The key figures in this weekend's LSU-Alabama contest are paragons of the true spirit of intercollegiate athletics. Former Tiger head coach Nick Saban accepted the challenge of molding Tuscaloosa's impressionable youth for a mere $4 million per year, to which the Tigers' current boss, Les Miles, responded by saying, "We have a new rival in f-ing Alabama!" That was no doubt news to most LSU fans under the mistaken impression that Alabama had been an LSU rival for many years. If you could somehow channel the hate and hot air in this rivalry you could solve the planet's energy crisis for the next 200 years.

LSU at Alabama. I know that the focus of big games is usually on the players, but it's too bad the coaches in this game won't get any publicity. If only there was a juicy angle or something. Pick: Tigers by 7

Arizona State at Oregon. For those of you east of the Rockies, tucked safely in bed by the time the two best teams in the Pac-10 face off, Sun Devils-Ducks should feature more offense in the first quarter than LSU-'Bama will display the entire game. If you're wondering why Dennis Dixon is such an improved player this season, it's partly because he's taking a whopping one course this semester: billiards. That makes ballroom dancing seem like advanced molecular physics. Pick: Ducks by a 7-ball, corner pocket

Northwestern State at Ole Miss. No, this isn't Northwestern (although a Northwestern-Ole Miss game would probably also qualify for this category), but rather I-AA Northwestern State, whose sole venture into I-A territory resulted in a 75-7 loss to Texas Tech. They run into an Ed Orgeron-coached team still looking for its first SEC win. Coach O, if a deep gravelly voice and an imposing physical presence were all it took to succeed in the SEC, Vandy would have hired Lou Ferrigno. Pick: Rebels by 28

As the SEC continues to back up Les Miles' claim that USC has an easier road than if it played in Dixie, SEC East front-runner Tennessee welcomes Louisiana-Lafayette to Rocky Top. The Vols should do to the Ragin Cajuns what Florida did to the Vols a few weeks back. Runner-up: Tennessee Tech at Auburn. Pick: Vols by 30

USC's quest to fulfill Jim Harbaugh's now-Nostradamus-esque prophecy as the greatest college football team ever (to play in the Holiday Bowl), continues in Los Angeles, where the Trojans host the team that exposed them last year, Oregon State. The last time the Trojans were out of the BCS race this early in the season, American Idol had yet to crown its first winner, Dennis Erickson was still three jobs away from ASU and Reggie Bush's family was paying their own rent. Pick: Trojans by 14

Tracking the fortunes of college football's greatest corporation, Notre Dame, we find the stock to be ... up, for two reasons: one, they didn't lose last week, and two, they play Navy this week. Coach Charlie Weis has prepared his players for the task of facing Navy by pretending to be an aircraft carrier in practice. Pick: Irish over University of Navy by 3

This week's law enforcement roundup takes us to East Lansing, Mich., where Michigan State hosts rival Michigan. Police charged three Spartan football players with unarmed robbery last week. Meanwhile, police in Ann Arbor are still trying to capture whomever stole Michigan's dignity back on September 1. Pick: Wolverines by 4

Since this Heisman race has apparently come down to who screws up the least, we'll track the contenders who fall out of the pack each week in a regular section called Stiff-armed. This week's candidate is Kentucky's Andre Woodson. Once the favorite after knocking off top-ranked LSU, he threw three second-half picks to gift-wrap the Mississippi State upset. Runner-up: Tim Tebow, whose fumble with three minutes left sealed the Gators' loss to Georgia. Right now the Heisman race breaks down something like this: 1. Matt Ryan 2. Matt Ryan's postgame puke 3. Darren McFadden 4. Dennis Dixon 5. Whoever's playing Notre Dame in any given week.

Thanks to loyal reader Jimbo from Chicago, who points out Oregon may have gotten their uniform design from Nintendo's BattleToads ... After it was revealed the security code to Ohio State's football facility is '41-14' (to remind the Buckeyes of their title game beatdown to Florida), loyal reader Renata from Los Angeles commented, "That's nice, but doesn't the whole world know their code now?"... A funny thing happened to the Buckeyes on the way to becoming the team nobody thought was deserving of playing for the BCS title: they actually started playing like the best team in the country... Cal sure disappeared from the national scene faster than a DeSean Jackson punt return, didn't they? ... Louisiana Tech takes on Idaho in one of those natural regional rivalries that make the WAC so compelling ... The Dennis Franchione Farewell Tour should get a raucous reception in Norman, Okla., where the Sooners once scored 77 on Fran's Aggies ... The best game of the weekend will be Wyoming at San Diego State, because the Aztecs hosting a home game -- and getting beaten -- is a great sign life is getting back to normal in fire-ravaged San Diego County.

"They cut us up like boarding-house pie. And that's real small pieces." --Darrell Royal, former Texas coach

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