FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — You can count on it every October. One great college football day.
This is it. Call it Super Saturday. Call it Showdown Saturday. But don't leave your set.
There are six conference games involving Top 25 teams, including one matchup of top 5 teams (Oklahoma-Texas) and one matchup of top 10 teams (Cal-USC).
When the dust settles, the Orange Bowl should have a better idea of who's coming to town Jan. 4 for the BCS Championship Game.
No. 2. Oklahoma (4-0) vs. No. 5 Texas (5-0): ABC moved the Red River Shootout to 11 a.m. in Dallas so the entire country could see it. For the third time in four years, Oklahoma and Texas meet undefeated and ranked in the top five. The winner will be a favorite for the Orange Bowl; the loser needs a lot of help to get back in the title race. The Sooners have won four straight against Texas, beginning with a 63-14 win in 2000. They won 65-13 last year. But Texas leads the series 55-38-5. "Past success doesn't guarantee future success," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "You have to go out and earn it every time." Individual sidebar: Oklahoma QB Jason White vs. Texas RB Cedric Benson.
No. 13 Minnesota (5-0) at No. 14 Michigan (4-1): The Gophers choked on the Little Brown Jug last year. Minnesota led 28-7 entering the fourth quarter and wound up losing when Garrett Rivas kicked a 33-yard field goal with 47 seconds to play. The victory turned around Michigan's season, which ended in the Rose Bowl. The Gophers, who were 6-0, lost two more games and settled for the Sun Bowl. "You really think I've got to remind them we blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against Michigan last year? I don't think so," coach Glen Mason said. The Gophers' duo of Marion Barber III (602 yards, 7 TDs) and Laurence Maroney (670 yards, 5 TDs) take on the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation.
No. 7 California (3-0) at No. 1 USC (4-0): The Pac-10's biggest game in years. How good is Cal? The Golden Bears lead the nation with a 37-point margin of victory, ranking first in scoring and seventh in scoring defense, but they really haven't played anybody. Postponing a trip to Southern Miss because of a hurricane increases the mystery. Southern California wants revenge for last year's 34-31 overtime loss, which cost the Trojans a spot against LSU in the BCS title game. USC has won 16 consecutive home games. This is also a showcase game for USC quarterback Matt Leinart in his bid to catch Purdue's Kyle Orton in the Heisman Trophy race.
No. 17 Tennessee (3-1) at No. 3 Georgia (4-0): Being No. 3 in the polls is not the place to be, especially if No. 1 and No. 2 keep winning. Georgia, which is ranked No. 1 by The Sporting News, showed what it is capable of doing in a 45-16 destruction of LSU last week and has plenty of momentum going into its key SEC East clash against the Vols. "We finally came out and showed what we can do," said QB David Greene, who threw five touchdown passes against LSU. "We've been talking about having all the talent coming back and hadn't done anything about it." Tennessee's lack of experience showed in a 34-10 loss (six turnovers by the freshmen QBs Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge) to Auburn last week.
No. 16 Wisconsin (5-0) at No. 18 Ohio State (3-1): The three best teams in the Big Ten may be No. 9 Purdue, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Badgers, anchored by Anttaj Hawthorne and an all-senior front four, lead the nation in scoring defense (5.2 points per game) and total defense (193.2 yards per game). They have allowed just two touchdowns. The Buckeyes finally lost a close one last week, falling to Northwestern in overtime, and this should be another tight game. The Buckeyes have the home field (they haven't lost in Columbus since 2001) and kicker Mike Nugent. First team to 10 should win.
No. 24 LSU (3-2) at No. 12 Florida (3-1): The Gators have longshot national title hopes. Beat LSU, crack the Top 10, upset Georgia (they've won 13 of the past 14) and see what happens. Easier said than done. Ron Zook's teams tend to play tight in big games at home and the Tigers won 36-7 in The Swamp in 2002. But the Gators beat LSU 19-7 last year in Baton Rouge and they're the better team with QB Chris Leak and the offense (first in passing, second in scoring) hitting its stride. "I doubt we'll take them as lightly as they took us," UF safety Jarvis Herring said. "I think they took us kind of light last year, and we really surprised them. It'll tell what kind of character they have (Saturday)."
Three other teams put perfect records on the line: No. 7 Auburn (4-0) hosts Louisiana Tech (3-2), No. 9 Purdue (4-0) visits Penn State (2-3) and No. 22 Oklahoma State (4-0) faces Colorado (3-1).