woodson, whose spectacular play the past two weeks against Michigan State and Minnesota has made him a Heisman Trophy candidate, not an easy feat for a defensive player.
North Carolina has the nation's No. 2 defense and it is likely to be tested early by a Florida State team that has run up first-quarter leads of 21-0 and 27-0 in its last two games.
The Tar Heels have turned basketball country on to football, winning 21 of 23 games to match Florida State, Nebraska and Penn State for the best record in the nation over that span. That's caught the attention of Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden, who has 278 wins.
"You naturally get up for a game like this more," he said. "The others I twiddle my fingers sometimes and hope the coaches do a good job. In games like this, I get more involved in knowing what's going on. I'm a little more picky on the coaches."