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Updated Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 10:01 PM

Big weekend of college football topped off by Notre Dame at USC

By Bud Withers
Seattle Times college football reporter

The most awaited game of the college-football weekend is the last one, and it's Notre Dame at USC. We can't help but pose the question: If somebody had told you in late August that one team would be unbeaten and trying to preserve its prospects for the BCS national title, which one would it have been?

Best of the weekend, chronologically:

Friday

Washington (25 BCS) at Washington State, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 13 — If Washington drops this one, the coach, Steve Sarkisian, might ask his WSU counterpart, Mike Leach, if he can borrow Leach's infamous sand pit for a couple of hours before the Huskies charter home.

Arizona State at Arizona (24), 7 p.m., ESPN — They were already complaining last weekend in the desert about an 8 p.m. local start for a football game. At least theirs isn't in Pullman the day after Thanksgiving.

As good a job as Jim Mora has done with UCLA (9-2), I'm not sure I wouldn't rank Rich Rodriguez as having had the most blazing debut of the four new Pac-12 coaches if Arizona wins this to go 8-4.

Saturday

Georgia Tech at Georgia (3), 9 a.m., ESPN — Georgia Tech has a chance to muck things up for its opponents two weeks in a row. It could knock the Bulldogs out of the national-title picture with a win, and next week, in the ACC title game, it could deny Florida State a BCS bowl bid.

Tech has a 6-5 record in the toothless ACC, so don't bet on either happening.

Michigan (19) at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Ch. 4 — ESPN.com once named this the best rivalry in American sports in the 20th century, with Ali-Frazier No. 2.

It's Urban Meyer's debut against Michigan. John Cooper (1988-2000) was 2-10-1 against the Wolverines, Jim Tressel (2001-10) went 9-1. The guess here is that Meyer's record will more closely approximate Tressel's.

Oregon (5) at Oregon State (15), noon, Pac-12 Networks — The good news for the Pac-12 is that a game of such magnitude is on the fledgling Pac-12 Networks. The bad news is that millions of people won't see it because it's on Pac-12 Networks.

Auburn at Alabama (2), 12:30 p.m., Ch. 7 — Two years ago on the same field, Cam Newton roused the War Eagles from a 24-0 deficit to a victory paramount in Auburn's national-championship run. Now Auburn returns as a 31-point underdog, and the guy who coached them in 2010, Gene Chizik, is very likely soon out of a job.

Florida (4) at Florida State (10), 12:30 p.m., Ch. 4 — Why would so many Seminoles fans like to get their hands on a fellow named Kenneth Massey? Because Massey's computer, used in the BCS formula, doesn't have the 'Noles in the top 25 (even if the low score is thrown out).

FSU's overall computer ranking is a mere 17th. So stop scheduling people like Murray State and Savannah State.

Oklahoma State (21) at Oklahoma (13), 12:30 p.m., ESPN — Oklahoma leads the series by a staggering 82-17-7, which might be hard to explain to anybody under 25. It also means the Cowboys aren't likely to flip the advantage in T. Boone Pickens' lifetime.

In the six OSU-OU games in Norman in Bob Stoops' career, the Sooners have allowed only 42-percent passing, with two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Oklahoma would rather you dwell on those numbers than the fact it gave up 778 yards last week at West Virginia, including 458 on the ground.

Stanford (8) at UCLA (17), 3:30 p.m., Ch. 13 — All things considered, the Bruins would probably be in better shape by losing this game (and playing the Pac-12 title game at Stanford next week) rather than winning it (and going to Eugene to play Oregon if the Ducks beat OSU). Go ahead, see what Jim Mora thinks of that idea.

South Carolina (12) at Clemson (11), 4 p.m., ESPN — Talk about home-field advantage: The rivalry game was played from 1896 to 1959 in Columbia, the Gamecocks' home, always on a Thursday, and it was called "Big Thursday." Years later, maybe that gave ESPN an idea.

Notre Dame (1) at USC, 5 p.m., Ch. 4 — Max Wittek, the quarterback subbing for injured Matt Barkley, has no idea how many people he has rooting for him — in Eugene, Manhattan, Kan., and Gainesville, Fla., to say nothing of those who reflexively pull for anybody opposing the bloated Irish hype machine.

It's déjà vu for Barkley, who also sat out Notre Dame's 2010 visit to the Coliseum, with a sprained ankle. Mitch Mustain quarterbacked a 20-16 USC loss.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com


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